Monday, October 10, 2011

Garden State (Part 2)

(NOTE: Garden State closed in October 2011)

(Original Review -- August 2011)

I ventured back to the Mississippi Marketplace food pod two days ago (10/8) because it was Garden State's last weekend before shutting down for the winter. It would also be owner Kevin Sandri's final weekend before moving on to new endeavors.

Kevin writing up Garden State's menu on its final weekend
Before Garden State closed, I had to try the arancine and the meatball sub, two dishes that have received extremely high marks from many people ($6.50 for the sub, $1 for each arancine ball).

Kevin manning the food cart one last time
Menu (weekend of Oct. 8 and 9)
(Garden State's final weekend before shutting down for winter)
The meatball sub, which has likely been on the menu since day one, has house-made meatballs and marinara, with melted mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Arancine is a deep-fried saffron risotto ball stuffed with seasonal vegetables and fresh mozzarella cheese.

Meatball sub (Garden State)
Arancine (Garden State)
Inside the arancine
I started with the arancine. A well-seasoned, thin fried layer surrounded perfectly cooked risotto. Every ounce of the arancine had incredible flavor. The saffron provided a heavenly floral experience and did not overwhelm the other ingredients. Squeezing the lemon on the arancine cut through the richness and enhanced everything. Just blown away here.

Then, when I didn't think life could get better, it did. The meatball sub never stood a chance from the minute I started eating. I personally cannot recall having a better meatball sandwich. The seasoning on the meatballs was spot-on. The simple addition of marinara, melted mozzarella, and Parmesan is just comfort food for me, plain and simple. The bread stayed firm to hold everything in place, but a soft bundle of awesomeness when eating the sandwich. I think the only thing that would have made this better: I shoulda asked for more meatballs. I woulda paid more money just to get a large container of meatballs, marinara, mozzarella, and Parmesan.

It's honestly a bittersweet moment for me. On the one hand, I feel privileged to have enjoyed three of Kevin's top-selling menu items (the third being the Chickpea Sandwich). On the other hand, it does pain me that this food cart gem is taking a hiatus this winter. I wish Kevin the best of luck in his future endeavors, and I'll be waiting for Garden State's re-opening. 9.5/10

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