Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

A Sleek Menu of Northern Italian Dishes

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

A Sleek Menu of Northern Italian Dishes

Article excerpt

When Chris Tarta signed a lease on a vacant Ridgewood storefront for his second Italian restaurant, he and his wife started informally calling it "due" - the number two in Italian. And when it came time to select a name for that restaurant, Tarta said, it seemed fitting to keep due -- besides Ridgewood was "due" for a new restaurant with fresh Italian flavors.

Tarta, owner and executive chef, developed a menu with chef Sean Norris that "is actually different from any of the other Italian menus in Ridgewood," he said. "Our menu is more Northern Italian, with minimal ingredients cooked on a wood-burning grill, so it's natural, sweet, authentic Italian cuisine, not overloaded with flavors."

Tarta, who grew up in Hawthorne, has family ties in Ridgewood. He graduated from Johnson & Wales University, but learned much about Italian cuisine from his nonna. For the past 11 years, he has owned and operated Bella Campania in Hillsdale, which specializes in traditional Italian cuisine.

But at Due, which opened in early June, the cuisine, Tarta said, "is sleeker Italian, no chicken Parmesan or Francese."

"We let the ingredients speak for themselves," Norris said.

For instance, the menu's antipasti include zuppa di fagioli bianchi, a pureed white bean soup with white truffle oil ($8); and salumi e formaggi, the chef's selection of house-cured meats and cheeses ($16 for two people).

Fichi grigliasi ($13) - wood-grilled figs with gorgonzola dolce and crispy bacon - "is very popular," Tarta said. …

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