Chef Craig Polignano Shines at daPesca

Asparagus Soup

Acclaimed Chef Craig Polignano has been the executive chef at Morristown’s Jockey Hollow Bar & Kitchen for a little while now and this is wonderful news for the Morris County food scene. I’ve been a fan of Chef Polignano’s food since his days at The Ryland Inn and his new fish/seafood-centric menu at Jockey Hollow’s recently rebranded daPesca, showcases some of the best food in the area.

daPesca, Veronique Deblois, Jersey Bites
Chef Polignano. Photo by Jockey Hollow Bar & Kitchen

About daPesca

The grand staircase that starts in the Oyster Bar (lunch and dinner casual dining) on the lower level of Jockey Hollow leads up to daPesca, the establishment’s fine dining seafood restaurant. I was pleased to see that the menu is almost exclusively sourced from coastal New Jersey, with a focus on the offerings of ships out of Point Pleasant and Barnegat Light.

About the Food and Wines

daPesca, Veronique Deblois, Jersey Bites
daPesca. Photo by Jockey Hollow Bar & Kitchen

At daPesca, Chris Cannon, managing partner of Jockey Hollow Bar & Kitchen, offers a fun Cannonball Dinner on Friday evenings. Wines are served “blind,” without guests knowing what they are, alongside five food courses of Chef Polignano’s choosing. We enjoyed guessing what the wines were throughout the dinner and our knowledgeable waiter really got excited about the surprise factor of the reveals.

Chef Polignano has carte blanche on the Cannonball Dinner menu, but because it was our first time at daPesca, he was kind enough to craft the menu based on some of the new dishes offered à la carte.

Our Meal

Chef prepared the following items for us:

White asparagus soup: Creative plating on beige soup can be challenging but apparently not for Chef Polignano. The creamy comforting purée was gilded with smoked trout, some dill and horseradish. Even my guest who isn’t sold on cauliflower was wowed.

Local tuna tartare: Pristine tuna topped an unusual base for a tartare—fresh garbanzo bean hummus! A clever way to create interesting flavor combinations and textures with the addition of cured egg yolk and crunchy oregano and sesame.

daPesca, Veronique Deblois, Jersey Bites
Tuna tartare

Hand-rolled trofie: Perfectly cooked pasta with baby artichokes, creamy burrata cheese, truffle bagna càuda and earthy Woodland Farm ham. I bow to the person who rolls that pasta. (Mental note to return for a pasta tasting!)

daPesca, Veronique Deblois, Jersey Bites
Hand-rolled trofie

New Jersey skate wing: How could delicate, fresh skate wing get any better? Here’s how: when it’s cooked in brown butter and capers, and served with roasted cauliflower, hazelnuts, and grapes.

daPesca, Veronique Deblois, Jersey Bites
Skate wing

Wagyu flatiron steak: Don’t let the seafood/fish theme of daPesca deter you from ordering meat. Beefy, well-seasoned Wagyu is paired with potato pavé and earthy maitake mushrooms with a Bordelaise sauce. Beware local steakhouses, you have some competition at this seafood house.

For diners not taking advantage of a wine-paired menu, there’s an extensive wine list, carefully curated by Cannon. This is easily one of the most interesting wine lists in the area with affordable options, obscure bottles, wines from up-and-coming regions and some cult favorites.

Here’s an overview of the ways to dine at daPesca:

  • Four-course $86 prix-fixe experience
  • Chef’s tasting menu for $116
  • A la carte menu available Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday nights
    four- or six-course prix-fixe menus available on Saturday evenings
  • For an even more special experience, daPesca offers its Chef’s Table on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights for a party of two only, at 6 p.m. It’s is a multi-course tasting menu served at a table in the kitchen. (This is what I’d like to do on a future visit.)

daPesca is simply one of the best tables in the area with professional, friendly service and outstanding food in a beautiful setting.

Tuesday and Wednesday: 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Thursday: 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Jockey Hollow Bar & Kitchen

110 South Street
Morristown, NJ 07960

Hours, prices, and menu items are subject to change.