Celebrity Chef Fabio Viviani Cooking Demonstration at Wild Wing Cafe in Barrington

Celebrity Chef Fabio Viviani will be leading a cooking demonstration at Wild Wing Cafe in Barrington, NJ on Sunday, January 26th starting at 9AM.

He was a fan favorite on season 5 of the culinary competition show Top Chef on Bravo. Since then, he’s opened numerous restaurants around the world, started his own wine collection, has a line of cookware, among other business accomplishments. He also has his own YouTube cooking show called Fabio’s Kitchen.

It’s free to get in but there will be a breakfast buffet with a mimosa bar for $10. Reservations for Fabio’s special appearance and live cooking demonstration can only be made by calling the restaurant at 856-617-0663.

Almost 75% of the seats have been accounted for… so if you want to go, act now!

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Former Merchantville Diner will become Merchant House, Expects Early April Opening

Merchant House will open at 24 S. Centre Street in Merchantville early March

It was announced this week that the former Merchantville Diner will open as Merchant House, operated by Patti Sharp, formerly of The Station House restaurant in Haddon Heights.

Merchantville is excited for this new restaurant addition that joins The Blue Monkey, Park Place Cafe & Restaurant, Charlie’s Crepes, La Guadalupana Mexican Restaurant, Sakura Japanese Restaurant, and more.

Construction is almost complete and they are expecting to be open by early April. It looks so beautiful inside!

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Versi Vino Wine Bar Under Construction in Maple Shade

Versi Vino Wine Bar & Kitchen is currently under construction at 461 Route 38 West in Maple Shade on the site of a former, long-closed Hooters. It will join a small strip of stores which includes Dunkin Donuts, a hair salon, a nail salon, and a tobacco shop. The new wine-focused restaurant and wine shop promises a new wine and food experience in South Jersey.

The build-out is currently in progress by Gibbsboro-based construction firm Big Sky Enterprises. The 48-seat restaurant will offer wine and food pairings, and a limited cocktail menu. Wine-to-go in growler type containers will also be available.

A projected opening date is TBD. Stay tuned to their social media accounts or sign up on the website for updates.

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Chef-Driven Boutique Food Market Haddon Culinary is now open in Collingswood

Two chefs with tons of retail and catering experience behind them had a vision to open a new type of boutique food market in South Jersey.

When specialty grocer McFarlan’s Market closed after a short stint in Collingswood last summer, they felt it was the right space at the right time to realize their dream.

It’s a tricky business, though. But if Chefs Joe Muldoon and James Liuzza play their cards right, Haddon Culinary could be a hit. It’s going to depend on a lot of factors, but keeping prices reasonable and making customers happy is going to be key.

Haddon Culinary Opening Day

I was one of the first to get a look when they opened their doors on Saturday, December 28th. Early buzz brought a line of folks curious to see what the new market was all about.

Haddon Culinary First Customers

The first customers certainly had a lot to take in. Many were slowly milling about to check out the various food stations and grocery items. It has everything needed to inspire cooking more at home or not cooking at all. Some of the highlights include:

Haddon Culinary Prepared Foods

An array of prepared foods and salads priced by the pound. You can also find pre-made dips, salsas, etc.

Haddon Culinary Roman-Style Pizza & Baked Goods

A few Roman-style pizzas and a small line-up of baked goods and pastries.

Haddon Culinary Deli Selections

Many pre-made sandwiches for $7.99 and several deli meats all made in-house and priced per the pound.

Haddon Culinary Rotisserie Chicken

Hefty seasoned rotisserie chickens priced at $8.99 and mashed potato of the day for a quick meal at home.

Haddon Culinary Seafood Selections

Small, but respectable seafood offerings. I was especially happy to see sushi-grade tuna loin.

Haddon Culinary Meat Department

A more-than-adequate meat department complete with butchery services. Need something cut to your liking or a unique burger blend? They have you covered. All sausages are made in-house.

Haddon Culinary Steak Selections

There are many steak selections to chose from with a nice assortment of house-made marinades and compound butters. They’ll even cook a steak for you at no extra charge!

Haddon Culinary Cheese Case

A decent amount of cheese and charcuterie items in the cheese case featuring many items from Di Bruno Bros.

Haddon Culinary Grab & Go

Lots of pre-made items ready to grab & go for quick heating and eating at home.

Haddon Culinary Produce Selections

A variety of produce items including boxed lettuces, carrots, asparagus, peppers, green beans, mushrooms, fruits, fresh herbs, and more.

Haddon Culinary Grocery Items

A curated mix of grocery items such as pastas, rice, beans, lentils, tomato sauces, olive oils, vinegars, spices, seasonings, and flavorings, etc. They also carry bread and rolls by Sarcone’s and Philly Bread.

Haddon Culinary Soup Station

Daily soup specials will be featured at the soup station.

Haddon Culinary MADE Atlantic City Chocolate Bars

Chocolate bars by MADE Atlantic City are some of the locally and regionally made items available.

All of this is really the tip of the iceberg. I highly recommend that you check it out for yourself. It really is a culinarian’s dream; a foodie paradise. There’s much to love here. If you like to eat, it’s a must-visit.

Haddon Culinary is located at 741 Haddon Avenue.

I’d love to hear your thoughts when you go!

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Soul-Full Burritos at Men in the Kitchen in Pennsauken

Men in the Kitchen Kicked-Up Sandwiches & Barbecue

Men in the Kitchen located at 9003 N Crescent Blvd (Route 130 South) in Pennsauken is not only serving up kicked-up sandwiches and belly-busting barbecue, but they’re also offering banging burritos and other tasty selections.

Men in the Kitchen’s Menu Board

The menu is heavy on BBQ pit favorites, soul food specials, and mouth-watering sides they say are so good it’ll “keep you coming back!” Upon my visit today, I wanted to try the soul-full burritos that JL Jupiter raved about after a recent drop-in.

Men in the Kitchen Home of the Soul-Full Burrito

There are a total of four Soul-Full Burritos to choose from: Brisket, Jerk Chicken, Pulled Pork, and Fish & Shrimp. Upon my visit today, they also offered a Crab Cake Burrito and a Catfish Burrito. I would have loved to try them all, but I chose the Jerk Chicken and Crab Cake Burritos for today’s sampling purpose.

Jerk Chicken Burrito

If you especially like spicy food, the Jerk Chicken Burrito ($5) is for you. The well-seasoned shredded chicken will wake up your taste buds for sure. Combined with creamy macaroni and cheese and slightly tangy cabbage, it’s a genuinely satisfying flavor explosion. The heat of this burrito may be a bit much for some folks, but it did not deter me. I found it downright irresistible.

Crab Cake Burrito

The Crab Cake Burrito ($7) was much more on the milder side. Housemade seasoned crab cakes combined with Cajun rice and sauteed spinach created a pleasurable bite. This burrito also came with homemade tartar sauce, which I appreciated.

Prices are very affordable making the burritos a solid lunch choice. I’m eager to try the catfish burrito next time and… everything else on the menu. In fact, they told me today they will be launching breakfast soon, which is quite exciting to me. Stay tuned!

If you go, keep in the mind it’s more of a take-out place and not a full-scale restaurant. You place your order, wait while they prepare it, and carry it out. They suggest calling ahead for quicker pick-up: (609) 543-9003.

Skip the Taco Bell and head to Men in the Kitchen for soul-full, fresh-made burritos that will leave you so-full and happy.

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Crab Du Jour To Replace Go Stir Fry Express in Pennsauken

Crab Du Jour at 7801 Maple Ave, Pennsauken, NJ 08109

Crab Du Jour, a chain featuring Cajun-style seafood, will take over where Go Stir Fry Express was located on the corner of Haddonfield Road and Maple Avenue in Pennsauken.

Boiled seafood platters blended with a variety of seasoning flavors and heat levels to choose from will be served low country boil style with corn and potatoes. Popular seafood such as king or snow crab legs, shrimp (with the head on or off), lobster tail, crawfish, clams, mussels, and more will be available. Sausage can be added to each boiled platter for an extra charge.

Fried seafood, fish, and chicken baskets will be offered served with choice of fries, onion rings, sweet potato fries, coleslaw, potatoes or corn. Selections of fried seafood and fish include catfish, shrimp, tilapia, calamari, and oysters.

Raw or steamed oysters and scallops, wings, sliders, and salads round out the menu. Prices seem fairly reasonable for seafood.

While I’m very sad that Go Stir Fry Express closed (they had the best poke bowls), I am cautiously optimistic about Crab Du Jour in this “doomed” location. Go Stir Fry had a pretty good run for the 3 years it was opened. Before that, it was a short-lived soft pretzel store.

According to the website, they are planning locations in Cherry Hill and Delran as well. More details as I have them and stay tuned for a review once it opens.

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Erlton Social Under Construction at The Big Event in Cherry Hill

[Photo: The Big Event]

A new pub with 24 craft beers on tap, handcrafted cocktails, and a chef-inspired menu will be opening inside of The Big Event at 1536 Kings Highway North in Cherry Hill.

Erlton Social is currently under construction, according to Event Sales and Marketing Director Maggie Parker-Goins, and was announced on a local Facebook group.

The menu will feature gluten-free, vegetarian, and even vegan items.

An early 2020 opening is anticipated.

Stay tuned for more details as we get them.

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Authentic Korean Dishes Now Available at The Cub & Bunny Cafe in Cherry Hill

The Cub & Bunny Cafe in Cherry Hill

Earlier this year, The Cub & Bunny Cafe opened at 1206 North Kings Highway in Cherry Hill offering Philadelphia-based Bassett’s ice cream flavors along with bubble egg waffle sundaes. Just last month, they started offering Korean dishes such as rice bowls, Korean pancakes, and even Korean sushi. More about that in a bit.

When owners James and Kim immigrated from South Korea 25 years ago, they settled in South Jersey, raised a family, and operated several nail salons in the local area. Earlier this year, with their daughter grown, they were getting tired of running 10 nail salons and decided to sell all of them and focus on running one small business.

Kim had always dreamed of opening a food business, but with no prior experience, she didn’t want to open a full-sized restaurant or even a food truck. Since they owned the real estate on Kings Highway, she felt that opening a take-out only ice cream shop there would be simple to run and get her foot in the food business door so to speak.

Korean Dishes at The Cub & Bunny Cafe

After a successful summer with many new and returning customers raving about Bassett’s ice cream (only a few places carry it in South Jersey), Kim began to think about adding some comfort food dishes especially as the colder weather approaches.

Korean Rice Bowls & Cheesesteaks at The Cub & Bunny Cafe

It made sense to offer what she knows – authentic and traditional Korean items such as Bulgogi and chicken rice bowls — and some with a few Americanized twists such as Korean bulgogi and Spicy Pork cheesesteaks and spicy fried chicken to pique curiosity.

Korean Seaweed Rolls at The Cub & Bunny Cafe

A variety of Korean seaweed rolls, or Gimbap, rice rolls that look like sushi rolls, as well as approachable Korean egg pancakes, or pajeon, are also on the menu. The rolls and pancakes can be ordered together as combos encouraging adventurous eaters to explore the menu.

Fried Kimchi with Bacon at The Cub & Bunny Cafe

Upon my visit, Kim was gracious to cook for me in her small, but well-stocked kitchen. First, she fried up some kimchi with bacon. I’m a long-time fan of kimchi, but never tried it with bacon. The aroma from pan-frying the spicy kimchi with the rendered bacon was intoxicating. Combining spicy, fermented cabbage with fatty bacon is truly a glorious taste sensation. It was even better when she put it into the Bulgogi beef rice bowl she also prepared for me.

I’ve been eating Korean food for about 20 years. I remember the first time I tried it, I had absolutely no clue what to expect. It was a flavor revelation — the combination of spicy, sweet, sour, and savory all in one mouthful was truly a culinary awakening in me. It opened my mind and palate to keep exploring new cuisines and flavors.

Observing Kim prepare these dishes, I could tell she is leaning on her many years of home cooking, with family recipes, taking great care and putting much thoughtfulness in the preparation of the dishes. Not only was her mise en place well organized, but her calm, methodical approach to cooking demonstrated confidence and natural prowess in the kitchen. I saw her take each component, as it cooked on a small induction cooktop, seasoning as she went to build layers of flavor. What she lacks in commercial cooking experience, she wholly makes up for in traditional Korean home cooking know-how. In other words, she knows how to cook and people should be eating her food!

Korean Bulgogi Beef Rice & Noodle Bowl at The Cub & Bunny Cafe

Each rice bowl comes with Japchae noodles, which are a clear noodle made with sweet potato starch. They are naturally gluten-free and take on the flavor of whatever they’re cooked or paired with. The bowls are also packed with lots of fresh vegetables such as carrots, cabbage, mushroom, peppers, and spinach. It’s all mixed together with a slightly spicy sauce, but nothing that will blow your head off. Just lots of lovely, deep flavor and freshness. I am eager to try the rest of the menu now that they are available on Grubhub. Ice cream and Korean food, who knew?

The Cub & Bunny Cafe is open for lunch or dinner seven days a week and available for pick-up or delivery through Grubhub. Hours are Monday-Friday 12:00-8:30PM, Saturday 12:00-9:30PM, and Sunday 3:00-8:30PM.

Call 856-354-9999 to place your order. Then come back here to tell me your thoughts!

Don’t forget to tell them South Jersey Food Scene sent you! This is a new small business in South Jersey worth supporting.

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Local Dietitian Offers Healthy Meal Options for Pick-Up or Delivery in South Jersey

This story originally appeared in South Jersey: Locals Only. Join the group for exclusive content about the South Jersey Food Scene!

Meet Josh George. He’s a registered dietitian and trained chef. He’s helping people in South Jersey eat healthy, delicious scratch-made food.

He started Bariatric Boxes, a healthy food delivery service, in 2018 after leaving a dietitian position at Cooper University’s Bariatric & Metabolic Surgery Center. Meals are prepared every week in a rented, ServSafe kitchen in Williamstown, NJ.

A majority of the meals use produce grown and purchased from Maugeri’s Farm Market in Swedesboro, NJ. Each meal contains less than 350 calories, more than 25 gm of protein, & less than 10 gm of sugar making them perfect for bariatric and diabetic patients or for anyone looking to make a healthy lifestyle change. Meals can be customized for a variety of diets and intolerances including vegetarian, gluten-free, lactose-free, and other allergy specific diets.  

The menu changes weekly and is updated on the website every Sunday. Customers are encouraged to place orders before midnight on Tuesday for pick-up or delivery on Friday after the meals have been freshly made.

The meals are delivered to select Heritage’s Dairy Stores in South Jersey for pickup by customers. He also offers delivery within an approximate 20-mile radius of Williamstown.

“It’s a struggle for some patients to lose weight and meet nutritional goals, that’s why I created Bariatric Boxes.”

He’s got a steady customer base and a lot of success stories under his belt.

“The best part of this job is helping people get healthy. That is rewarding.”

Josh hasn’t forgotten non-dieting food lovers. As a trained chef, he loves cooking a wide variety of homestyle food. He also offers “Beckett Boxes” which he refers to as the “evil twin” of Bariatric Boxes. These meals are not “bariatric” friendly and do not list any calorie counts. So if you’re looking to splurge, he has you covered there. He’s partnered with local bakers to provide desserts as well.

Visit BariatricBoxes.com for more information.

Note: Meals were provided for evaluation purposes.

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Fun or Fad: Gobbler Panzarotti at Franco’s Place

If you’ve lived in South Jersey for any amount of time (for me, almost 8 years), you’ll probably know what a panzarotti is. It’s quite possibly South Jersey’s quintessential food. A traditional panzarotti is defined as deep-fried pizza dough filled with sauce, mozzarella cheese and choice of pizza toppings.

Panzarottis were introduced by Pauline Tarantini of Camden, New Jersey who, in the early 60s, immigrated to the United States from Italy where she learned how to make panzerotti, a fried savory turnover popular in Southern and Central Italian cuisine. They were an instant hit in South Jersey and the Tarantini family have been mass-producing them here ever since.

Franco’s Place in Westmont – Home of the limited-time-only Gobbler Panzarotti

The Original Tarantini Panzarotti™ can be found on menus at pizzerias and restaurants all over the South Jersey and greater Delaware Valley region. However, there is only one location that offers the Thanksgiving-inspired Gobbler Panzarotti. Filled with roast turkey, stuffing, optional cranberry sauce and served with a side of gravy, the Gobbler Panzarotti is a seasonally-appropriate version of the original.

Time for a Gobbler Panzarotti at Franco’s Place

The deep-fried Thanksgiving in a bite can be found at Franco’s Place in Westmont exclusively because it is one of the two Tarantini family-owned businesses in the area (Vincent’s in Merchantville is the other). While it may seem fad-ish, this location is known for its extensive panzarotti menu offering a variety of fillings and toppings. So, it’s no wonder they offer a fun, seasonally-inspired option.

The Gobbler Panzarotti is available for a limited time only. It’s on special from October to December. So, there are still a few weeks to get it.

What do you think? Fun or fad? Sound off in the comments!

Thanksgiving in a deep-fried bite – YUM!

Franco’s is located at 53 Haddon Avenue. Parking is on the side of the building or on the street. It’s also a few blocks from the PATCO speedline. Happy eating!

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