By Bob Sacks |
I don’t know why I hadn’t discovered Mia in Oceanport until recently, but it took just one dinner there for me – and my guests – to feel like we were part of the family. Indeed, all of the dine\rs there, even first-timers, are treated as if they are regulars and members of the Perrulli clan.
There’s mom Donna and dad Michael cooking in the kitchen, and son Sergio and daughter Evana covering the front of the house. Their greatest pleasure is to feed their guests in a warm and welcoming atmosphere. The food is honest and authentic; a combination of traditional and modern Italian cuisine, and the portions are generous.
We opened with Stracciatelli ($8), the iconic chicken egg drop soup with spinach and ribbons of egg, and a dusting of Parmesan. Rich, flavorful and plentiful enough to share, it was very comforting on a cool night.
Roasted Clams ($12), not too large, and roasted over an open flame, were tender, grit-free and arrived with a cup of warm, buttery sauce, perfect for dipping.
Never ones to get enough of these tasty shellfish, we also chose Zuppa di Clams ($13), in light, herb-infused white sauce and enjoyed a bowl of them as well. They can also be ordered with red sauce for a heartier take on the dish.
Speidini alla Romano ($14), fried mozzarella, prosciutto, bread, coated with anchovy/ caper sauce was rich and filling; more than enough for two people to share, but somewhat overly sauced for our taste.
We really liked the Frutti di Mare ($14). This classic, cold, marinated seafood salad was beautifully presented on a striking yellow plate with mussels, shrimp, calamari, roasted red peppers, red onion, herbs and olive oil. Once we added a few squeezes of lemon juice and some black pepper, this dish sang.
A number of the pastas on the extensive list are homemade – feel free to inquire. Cavatelli and Broccoli Rabe with added sweet sausage ($19), was very satisfying. The sauté of olive oil, sundried tomato and garlic lent appealing secondary flavors, while the al dente pasta, perfectly cooked rabe and gentle firmness of the sausage, provided a variety of textures as well. Yum.
A traditional Eggplant Parmigiana ($19) was enough for dinner and lunch the next day. Tender slices of eggplant, served over a choice of pasta, in this case spaghetti, topped with mozzarella and covered with fresh, homemade tomato sauce, was an excellent rendition of this popular Italian dish. It was hard to stop eating.
From the Signature Dish selections, we chose Chicken Fresco ($23). The cutlets had been pounded thin, breaded, and fried to crispness before being plated with homemade mozzarella, crispy field greens, roasted red pepper, red onions and drizzled with a balsamic reduction. The combination of the fresh salad and the crunchy chicken was quite enjoyable; had the chicken been a bit thicker, this dish would have been even better.
Veal Napolitano ($25), another Signature Dish, a tender cutlet breaded, fried and plated over spinach with a white bean sauté, was a nice change of pace from the better known veal preparations.
You could feel the love in a side of two large Meatballs ($6). All beef, they were light, tender and gone in a flash.
All entrees are served with a large, complementary, family style House Salad: a good mix of crispy greens and dressed with a tangy balsamic vinaigrette. I’m from the school of “dressing on the side please,” so if you also like to add your own, I suggest requesting the same.
Mia is BYO and has good-sized stemware, which is a plus for wine lovers. We opened a 2012 Tiberio “Fonte Canali” a Trebbiano D’Abruzzo. This medium-bodied, luscious white wine, had a nose and palate of almonds and orange peel, with just enough acidity and minerality to make it an appealing partner for the seafood appetizers. Break out of the Pinot Grigio routine and look for a Trebbiano, you will not be disappointed. Although I am a fan of crisp acidity, our other white, 2017 Banfi Principessa Gavia Gavi, was out of balance and far too acidic to enjoy. A Sicilian red, 2015 Terre Nere Etna Rosso, made from Nerello Mascalese grapes, showed light to medium body, a bit of tannin and a nose of strawberries and cherries; a good choice for the veal and chicken entrees.
The one homemade dessert that called to us was Tiramisu ($8), which was cool and creamy, but light as a feather, with pronounced coffee flavor and a dusting of cocoa powder. A perfect way to finish the meal.
No matter what your background, you can become an honorary member of the Perrulli family and get a warm welcome, attentive and friendly service, and a terrific dinner as well at Mia in Oceanport.
249 E. MAIN ST.
Bob Sacks, longtime food and wine buff, reviews restaurants in this bimonthly column. Follow him on Instagram @dinnerwithbob.
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