Marc P., Princeton University
The town of Princeton, New Jersey occupies a sort of no man’s land equidistant from Philadelphia and New York, and seems to have painstakingly isolated itself from the Jersey of Snooki and JWoww. That is to say that the Orange Bubble, as Princeton students call it, enjoys (or suffers) a relative dearth of fast-food and chain restaurants, aside from the painfully ubiquitous Starbucks and Panera just across from the north end of campus. Nevertheless, the town offers a wide variety of restaurants and cuisines ranging from the Hoagie Haven’s calorie bombs to the universally praised fare at Elements.
But for today, we’ll take a look at Mediterra, just down the road from the Bent Spoon, which offers a tasty, upscale take on classic Mediterranean food. With entrées priced mostly in the mid-twenties, the restaurant may demand a bit more than the average student is comfortable with paying, but with a few lower-priced options, including a twenty-four dollar paella for two, an occasional meal there is not prohibitively expensive.
An appetizer of calamari fritti comes with marinara as well as a creamier mustard-flavored white sauce. Flaky, light, and crispy, the breading on the calamari is delightful, and the squid itself retains an agreeable texture: soft and tender, not the slightest bit rubbery or tough. The sauces add yet another dimension to the dish, as the white sauce in particular provides a spicy flair which complements the squid and outperforms the unimpressive –but still worthwhile—marinara.
If the appetizer is an exercise in levity, then a salmon entrée is its opposite: a heavier dish which makes great use of spice, nuts and accompanying spinach to lend a unique texture to a familiar fish. At first the salmon seems too salty, but almost instantly that sensation fades into a sumptuous smoky flavor that almost made me regret swallowing it. Walnuts give the underlying spinach a pleasant crunch and a slightly sweet taste which rounds out the dish’s tour de force of flavor. This is the the best salmon I can remember tasting.
Vanilla gelato from the aforementioned Bent Spoon rounds out a meal at Mediterra. The gelato is creamy and flavorful, yet not filling, the perfect finish to a perfect meal to start the year here in TigerTown.