THIS MARLBORO FINE DINING HOTSPOT IS LOYAL TO ONLY ORGANIC, NON GMO FARE
BY JESSICA JONES GORMAN • PHOTOS BY AMESSE PHOTOGRAPHY
At 77, Joe Folgore is very focused on his health. He works out almost every day, steers clear of most of life’s vices, and eats only organic, non GMO foods. Trouble is, he and his wife Sandy, who enjoys good food and wine like her husband, could never find a restaurant that strictly served fresh, farm to table protein and produce. So in 2018 he launched his own all natural fine dining concept, calling it Il Nido.
“When you travel to Italy, this is how they cook,” noted Folgore. “Everything is fresh and grown organically. The fish is live caught; the meats are grass fed. The produce is picked literally an hour before it is served. I’ve searched for restaurants in New York and New Jersey that serve food in that fashion, but a truly fresh and organic menu is very hard to come by.”
Born in Sicily and raised in Brooklyn, Folgore travels frequently. He is no career restaurateur; he owns FMW Piping, a pipe fitting company in Carteret that tackles large scale projects at all of the area airports, but he has a great respect and admiration for food.
“There are so many restaurants in Italy that take great pride in using fresh ingredients from their local town. That’s true farm to table, true sea to table. Their olive oil is top notch; their pasta is crafted from only the best wheat. Ingredients like white truffles, which are indigenous, are abundant.” So Folgore teamed up with veteran chef Joe Voller to provide that same style of dining in Marlboro.
“All of our flours are imported from Sicily from an organic grower who is known for restoring heirloom wheats,” Voller said. “Our produce is from organic farms and facilities in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Our dry goods are all from Italy – small farms, small producers allowing us to cook with that Italian mindset. You cook with what’s around you, using what’s in your garden. In Italy, if you live in the mountains and all that surrounds you is lamb and goat, lamb and goat is what’s on your menu.”
Voller, who trained under chefs Jose Garces and Douglas Rodriguez, started his culinary career at La Croix Restaurant at the Rittenhouse Hotel in Philadelphia. He credits chef John Olsen III with inspiring his love for true epicurean food.
“I had no idea food could be like this,” Voller said of his culinary education, during which Olsen would bring his students fresh game like rabbit to expand their gastronomic knowledge.
Today the chef uses the skills Olsen taught him to craft his menu at Il Nido.
“This is very authentic cooking. If you’ve been to Italy you know that when you eat a plate of pasta, you don’t feel the same way you feel when you eat a plate of pasta here in the U.S. And that’s the point of this restaurant. Food can be healthy, delicious, and enjoyable all at the same time.”
All of the pasta at Il Nido is handmade using imported wheat, which, according to the chef, reduces the sugar content in the carbs.
“Our pasta has a low gluten and low glycemic index, which hardly raises the body’s insulin level,” noted Folgore, who tests his blood sugar regularly. “I like to see how food affects me, so I test. With regular pasta my blood sugar raises to 150 or 160. With Il Nido’s pasta, I hardly ever enter triple digits.”
But the restaurant’s fresh and healthy offerings extend well past pasta. A juicy veal chop (sourced from Four Story Hill Farms) is served with gnocchi, mushroom ragù, and tempura asparagus. The grass fed filet mignon comes with crispy potato and salsa verde. A roasted beet salad is infused with blood orange and topped with whipped ricotta and Bronte pistachios. And the scallops are seared, served with artichoke, peas, and fava, then topped with mint and pecorino.
“Fresh is key here,” the chef emphasized. The setting is also simple. Several rooms are designed after regions of Italy that Folgore and his wife frequent. An open kitchen concept allows diners to watch the bustle of the kitchen as their meals are being prepared.
“Each room does not interact with the others,” Folgore said. “I wanted the concept to be small, unique, and private. I wanted our customers to come in and enjoy their meal in a cozy and quaint atmosphere. I’m not looking for volume here. I’m looking for quality.”
The BYOB concept emphasizes that idea.
“We do not have a liquor license because I want my clients to bring the bottles of wine that they enjoy. We focus on the food; you bring whatever you like to drink.”
And on any given evening you will find Folgore on the floor mingling with customers.
“I’m there every night that we’re open,” he concluded. “I want to talk to my customers, find out what they’re eating and why. The whole reason we launched this restaurant was to offer something that no other restaurant in New Jersey was doing. I love when I walk through the dining room and people thank me for bringing this concept to life. I appreciate this type of fresh food so much. I’m glad others do too.”
184 Route 9 N, Marlboro / 732.851.6347 /