By Jennifer Vazquez
EAST NEWARK –
Pic-Nic, a restaurant specializing in Portuguese, Spanish and some American dishes, has been honored – once again – by the prestigious Zagat report for 2012/2013, a list of highly recommended eating places.
Since Pic-Nic, located at 224 Grant Ave., gained new co-owners roughly eight years ago, the business has seen a complete overhaul. “We have a bigger parking lot for our costumers,” co-owner Manuel Galhofo said. “We also have a new party room and bar.”
The new party room is decorated in a rustic motif reminiscent of the Iberian Peninsula. Wonderfully elaborate and colorful paintings adorn its walls. The floor is made up of tiny earth-tone tiles. The entire room is a pleasant sight.
“We use this room for parties,” Galhofo explained. “A lot of baptisms, birthdays, family celebrations.”
The pleasing aesthetics of Pic-Nic is enhanced by an eclectic food menu that keeps patrons coming back.
“We have more than 40 dishes,” Galhofo said. “We are known for our seafood and steak dishes but we receive positive feedback on all our plates.”
The delectable dishes are plentiful – clients are offered a huge serving of the dish of their choice, which are also easy on their wallets for the prices at Pic-Nic are quite attainable, with most meals ranging from just above $10 to just a bit over $30.
Among their many remarkable dishes, the stuffed clams – offered as an appetizer – are simply perfection. Galhofo believes that part of their captivating taste has to do with the fact that (the chef) “does not use a lot of bread for the stuffing. He keeps the integrity of the taste of the clams.” An entrée worthy of singling out is the sirloin steak with brandy sauce. The juiciness of the steak and the mouth-watering potatoes bathing in the brandy sauce is beyond words.
Jose Caetano has been the head chef at Pic-Nic for several years. Caetano’s work is exquisite and diverse, being the mastermind of the a daily special. Galhofo points out that Caetano also concocts sauces on the spot, when the dish is ordered, so that diners will always have the freshest ingredients on their plates.
Pic-Nic also offers an extensive wine list featuring wines from “Portugal, Spain, France, Italy and California,” according to Galhofo.
To top the delicious and plentiful dishes and visually pleasant décor, Pic-Nic offers a welcoming, friendly aura by all staff, from the bartenders, to waiters, to Galhofo himself –who has formed a personal relationship with all his customers, to the point of seemingly knowing everyone’s name.
While Pic-Nic has seen a bit of a facelift, the barbecue take-out section – the “heart and soul” of the establishment, as Galhofo refers to it – is still thriving and still providing the same BBQ specialties that have become a staple to clients.
Galhofo and Rui Ramos are co-owners of Pic-Nic. Their friendship formed many years ago when both worked at other restaurants as bus boys. That friendship led to a successful partnership now entering its eighth year.