WOW! You have to try the Pork Burger at Bar Cara!

Grilled Pork Burger, Pecorino Tartufo and Caramelized Onions served with Herbed Parmigiano Fries

Yesterday afternoon, my friend Peter Ferriero asked if I wanted to go for lunch. As you know, I never turn a meal down, so we decided on Bar Cara (1099 Broad Street) in Bloomfield. We hopped on the Parkway and were there in no time.

Bar Cara is owned by Chef Ryan DePersio. He is also the proprietor of Fascino on Bloomfield Avenue in Montclair. Fascino is fine dining, whereas Bar Cara is casual. The food at Fascino is very good. I have eaten there in the past and was impressed with the chef’s tasting menu. Chef DePersio is a talented young chef. He has been featured in quite a few publications and TV food segments, including the Food Network show, “CHOPPED”. Keep your eye on this guy! I can see him doing great things in the future.

I got sidetracked there. Let me get back to our lunch at Bar Cara. When we arrived, we parked in the lot behind building. It’s great when a restaurant has ample parking, which Bar Cara has. We entered Bar Cara through the back door. I should mention that it is located in a strip of stores with an IHOP being on one end.

The interior of Bar Cara is very nice. It has a modern New York City feel. I loved the artwork on the walls. I approached the hostess and gave my name. I had actually made an OpenTable reservation on the way. You have to love OpenTable. It’s very convenient. Anyway, the hostess warmly greeted us and led us to our table.

We sat at a table by the front window that looked out upon the al fresco dining area. There was an awesome picture above our table of two angels playing electric guitars with the word “ITALIANA” written below them.

The lunch menu was nice and simple with some interesting choices. I was immediately drawn to the grilled pork burger, pecorino tartufo and caramelized onions served with herbed parmigiano fries. So I ordered the pork burger for my entree and the grilled octopus and shaved sunchokes with tomato vinaigrette for my appetizer. Peter also order the pork burger. For an appetizer, he went with the beef carpaccio with a shaved fennel salad topped with ricotta salata.

Our appetizers were brought out relatively quickly. My grilled octopus and shaved sunchokes with tomato vinaigrette was very nice. The octopus was perfectly grilled. It was also very tender. I’ve been the recipient of some tough octopus in the past but this was perfect. The sunchokes or as we Italian-Americans call Jerusalem artichokes were also very tasty. They were shaved very thin. The flavor was reminiscent of a green apple without the bitterness. The tomato vinaigrette was tart and went nicely with the entirety of the dish.

Grilled Octopus and Shaved Sunchokes with Tomato Vinaigrette

I sampled a little bit of Peter’s beef carpaccio with a shaved fennel salad topped with ricotta salata. The highlight of the dish for me was the shaved fennel salad. Don’t get me wrong the carpaccio was good, but the fennel was the star. This is coming from a lover of raw meat!

The pork burger was everything I expected and more. It was cooked to medium, which means there was some pink in the middle. That’s right folks, you don’t have to cook pork to a disgustingly dry well-done. It’s okay to go a little under. Pink is your friend. (Note: The only meat, I eat well done is chicken. That’s it!) The flavors really wowed me. It was salty and sweet. It tasted fresh. The meat was kind of chunky, which leads me to believe it was freshly ground. The onions were caramelized beautifully. They were soft and sweet. They melted in my mouth. The bun was very good. It was lightly toasted and there were subtle flavors of garlic and oil.

Grilled Pork Burger, Pecorino Tartufo and Caramelized Onions

The fries were also good. The flavor of the herbs were bright and I loved the salty, nuttiness the parmigiano gave the fries. But to be honest, that pork burger was a shining star. Writing about it now has given me a craving for it. It was that good.

Herbed Parmigiano Fries

We ended our lunch with the necessary espresso. To me, a meal is not complete without espresso. I was happy with the quality of the food. And I would highly recommend Bar Cara for foodies. My only concern was the service. It was too rushed. I understand that lunch service ends at 2:30 pm and our reservation was for 2 pm. However, it isn’t appropriate for the busser to try to grab a plate with a quarter of a burger and a bunch of fries left. Let’s be honest, two hours is more than enough time to prep a dining room for dinner service. With that being said, the food was awesome, so I can overlook this service hiccup. In fact, I can’t wait to go back, maybe next week! Enjoy!

Living to eat,
Tony Mangia

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