BLOOMFIELD, NJ - Bloomfield Chef Michele Vaccari Harriott is ready for the second of 'Two Nights at the Jersey Shore' menu for PJ Rufo's Restaurant in Woodland Park. The special menu will be available tonight Thursday July 6.
Harriot said the menu is inspired by family trips to the Jersey Shore. She grew up enjoying steamers at Moby's and lobster in Atlantic Highlands. Originally from North Newark, where her grandfather was neighborhood produce truck, the menu includes influences from those great Italian American summer gardens in the Brick City.
TAPinto was there as the Jersey Fresh produce and seafood were delivered in the morning. Lobsters, Cape May salt oysters, and soft shell crabs were delivered by the crate. Also in the delivery were peaches, and the last of the local strawberries. The peaches will become a featured component of "Jersey Pig Out:" peach barbecue glazed pork belly with garlic fries. The strawberries will be on a boardwalk inspired version of strawberry shortcake built on a fried twinkie dessert. A house made Sicilian cocktail sauce with capers, olives and horseradish was in the works during our visit.
Harriot told TAPinto that she is 'honored to be a part of this event" this year. The mother of a three year old and six year old likes to "keep one foot in the pool (professional kitchens)" as she does her most important job of being a Mom. Her goal is to be a strong role model for the kids, "making them proud is what drives me" she told TAPinto. Harriot pops into the kitchen at Ariane Duarte's AKB in Verona and even inspired a social media hashtag after a television appearance. Those last two stories may be shared sometime in the future.
PJ Rufos has hosted similar events in years past. Montclair native P. J. Caggiano opened the restaurant with his business partner Aul Rufo in 2006. The Caggiano family has been a part of the Montclair business community since the 1950's. The family presented a scholarship to a Montclair High School student this year in honor of P.J.'s father who passed in the last year. Caggiano played football for Montclair and was a tight end at James Madison.
PJ Rufo's is at 279 Browertown Rd, Woodland Park, NJ 07424. Guests not familiar with the area should take the Browertown Road exit off of Route 46 as if you are headed to Fairway Supermarket. PJ Rufo's is in the second strip mall on the right, just past the turn that you would make if you were headed to Fairway. (973) 812-7222