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Dine with the Jersey Boys

January 10, 2011

image: The James Beard House

By Pat Tanner

No, not the ones singing on Broadway. These are even better: five sizzling-hot chefs who were either raised in Jersey or whose acclaimed restaurants are located in Jersey or both. They dub themselves “Team New Jersey” and they’re performing for your dining pleasure at the James Beard House on January 26.

The seven-course dinner that these five guys are cooking up – not to mention the eight or so passed hors d’oeuvre to open the evening – includes such exotic ingredients as Poha rice, lionfish, Buddha’s hand, black garlic, borage cress, and pork tenderloin crusted in leek ash. Among the enticing preparations are foie gras pave, frogs’ legs, wild boar brasato, sweetbreads, filet mignon, lobster tail, bone marrow, chestnut zabaglione, and rabbit agnolotti. The full menu, including matching wines, can be viewed at

Are we in Jersey anymore? Decidedly so.

The chef behind the idea is Michael Giletto (born and raised in Philadelphia, alas) who for the last five years has plied his trade to universal thumbs-up at Cherry Valley Country Club in Skillman. Joining him are Geoff Johnson, who has become the talk of Cape May since he took over the Copper Fish in West Cape May  a little over a year ago; Scott Romano, who calls himself the quintessential “New Jersey kid,” and who is receiving kudos for his work in Dallas at Charlie Palmer at the Joule—among them being named that Texas city’s Best Up and Coming Chef by D Magazine; Brian Wilson, who is garnering attention for the Italian food he creates at Philly’s Le Castagne, which he learned from his mother and grandmother while growing up in Ringwood.

But Matthew Zappoli, the fifth chef of the evening, has them all beat. He is a native of the Jersey Shore who graduated from Middletown High in Monmouth County. His restaurant, Tre Amici, opened in Long Branch in July 2010. That makes him Jersey born, bred, and contributing to the fine dining in the Garden State.

“Team New Jersey” dinner takes place at 7 pm on Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at the James Beard House, 167 West 12th Street, NYC. Tickets are $130 for James Beard Foundation members and $170 for the general public. To reserve, phone 212.627.2308 or go online at

2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 11, 2011 11:30 am

    I love Tre Amici and wrote about Matthew Zappoli after he won on the Foodnetwork TV show “Chopped” and reviewed his restaurant for Examiner –


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