As a foodie, I am always looking for new and alluring places to fill my craw with tempting culinary treats, and therefore I am continuously taking advice from other epicurean adventurers about restaurants that I “must try.” This time around, this sage advice, you will soon see why that pun was horrendous but I could not help myself, came from one of my friends on Yelp.com named Mark C. Mark suggested that I bring my stomach, and my wife, to Sage, see I told you that pun was bad, located at 17-15 Broadway, in Fair Lawn, NJ for as Dr. Sheldon Cooper would say, “A real Italian treat.” It took me a while but I heeded this advice as Rihanna should have in regards to her punch drunk beau Chris Brown, and visited Sage last Sunday.
From the outside this restaurant is slightly unassuming, due to the fact that is highway adjacent and the facade of the building itself if somewhat old and shabby looking. Please do not let these shortcomings taint your overall impression of this establishment; because once you cross the threshold of Sage’s doorway, you are transported away from this meek and dated ornamentation, into a contemporary land of fresh clean paint and modern furnishings.
The first thing I noticed after the décor was the ample and plush seating that filled the rather spacious dining area. If you know me, you know that I like confined spaces like Jim Jones likes shoveling his sidewalk, in order to understand this joke you may have to read this Patch.com article that was mentioned nationally on TMZ. So when Kat and I were offered the choice between a table and a pimpalicious, my words not the servers, booth, we immediately opted for the booth which was damn near cavernous and uber comfy.
Once seated our server Jason approached our table and handed us our menus and informed us of the specials for the evening, before taking our drink orders and leaving us to peruse the bill of fare. Since Kat and I are fat kids at heart, we had already scoured the interwebs for reviews and the menu for Sage’s dinner offerings, so we had a decent idea of what we would be ordering. Once we placed our closed menus on our table, which is of course the international signal telling our server that we were ready to order, Jason was there faster than you can say Unique New York three times fast, go ahead give it a whirl, I will wait. Okay, that was just for my enjoyment, that phrase is really hard to say and you probably did it at your desk at work and now everyone knows you are crazy, so let’s just say Jason was good at what he does and move on from this embarrassing moment in your professional life shall we.
I ordered the Veal Luigi which is described as veal topped with spinach, mozzarella and a sun-dried tomato sherry wine sauce for $23.00, and Kat decided on Tortelloni Bolognese special described as cheese tortelloni topped with homemade meat sauce and fresh grated Parmesan cheese for $20.00. Each of our meals came with a house salad which of course came with our choice of dressing. Furthermore, my meal was supposed to come with a side of potatoes but being that I knew I was going to write this article I had to upgrade my side dish to a bowl of pasta with marinara sauce, because seriously a food critic that goes to an Italian place and does not try the house gravy is about as trustworthy as a skinny chef!
After our orders hit the kitchen Jason returned to our table and delivered a basket of bread that at first glance seemed to be quite ordinary. Before leaving, he lit a candle and placed it on our table, recognizing that Kat and I were on a “date,” which was extremely appreciated and enhanced the ambiance of this establishment even more. With the guidance of the romance inducing flicker of the candlelight I lifted the napkin that was covering the superficially conventional bread and I realized why Jason added the candle to our table. The soft light the candle provided had little to do with my wife and more to do with the loaf of homemade olive bread that I just uncovered. As I reached for this stunning temptress, I could have sworn I heard the pleasant sounds of a harp playing a melody, while my hand slowly extended towards my prize. This 1980’s movie cliché was completely necessary because words cannot express the explosion of flavor that this bread packed per slice. Sage already had a hold of me and the entrée had not even touched the oven yet.
While savoring my second piece of the simply divine olive bread, our salads arrived and Kat and I were offered fresh ground pepper which we gladly accepted. The salads were not robust but a decent size for a side salad. The house dressing was expertly made and the salad was dressed to perfection with just the right amount of this flavorful concoction. Kat and I made short work of the greens and I of course needed to splurge and have one more sliver of the olive bread before awaiting our main course.
When the main course arrived I could tell just from the aroma wafting off the plate that Sage was going to complete its almost flawless performance in style. Both entrées looked and smelled remarkable, and appeared to be fairly large portions which this foodie loves to see. Jason offered, Kat and I fresh grated Parmesan cheese, which we graciously accepted. When our dishes were garnished Italian style, we only had one option, and that was to dig in. My veal was tender and succulent and seasoned to perfection, topped with a sauce that most likely cascaded like a waterfall from heaven into the kitchen of Sage. Kat’s tortelloni tasted amazing as well, thanks to the skillfully prepared Bolognese sauce that had just the right consistency.
In addition to the wonderfully attentive wait staff, the soothing ambiance, and the delicious food, while we were eating our main course, not only did the owner come by our table to check on us, but the Chef himself made his rounds just to make sure our food was prepared to our liking. After our meal was complete, we opted to decline desert because we did not want the essence of the meal we had just consumed to be washed away so quickly. With the check in our hand we paid our bill, a modest $50.00 might I add, and left Sage with full bellies and happy souls.
I implore all the foodies in the Bergen County area to visit Sage not once, but often. This area is littered with mediocre eateries that linger far past their expiration date, yet we are constantly losing incredible restaurants due to apathy. Sage is not only quite inexpensive for the quality of food they are serving, but they, like most New Jersey eateries, are a bring your own bottle establishment, which saves you even more money. So, in the immortal words of Billy Joel, grab “A bottle of red, a bottle of white. It all depends upon your appetite. I’ll meet you any time you want, in our Italian Restaurant. “