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Branzino

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Be Our Guest!

Blu Crête Bistro in Basking Ridge Serves up Italian Cuisine With Its Own Special Twist

Prepare to steal a bite off of your companions’ plates after you order at Blu Crête Bistro. You might have to resort to that since it’s difficult to choose from the eclectic menu options that are guaranteed to capture your imagination, then tantalize your taste buds: Sushi Pizza (rice cake, ahi tuna, scallions, spicy aioli and soy reduction), Gnocchi Gorgonzola (potato gnocchi, beef tenderloin tips, gorgonzola cream sauce and Chianti reduction), a side of long hot peppers, spinach, homemade sausage and demi-glazed sauce—oh my! 

The Basking Ridge BYO, opened by Nick Mavraj about a year ago, has become a welcomed addition to the neighborhood. The menu is mostly Italian, with up to 15 specials each night. Mavraj, who emigrated from Albania to Basking Ridge in 2000, studied hospitality in Europe and honed his skills in Morristown restaurants before opening Blu Crête Bistro in his adopted hometown. “My son took a mixed-martial arts class nearby,” he says. “When I saw this space was available, I knew this is where I would open my restaurant.” 

As a resident, Mavraj enjoys making local and faraway guests feel welcome and hosting private parties for special events like weddings. 

View the menu at blucretebistro.net

Bistecca

2 tsp onion powder 

2 tsp garlic powder 

1 tbsp sea salt 

1 tsp pepper 

2 tbsp olive oil 

2 1/2 to 3 lb porterhouse steak 

2 sprigs each of fresh rosemary, sage and thyme wrapped with butcher’s twine at the root end 

3 tbsp melted unsalted butter 

In a small bowl mix onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper and set aside.

Brush olive oil all over the steak then season with the blend. 

Place the steak on the grill at 450° F to 550° F for about 4 to 6 minutes on each side. 

Flip the steak, then baste it by dipping the herbs in the melted butter and brushing it on the steak.

Serve with roasted potatoes and vegetable natural au jus sauce.

Branzino

1 to 1 1/2 lbs whole branzino scaled and gutted 

2 lemons: 1 sliced into thin rounds, 1 cut into 6 wedges 

1 small bunch thyme sprigs 

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper 

Preheat oven to 425° F.

Season branzino cavities with salt and stuff 2 lemon rounds and 1 thyme sprig in each.

Season fish with salt and pepper.

In a large, nonstick, ovenproof skillet, heat olive oil until shimmering. Add branzino and cook over high heat until skin is browned and crisp, about 3 minutes per side.

Transfer fish to a large-rimmed baking sheet. Roast fish in the oven for about 10 minutes, until just cooked through.

Note: To cook the whole fish evenly and get all the skin crisp, prop it up on its belly using lemon wedges to bolster both sides. The citrus softens and caramelizes in the oven—perfect for squeezing over the fish when serving.

  • Nick Mavraj
  • Nick Mavraj
  • Branzino
  • Branzino
  • Bistecca