New Jersey Restaurant Review
Restaurant Now Closed
July 2007: Chef Capasso recently opened his own restaurant Blackbird in Collingswood. Artfuldiner will be posting his very favorable review shortly.
1990 Route 70
Village Walk Shopping Center
Cherry Hill, Camden County, New Jersey
By The Artful Diner
Special to New Jersey Online
Under the proprietorship of Karen Spinella, restaurant Pinziminio made
the journey to Cherry Hill from its original location on Long Beach Island (the
space currently occupied by Sweet Vidalia). But when Ms. Spinella sold her
interest in the establishment, a new (and infinitely easier to pronounce and
remember) moniker, Misto, soon materialized. Fortunately for diners,
despite the change in ownership, executive chef Alex Capasso remains the power
behind the stove.
Misto is modern and sophisticated and, as an added attraction, boasts
al fresco dining in warmer weather. The interior -- replete with black
ceiling, black lacquered tables, black high-backed banquettes (as well as, you
guessed it, a spiffy armada of black-clothed servers), and polished hardwood
floors -- feels more like SoHo than South Jersey.
This diminutive, nondescript shopping center may at first appear an
oxymoronic venue for such a chic establishment; but, in point of fact, Village
Walk has become something of an Epicurean enclave. Here, sequestered away in an
apparent culinary backwater, you stumble upon Chef Eric Gantz's Amea, a
first-class Mediterranean Mecca; Bobby Chez and his famous crab cakes; and the pièce
de résistance... Mr. Robert Bennett, former pastry chef at Philadelphia's
famed Le Bec-Fin, holds court at his Miel Patisserie. And since the
aforementioned restaurants are all BYOB, John Mc Nulty's Corkscrewed, a wine
emporium featuring an excellent selection of unique vintages, comes neatly into
play. What more could any red-blooded American foodie desire?
What Misto brings to the party is some of the most memorable
French/Italian fare it has ever been my pleasure to ingest. Mr. Capasso and his
chef de cuisine, William Connelly, strike just the proper chord between the
customary and the creative. Presentations are eye-pleasingly innovative, but
they rely upon simplicity of form and of substance rather than the shock value
of absurd architectural oddities and/or the subterfuge of superfluous
And many of the appetizers and entrées to be found here are reminiscent of
Chef Capasso's superlative efforts at his former domicile, Max's in
Cinnaminson... The handmade potato gnocchi caressed by a buttery tomato-basil
infusion and sprinkled with fresh herbs ($7.00 appetizer/$13.00 entrée), for
example, evoke a vivid taste-memory of those very same diminutive feathery
dumplings swimming in a celestial sea of beurre de tomatoes. And
gastronomic déjà vu strikes once again with the more robust but equally
appealing orecchietti embellished with sweet Italian sausage, broccoli rabe,
tomatoes, and virgin olive oil ($8.00/$15.00). Both dishes are superb, utterly
profound in their apparent simplicity.
Among the seafood starters, the three Arborio rice-encrusted diver scallops
($11.00) are delightfully hedonistic. Beautifully pan seared, rich and meaty of
countenance, they are set on an attractive triangular plate adorned with
avocado salad and surrounded by splashes of cilantro oil. Equally tempting is
the fricassee of Prince Edward Island mussels ($8.00), pristinely plump
bivalves artistically arranged around an epicentral pool of rich natural jus
adorned with a sprinkling of fresh herbs.
And the pan-roasted squab ($15.00), which made its debut with Mr. Capasso's
summer menu, should also not be overlooked. The tender flesh is sensual and
succulent, embellished with caramelized green onion, morel mushrooms, and
transported to the heights via an extraordinary thyme jus.
Other than the aforementioned pastas, which may be ordered as either
starters or main courses, entrées are divided simply into two categories:
"Pesce" and "Carne." Among the former, the
cornmeal-crusted halibut ($24.00) is a particular standout. The delicately
dusted filet is slightly crisp at the exterior, wonderfully moist at the core
and set atop a seabed of fresh cut pappardelle... But it is a light yet
assertive tomato fennel sauce that truly makes this dish come alive.
I've sampled the Atlantic salmon ($17.00) in two intriguing incarnations:
reclining on a creamy mascarpone polenta pillow consummated with shellfish
broth; and in the company of lobster couscous and a zesty provençal sauce. My
personal preference is for the former, but both are highly recommended... as
are the beautifully steamed red snapper ($26.00) accompanied by a ragout of
potato gnocci and tomato chive butter sauce and thick slices of pan-seared
yellowfin tuna ($24.00) garnished with salade niçoise and Roma tomato
And there are plenty of tempting choices in the "Carne"
department as well... The pan-seared New York strip steak ($26.00), for
instance, is a right-on-the-money medium rare; its lusciously thick slices
recline on a caramelized shallot pomme purée and the finishing touch is
an extravagant merlot sauce. This is a relatively simple presentation but
artfully conceived and carried to fruition. There is just enough punch in the
sauce to tame the richness of the purée while, at the same time, flawlessly complementing
I also very much like the pan-roasted lamb tenderloin ($24.00). Slightly
chewy strips of tenderloin are attractively intertwined with goat cheese
ravioli while enveloping a nucleus of sautéed spinach. In this case, the coup
de grâce is administered by the accompanying natural jus, which
admirably succeeds in enhancing rather than eclipsing the natural flavor of the
lamb. The paillard of veal ($26.00), another favorite from Mr. Capasso's stint
at Max's, is really an alluring Napoleon. Three delicate veal scallops are
interspersed with sautéed spinach and set on a lovely potato/cheese soufflé.
Once again, the culinary catalyst is an assertive merlot sauce.
Even the pedestrian breast of free-range chicken ($16.00), the gastronomic
escape hatch for less adventurous palates, proves itself a gourmand's delight.
Served on the bone, the flesh beneath the still crispy skin is remarkably plump
and juicy and marries extremely well with a creamy Parmesan risotto and perky jus
Desserts also make an excellent showing. You may savor such diverse
confections as a luscious homemade chocolate chip bread pudding ($8.00) or an
exquisitely decadent chocolate Kahlua lava cake courtesy of the aforementioned
Miel Patisserie ($8.00). And the highly recommended artisanal cheese plate
($12.00) -- quite suitable for sharing -- is a most civilized denouement
to any evening at table.
As Misto's menu changes seasonally, and patrons are now enjoying Mr.
Capasso's summer lineup, several of the items mentioned are no longer in
permanent residence; on the other hand, they may very well put in timely guest
appearances as daily specials. Whatever the choices or the season, however,
this is one restaurant that will surely not disappoint.
Hours: Lunch: Tues - Sat, 11:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.; Dinner: Tues - Sun,
4:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.; CLOSED MONDAY
Credit Cards: All major
Attire: Smart Casual
Smoking: Smoking is not permitted in the restaurant.
Reservations: Strongly recommended
Handicapped Accessible: Yes