The room of the restaurant has a warm orange glow. At first it might take a little getting used to, but it really has a beautiful ambiance that makes you feel quite welcome. I'd take off a few points for their valet parking situation. Any place that actually requires me to use valet is kind of irritating (especially when it's a small and very navigable parking lot). But it doesn't matter, you didn't come here for the parking lot, you came for the food.
The menu is a prix fixe of $52, and it is money well spent. Three courses with a generous amount of food, with a three small treats from the chef all for just $52? In my book, that's a bargain for a restaurant of this caliber.
I started out with one of the specials: seafood risotto. Anyone who's tried cooking real risotto and not the kind out of the box can tell you that it can be a laborous task. It's a dish that requires attention. Good risotto is creamy and al dente; bad risotto is like eating little pellets. The seafood risotto was amazing--creamy, perfect consistency and texture with large shrimp, mussels and calamari rings, which were also cooked to perfection and not the slightest bit rubbery. The seafood risotto also had a nice spicy kick to it. For those who aren't seafood fans but still want risotto, Scalini Fedeli also has a mushroom risotto that is more mild, but just as flavorful.
The three "treats" I spoke of during the meal were small preparations from the chef. The first was a large prawn that had a creamy sauce with mushrooms around it. Following the entrees, there was a small dish of pineapple sorbet to "cleanse the palette," if you will. A dish of the sorbet actually could have been an amazing dessert on its own. And then along with dessert were mini biscotti and other bite-sized confectionery treats.
Back to the main dishes at hand. For an entree, I had the "roasted Chilean sea bass in a sundried tomato, picholine and calamata olive sauce with a Roma tomato and fennel confit." It was superb and probably could have fed two people. Chilean sea bass is a meaty fish that lends itself to taking on the flavors of whatever sauce it's cooked with. The sauce had the slight acidity from the roasted roma tomatoes, which to my surprise, went very well with the calamata olives mixed in the sauce. The great thing about this sauce was that it was like a light broth; because it wasn't thick, it let the flavor of the fish mingle nicely with tomatoes and olives. I'm not a big fan of fennel in general, but the fennel here was tender and did not overpower the sauce at all.
Two desserts I got to try were a chocolate hazelnut prailine and a chocolate bread pudding. The bread pudding was a great consistency--thick, moist, heavy and full of chocolate. The hazelnut prailine was delicious, but had a much different texture from the traditional pecan prailines. This was almost more of a thin torte. It was crunchy, had a good, rich flavor of hazelnut and was covered completely in chocolate. It was a slice of heaven on a plate.
The service at Scalini Fedeli is attentive and amiable. They never hovered, and the head waiter did a great job of delivering the food right after a lull in conversation, but never in the middle of my family talking or laughing. This restaurant is a fantastic choice for a special occasion. So for all my Jersey friends reading this, head over to the "faithful steps" whenever you get the chance.