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EARTH


Amy Eber
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My culinary group and I ate at a wonderful new restaurant in Totowa this evening. It is called Earth. Chef Anthony Lo Pinto is amazing. I attended a few classes he taught at Adventures In Cooking in Wayne and was so impressed. When I heard he had openind his own place just 2 weeks ago, I immediately made reservations. His menu changes with the seasons. All five of us ordered different salads or appetizers and we each had a different main course. Each and every dish was beautifully presented and absolutely delicious.

They are still not listed in phone directories and just got the phone number a few days ago. It is 973-790-8100. Earth is located at 331 Union Blvd. in Totowa (the former location of Lunello's which re-opened in Cedar Grove a month or so ago). I am headed back there next week for my husband's 50th birthday dinner. It really was great and I encourage everyone to try it.

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Here's the link to the article on Tommy's site, and here is the link to the restaurant web page. :biggrin:

I, for one, can't wait to get over there! Congrats to Anthony on finally getting his own place!

"I'm not eating it...my tongue is just looking at it!" --My then-3.5 year-old niece, who was NOT eating a piece of gum

"Wow--this is a fancy restaurant! They keep bringing us more water and we didn't even ask for it!" --My 5.75 year-old niece, about Bread Bar

"He's jumped the flounder, as you might say."

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  • 2 weeks later...

Finally got a chance to try Earth. Ever since I heard Anthony LoPinto opened his own restaurant, I have been anxious to get there. Started off with a drink at the bar. Nice bar for a drink before or after dinner or just a drink. My husband and I are both fans of Anthony's wild mushrooms with creamy polenta, so we both had that. Absolutely delicious. We then had the penne with rock shrimp and asparagus - again very good and very light. For dinner I had the sesame encrusted tuna with soba noodles. Big portion. Very good. My husband had the seared striped bass with a crisy skin. He thoroughly enjoyed it. For dessert we had the cream brulee and the tart w/bananas and chocolate ice cream. Both were very good. We had a very relaxing and enjoyable evening, which is just what we were looking for after a long week. We will be back soon. Good luck, Anthony!.

Susan

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  • 3 weeks later...

I finally got over to Earth last night, and am pleased to report that Chef LoPinto's cooking is as good as ever (not that I expected otherwise)! The space is lovely; the layout and decor are cozy and welcoming without being stuffy. We arrived late (after 8:30) and two other tables were occupied plus there was a couple sitting at the (lovely) bar having drinks.

Anthony graciously sent over a few amuses for us, the first of which was eggplant caviar on toasted pita. The flavor of the 'caviar' is incredible--a bit of spice kick (cumin and black pepper, I think), and a fantastic thick texture, more than most traditional babaganous that I've had. He may also roast the eggplant--I'll have to ask. The next dish was an espresso cup of a stunning butternut squash soup. The dollop of creme fraiche on top had--ready for this? A hint of banana in it. It may sound strange, but the flavors worked beautifully together, and my friend (a vegetarian) couldn't stop oohing and ahhing. We were also treated to farfalle with artichokes, garlic and olives, a 'red sauce dish' that's nothing like most red sauces. It was chock full of flavor, yet I doubt that there were many ingredients in this simple, wonderful dish.

Since it was on the late side, I decided to try two different apps for dinner; my friend just ordered an entree. After those amuses, I knew I had made a good decision! First I had the Farcito ($9), described on the menu as "crispy herbal goat cheese sandwiched with eggplant" and served over mesclun with tomato, bacon lardoons, basil and saba vinaigrette. Let's put it this way...Anthony knows his way around an eggplant! :laugh: Next up for me was the Surf & Turf ($12), which was a split plate of three skewers of marinated beef, a wasabi aioli, and tuna tartare with pickled ginger. Both meats were wonderfully tender and exquisitely flavorful, and the portions were generous. My friend had the sesame crusted tuna ($23, iirc), which came with a stir-fry of soba noodles and fresh vegetables. Her comment after the first bite of the noodles was "WOW. I feel like I just walked in to a vegetable garden and took a bite!" Quite a rave indeed, imo! The tuna was perfectly cooked and delicious, and the portion large enough that she took some of it home, as she wanted room for dessert, which is her true interest in any restaurant. Suffice it to say that she wasn't disappointed; the terrine ($7) was a beautiful slice (slab?) of ganache, with mint syrup, raspberry and white chocolate drizzle on the plate, as well as some hearty drops of caramel. Simply delicious!This got a 100% approval rating from the chocoholic, and she also enjoyed chatting with Anthony about the types of dark chocolate he uses. Next time I'll bring the camera (headsmack)!

Anthony's business partner Spiro then asked us to join him for some port at the bar. Who can say no to an offer like that? :wink: We greatly enjoyed chatting with him as well, and with other members of the staff. These folks have a great vibe going already, and I really look forward to their success, as they are passionate about the food, service and hospitality.

ETA: Earth will be open for Mother's Day (I think we discussed that on another thread here). Anthony said he's just finalizing the menu and they expect it will be up on their web site by early next week.

Edited by Curlz (log)

"I'm not eating it...my tongue is just looking at it!" --My then-3.5 year-old niece, who was NOT eating a piece of gum

"Wow--this is a fancy restaurant! They keep bringing us more water and we didn't even ask for it!" --My 5.75 year-old niece, about Bread Bar

"He's jumped the flounder, as you might say."

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  • 2 weeks later...

One of my good friends reminded me that she still 'owed' me a birthday dinner (it was 3 months ago), so five of us headed to Earth on Friday night. I was pleased to see the place about 1/3 full around 8pm, including one couple who was dining at the bar.

We had drinks and wine at the bar while we waited for the rest of our friends to arrive, and then enjoyed another terrific dinner. Many items on the menu had changed in just over a week, and Spiro commented that Anthony has plans to change it weekly once the summer hits and the garden and farmer's markets are full. Nothing wrong with that, as far as I'm concerned!

Apologies up front for not taking the camera. For apps, two of us had the 'Spring Soup' which would be better described as 'Spring in a Bowl,' imo. It had white (fava?) beans, English peas, carrots, and fresh herbs, but the great surprise for me was that I just expected it to be at least partially a puree, and that was not the case. Instead, the bowl was filled with perfectly al dente vegetables that were delicious and colorful, and you could actually taste them while also enjoying the light, buttery broth. It was sweet and savory, and just. SO. Springy. And at $6 a bowl, a generous serving to boot. We also shared a couple of orders of the calamari, which is lightly fried calamari mixed with baby greens and roasted nuts. Another unusual combination, but wonderful! $10, iirc, and again, plenty to share, or a hearty app for one person. For entrees, there was salmon (not my thing, but those who ate it loved it), the sea bass over asparagus (another bowl of Spring), and I had the duck in a red wine reduction with fingerling potatoes and spring onions. OMG. I said before that Anthony has a way with eggplant--now I know that he also has a way with duck, and since it's one of my favorite foods, that's a good thing. I actually took a little of it home as it was such a healthy portion! Plus that means I get to have it twice... :wink: The last of our group had the farfalle with braised artichokes for her entree, and she also had leftovers.

For dessert, we shared a few sorbets/gelatos, the napoleon with grapefruit (!) and citrus cream, and the poached pear, which came with vanilla ice cream. I think each of them was $7. Coffee, cappucino, and port finished off another yummy dinner at Earth.

ETA: They are no longer open for lunch; Anthony said they gave it a go, but have made the decision to stick to dinner only.

Edited by Curlz (log)

"I'm not eating it...my tongue is just looking at it!" --My then-3.5 year-old niece, who was NOT eating a piece of gum

"Wow--this is a fancy restaurant! They keep bringing us more water and we didn't even ask for it!" --My 5.75 year-old niece, about Bread Bar

"He's jumped the flounder, as you might say."

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Friday night? Curlz, you must have been over by the window because my girlfriend and I were in a booth at the back. I wish I knew you were amongst them, we would have said hi! :-(

Add me to the list of Anthony fans. That grapefruit Napoleon is one of the most original and delicious desserts I've ever had. It was all about textures coming together just perfectly.

My girlfriend had the spring rolls and I had the herbed goat cheese between eggplant salad. He STILL has that wonderful skill with eggplant, Curlz, and it's the one thing everyone reading this needs to try when you go to Earth. (Are any Venutians reading this? :-P) The spring rolls were very good, a nicely-executed version of honest spring rolls. My girlfriend didn't like the slaw-esque salad along with it, but she's not a peanutish dressing fan. I, however, am. :-D

We also got little pasta appetizers, complements of the chef, which were amazing; they had a very light tomato sauce which beats anything I've ever had before. I'd pay $10 a bottle for the sauce alone and I can't wait until they make the menu with that on it! It was a little farfalle dish, just a few bites, and a nice little pasta course since we didn't have pasta mains.

For the mains, my girlfriend had the sea bass mentioned above and I had the duck. It was a very nice sea bass, perfectly done and flaky. It had the skin, which was as crisp as bacon and such a great complement to the fish. I had the duck and it's the best duck I've ever had. It was a breast filet, sliced nicely, with just a tiny layer of perfect duck fat on it. The meat was tender, rare like I'd requested, and the potatoes and onions (note: Texas sweet onions, not spring onions; people might expect scallions :-P) gave a good complement.

Napoleon was wonderful, see above. The lady had the chocolate terrine which was very nice as well.

It's where Lunello used to be, and right now, the Mother's Day sign obscures the name of the restaurant in the window. Anthony, if you can see this, we walked a block thining we were lost, so could you move the banner? :-P

I turned my folks on to it; we're all Fortunato fans and I'm hoping this is our Mother's Day restaurant of choice.

"Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside" -Mark Twain

"Video games are bad for you? That's what they said about rock 'n roll." -Shigeru Miyamoto, creator of The Legend of Zelda, circa 1990

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Sad news--I just got an email from Anthony saying that Earth has closed. I don't have any details, but I assure you that I'll keep you all posted when I know where he has landed.

"I'm not eating it...my tongue is just looking at it!" --My then-3.5 year-old niece, who was NOT eating a piece of gum

"Wow--this is a fancy restaurant! They keep bringing us more water and we didn't even ask for it!" --My 5.75 year-old niece, about Bread Bar

"He's jumped the flounder, as you might say."

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I hope it's just temporary; I'd hate for them to lose out on Mother's Day business.

I signed up for their E-mail list but I guess it's not totally active yet. Anyone who finds out more, make with posting! :-(

"Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside" -Mark Twain

"Video games are bad for you? That's what they said about rock 'n roll." -Shigeru Miyamoto, creator of The Legend of Zelda, circa 1990

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I can kinda understand the service issues he might have had. The waiter we had was a little bit overbearing, trying to push cocktails when we only wanted a glass of wine, and after that, wine by the bottle. The girl who cleared the table either didn't hear or ignored my request to wrap up my duck at least twice before she acknowledged me.

Curlz, did you have any front-of-the-house issues when you were there on Friday?

"Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside" -Mark Twain

"Video games are bad for you? That's what they said about rock 'n roll." -Shigeru Miyamoto, creator of The Legend of Zelda, circa 1990

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That just doesn't make sense...closing a restaurant because you can't find good enough help? hmmmmm Something else must have happened..too much money/time at stake in opening a place. I ain't buying that reason.

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it's unfortunate that the North Jersey blog entry suggests that the service issues were the reason for closing. that's obviously not what's going on, and I assume the inclusion of the service bit was basically just to add copy, rather than to offer an explanation.

Edited by tommy (log)
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My wife and I are members of Chef Anthony LoPinto's fan club since he cooked dinners at Sweet Basil's in West Orange.

We were looking forward to an outing at Earth with fellow e-gulleters soon.

I doubt the restaurant closed due to waiters or staff. I hope that the financial backers can re-load and give this place a chance for a year or more. It takes time for a restaurant's reputation to build and Chef LoPinto will draw people.

In the interim, we hope for a fast return to work for Chef LoPinto. A large contingent of gourmands will follow him and I hope that the restaurant owners realize it.

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Drastic change to the content on the link above; it now includes a Q&A with Chef LoPinto. CLICK.

Another report here: CLICK.

Edited by Curlz (log)

"I'm not eating it...my tongue is just looking at it!" --My then-3.5 year-old niece, who was NOT eating a piece of gum

"Wow--this is a fancy restaurant! They keep bringing us more water and we didn't even ask for it!" --My 5.75 year-old niece, about Bread Bar

"He's jumped the flounder, as you might say."

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Amen to that, jwjojo. I hope Anthony gets everything back and opens up yet another awesome restaurant.

"Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside" -Mark Twain

"Video games are bad for you? That's what they said about rock 'n roll." -Shigeru Miyamoto, creator of The Legend of Zelda, circa 1990

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Some of these landlords are real knuckleheads. Instead of the restaurant making money and the landlord making money, the landlord has an empty building.

I see better and bigger things for Chef LoPinto in a better location. Please put your next venture closer to Livingston/West Orange/Montclair. Or...

Actually, I think there are affluent areas of Morris County that are lacking in good restaurants. Go for it, Chef LoPinto!

Also, as an attorney who practices in a different field of law, please retain an ethical and experienced business attorney who has transferred liquor licenses and performed many business closings. It is worth the extra money to have that help.

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Are poeple saying that the restaurant wasn't paying it's rent? I saw that the landlord was the issue, but I didn't read anywhere what the exact issue is. Let's just wait and see, and hope that we get the opportunity to eat Chef LoPinto's food again soon.

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Are poeple saying that the restaurant wasn't paying it's rent?

no, people aren't saying that. the issue was with the liquor license sale as described here. There is nothing insidious here. Frankly I think speculation does nothing to help Chef Lo Pinto. Misinformation quickly becomes fact, and reputations are tarnished. This is not what anyone wants I would think.

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  • 2 months later...

Anthony is back!

Crave is coming to Fairfield!

I just worry about the location; that place is cursed. The past occupants have seemed to be gone after a few years. :-/

"Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside" -Mark Twain

"Video games are bad for you? That's what they said about rock 'n roll." -Shigeru Miyamoto, creator of The Legend of Zelda, circa 1990

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I used to go to the 94th Bomb Group Restaurant for office happy hour gatherings (not food). Their website no longer exists ... does anyone know if they've closed? ... that is such a great location (aircraft takeoffs and landings!) in need of a hip venue.

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