TThere are few places one can dine at that have a view comparable to that of Battello in Jersey City. Located right on the Hudson at the Newport Yacht Club and Marina Pier, the high-end Italian seafood restaurant boasts one of the most stunning views of lower Manhattan. The interior, which is every bit as impressive as the view, endeavors to redefine the classic atmosphere of upscale dining with it’s rustic, marine inspired design. Given the ambiance and the hype of Executive Chef Ryan DePersio’s seafood rich menu, we visited Battello for a firsthand experience.
After chatting with bar manager, Ray Keane, we were shown to our table which directly overlooked the dock and New York City skyline. Once you can take your eye off the view, you’ll notice that Battello has a very different feel from any restaurant you’ve ever stepped foot in. Designed by HGTV’s Anthony Carrino, the interior uses reclaimed wood to evoke a warmer mood that’s indicative of the space’s boatyard feel. Pieces such as bar tables made from salvaged barn doors defy classic fine dining, while everything else at Battello remains devoted to refinement.
Battello might be known for its views and 25- foot ceilings, but the restaurant’s true backbone is Chef DePersio’s progressive menu. DePersio’s creations go beyond simple Italian, creating a more nuanced repertoire that encompasses a variety of fresh seafood, seasonal ingredients and new twists on classic Italian favorites. A New Jersey native, DePersio’s culinary roots run deep. Before working in some of the most famed establishments in NYC, France, and Italy, DePersio’s passion for the culinary arts is derived from his family. He recalled special memories of his mother and grandmother preparing the dishes that likely inspired his career. DePersio is also a chef/consultant at NICO Kitchen & Bar and an owner/chef at his family’s restaurant, Fascino in Montclair. Needless to say we checked our finicky stomachs at the door and let the chef steer the boat.
We started with Chef DePersio’s signature Tuna Rollatini made with cucumber, yuzu, sesame, soy, and an avocado mousse. Upon first glance one might think the dish was reminiscent of a large sushi roll (minus the rice), but DePersio illustrated how his grandmother’s eggplant rollatini was the dish’s main influence. “Instead of eggplant you have sushi-grade yellowfin tuna,” he explained. The taste was earthy, lush and inventive. Tuna Rollatini is a great example of how DePersio has totally reimagined Italian cuisine. For our “pasta” dish we enjoyed another of Chef DePersio’s trademarks, ricotta gnocchi. Traditionally gnocchi is made with potato, but the progressive chef’s gnocchi contains no such thing. Made with sweet sausage bolognese and pecorino romano, the gnocchi itself is one hundred percent ricotta. Chef DePersio explained, “What makes them better than potato gnocchi is that they’re like pillows, it’s very light. You can easily finish a whole bowl.” And that we did, several actually. The ricotta gives the dish a fresh flavor which meshes well with the sausage and tomato sauce.
For our main course, the pancetta-wrapped sea scallops entrée consisted of red quinoa, raisins,
Sicilian olives, and a toasted almond puree. A dish that DePersio described as “a whole bunch of love,” had an incredible balance of sweet and savory. While no flavor overpowered the dish, the almond puree added to the coarseness of the quinoa, which in turn highlighted the sweetness of the raisins and scallop at the end. Though the crunch of pancetta might lead you to believe you’re indulging, the dish itself is actually gluten-free and dairy-free. For DePersio, who has appeared on “Chopped” and the “Today” Show, Battello finally presents an opportunity for the young chef to focus on seafood, something he has always aspired to do.
After offering our thanks to Chef DePersio, pastry Chef Joseph Gabriel arrived at our table with a warm chocolate torte and ricotta cheesecake. The chocolate torte, which was topped with powdered peanut butter, was set beside caramel corn, chocolate sauce and a scoop of popcorn ice cream. The ricotta cheesecake was served with strawberry rhubarb sorbet, and meshed well with an oatmeal lace cookie along with fresh strawberries. The dessert may seem strange, particularly the popcorn ice cream, but after one bite all doubts were erased. Though it was the menu that stole the show, dining at Battello proved to be a complete experience. From the wonderful view and design to the inventive cuisine, Battello leaves one with a lasting impact of both sophistication and heart.
502 Washington Boulevard
Jersey City, NJ 07310