Most restaurant owners open their eateries either in or near the town where they live. But prior to opening Mare Monte in Haddonfield, its three owners had never been to the town. Now, Izzy Reka, Emri Cengu, and Gentian Mataj adore the historic South Jersey spot.
Mare Monte means “sea mountain”, the Italian version of surf and turf, says Reka. Inside the restaurant, you’ll find one room with a sea theme and another with a mountain theme. But in total, the 3,100-square foot BYOB eatery has four dining areas; these include the two main dining rooms, as well as a patio and sidewalk seating for up to 160 people. Finally, there’s the classical Italian-themed back room patrons can use for parties up to 45 people. Of course, guests can also use the main dining room for parties up to 100 people.
Mare Monte Sounds Like a Good Time
While early buzz is mostly positive, there are some diners expressing concern over noise levels in the dining areas. However, the restaurant is addressing the issue, says Reka; both by putting in under-the-chair sound absorbers and planning to install ceiling panels. Since Mare Monte gets noisy during busy hours, they don’t take walk-ins on weekends. In other words, dining on Fridays and Saturdays is by reservation only.
Mare Monte describes itself as fine Italian dining with a modern twist, mixing new and classic dishes. Just as the name implies, the menu offers both land and sea options. Meanwhile, the entire menu is made in-house. For example, all pastas (besides rigatoni and fusilli) as well as their bread and desserts are homemade, Reka says.
One (App) if by Land, Two (Entrees) if by Sea
During your visit, you can start your meal with shrimp and beans, or a beets and mascarpone salad. Or, if you can’t decide what to try, they have an appetizer platter that serves four. For instance, the Tagliere di Formaggi is a cheese platter with an assortment of cheeses plus grapes, crostini, prosciutto, walnut honey truffle, and homemade jam.
Then, for the main course, their pasta options include the Mare Monte; a homemade fettucine with calamari, shrimp, crabmeat, and asparagus in a saffron white wine sauce. Other options, such as the Risotto del Monte and Risotto di Mare, are also top picks. Protein options include the Pollo Mare & Monte and Salsiccia di Rapini dishes. Of course, classic items such as chicken parm, spaghetti and meatballs, and lasagna are on the menu as well. Click here to see the full menu.
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