To celebrate the end of yet another work week, Dave and I went out to dinner at the lovely Alessio Restaurant 426 on Main Street in Metuchen. As usual, the food was excellent and inspiring. I would recommend trying this great restaurant the next time you’re in central NJ!
Dave started with a cup of the butternut squash soup. It was slightly sweet with a faint cinnamon aroma. The texture was creamy and consistent throughout, and it was served piping hot. I opted for the pumpkin shrimp ravioli in a butter sage sauce. The homemade ravioli were cooked to al dente perfection, and the slightly sweet filling was a lovely muted orange. The flavor was predominantly pumpkin, though the shrimp notes were present in each bite. It was light but not overpowering, and the butter sage sauce nicely coated the two large ravioli.
Next, Dave and I ordered the same special entree: boneless duck breast with a wild blueberry reduction, served with grilled polenta and the house vegetable ratatouille. The duck was simply fabulous, cooked to the chef-recommended medium-rare degree. The meat was tender and not at all greasy, and the skin had a delightful crisp. The flavor was a perfect blend of dry-rubbed spices with a hint of sweetness, and the moist meat was perfectly seasoned throughout. Hidden beneath the carefully carved breast meat was a whimsical wild blueberry reduction. It was not too sweet nor too heavy, and with a dollop on each slice of breast meat, it brought the dish to a magnificent conclusion on the palate.
The polenta (my first foray into this dish) was delicious as well. Though a bit drier than I would have liked, the grilled flavor complemented the grainy texture. It soaked up some of the blueberry and duck juices during the meal, a real treat. My only regret was the ratatouille. While the selection of vegetables (include zucchini and squash) was commendable, the flavor was highly reminiscent of canned salsa. Tomatoes and onions overpowered the side, detracting from the natual flavors of the nicely cooked vegetables.
Though Dave and I opted to skip dessert this time, I can’t neglect to mention the scrumptious dessert I indulged in last time we visited. It was a wonderful pumpkin bread pudding served with ginger cookies, vanilla gelato (they ran out of pumpkin gelato the night we were there, but the vanilla was wonderful), and a heavy-handed drizzle of caramel sauce. While I swooned over this masterpiece, Dave sipped his coffee with chocolate and mint syrups, which he thoroughly enjoyed to the last drop.
As you know, I place a high premium on good service. The wait staff is quick and unobtrusive, and they are always polite to their customers without being overly engaging. The hostess is bubbly and charming, and she remembers us each time we visit (always a wonderful asset for any restaurant). The chef knows how to pair great flavors and has created an elegant, fascinating menu.
I must say: I’m looking forward to our next visit to Alessio Restaurant 426! It’s nearly perfect, and I can’t sing high enough praises of its adventurous twists on traditional Italian fare. Bravo and bellissimo!
Alex’s rating: 9.2 / 10.0
Alessio Restaurant 426
426 Main Street
Metuchen, NJ 08840