Foodies have a lot to dig into at the recently reopened Battello in Jersey City. Quite literally on the water, this event space and restaurant was shut down last year for renovations, but came back in full-force earlier this year with a slew of new dishes and cocktails. Battello is known for its seafood-inspired, contemporary Italian menu and gorgeous event spaces.
The culinary splendor of Battello is thanks to Executive Chef and Partner Ryan DePersio, one of the most renowned players in the Garden State food world. He’s also the mind behind Montclair’s Fascino, an Italian spot that opened in 2003.
“[While] we were closed for almost 18 months, I spent that time developing and refining our new menu which included two-week trip to the Amalfi Coast,” says DePersio. “Our goal was to return better than ever. We’re not what you’d expect from a typical Jersey Italian; Battello keeps everything modern, light and fresh. Then there’s the stunning view of the Hudson River and downtown New York City skyline.”
The Manhattan skyline sights are accompanied by light-up mason jars, a brick interior, cushy booths with rustic wood tables, Edison-style string lights and giant windows. Multiple bars and dining rooms, a lounge and bridal suite makes this a prime spot for weddings, corporate events and special occasions. There’s even a private room surrounded by wine racks and trickling water that’s perfect for rehearsal dinners and intimate meals.
“We are proud that in the past, we’ve served as the starting point for so many couples who’ve chosen to celebrate their special day with us,” says DePersio.
As for the menu, start off with signature seafood dishes like the grilled octopus (that’s DePersio’s favorite), which comes on a bed of crispy fingerling potatoes, a pepper peanut romesco, pickled chilies and fennel, or the ginger-carrot crusted hamachi crudo (aka raw yellowtail) served with cerignola olivada olive spread, avocado and jicama. If you go with a big group, splurge on the epic seafood tower, stacked high with oysters, clams, shrimp, crab, tuna tartare and lobster.
Other favorite apps include the beautifully plated Wagyu beef tartare with quail egg, caper aioli and poppyseed chips (pictured), the local burrata paired with golden beets, walnuts, micro arugula and apple-horseradish crema and chilled asparagus soup with a side of truffle butter focaccia toast.
Before you settle on an entree, make sure you order some house-made pasta to your table (don’t worry, they come in half- and full-sizes). Chef DePersio’s Italian roots make every pasta choice a can’t miss, but his signature is the ricotta gnocchi with sweet sausage bolognese, pecorino romano and basil. It’s the one dish that survived the menu and restaurant revamp.
“Our homemade Gnocchi has built an insane following and reputation since we first added it to the Fascino menu back in 2004,” says DePersio. “It’s become one of Battello’s signature dishes and it’ll follow me everywhere. In all honesty, if it’s not on the menu, there would be riots!”
If you’re having trouble choosing an entree, you can’t go wrong with fish at this seafood-forward spot. Go for the pan roasted day boat scallops served with salty steamed cockles and quinoa torta over a vibrant Tuscan white bean stew, or line-caught swordfish with Sicilian eggplant caponata in a caper-raisin emulsion.
If you want a beef entree, The dry aged sirloin and short rib will blow you away. In addition to two succulent cuts of meat (the short rib literally melts in your mouth, knife not required), you’ll get a golden roasted cippolini onion and a crispy potato torta over red swirls of slightly sweet plum mostarda. The pancetta-wrapped pork chop is another crowd fave, served with gouda spaetzle, charred zucchini and cherry agrodolce (aka Italian sweet and sour sauce). DePersio’s fave? The pignoli crusted halibut, served with cauliflower puree, veggies and smoky herbed pancetta broth.
Our go-to for dessert (trust us, you’ll want to make room) is the ricotta zeppoles. At Battello, they come with three mindblowing dipping sauces: Nutella cream, burnt bourbon caramel and strawberry rhubarb sauce. There’s also Tahitian vanilla creme brulee, fluffy pavlova with blackberries, passion fruit and mascarpone, and fresh gelato and sorbetto.
Battello is located on the pier at 502 Washington Blvd. in Jersey City. If you’re traveling by car, drive right onto the pier to score diner-exclusive parking (in JC, that’s a major plus). On weekends, it’ll cost you $10 for valet. It’s also right next door to the Newport PATH station and the Newport stop on the Hudson Bergen Light Rail. Go for lunch, dinner or weekend brunch (Saturday and Sunday, 11 am-2:30 pm).