One 53, Rocky Hill, NJ

One 53 is a neighborhood wine bar and restaurant in historic Rocky Hill, just up the road from Princeton. It opened about a year ago and is owned by the team that owns the nearby and excellent Lucy’s Ravioli. The food is essentially italian, but includes a burger on the menu and includes more then just a series of pasta dishes. Low carb eaters need not worry about eating here.

I drive by One 53 everyday to and from work and have been meaning to go there for a while. Especially since it always looks packed and due to the dearth of decent restaurants in the Princeton area. To say that I have really wanted to try this place is an understatement. I’ve read great reviews and been dying to come here and try it for myself. I finally did make it this past Wednesday with a few people from work. After a few drinks at Charlie Brown’s in Kingston on Route 27 (work happy hour), 5 of us decided to got to One 53 for dinner. We called ahead for a reservation but were told to just come by as they had a few open tables.

We arrived and barely found parking in their parking lot. I got the last spot. They do have an overflow lot nearby and you also get street parking, so parking isn’t really an issue. We walked in and the place was almost full, though we got a great table by the window. The decor is simple, modern and bright and very tasteful. Just my kind of thing.

One of the restaurants USPs (Unique Selling Points) is that they have 53 wines under $53. This is a great idea. Wine is so over-priced in many estaurants making it prohibitive to eat out regularly and drink decent wine. But with something like this and Witherspoon Grill’s 20 wines under $30, eating out at decent restaurants can be a more frequent occurrence. I want to see more restaurants do this. We ordered the St. Supery Cabernet Sauvignon which is a decent wine, smooth and well worth $50 in a restaurant.

Onto the food. I have to say that I was a little disappointed. Some things were really good and others were just okay. I expected better and maybe that was the issue. I so wanted to like this place but felt the food was well executed but not memorable. I felt that the food was under seasoned. I had the One 53 burger which was perfectly cooked and moist but just needed more seasoning.

We ordered:

– Salmon Tartare – excellent.

– Seared Foie Gras – how can you go wrong here? There’s basically nothing to do with foie gras. I am so over foie gras, I feel like it is so 2000 and over done now.

– Cheese plate – collection of excellent cheeses.

– Scallops with seafood risotto – 2 in our party had this. One person loved his while the scallops were over cooked for the other.

– Crispy Salmon – Under-seasoned, nothing special

– Butternut squash ravioli – got a lukewarm response from the person who ordered it.

– One 53 burger with blue cheese and fries – under-seasoned.

We ordered 2 chocolate bread puddings. This got a mixed response with one person really liking it while I thought it was overwhelmed by the chocolate.

Service is attentive. Our server, a young, attractive woman took good care of us and was friendly. This is a well managed restaurant with some very good food while others are okay. I think One 53 has alot of upside and with more consistent execution of the food, this could be an excellent restaurant. We really need neighborhood restaurants like this.

I think I will return again to try the food and hope that it lives up to the other reviews I have read.


One Response to “One 53, Rocky Hill, NJ”

  1. I was very eager to go to this restaurant but I was really disappointed. First ,the tables are very close to each other and you feel like you are in a flight rather then a pricey restaurant. The host had some air and attitude and the service was lukewarm.
    The food was good but portion size was inversely proportional to the price.
    In short, one53 is an overpriced ,crowded , noisy restaurant and I will not waste my money there again.

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