disaster, but it just works. I love that.”
Crunchy and herbaceous, with nary a lima bean in
I last ate at C+M as the bill of fare transitioned to
fall. On my earlier visits, the menu was packed with
Jersey’s bounty of fried green tomatoes, corn and
a sublime succotash assembled from every pos-
sible green vegetable, from asparagus to zucchini.
sight (thanks be), this was peak summer in a bowl.
On my last visit, a tzatziki that accompanied
lamb meatballs (“We’re famous for them!” raved our
server) offered an unexpected but welcome kiss of
heat at the finish, thanks to a touch of poblano.
The flavors of cauliflower with cheese sauce
were reimagined in a cauliflower-Manchego soup of
which I was so enamored that the next day, I bought
a cauliflower and chunk of Manchego in hopes of
recreating it at home. ( That didn’t happen.) In any
event, I couldn’t have reproduced the terrific Mar-
cona almond-sage pesto and crispy
shallots gracing the top of the soup.
Tender P.E.I. mussels luxuriated
in a pool of broth made with hard ci-
der and strewn with double-smoked
bacon, shallots and apple cider-thyme butter. The
dish quickly became about how much broth you
soak up with the hot, crusty, grilled bread.
Generous slabs of pork belly arrived deeply
bronzed, crisp outside, tender and wonderfully
fatty within. The meat rested on a harmonious
purée of apple and fennel, but the smoked-apple
relish—really a fresh salsa made of minced, lightly
smoked apple—was not only clever, but rewarding.
Gaccione has a knack for deepening and intensifying classic flavors with judicious use of acid, heat
and contrasting textures. “I’m not making comfort
food, I’m making familiar food,” she says, too modest
to add that she is raising it to unfamiliar levels.
Gaccione, who grew up in Paterson, makes the
most of the Garden State’s bounty. I enjoyed the
summer version of her scallops dredged in fresh-
milled local corn meal, pan-seared and served on
WHAT’LL IT BE?
Opposite page: The
bulging burger beckons
strongly. This page,
clockwise from top left:
scallops with celery
root purée, root-vegetable hash and black
garlic butter; chef/
owner Leia Gaccione;
rustic apple tart with
cream; polenta fries.