River View Observer: “Your Source for Fine and Casual Dining in Hudson County
By Sally Deering
During the summer months, River View Observer likes to slip into the kitchen of some of Hudson’s best restaurants and shine a spotlight on the chefs who create the delicious dishes on their menus. This week, RO visited Casa Dante restaurant a few blocks north of Journal Square on Newark Avenue. Casa Dante opened 40 years ago and changed hands about 8 years ago just around the time Chef Gregg Freda came on board as Executive Chef.
Newark Ave. could use a little fixing-up, that’s for sure, and it appears the street outside Casa Dante will be going through some demo to put in new street lights, but that shouldn’t deter a visit to Casa Dante. Once you step inside the restaurant’s foyer, you are immediately transported to an extremely tranquil setting where a visitor can easily relax and enjoy the traditional Italian cuisine. Another good reason: Casa Dante has its own parking lot, a rarity in Jersey City.
Casa Dante’s menu includes Antipasto dishes like Mozzarella in Carrozza, mozzarella, parmigiano encrusted bread, lightly fried; served with a size of the house marinara sauce; Clams Oregnata, Little Neck clams baked with oregano-seasoned bread crumbs; and Fried Calamari, tender fresh calamari lightly fried and served with lemon and a choice of sweet or hot marinara. Salads feature the Insalada di Avocado, avocado, hearts of palm, fresh mozzarella and diced tomatoes with lemon and olive oil dressing; and Crabmeat Salad, tangy arugula, colossal crabmeat and asparagus in garlic and lemon dressing. And the House Specialty, Seafood Salad ala Dante, chilled shrimp, scungilli, calamari, diced tomato, lemon, garlic and olive oil. There are Pasta, Chicken, Veal, Seafood and Steak entrees, all traditional Italian cuisine. Chef Freda also creates daily specials, some with a flavorful twist.
Let’s meet Chef Freda!
RVO: Chef Freda, what is your background and how did you get interested in cooking?
CF: I was born in Newark and raised in Verona. I’m the middle-child. My mother’s side of the family has always been into food. My grandfather Frank Panico was a butcher and had his own shop in Newark. My first job was in King Supermarket where I worked as a cashier while I was still in high school. I was always around food. Then my uncle Frank opened Panico’s restaurant and I started out as a cook, worked my way to sous chef and chef. That was in the 90s. Continue reading Ten Ingredients: At Casa Dante, Chef Freda Creates Italian Dishes a Traditional Grandmother Would Love