For a special holiday meal or experience, sometimes it’s worth taking a culinary trip outside of the city. But not far—just over the bridge in Collingswood, New Jersey, to check out Nunzio by Chef Michael DeLone located on Haddon Avenue.
The local hotspot was one of the first in the area to transform the dining scene into what it is back in 2004 with the help of Nunzio Patruno—and the area has grown in that respect ever since. But when DeLone took over, he optimized his own specialties for the restaurant: Classic Italian favorites mixed with sophisticated modern dishes to incorporate his passion for seafood.
Before Nunzio, the culinary connoisseur had his hand in a few local spots acting as Executive Chef at Philadelphia’s Bistro Romano, and before that, the award-winning and now-closed Center City spot, Le Castagne. He took over a few years ago when the Collingswood venue closed during COVID-19, and the spot reopened—with DeLone agreeing to keep the name—last winter.
What the new talent also kept was the Chef’s Table experience in the kitchen. Nestled behind the hustle and bustle of the main room, the dining event is one of a kind. You walk through the kitchen and the heart of the restaurant, and you’re then enclosed with your party in a space of your own (it can hold anywhere from 6 to 10 guests.)
The dinner includes a five-course chef degustation menu which can be paired with your selection of wines. Those who are interested can also look for something a bit unique and call the manager for the chef’s recommendations—reservations and a deposit are required.
Overall, the space is outfitted to host groups both large and small and couples looking for a night out. Like most spots in Collingswood’s main strip, the front of the restaurant looks inviting but hides the true atmosphere of the establishment. But, that’s worth it when you take a walk in past the corridor and see the main dining room.
The space automatically transforms you away from the quaint photogenic town and takes on an Italian villa environment—like you could be dining in a courtyard under the night sky and surrounding buildings hold the homes of neighbors—some of who you might be dining with.
The restaurant accommodates up to 130 guests with semi-private dining areas able to seat from 20 to 40 guests, and a fully private dining room accommodating 50 guests—ideal for holiday parties. For those looking for something a bit larger, the whole restaurant itself is able to be booked as well.
Food plays a big part in this space, and Nunzio quite regularly offers specialty menus. Being served up now on the seasonal menu, however, is a mixture of seafood-focused treats such as a marinated tuna salad (for lunch), mussels, and an octopus app (boasting potato salad, nduja, chili oil, garlic aioli and fried basil,) and tasty small plates ranging from an Italian chopped salad to a flatbread and soup of the day for lunch to burrata and beef carpaccio for dinner.
On the main course side of things, Nunzios also offers gnocchi, veal milanese, a lamb burger, cacio e pepe tagliatelle, chicken saltimbocca and much more earlier in the day. For evening service, diners can find fettuccine bolognese, squid ink spaghetti, veal porterhouse, a duck breast and much more.
For the specialty dinners, DeLone and the team at the restaurant show off different variations of cuisine. The most recent was the Wild Game menu (which was aptly timed close to the Phillies World Series run this year). The offerings featured treats such as the smoked duck prosciutto with apple and fig, venison loin with peppercorn, celery root, escarole and blackberry glace, and even porcini fusilli with pheasant ragout then dusted with cocoa. The themes are kept artistically woven throughout each dish through and through.
Earlier last month Nunzio also threw a special five-course truffle dinner with handmade pasta and more, but the future is looking a little more nautical for DeLone.
From Dec. 21 – 24, diners can head to Nunzio to indulge in the Feast of the Seven Fishes. As a release states, the $75 per person four course menu includes cod fritters with tomato jam, fried smelts with lemon aioli, Ciopinno, and spaghetti with garlic breadcrumbs, basil and clams. For those who appreciate hooves over fins, the Chef has also prepared an equivalent $75 per person four course menu featuring arancini, burrata with peperonata, truffle gnocchi and short rib over polenta with mushrooms and gorgonzola sauce.
It’s par for the course at Nunzio. Inventiveness, specialties, atmosphere, and a enjoyable experience in any season is what is constantly being served up. For the holidays however, the venue really ties everything up with a delicious bow, and it’s gifted to every diner.
To learn more information about Nunzio by Chef Michael DeLone (706 Haddon Ave, Collingswood, New Jersey), visit nunziosbyob.com
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