There are a number of adjectives I could use to describe Peter Loria, chef/owner of Café Matisse in Rutherford, N.J. Simple, however would not be one of them. Creative, inspired, innovative and passionate are a few that quickly come to mind. To apply these adjectives to his food would be an understatement. To say his food is straightforward and simple would be grossly inaccurate. To say he pushes the culinary envelope with each dish with a combination of ingredients that few would ever consider would be an understatement. To say he succeeds where most others have failed in this regard would be an understatement as well. To say his food is absolutely delicious would also be an understatement. While the menu description of each dish is a paragraph of ingredients as opposed to a few words, the combination of flavors and textures he creates becomes a celebration in your mouth. To say his food is amazing would simply not capture this man’s ability in the kitchen. It is for these reasons that one does not just eat at Café Matisse, one partakes of a unique and often extraordinary dinning experience. Simply put, Peter is among the very best chefs I have ever encountered and Cafe Maisse is amongst the finest restaurants in the country in my humble opinion.. I am also extremely proud to be able to call him my friend.
The service here, under the direction of Maitre’d Larry and his staff, is as spectacular as the food that is served. A BYOB restaurant, the wine service outdistances most restaurants with wine lists. Wine is decanted with a smile and there are always appropriate glasses to match the wine. (Café Matisse also owns a small wine shop that is located at the front entrance where you may also purchase wine to enjoy with your meal).
I have many extraordinary meals here over the years, but this one seemed to soar to new heights. While any or all of the adjectives delicious, amazing, incredible, etc. could be used to describe these dishes; they in fact could not fully communicate the level of this dinning experience. We each had two savory and one sweet course from the unique "grazing menu" Peter has created.
Fresh Mozzarella wrapped in Spec Ham, rolled in Panko and Lightly Toasted Dollop of Robiola Cheese with Truffled Tomato Jam, Heirloom Tomatoes, Olive Salsa and Spanish Red Peppers Topped with Fried Zuccini Batons, Drizzled with creamy Basil Garlic Yogurt Sauce, Dusted with Basil Crystals.
Hot And Spicy Panko Crusted Crabcake Over Spicy Grilled Corn Pepper Relish, Dollop of Spicy Crab Relish with Guacamole Fritter and Tabasco Cheddar Glazed Shrimp, Drizzled with Chipotle Vinegar and Hickory Barbeque Demi-Glace. (Hands down the best Crab Cake I have ever had).
Ginger Lemon Spiked Shortcake Biscuit with Fresh Strawberries, Almond Vanilla Strawberry Crème, Dollop of Wild Blueberry Candied Ginger Jam with Banana Brown Sugar Marshmallow Jus, Topped with Candied Almonds
Banana Crème Pie With Almond Graham Cracker Crust, Caramelized Bananas and White Chocolate Mousse Topped with Cherry Ginger Jam and Cherry Marshmallow Crème