The casual dining scene on Nassau and Witherspoon streets will look a bit different come spring.
A sign in the former Zorba’s Brother space on Nassau has been sporting a mysterious sign: “noodle house kung fu tea.” Now, there is a national bubble tea franchise named Kung Fu Tea that has at least one location in Phill,y and which plans to open soon in Edison and Hoboken. But that chain does not serve noodles, so it appears that two separate businesses plan to move in. Stay tuned for further details. kfteausa.com
Meantime, the Subway on Witherspoon is slated to close, to be taken over by Jules Thin Crust Pizza. The family-owned fast-casual enterprise serves pizzas made with “healthy, organic” ingredients.
Princeton will be the tenth outlet and second New Jersey location for this decade-old venture that started in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. The other opened in Cherry Hill just over a year ago, and has received stellar Yelp ratings.
Available for eat-in and take-out will be 8 meat, 15 veggie, and 4 cheese organic pies, plus 6 organic salads. Jules also offers gluten-free pizza, and many of its ingredients are locally sourced. These include pulled pork and BBQ sauce from Stockton’s More Than Q (which tops one of their meat pizzas), raw honey from Bucks County, greens exclusively from Blue Moon Acres, and eggs from Hopewell’s Gull Cottage. julesthincrust.com.
Another pizza is coming into town. On the heels of the recent closure of Naked Pizza on Nassau Street comes news that that space is being taken over by the folks behind Osteria Proccacini, which has currently has outlets in Kingston, Pennington, and Crosswicks. (I wrote about the cult following their meatballs have in the April 2015 issue of The Echo.)
Tino and John Procaccini and their partner Zissis “Z” Pappas will break through the wall of the adjoining space they already operate as Porta Via, their mainly takeout sandwich shop where Cox’s Market had been for many years. The expansion will allow them to add their signature Osteria Procaccini pizzas to the menu, as well as dine-in seating for 25.
John Procaccini says he hopes the reconfigured Porta Via will be in full swing by mid-February. getforky.com.
Winter dining deals at Peacock Inn, Hopewell Valley Vineyards
Throughout the month of February, the Peacock Inn’s dining room is offering a three-course prix fixe dinner for $49 on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings. (The only exception: Valentine’s Day, which falls on Sunday this year.)
There are two choices among the starters, mains, and desserts, and these come directly from Chef Jason Ramos’s winter menu. One possible combo: sautéed ricotta gnocchi with asparagus, wild mushrooms, oven-dried tomatoes, and mushroom-Parmesan butter sauce; Scottish organic salmon en croute with white asparagus puree, pickled red onion, and red wine reduction; and glazed chocolate mousse cake with Bailey’s milk jam and coffee ice cream. peacockinn.com.
Hopewell Valley Vineyards in Pennington is now mounting five-course farm-to-table dinners on the third Wednesday of every month. In-house chef Nikiforos Vaimakis, a native of Greece, creates a different modern Mediterranean menu each month, sourcing many of his ingredients from Blue Moon Acres.
Each course gets paired with one of Violetta and Sergio Neri’s Hopewell Valley wines. Barbera was the choice this past January for his fourth course of grass-fed beef slow cooked with red wine, onions, and dried plums served with roasted potatoes and celery root puree.
It’s no wonder these $70 meals (wine included)sell out well in advance. Seating is limited to 18 guests and reservations are required. hopewellvalleyvineyards.com.
If Vaimakis’s name sounds familiar, it could be because a few months ago he guest-cheffed at Infini-T Café in downtown Princeton, where he mounted an all-Greek menu and talked about the yoga retreats that he and his wife, Melina Ragazas, host at their B&B in Greece’s Zagori region.
Ragazas is a member of the Neri family, and the couple divides their time between Hopewell and Greece.
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