In October of 2014, at a tasting event silent auction, I won a gift certificate to the Stone Terrace by John Henry in Hamilton, NJ. It’s been some years since we patronized this upscale restaurant and events facility, and wanted to make sure to use the certificate before it expired… although there was no apparent expiration date evident.
Knowing the possibility of getting a reservation during prime time on a weekend could be dicey, we booked online several days in advance for 7:30 on a Saturday. Once there, standing at the maitre d’ station, a shout out from the bar area calling my name took us by surprise! Who was sitting there enjoying cocktails but Rosanne and Gary Zarrilli! A complete shock because Rosanne and I had chatted about dining there as a foursome some months ago, but we never settled on a date. I guess you could say “serendipity” played a part in this chance meeting.
The Z’s were there to hear the DJ in another room because they had booked him for an upcoming event of their own. We inquired if they’d already eaten and since they had an 8:00 rez, they gladly accepted our offer to join us.
The night’s specials were so intriguing that we ordered most of our choices from those offerings. For starters both couples each shared an appetizer of the most delicious Crabmeat Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms with roasted red peppers and smoked mozzarella on a bed of greens. Did I say “fabulous“… four thumbs up!
Next we ordered two of their salad specials to split. The Z’s chose the Salad Three Ways, which included chopped tomatoes and basil, lightly dressed greens and sandwiched between the two was a large dollop of Burrata cheese with a balsamic drizzle—a fresh Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream. The outer shell is solid mozzarella, while the inside contains both mozzarella and cream, giving it an unusual, soft texture. Rosanne was ooohing and aaahing over that cheese! Our choice was the Arugula Salad with Figs, candied walnuts and crumbled goat cheese in a light vinaigrette. Lucky for me, Russ doesn’t like walnuts so I got all of them!
All four entrees were cooked to perfection, and both mine and Gary’s dinners were accompanied by sides of perfectly cooked baby roasted potatoes and steamed green beans. Russ’ side of flash-fried spinach was unusually good.
Throughout the evening, our waitress Jennie, kept us entertained with her infectiousness laugh, smile and playful bantering. Now there was somebody who seemed to really take pleasure in her job and interacting with people… a sure means for a good tip!