Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Review: Sofia Restaurant in Englewood, NJ: Tasty American and Italian Cuisine in a Contemporary Setting

Sofia's is an upscale restaurant in Englewood, NJ, a few minutes from the GW Bridge.

Their website is http://sofiaenglewood.com/

According to the website, Sofia emphasizes its dry-aged steaks cooked to perfection, its wide array of beverages including a great wine list, expert-crafted cocktails and loca beer. It also has a downstairs smokers bar with a filtration system. 

I visited this restaurant to review it with my millenial son as a second opinion. Overall, we will both go back to try more of what's on the menu as we were very impressed with the selections we chose. Here's why:

Location

Sofia's is located where Smoke Chophouse once was, 36 Engle Street in Englewood, NJ.  It is easily accessible on the left hand side. It is a one-way street.



First Impression and Decor

Inside, the decor is contemporary with an Asian flair to it. The chairs and tables were wood. There were no tablecloths. The fixtures were modern. My son liked the sconces on the wall which echoed other circular decor. The colors were neutral from nature. The upstairs bar faced the street, with seating for about 15. There were several seating areas and each one had a slightly different feel to it. The back room had more of an outdoor, garden-like feel than the others. I did not go down to the smoking area in the lower level.

Plates were white and ovalish. Flatware was simple and contemporary.

I liked the look and was looking forward to the food. 

Menu 

This restaurant is known for steaks. There were appetizers, soups, salads, pasta, steaks and chops, chicken and sides on the menu. Prices were reasonable with the highest price being a steak entree in the 40's.  The website calls the menu gourmet Italian-American and I would concur. There were Italian dishes but really it was Italian most people are familiar with. 

What We Ordered

Appetizers

Let me start by saying I am not a big red meat eater, but I enjoy a nice red filet mignon. I did not order the steak as it was earlier in the evening, which I should have. I figured I would start off with a caesar salad with steak in it to give me a taste of the quality.

Unfortunately steak in a salad was not available on the dinner menu, so I ordered just a regular caesar salad as an appetizer. I am the queen of salads and can easily tell you where the best caesar salads are and which use fresh dressing with anchovies and which use bottled dressing. The caesar salad here did not disappoint. With some some chicken it would make a great lunch. 



The salad was artfully arranged. The lettuce was crisp and showed the beautiful range of colors in the romaine lettuce. There were a few pieces of cheese on it, homemade croutons (which were very tasty but a bit buttery) and some anchovies laid across the top. The dressing was excellent; rich, creamy, with just the right dose of anchovy flavor so that it was too fish-smelling. It was a perfect caesar dressing.

My son ordered Long Hot Finger Peppers Oreganato as an appetizer, peppers stuffed with sausage and aged provolone cheese. The waiter offered up that it was spicy, but not too spicy, and that was correct. It had just enough kick. The sausage stuffing had a kick to it as did the peppers, which were cooked just enough yet not too much. 

Main Course

I ordered Chicken Milanese. Again, the presentation was clean and impressive. The cutlet was a good size, about 5-7 inches across. The arugula on top was tasty. It did not seem on first bite to have much flavor but then when you had the second bite in your mouth the seasonings just melted in your mouth.  The cutlet was crispy on the edges and moister on the inside without being dry anywhere.



My son ordered the salmon. It was also presented beautifully with avocado, pickled onion, and an orange-colored cream sauce which was uniquely cradled in a half pearl onion. The waiter did not know what kind of sauce it was but he went and found out for us. The salmon was cooked to perfection and seared.  It was a good size. The sauce did not interfere with the taste of the salmon as it was lightly drizzled on the entree. 




Side Dish

I do love vegetables. To complement our entrees we chose a plate of three vegetables, broccoli rabe, fingerling potatoes and asparagus. The platter contained a healthy portion of all. The broccoli rabe and asparagus was nicely seasoned and cooked just right. Sometimes both can have a very bitter taste if not prepared well and this did not. 




The fingerling potatoes were tasty and the right texture. They were coated in oil with perhaps a little bit of parsley/herbs but I did ask for some salt.

Dessert

Both my son and I saved room for the dessert. He enjoys all of the meal but dessert is by far my favorite. I knew I had to get something chocolate.  The desserts were not on the menu but read by the waiter. The waiter said the chocolate mousse was delicious but small, so as this was to be shared we chose the other chocolate item, a chocolate pear tartlet.



The chocolate pear tartlet, for a chocolate lover, and also someone who likes baked fruit, was to die for. The presentation was splendid as was the taste of the entire concoction. The shell was buttery and substantial. The dark chocolate topping was creamy and tasted like dark chocolate. Inside was a ganache-type filling with small bites of baked pear. My son tasted a nutty flavor but I did not see any nuts. It was just the right amount of pear and chocolate. Neither overpowered the other and they both still tasted like what they were. The chocolate taste was more dominant but that was fine. There was also a generous amount of fresh whipped cream on top. The chef told us that this was his own recipe.

Also having tried just about every cheesecake known to man, I also ordered their cheesecake to see how it compared.




The ample slice came with a sliced strawberry and was glazed with a strawberry glaze, a very nice change over the usual raspberry glaze. The cheese part was just perfect. It was not too light and not too heavy, but then again some prefer a heavier caker to a lighter cake. This was just in the middle. The taste was uninterrupted cheese and sweet with nothing else interfering with it, as it should be. The crust was tasty and moist from the butter, though I prefer crusts that are a little bit thicker.

Coffee

My millenial son who claims to be a coffee expert, said the coffee was superb. he said it had a fruity flavor. 


The Chef

We had the pleasure of meeting the Chef, who was very interested in feedback as he said he is aiming for perfection in this new position.  Having grown up in Italy, he explained how he honed his craft there by working with a chef from ages 14-`19 without getting paid. Because as he said, "This is how you learn." Diners at this restaurant will be happy he is now sharing his culinary skills with those of us in America.

Would I go back?

Definitely. I need to try the steak and the pasta dishes. 

Just a few things: 

Don't forget about the valet parking. Pull up right away as the sign was not visible right away. It is a one-way street, so get over to the left early on. 

Ask to see all the areas of the restaurant before you get seated. Each has a different atmosphere.

Also, ask about what items are available throughout the day and which are only available for lunch or dinner.

Check out their website to see specials on drinks and food that they run throughout the week. 
http://sofiaenglewood.com/

Reviewed by Suzee and Son. All food photos by Suzanne Ordas Curry

1 comment:

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