The Orange Squirrel

BY  |  Monday, Jan 19, 2009 2:53pm  |  COMMENTS (38)

Some restaurants earn a reputation for their food; others attract patrons with ambiance. The really good ones manage to score on both counts. The Orange Squirrel is one of the good ones. This new 50-seat restaurant in Bloomfield earned the distinction of receiving the most emailed tips to Baristanet from readers, telling us to go and check it out. Here’s just one of the raves…

Run…do not walk to Bloomfield’s newest restaurant, The Orange Squirrel. Located at 412 Bloomfield Avenue (at the site of the old Pad Thai and Oak Tavern), chef/owner and Bloomfield native Francesco Palmieri (a 2000 CIA graduate) works magic in his kitchen.

outside-orange-squirrel.jpgLike an oasis in a desert of car dealerships and auto body shops along a stretch of Bloomfield Ave., The Orange Squirrel beckons with its neon sign and big windows. Inside, you’ll forget exactly where you are. From the exposed brick wall with flat screen showing iconic movies (we caught Ed Wood, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest and Edward Scissorhands on different visits) to the custom made Brazilian birch and limestone bar and vibrant orange seating, the restaurant redefines and unites the two separate spaces.
Combining an eclectic American/European menu with a chic, yet unpretentious design, The Orange Squirrel doesn’t disappoint. In fact, it surprises, with special touches like the homemade shot of silky-smooth “Bailey’s” that came to the table at the end of the meal. Or the amuse bouche at the start, a beautiful Prince Edward mussel one time, a miniature smoked salmon filled cannoli the next. And yes, even the bag of peanuts accompanied by a note to celebrate “Squirrel Appreciation” day. It’s the kind of place that makes you smile. Palmieri is like that, too, full of surprises and creative energy, as he meets with patrons and checks on tables. Just don’t ask him about the name of restaurant, or you might fall for one of his inventive tall squirrel tales.


We sat at a table on one visit and ate at the bar for another. Speciality cocktails like an orange-infused vodka with Orangina got raves; there’s a varied selection of wines, beers and a friendly bartender who offers you tastes so you can decide. We loved the selection of handmade pastas. Try the gnudi (pronounced “nudie”). The opposite of gnocchi — this light pasta is made from ricotta with just a hint of flour to give it shape. Served with wild mushrooms and parsley salad in a heady Parmesan consomme, it was a standout. Another hit was the cinnamon and sage accented kabacha ravioli (kabacha is a Japanese winter squash that’s similar to pumpkin but smoother in consistency). It’s the first time I’ve seen kabacha on the menu in Baristaville; at Orange Squirrel, it appears in two other dishes. The inspired pistachio-dusted lamb chops with mint pomegranate glaze were tender and flavorful; try them paired with any of the mix and match side dishes (we loved the pancetta brussels sprouts served in a miniature cast iron skillet or creamy mascarpone polenta). Savory, stick to your ribs comfort foods make choosing from the menu a challenge, but we couldn’t pass up a baby octopus stew with pancetta, turnip lemongrass broth and paper thin discs of fingerling potato, or the wood-fired pizzas. Palmieri’s wife Elaine insisted on adding the truffle pizza to the menu. Fetauring baby spinach, pignolia nuts, white truffle oil and black truffle shavings, it translates into slices of heaven. Save room if you can for the blood orange creme brulee or the just perfect for sharing cheese course.
For menu, hours and other info, visit website here. Note: carry out food, wine and beer are available. Salads/soups/appetizers, $6-$12; specialty pizzas; $12-$19; pasta dishes; $11-$17; entrees, $19-$37; side dishes; $8.

The Orange Squirrel, 412 Bloomfield Ave., Bloomfield, 973.337.6421

38 Comments

  1. POSTED BY Anne Prince  |  January 26, 2009 @ 2:09 pm

    Well it’s about time you finally reviewed them 😉

  2. POSTED BY RaeVen  |  January 26, 2009 @ 2:18 pm

    I’ll have to check this place out. Does anyone know why the Oak Tavern closed down? That was a great dive bar.

  3. POSTED BY NoCorzine  |  January 26, 2009 @ 2:25 pm

    To clarify, Tierney’s is a great dive bar…Oak Tavern was a shithole.

  4. POSTED BY RaeVen  |  January 26, 2009 @ 3:14 pm

    Nah, Tierney’s is a nice local bar, not a dive. I’d only been to Oak Tavern two or three times, but I always had a good story to tell afterwards. I also appreciated the bartenders’ heavy hands with the alcohol.

  5. POSTED BY KatebirdRex  |  January 27, 2009 @ 12:53 am

    Good God, that sounds good. Who’d have thought something that interesting would rise out of the ashes of the Oak Tavern?

  6. POSTED BY KatebirdRex  |  January 27, 2009 @ 12:57 am

    That said, it’d be nice if you guys would provide some idea of the price point in your review, especially since there are no prices on their menus online…

  7. POSTED BY Liz  |  January 27, 2009 @ 2:40 pm

    Thanks Katiebird — prices added above.

  8. POSTED BY mad dog  |  January 27, 2009 @ 2:50 pm

    Went there last night and was excellent.
    Had the gnudi to start (it was the BEST EVER) – so light but creamy – that was a bit pricey for an appetizer – $17 (and not enough of it – even though it was very rich.) Think that was the most expensive sppetizer but had to try it, as it sure is gnudi weather. Husband had the spinach salad which was $9.
    The entrees ranged from about $19 to the expensive dry aged rib eye (over $30.)
    I had the halibut ($22) – it was so delicious with Meyer lemon butter, husband had the rack of lamb ($27) which sent him over the top…he was in meat heaven. Each entree comes with a choice of side (not extra unlike many other places) so we had the brussel sprouts with pancetta and cheddar mash (most amazing creamy cheesy mash – EVER – official.)
    We then shared a cheesecake ($8), I then sobbed as I did not want to go home to the kids and babysitter.
    It is on the more expensive side but better than anything eaten in Baristaville, and no expensive more than its competition – Culinariane, Passione, Corsa 98 etc. They also have wood fired pizza that range from around $13 – $19.
    It is really warm, great decor, good service – we LOVED it. I hope they can make it in these tough times.
    The only criticism was the wine list was not sorted out yet…but good things are worth waiting for and the Ravi, Riesling and red (can’t remember what it was) were all by the glass and excellent.

  9. POSTED BY CfromMtc  |  January 27, 2009 @ 7:26 pm

    Speaking of local dive bars… who’s been to the DLV lately?

  10. POSTED BY Liz  |  January 27, 2009 @ 7:28 pm

    Speaking of local dive bars… who’s been to the DLV lately?
    I was there about a month ago..

  11. POSTED BY AnnieR731  |  January 28, 2009 @ 9:52 am

    I went here with my cousin and had a lovely time. I agree with the barista review too regarding the nice special touches like the homemade ‘bailey’s.’ It’s a little pricey because it’s not byob but the food is very very good. As for criticism, I agree re: the wine list and the neighborhood isn’t the best. Worth the trip for a nice meal though.

  12. POSTED BY Anne Prince  |  January 28, 2009 @ 11:37 am

    Actually the neighborhood is fine – it’s just hard to find parking on Bloomfield Ave.

  13. POSTED BY KatebirdRex  |  January 29, 2009 @ 9:40 am

    Thanks for the update with pricing, Liz!

  14. POSTED BY Ric  |  January 29, 2009 @ 7:27 pm

    Can not wait until Monday night, we have reservations to celebrate my XX birthday there.

  15. POSTED BY Anne Prince  |  January 29, 2009 @ 9:17 pm

    Hey Ric – Happy XX Birthday! I hope there will be clowns at your party – everyone knows that clowns make the party!

  16. POSTED BY ubuwalker31  |  January 31, 2009 @ 4:00 pm

    Everyone loves squirrels. To most New Jerseyites, they are cute and inoffensive suburban woodland creatures that gather and bury nuts. They are the wildest animal that many of us see on a daily basis, and they represent our connection to nature.
    The Orange Squirrel restaurant idealizes the suburban woodland side of the squirrel. There are bags of peanuts sitting on the greeters table that you can win if you guess the number of peanuts in a glass jar. They have drinks named after squirrels. They serve cute squirrel chocolates at the end of the meal. It is a cute theme that is executed perfectly: the restaurant comes across as classy and fun without being kitschy.
    The Orange Squirrel was recommended to my fianc?e and I by a couple we know as a “reasonably priced restaurant with great food”. So imagine my surprise when I saw $30 entrees and $10 soups. Apparently, even in this terrible economy, a $100 dinner for two is reasonable. Only in Baristaville, I suppose.
    A smoked salmon crepe was our amuse-bouche. It was very good, but surprisingly and unoffensively, fishy.
    Our first dish was a lovely kabacha soup which my fianc?e swore was the best she ever tasted. We also shared a delicious curry PEI mussel dish. My fianc?e found the mussels themselves to be tender and delicious, but the sauce to be underwhelming. I thought it was amazing. Reasonable taste buds can differ, I suppose. We also shared a goat cheese and baby beet salad was also to die for.
    The main courses revealed the squirrels hidden side, one unnoticed by most ordinary people who are disconnected to nature. Squirrels love raiding gardens and bird feeders and creating loud racket when they chatter to each other. Squirrels cause tremendous property damage by nesting in attics and causing power outages. And squirrels don’t only eat nuts, they are also meat eaters.
    As we were waiting for our main course, the chef came out to an adjacent table to explain that the veal would not be served tonight because it was not up to his standards. He apologized prolifically as he explained that they had run out of veal earlier tonight. I thought to myself, “Hmmm…he just changed his story in the middle of his apology. Did he just lie to his guests?” He made it up to the table by serving a small pasta appetizer…the table did not look happy.
    Then our main courses came out. I had ordered the mint jelly lamb chops, which were very fatty, yet delicious. I realized after that there was no mint jelly served. My fiancee ordered whole Branzini, which was very tasty. The big disappointment were the side dishes. My truffle infused risotto was undercooked and flavorless, and we sent back a side because it was tasteless. It was replaced by mashed potatoes that had the consistancy of cheese soup. Boo…
    Like its namesake, the Orange Squirrel has a dark underbelly which takes away from a diners overall experience. The location of the restaurant, right off of the GSP in a commercially zoned area, leaves much to be desired. A view of a massive highway and a car dealership does not contribute to the overall ambiance of the restaurant. The space is cramped, mostly as a result of the poor choice of installing a full bar – I think that a better use of space would have been to add tables to service the 5 diners seated at the bar. The appetizers clearly outshone the main courses and sides. Undercooked risotto and mashed potato soup are not what I expect at a class act like the Orange Squirrel.
    We will visit again, but next time we will be sticking with sharing a few of the appetizers.

  17. POSTED BY SurroundedByStupidPeople  |  February 02, 2009 @ 3:33 pm

    (Ellen turns her back and the camera pans out to Elaine, sitting on the couch near a pretentious woman.)
    WOMAN: I wonder what happened to my fianc?. I know he’s here somewhere. Ellen? Have you seen my fianc??
    ELLEN: He’s upstairs.
    WOMAN: Are you going upstairs? Tell my fianc? I’m looking for him. I havelost my fianc?, the poor baby.
    ELAINE: Maybe the dingo ate your baby.
    WOMAN: What?
    ELAINE: The dingo ate your baby!

  18. POSTED BY wordchef56  |  February 03, 2009 @ 10:49 pm

    My friends and I just had a superb dinner at The Orange Squirrel. The Kambucha soup was delicate and divine. My husband had the mussels appetizer, and entrees ordered among us were the halibut, filet mignon, rack of lamb (“NOT “mint jelly” lamp chops), and chitarra pasta with meatballs. Everything was thoughtfully prepared, and the experience was made all the more special by the chef/owner stopping at the table to chat.
    We will definitely return to explore the rest of the menu.

  19. POSTED BY BHG  |  February 04, 2009 @ 4:30 pm

    Had dinner here last Friday evening with 3 other people. We arrived at 7pm and were the 2nd party seated – it was almost entirely empty – but the place was completely full by 7:45, including the bar area.
    We had a superb meal! Everything was lovely and delicious. We ordered an aruglula pizza, the lamb chops, filet mignon, bronzini and cheesecake. Everything was wonderful. The amuse bouche and little squirrel candies were nice tasty touches. All dishes came out well timed – it never felt rushed or slow – the timing was perfect. The service was impeccable.
    Some cons (and they are not complaints, they are just observations of things that may bother some people) – the noise levels got very loud…very very loud! We were pretty much yelling our conversation by the time we left (around 9:30 or so). The tables are pretty close together, but it is a tiny restaurant so it is to be expected. Parking – almost nonexistent. As you are approaching the squirrel, grab any metered spot you see, even if you will have to walk a block up – if you pass the restaurant and try to find parking elsewhere, you could be looking for awhile.
    Strange note: After highly recommending this restaurant, a friend went the next night (Saturday) and had one of the worst dining experiences of his life! I couldn’t believe it. He said they arrived (with reservations) at 7:30. They were seated at the bar to wait, and they waited there for an hour. Once seated, they waited almost 40 minutes for their apps. They then waited almost another 30 min to be told that the kitchen had run out of the bronzini which a couple of them had ordered. Finally got their meal about another 35 min later. He did tell me that the staff was very kind and apologetic, and the chef himself even came out to apologize. Although he did admit the food was excellent, he will never go back after such an experience. The bill for 4 people was approx $400 (including 2 bottles of wine). It is wild that we each had such opposite experiences one night after another. I dont know… I will attempt to convince him to try it one more time, though.

  20. POSTED BY susanj  |  February 05, 2009 @ 8:59 am

    The experience I had at the Orange Squirrel last Saturday evening very much mirrors the friends of BHG, though we did not recieve any apology from the chef. It was a three hour experience and although the food was very good, the dining experience was an ordeal.
    I believe there must have been some major problematic issues in the kitchen this evening for the situation to have been as bad as it was. However, there is a certain etiquette that should always be followed should such a situation occur, such as a complimentary glass of wine or a plate of bread given to guests waiting 45 minutes per course. (Bread I believe is by request only).
    It is not enough to serve delicious food as patrons to any restaurant are really the chef/owner’s guests for dining and should be treated as such. I think the Orange Squirrel has their appeal to the pallette covered quite nicely, they just have to work on their manners. Should they do so then dining at the Orange Squirrel will be a dining experience worth repeating. I wish them well.

  21. POSTED BY bluemorpho  |  February 05, 2009 @ 10:01 am

    I have dined at The Orange Squirrel on several occasions and always had a pleasant experience. I was there on Saturday and it was definitely an uncharacteristically chaotic evening there. Since I’ve been there before, I asked them about it and found out that one of the kitchen staff had called out that evening leaving them shorthanded on their busiest night. They gave us some glasses of wine and I saw them give some wine to others waiting at the bar. I get the feeling that they were doing the best they could with the resources they had, but it wasn’t enough. I would definitely suggest giving it another try since the food and experience are typically well worth it. Maybe a week night would be better time to go.

  22. POSTED BY BHG  |  February 05, 2009 @ 10:54 am

    Oh yeah! I forgot about the homemade Irish Cream! How yummy was that?!?

  23. POSTED BY susanj  |  February 05, 2009 @ 5:01 pm

    I guess some of us were not so lucky as you were. Maybe next time…

  24. POSTED BY jimmytown  |  February 10, 2009 @ 10:07 am

    Has nobody made the connection between the last sign (Acorn)And the New sign (squirrel) Oh well. And to the poster above, the Oak Tavern was indeed a $hithole. I remember there was duct tape on the bar, and you could see dead flies in the bottles. But they would pour you very strong drinks

  25. POSTED BY leitergirl  |  February 23, 2009 @ 9:06 pm

    Yes, thank you for reviewing this place. I love it. I went there New Year’s Eve (had to get home by midnight but they still gave us sparkies to celebrate), and the other day I went for lunch. My favorite(so far) is the sausage rigatoni. The owner is a nice guy, glad he built his restaurant here in Bloomfield.

  26. POSTED BY Parker  |  March 06, 2009 @ 10:32 pm

    Ahhh. We had dinner here tonight and it was sooo very good. We live close and could walk which would have been a good idea since it was warm enough and we ate too much. We had the prime rib and the chicken pot pie. We shared a personal pizza for an app. I am so excited that such a wonderful place opened up with in walking distance of our home. We didn’t have a reservation and it seemed we were really just lucky to get a table. I recommend making a reservation.

  27. POSTED BY nick  |  March 14, 2009 @ 10:36 pm

    Just had dinner here for the first time… Oustanding! One of the best meals we’ve had this side of the Hudson. Branzino terrific, ditto the filet mignon. Service very attentive. A real gem.

  28. POSTED BY AZbagoo  |  March 17, 2009 @ 10:57 am

    AMAZING!!! As noted, Run, do not walk to this gem. Was there on Monday night, no reservations, relatively quiet, no wait.
    Atmosphere: subdued, chic vibe with great lighting and intimacy. Thought the small bar was unique and cozy. lots of good liquor on hand
    Service: owner/bartender/host was informative, courteous and friendly. after hearing drink specials inquired about a few others and he made a recommendation of a “cream soda” type drink. vanilla infused vodka, ginger ale, and pomegranate something…good stiff tasty drink in a tall collins glass…also had the Micro brew from Cedar grove (who knew there was one) which was surprisingly good.$5/beer $8/drink
    Food: first place I;ve tried in NJ that has ever given an amuse-bouche-ours was a duck filled pastry dough with microcilantro and basil/balsamic reduction and other flavors-so subtle. mushroom tempura appetizer was tasty and nice starter-reminded me of an earthier calamari…the cherry tomatoes were sooo fresh
    for main meals, ordered the bronzini with the request to have it fileted (which I was told would prob not be honored on a weekend night due to being busy). very nice fish and the blood orange beurre blanc was great. as a side, like other posters…wow-Irish cheddar mashed was more like a potato soup, but incredibly tasty. he had the rigatoni-very unique flavors with what i think was a thai basil garnish. his side was fontina mac and cheese-also very rich and tasty.
    Add ons: we also received the homemade irish cream and cookie/tart with pecans/pralines at the end-nice finish in addition to the citrus creme brulee. the lemon slice garnish was candied!
    what impressed me the most about this place were the many flavors sensed with each bite-the chef really seems to know seasoning and flavor pairings.
    both the chef and owner/host came to check on the meal-not intrusive, but the right amount of attention. $80 for two dinners, one appetizer, one side, two drinks, and one dessert. i am eager to go back to try a few of the pastas and i saw the pizzas and wanted to order them.
    negatives (but not really): some people would say location-its not, just not on the “high end” of restaurant row in montclair on bloomfield ave. its quieter at this end. parking, on a Monday night, was fine, but I could see on a weekend how street parking might be tough.
    highly recommend to anyone who wants to try an intimate setting with a bar (sometimes I am tired of bringing my own!) with very flavorful and inventive food.

  29. POSTED BY AZbagoo  |  March 17, 2009 @ 12:06 pm

    AMAZING!!! As noted, Run, do not walk to this gem. Was there on Monday night, no reservations, relatively quiet, no wait.
    Atmosphere: subdued, chic vibe with great lighting and intimacy. Thought the small bar was unique and cozy. lots of good liquor on hand
    Service: owner/bartender/host was informative, courteous and friendly. after hearing drink specials inquired about a few others and he made a recommendation of a “cream soda” type drink. vanilla infused vodka, ginger ale, and pomegranate something…good stiff tasty drink in a tall collins glass…also had the Micro brew from Cedar grove (who knew there was one) which was surprisingly good.$5/beer $8/drink
    Food: first place I;ve tried in NJ that has ever given an amuse-bouche-ours was a duck filled pastry dough with microcilantro and basil/balsamic reduction and other flavors-so subtle. mushroom tempura appetizer was tasty and nice starter-reminded me of an earthier calamari…the cherry tomatoes were sooo fresh
    for main meals, ordered the bronzini with the request to have it fileted (which I was told would prob not be honored on a weekend night due to being busy). very nice fish and the blood orange beurre blanc was great. as a side, like other posters…wow-Irish cheddar mashed was more like a potato soup, but incredibly tasty. he had the rigatoni-very unique flavors with what i think was a thai basil garnish. his side was fontina mac and cheese-also very rich and tasty.
    Add ons: we also received the homemade irish cream and cookie/tart with pecans/pralines at the end-nice finish in addition to the citrus creme brulee. the lemon slice garnish was candied!
    what impressed me the most about this place were the many flavors sensed with each bite-the chef really seems to know seasoning and flavor pairings.
    both the chef and owner/host came to check on the meal-not intrusive, but the right amount of attention. $80 for two dinners, one appetizer, one side, two drinks, and one dessert. i am eager to go back to try a few of the pastas and i saw the pizzas and wanted to order them.
    negatives (but not really): some people would say location-its not, just not on the “high end” of restaurant row in montclair on bloomfield ave. its quieter at this end. parking, on a Monday night, was fine, but I could see on a weekend how street parking might be tough.
    highly recommend to anyone who wants to try an intimate setting with a bar (sometimes I am tired of bringing my own!) with very flavorful and inventive food.

  30. POSTED BY cmb  |  March 20, 2009 @ 7:14 pm

    I’m still savoring the fabulous meal I shared with four friends last night. What a treat to find exceptional food and great aesthetics off the beaten path, yet oh-so-close. Between the five of us, we sampled a good share of the menu and there wasn’t a dud amongst our dishes: beet salad, mushroom tempura, whole bronzini, veal milanese…The sauces were sublime, including the three accompaniments to the shrimp appetizer. If there was even the least bit of sticker shock, it quickly wore off when we recalculated that that the Orange Squirrel is not BYO. (That in itself is a welcome and convenient change.) I’m looking forward to revisiting in Spring/Summer — during his very hospitable visit to our table, the chef revealed that he will be adding dishes inspired by and containing seasonal produce from his organic garden.

  31. POSTED BY violet  |  March 27, 2009 @ 10:59 pm

    I just returned home from having dinner here with my boyfriend. I’m stuffed! The food was truly wonderful. From the amuse bouche sent out by the chef to the ending orange chocolate, all of the details were perfect. We shared the braised fennel and tomatos as an appetizer, very good. I had the filet mignon with puff pastry, also very good. Well cooked and seasoned. My side was the irish cheddar mashed potatos, as people noted above, it’s much creamier than any mashed potatos i’ve had in the past but the flavor made it above and beyond. Boyfriend had the halibut, with fontina mac and cheese, yum! We decided to pass on the dessert, but were pleasantly surprised to have a little taste of bailey’s with the orange chocolate. This was a special dinner for my birthday, but I would definitely recommend trying it out!
    We couldn’t see out the window, nor could we hear any traffic so it seemed more like dining in the city than on Bloomfield ave! I think the people who posted above my who didn’t enjoy the experience are old curmudgeons who need to loosen up!

  32. POSTED BY Suzartist  |  April 30, 2009 @ 11:17 pm

    Well, I will be honest. After reading all these wonderful reviews and great word-of-mouth advertising I was looking forward to our dining experience here. Some of it was great, some of it was not so good. For a Thursday night and the prices on the menu I expected much better.
    The meal started out very well, with the Gnudi (excellent) the PEI’s (also excellent) and the spinach salad (very good). We were excited.
    Then we found out that our lamb chops were out, so we substituted Filet Mignon.
    The Halibut was good (not great), the Bronzini was tasty but a lot of work, the veal was good but pedestrian, and the Filet was… well we sent it back. When it came out it was so late that we almost wanted to cancel the order because we were ready for dessert.
    There was only one waiter who never got any of the orders delivered to the right person (unheard of for a table of four with prices in this range and only three other tables seated). The service was not good. We had a difficult time finding him. When we had to send the steak back (overcooked!) we actually had to get up from the table and walk over to him at the bar.
    Dessert was good (Meyer Lemon Tart and Creme Brulee).
    We all agreed that this was not at the level of Culinariane.
    Professional restaurant reviewers usually go back to the same restaurant an average of three times before reviewing to get a good idea of the consistency of the service and the kitchen.
    Unfortunately, at these prices we will wait until the economy gets better before we try it again.

  33. POSTED BY Welshdragon  |  May 02, 2009 @ 10:56 pm

    I think we were at the next table to Suzartist – as I ordered the bronzini and they were just out of it – think you had the last one 🙂
    Anyway – our experience was amazing – the food was so flavorful and good – the amuse bouche meatballs were a really nice touch.
    Had the beet and goats cheese salad and that was so fresh and delicious. The cheesecake was the best I have had…period….and I have eaten a lot of cheesecake.
    I think the cooking is really interesting and the atmosphere is good.
    I actually found the service refreshing – genuine, not phony and false. However I doubt the waiter could have coped had it been busier.
    I think the attention to detail there is great – the silverware, the glasses, the presentation, quality and taste of the food. The surprises – the amuse bouche, the home-made “Baileys” and the chocolate squirrels. Just wish I could afford to eat there more often. I really hope they make it a success.

  34. POSTED BY mark  |  June 20, 2009 @ 9:59 am

    Chef/owner Francesco describes the Orange Squirrel as an “Italian Brasserie”, which is pretty accurate. Our group however found the more “trattoria” dishes such as the rigatoni with sausage and tomato cream, veal milanese (enormous portion), pizzas and mascarpone polenta much better than the brasserie selections such as the steak chops and snapper. These dishes were in need of seasoning as was the fontina mac n cheese. A whole bronzini, simply pan roasted was also excellent. My problem with the Orange Squirrel is the wine list, which is just terrible. A limited and very poor selection of mostly new world wines from unknown producers. Antinori’s Tiganello, a typically overpriced wine for its quality, is the only recognizable name on the list. Francesco will allow you to bring your own wine, but a $25 corkage fee is really excessive. I guess the bottom line is that while the food is worth going back for the wine list and corkage fee will keep me away until Francesco sees the light and improves upon one or the other.

  35. POSTED BY 616guy  |  July 02, 2009 @ 12:00 pm

    My wife and I went to the Squirrel last night to celebrate her birthday. We have had dinners at many of the top NYC restaurants and elsewhere so we have a decent feel for what makes a good experience. I think that the chef/owner Francesco has focused on the right things – specifically the FOOD and creating a pleasant fun atmosphere. All of the dishes we had were cooked to our request and done with care, presented in a fun interesting way and had great flavors. I agree that the prices for some of the dishes were more NYC prices but the quality of the rib-eye I was definitely NYC quality. Only other small knock is that the wine program is somewhat limited focusing on wines in the $30 – 40 range. Wines by the glass are $8 and are a good quality for that price point and you get a GOOD pour! I’m a wine geek so that may not be as important to other folks – plus I’m sure the owners didn’t want to tie up cash on higher priced / slower moving wines…
    We will be back and will be bringing friends! Francesco keep up the good work – you’re a great addition to the Barristaville restaurant scene!

  36. POSTED BY polomainc  |  December 03, 2009 @ 7:51 pm

    I was very excited about dining at the Orange Squirrel in Bloomfield. I did not mind the location, at least there is parking. I didn’t mind the smallness of the space nor the oversized bar that seems inappropriate for the size of the restaurant. I did mind the overall quality of the food. We started out with “amuse buche” (sp?) of a meatball…lovely concept…it was rubber with a bitter sauce. I was concerned. This is supposed to be a little jewel of flavor to wet and stimulate your appetite.It did neither.Next we ordered salads and mussels.Salads were great and the mussels were some of the finest mussels I’ve had,plump,tender and the coconut basil sauce was outstanding.Then we were served the main courses. The haddock was appetizer size and salty,unacceptable. The chicken pot pie was outrageous looking and so disappointing. Billed as bechamel sauce, instead it had a vegetable reduction which took it from a rich creamy comfort food with a wondeful crust to an ordinary and forgettable fair. Sides of spinach, bitter brocolli were above adequate but the brussell sprouts in a lovely sweet and bacon sautee turned sour as you ate them. Deserts nice as a tasting…were just enough to satisfy( we only ordered two for four) All forgiveable till the bill.With tip $210.00 no liquor, all tap water with two diet sodas.Had the quality matched the price there would not only be a return visit but raves and word spreading.. The kinks should be out as it has been a year. Not sure I will return.

  37. POSTED BY wheelie07042  |  June 02, 2011 @ 5:07 pm

    Went there last night and it was as amazing as ever. That place deserves to be PACKED every night.

  38. POSTED BY flyingbobs555  |  May 24, 2014 @ 12:25 pm

    Yikes! Their good run…. has run-out. This is the 3rd time we have been to OS for dinner. To start, our waitress was a downer…..debbie downer….dead-eyed, slow, uninspired, bored. My friend had to ask for a 2nd scotch twice over 45 minute wait. Then brought the wrong scotch to the table. The food was lacking if you consider yourself a “foodie”. Smoked tuna has no sauce or liquid to enhance the flavor, so the dish fell flat. My whole “bronzino” cooked fish was to be de-boned at the table, yet after doing so, in a lack luster fashion, I got a bone in every bite and was worried about chocking every minute. Dinner went down hill from there. Each of the four of us were served our dinner with 5-8 min increments. So we weren’t really eating together, but tag-team eating. Dessert was relish, but not enough to get me to every go back and spend the $$$$$.
    Bye bye OS…..find some other nuts to spend big bucks.

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Yes, April is The Foolish Month. This might be the most inept Planning Board we have had in recent memory. They don't even now how to hold a public hearing. It is so Trump-like. Just the times.

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