2007-10-12

Northside Trattoria is now "16 Prospect"

Ok, ok, ok. I'm listening to my readers. Yes, I didn't post anything over the last few weeks and a few of my readers e-mailed me asking what is happening and some even complaining.

Unfortunately, blogging is not my day job and that day job was quite a bit more demanding recently and I had to travel a lot. But still, I'm planning to continue this blog, but maybe a bit less frequently going forward.

Also, my favorite photographer Andrea Ewald who is taken most of the pictures in previous posts is in India for a photo project for almost a months. So I won't have pictures for the next few weeks.

Northside Trattoria has been a reliable source of good Italian food for several years. They recently closed for renovations and a few weeks later re-emerged as "16 Prospect - Wine bar and bistro".

I felt "Northside Trattoria" was actually a pretty good and well established name so I'm not sure why the name needed to change. I'm not a particular fan of this very uncreative and impersonal naming style "Street Number - Street Name". Imagine what would happen if all the place at Elm Street would adopt that.

Interestingly enough their Web site is still operating as Northside Trattoria and "16 Prospect" is nowhere to be found on that side. A new web site does not yet exist.

So what is the difference between a Trattoria and Bistro. A trattoria is typically a somewhat less formal Italian restaurant, but still a full-fledged restaurant. Which was is a pretty good characterization of what Northside Trattoria offered. Now a bistro is in the first place a french concept: It is less than a full-fledged restaurant with a limited menu of rather straight forward food. And yes that is also true for 16 prospect: The current menu is a sub-set of what they had before, with classic Italian offerings. They still have pizza, but they don't seem to promote it much, no specialty pizze only the "basic plus select your toppings" approach. But they certainly are not a French place at all, thus "Bistro" is a bit misleading.

The restaurant in the back of the place has changed much with the remodeling. It is still fairly large with different areas that are more or less separated, each having a different atmosphere. It is not the most comfortable or stylish interior but it is pleasent. Service was efficient, fast and friendly but not particularly refined. Ok, that is what you expect from a bistro.

I had the "House Pasta" salad, which is not really a pasta salad (as in maccaroni salad) but a classic lettuce based salad with farfalle pasta and a pesto type vinaigrette. An intresting combination that could work well. But it doesn't here. There is nothing wrong with it but somehow the combination of ingredients doesn't get beyond the sum of its parts. It feels like what is in the salad doesn't want to work together.

As a main entree I have the maccaroni and cheese. I had these before at Northside Trattoria and was quite impressed. And fortunately they have lowered the price. At $16 for a huge portion (I ate only half of it) this is really a good deal. This "Mac&Cheese" comes with a flavorful combination of italian cheeses, bacon, herbs and few other ingredients. The texture, the mouthfeel and the very pronouced flavor make this a pleasant sensual experience. Yes, comfort food, but comfort food at a higher level.

The bar in the front of the establishment is now larger. In addition to the actual bar there is now a bar area with high tables and stools. (where there was previously some kitchen/operational space.) I didn't have a chance to check out the wine selection or the service at the bar area so not rating of the "wine bar".
Westfield isn't really saturated with bars so this is a welcome addition. Certainly more refined than Jolly Trolley and a bit larger and more "hang out" type than Jeffery's, it is still not the stylish cocktail lounge that I think is truly missing in Westfield. I believe there would be more than enough demand for such an outfit in Westfield.

From a food perspective the metamorphosis from Northside Trattoria to "16 Prospect" isn't that much of an event. Pretty much the same thing with a reduced menu. For the winebar, I need to check that out at one point later.

Signing Off - The Westfield Blogger.




5 comments:

Blahgger said...

Dear westfield blogger,
When are you going to open your new stylish lounge?? You seem to know so much about restaurants and the like, I think you would do really well. Bistro is a familiar name for a type of small restaurant serving moderately priced simple meals in an unpretentious setting. Yes bistros originated in France, however this doesn't mean that a bistro needs to be French. Is Rockin Joes really a Cafe in the true sense of the word?? Before you hose the name 16 Prospect, how about applauding the fact that those two guys are trying to make a change in Westfield to create and accomplish a dream of having their own place and keeping it true to their own concept. Are you in the business? Do you have any idea of how hard it is to accomplish what they have to this point?
Restaurant or wine bar or bistro or whatever you feel is correct to call it -- Doesn't matter, what matters is Westfield doesn't need another pizza joint or Italian restaurant and I am glad they are trying to make the transition. There isn't one place in Cranford, Garwood or Westfield that I feel comfortable suggesting to someone who really knows about food. It is embarrassing. At least they are trying. How about encourageing people to see for themselves the changes rather than imagining if all the restaurants on Elm street would adopt the same concept and making a judgement. I appreciate your right to say what you think and thank you for allowing me to be able to respond in this forum. But I think one must be carefull when reviewing a place of buisness without proper knowledge and backround of the establishment, I am sure if you went more than once like a real reviewer, lunch dinner, slow night saturday night, just sit at the bar, eat at the bar you would have a much more informed oppinion of the place your uninformed thoughts can have unintentional effects on a buissness. If Westfield Blog is here to inform of us new things then maybe just inform, if its to review then maybe you should change your name to Westfield Review because Westfield Blog can be a bit misleading.

Tom said...

My wife and I ate at 16 Prospect for the first time on Friday night. We hung out at the bar for a while, waiting for a table, and that scene had a good feel to it. Our dinner was good, too. Per the advice of a patron at the bar, we "kept it simple." All that said, we are big fans of Jeffries, and I prefer it to 16 Prospect by a mile, from a food, ambience, and service standpoint.

Anonymous said...

i think 16 prospect is awesome... westfield is filled with restaurants and they are all different. if you bloggers have complaints go eat in a different town... how about irvington???? never here of anything good there ...or am i missing something.... so really if your a complainer go to therapy and let the rest of us enjoy life..thank you and might i add we all have different tastes and westfield restaurants are a wide range of different tastes and that's why i love it so much.......

Anonymous said...

16 Prospect Bostro Review: We had a catering event there. The wait staff was very good. However, we thought the Food was nothing special. Ownership lacked and in fact was not very friendly. Overall, we felt that we paid for the Westfield convenience. We wouldn't reccommend it.

Anonymous said...

I find Westfield Blogger's comments about 16 Prospect kind of funny. Go by there any Friday or Saturday night, and the place is jumping. Great beer and wine selections and a very admirable menu. I recently had clams in a wine sauce and they were delicious. So was the white pizza with shrimp. Music at the bar, and a pretty hip crowd too. Can someone tell me what's wrong with that?
As far as Jeffrie's is concerned - BORING!