After living in South Orange, NJ (SO) for almost three years, I’ve come to the conclusion that I LOVE my town. To express my love, I have started a new section called “My Town” in which I will talk about new restaurants, shops, events, and experiences that are offered in South Orange and the surrounding neighborhoods (Maplewood and Millburn).
First up is Ricalton’s Village Tavern (pronounced like “pickle-tons” with an “R”), which is open now on 19 Valley Street in SO. In May it caught my eye when I was driving my daughter to daycare one morning and I decided to pop in and say hello before it opened! Everyone was so friendly and excited to share what residents will experience starting this summer:
Owner & GM: Stony, also the owner of our beloved Stony’s Burger restaurant on Sloan St. Opening Ricalton’s has been his dream for a long time.
The dream team:
From Bergen County, Executive Chef Nicholas Severino is a young, bright star who discovered his culinary niche at an early age. His acute awareness of unique and delicious flavor combinations and kitchen skills bring patrons a truly experiential dining experience! He shares: “We want to be accessible–we don’t want to scare away the college students or the families. We are designing a menu that will cater to everyone but maintain culinary integrity.”
Bar Manager Candice Bauman is an award-winning bartender who hails from Asbury Park, New Jersey where she worked at the well-known, upscale fusion restaurant Aqua Lounge. Her restaurant background coupled with experience working for Diageo puts Ricalton’s on the map as a stellar spot for libations. She shares: “Much like the food, the cocktails are old school classic “post-prohibition” drinks with a twist.”
Concept: Ricalton’s is a family-friendly restaurant where you can experience an upscale ambiance and eat a high-end steak with a $100 bottle of wine, but also be able to get a burger and a beer for under $20. The menu offers traditional American-style bistro cuisine with Nouveau American flair, and the restaurant itself has three distinct areas for catering to a diverse set of clientele. The wine menu contains 50 different bottle sod wine from $8.00 per glass options to $200 per bottle premium vintages. There’s something for everyone here, truly catering to the unique population in South Orange!
The Main Restaurant – features a large bar, live music area for acoustic entertainment on Thursdays and Saturdays, a fireplace and plenty of seating (tables and stylish half-circle booths).
The East Wing/Valley Street Bar – situated in the front on Valley Street, the east wing has a beautiful mahogany bar and can handle up to 80 people for private events. High-end Scotches and bourbons are the main event on the spirits menu.
The Snug – downstairs is an intimate pub called The Snug, accessible via the main entrance or a side door in the back of the restaurant. Most likely attracting the 20-something crowd (but doesn’t discriminate to other age groups of course!), bar-goers while have fun playing on the two dart boards, drinking Irish Whisky paired with beers, and eating traditional Irish pub food with a modern twist (think Shepherd’s Pie with braised short rib, which Chef Nicholas says is “familiar but sexy”).
My taste test: Although not open yet, I got to sample two things while I was interviewing the team and they were delicious! I tried the classiest-looking nachos I’ve ever seen (and tastiest) made with wild flavors of corn flour instead of typical yellow, braised short rib, cilantro lime creme, and chipotle cream sauce. I also had lobster salad with creamy, soft potatoes topped with arugula and a lemony dressing. #Heaven.
Final word from Stony: “I’m excited to offer something that isn’t cookie-cutter to the area. Ricalton was my grandfather who lived in South Orange in the 1880s and was the first school master for the high school. An adventurist, he was commissioned by Thomas Edison to go around the world in search of the perfect lightbulb filaments. Ricalton did this six times, venturing to 60 countries and walked 300,000 miles. When he returned home with the filaments, Edision made the first lightbulb a year or two later. The vintage photographs on the walls were his taken during these voyages.”
Check out Ricalton’s on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Ricaltons