|Using the Selfie Stick- Thanks Emma!|
Sunday was the big day. The day all my message board friends finally got to get together to honor our two fallen friends, Marie & Christine. It was the get together that almost didn't happen because of the weather. The weather did not play nice and we got a black ice mess the likes of something we haven't seen yet this winter. It ruined my morning but it wasn't about to ruin the afternoon. Amy and I were trekking down to Al Dente in Hillsborough no matter what. In my Mini Cooper. I was hoping to catch Gwyneth on Stern but I should've known that Amy and I would be chatting the entire hour plus ride over there.
|The crew who closed down the joint|
Kari and her boyfriend Joe Trani generously offered up his restaurant, Al Dente, as a meeting/eating place. This was great because Hillsborough is as centrally located as we're going to get for the women on a message board for all of NJ (and some transplants in and out). It was pretty perfect actually. I certainly don't mind driving a little over an hour.
I didn't really think about the food, because, well, I'm not a foodie. I mostly eat Jenny Craig food and I like simple things. Kari had discussed the menu prior but I didn't really pay attention. They were talking about stuff I never heard of and I didn't really care. I figured I'd eat the plainest thing and call it a day.
Well, this definitely exceeded any expectations and then some. Al Dente is in a cute little strip mall with plenty of parking. We found it easily- it's right off Rt 206S. We walked in and there are two rather large rooms. I assume one could possibly have a smaller party in the back even while they were open in the front for regular business. As in, the back is private enough to do that. I thought it was going to be more of a "gourmet pizza joint" but no, it's an amazing food restaurant with a really nice ambiance.
I tried a few things I wouldn't ordinarily try. First of all, there were chicken wings. Any chicken wing connoisseur could tell you that not all wings are the same and not all are good. I've had some really gross wings. Even recently- I ordered "mild" wings somewhere and couldn't even eat them. My mouth was melting off. But these didn't have sauce so I was intrigued. They were so good I am still thinking about them. They were spiced perfectly. Just enough but not too much. And the best part was that they didn't NEED any sauce. So they weren't messy to walk around and eat while talking to people. I wished I'd ordered (and paid) for some to go.
I saw these ravioli things and wasn't sure what was inside. But I do love a good cream sauce so I tried this peachy-colored raviolis. They were fantastic. I found out later they were pumpkin ravioli in an Alfredo sauce. Of course I had the penne vodka, which is always my standby favorite. Yum. I also had their mozzarella and tomato with balsamic which was great, and their bread. It was a flat bread- I don't know what it was but it was awesome.
There were things I ate I can't describe and don't have photos of, so you'll just have to trust me when I say that it was all fabulous.
For dessert there were cookies and then, their version of Nutella pizza which was superb. I grabbed the last slice and I was so glad I did. I was also glad there was only one left because I could've eaten the whole pie. I guess Nutella pizza is a "thing" now and boy am I glad. What a great addition to any menu. It just feels lighter than any cake and not as naughty but still dessert and still delicious.
I looked through the regular menu and see the prices are really reasonable too. I don't know if this is indicative of the area or just this particular place. I don't know the area well and have not eaten anywhere around there. But most of the entrée prices are between $11-$16 with nothing over $23 and that's for one thing. There are a few things in the $16-$20 range but very little. It's worth a lot more!
It's also BYO. So get your favorite alcoholic drink and bring it on in with you. We did!
This was the best place for our big celebration of our internet family and to celebrate the lives of two wonderful women taken from us way too soon. I wish I lived closer to be able to be a regular at Al Dente for B, E and my Saturday night meals out. If we're ever cruising around in the area though, we are sure to stop back. And I hope our message board party becomes at least an annual thing. Though, I don't know that it's fair to make Kari work so hard. She did work her tail off and everything came off without a hitch. I'm sorry she didn't really get to hang more but she was running around making sure everyone had enough everything and just being the Hostess with the Mostess. Thanks Kari- you made it extra special for sure. I hope there was leftover wine for you.
Al Dente Italian Restaurant
Authentic Italian Cuisine
381 Triangle Road
Hillsborough, NJ 08844