From craft libations in industrial-chic digs to one of nature’s most prized ingredients served in a smorgasbord of ways, these Garden States gems are dedicated to the art of gastronomy

by Archana Aithal Rose

booze crews Housed in a chic converted storage space, Batch Bin & Barrel is dripping with cool. The brainchild of chef Brian Karluk, this sleek wine bar-plus-liquor store concept in New Brunswick was once a vacant 2,000-square-foot lot where Karluk planned on stocking the extra chairs and tables from his Steakhouse 85. Today, the hybrid spot is a swank watering hole, serving small batch wines, Garden State brews, and creative cocktails alongside a seasonal menu of scrumptious small bites, including meats, cheeses, and the pièce de résistance: truffle short rib. Karluk’s pride and joy is an imported, hand-crank slicer that delivers paper-thin, melt-in-your-mouth prosciutto to go with your choice of liquor. BB&B’s casual yet elegant vibe is brought to life with crisp interiors: think a white granite topped, 12-stool bar and a reclaimed wooden wall bedecked with bottles and barrels. In the back is an intimate dining room designed for a party of six, where wine and dine packages are on offer.

heaven & earth

The holy truffle might be available in a wide range of dishes at high-end haunts, but in its purest form, it remains as exclusive and luxurious as ever. Romania-born Adrian Ignat, who owns Taste of Truffles, a wholesaler and retailer for the famed delicacy, said, “Most of the truffle you see in the commercial market isn’t even the real thing. There are a lot of dubious, flavored products posing as truffles. We source our truffles from Eastern Europe, working with small truffle associations from Spain, France, and Australia, when the French Winter Black Truffle is in season.” The authenticity of Ignat’s products has caught the eye of several Michelin-starred chefs from Manhattan and New Jersey, plus discerning home chefs. Ignat added, “At our showroom in Marlboro, we liaise with talented celebrity chefs and restaurants and offer a nine- to 12-course elevated tasting menu using truffles, caviar, Wagyu beef, and seafood.” There’s also a sprinkling of lighter products, too, noted the owner, to dress up ordinary bites. “We have Truffle Dust, a powdered seasoning of black and white spores to top off your breakfast eggs, and the new Spicy Truffle Dust for an extra punch.”


Characterized by an edgy, black and white facade bearing a feral emblem reminiscent of an urban-cool tattoo studio, the newly opened Gavone’s in Long Branch’s buzzy Pier Village has already gained a cult following among pizza and pasta-loving crowds. Owner Joe Cetrulo III, son of a famed local chef and restaurateur, launched
his first restaurant in Phoenix, Arizona, before returning to NJ to lend his savoir faire to Gavone’s eclectic menu of wood-fired pizzas, served alongside cozy Italian bites like plates of chicken parm, meatball sandwiches, massive Caesar salads, and pesto pasta. The Gavone is a fan favorite, a hot sandwich stacked with a crispy cutlet, long hot peppers, fresh mozzarella, and arugula. There’s also a platter of hot honey wings, plus apps
like house-made meatballs topped with ricotta and decadent vodka parm fries.

Hand & Stone SPREAD