I’m Very Excited for Il Nido

Images taken from Il Nido’s Instagram. Veal Piccata with pan-seared sweetbread, Broccoli di Cicio, anise horse mushrooms, caper, and lemon.

With a soft opening last week, and no grand opening to speak of, Marlboro’s newest Italian restaurant has already taken the area by storm. As a member of a food forum, I already know two people who have eaten there and come back with rave reviews…and delectable pictures. Il Nido has burst onto the scene featuring a menu of organic and sustainably sourced ingredients, as well as a local farm-to-table approach. For example, the menu notes the pork used in the Porchetta is from Green Flash Farms, located in Skillman, NJ. Their website says that they want to tackle authentic Italian cuisine through a contemporary lens. But what exactly does that mean?

Before you roll your eyes and wonder, “Does Monmouth County really need another Italian restaurant?” you should consider this menu is far different from what has been established as the “norm” for Italian food. As an Italian myself, I have less and less been dining at Italian establishments as the years go by. The reason for this is that many of them offer almost identical menus. You can pretty much walk into any Italian restaurant in New Jersey and know what to expect. Il Nido comes in and breathes new life into the situation. After a brief chat with one of the owners, she stressed wanting a selection of foods that stray from what everyone else is doing.

Fazzoletti (“handkerchief pasta”) with pork ragu, cruschi pepper, fennel, Calabrian chile, and Cacio Cavello cheese.

It is certainly refreshing to hear that this means no Chicken Parm on the menu. No French Fries. No spaghetti and meatballs. Instead, you may find Tagliatelle with Ragu Bolognese. There’s Dayboat Fluke with fennel, blood orange, arugula, and tempura lemon. There is even a dry-aged beef selection which includes a 10 ounce filet mignon with gnocchi and a Maitake and Truffle sauce. One can read the menu descriptions and almost taste the flavors and smell the aromas from these combinations of ingredients. Those I know who have eaten here say the portions are generous—this is fine dining, but with an amount of food one could expect from authentic Italian cooking.

Certified wild-caught Skull Island prawns.

I rarely write about restaurant openings in such detail—usually, it is just for the news of the announcement. However, Il Nido excites me by trying to be different. It has apparently been working so far. Despite only relying on word of mouth in the last couple of months counting down to the soft opening, weekends have been booked solid, and weeknights have been steadily busy. I wish them the best of luck and look forward to giving it a try in the near future!

Il Nido is located 184 Route 9 North in Marlboro, NJ.

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