#SCBDExclusive – FDU’s Best Kept Secret at Vanderbilt’s Sports and Spirits


photo 1Up on a hill across blue parking spots at Fairleigh Dickinson University’s (FDU) College at Florham campus in Madison, there is a bar known as Vanderbilt’s. In the same way that Ted and the gang love the nonexistent MacLaren’s Pub in the Upper West Side, my friends and I love to go to Vanderbilt’s as our default bar of choice. (As a side note, if you want to see the bar that MacLaren’s is modeled after, it’s at a bar called McGee’s located in Midtown West on 55th Street between 8th Avenue and Broadway.)

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Vanderbilt’s holds a special place in my heart, especially considering all I have to do is walk more or less the same distance I do to get to class in order to get a change in scenery from the luscious greenery of the former Vanderbilt and Twombly estate to see the classy Wyndham Hotel bar. Vanderbilt’s is an interesting mix of young urban professionals on a Friday and Saturday night and the football fan crowd on a Sunday afternoon when they have 99 cent wings.

photo 2When in doubt, I enjoy my Smuttynose IPA and play a rousing game of pool. When I think of Vanderbilt’s, I think of pool tables, gin, great buffalo wings, and the friendly bartenders who know my drink of choice. They have specials every night of the week, and I have always found the relaxed, low-key vibe of Vanderbilt’s to be a more economical and relaxing alternative to the bar and pseudo-club scene at Morristown.

photo 4More important the simple and welcoming atmosphere at Vanderbilt’s Sports and Spirit are the memories you will make with your friends that you bring there. Vanderbilt’s is the place I hold near and dear to me where I  will always look back fondly on the heart-to-heart talks I had with my girlfriends there, talking about our college and personal lives, attempting to piece together the road map and journey of life one Samuel Adams® OctoberFest at a time. Here’s looking at the Spinach Artichoke Dip. Cheers!

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#SCBDExclusive: Identità Golose @Eataly



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On Saturday October 5th, the Small Chick and I were invited to attend the fourth edition of Identità New York featuring Chefs Sara Jenkins and Mauro Uliassi. Identità Golose is a culinary organization from Milan that highlights contemporary Italian cuisine. The international chefs’ congress took place at La Scuola Grande in Eataly; the largest artisanal Italian food and wine market with locations in Turin, Italy and the Flatiron District here in Manhattan.

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Upon entering La Scuola, the Italian word for “the school”, we were given a choice between Berlucchi Brut and Berlucchi Rosé. I chose the Cuvee ’61 Brut Franciacorta DOCG. The Brut was a sparkling floral and fruity wine with subtle greenish highlights. The Small Chick chose the Cuvee ’61 Rosé which was a sparkling wine with a soft, abundant mousse, described as complex, fragrant, and lively. We were given two additional wines: the Fontanafredda Briccotondo Dolcetto Langhe DOC 2010 and the Marchiopolo, Ribolla Gialla Collio DOC 2011. We tasted the famous Italian beer, Birra Moretti La Rossa which is a double malt beer with a distinctive amber color.

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Mauro Uliassi was the first to cook. Uliassi is charismatic, the perfect Italian chef who clearly prepares dishes with passion and enthusiasm. He wooed the audience as he explained his background as a chef. Uliassi and his sister Catia have a Two Michele Star restaurant called Uliassi which opened in 1990. He also taught for ten years at the Hotel Management and Catering School Panzini in Senigallia, Italy. For the seminar, he prepared a crudo dish of red shrimp with yellow tomato and yellow plum Béarnaise sauce. The shrimp was incredibly fresh, and the dish was wonderfully simple, showing that you do not need to have complicated ingredients or a distracting plate presentation to make a bold statement. The Béarnaise sauce and fresh seafood spoke for itself.

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Sara Jenkins cooked after Uliassi. She made pasta al pomodoro, better known as pasta with tomato sauce here in the United States. Jenkins explained that it was important to understand this dish.

“If you don’t understand pasta al pomodoro,” she smiled, “you can’t even begin to understand Italian cooking.”

At this moment, the entire audience at La Scuola clapped for Jenkins. As an American, my favorite element of Jenkins’s dish was the fact she made her pasta al dente. The traditional American palate does not tend to enjoy the harder pasta, whereas the traditional Italian palate prefers the pasta to be al dente to emphasize the texture of the pasta. The Italians cook their pasta al dente to allow for more appreciation of the actual noodle, and to not to drown the pasta in sauce and have wilted noodles.

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Even if you are unable to attend a seminar or class at La Scuola Grande in Eataly, I highly recommend visiting the marketplace, winery, and various restaurants at Eataly in the Flatiron District across from Madison Square Park. There are seven full-service eateries including a café that serves Lavazza coffee and gelato. The marketplace offers a prodigious selection of artisanal cheeses, cured meats, handmade pastas, baked goods, books, and housewares.


Previous Review of La Birreria  http://smallchickbigdeals.com/2013/09/26/scbdfavorite-eat-a-lot-at-eataly/

Identità Golose Main Website www.identitagolose.it

Eataly Main Website www.eataly.com





#SCBDFavorite: Eat a Lot .@Eataly!



Ciao raggazi! The other evening I had the pleasure of going to the Birreria rooftop bar at Eataly with my dear amica from Italia. Yes, she came all the way from Italy to eat Italian food in the Flatiron District of New York City. The weather was fantastic, and we got a great view of the Empire State Building and the Flatiron Building. The Empire State building was lit up with beautiful red, white, and green, which was a perfect pseudo-Italian flag backdrop at Eataly.

For dinner, I had pollo del diavolo which was a bit spicy and extremely delicious. The chicken was fresh and had a great amount of herbs and spices. There were three chicken legs on the plate, and that was enough to keep me full. My amica from Italia had prosciutto crudo and a cheese platter. She devoured the prosciutto crudo and cheese like she had never had fresh meat and cheese before.

I also recommend the cask ales they have at the Birreria. If you’ve never had a cask ale before, a cask ale beer is a beer that is served from the same cask that it is conditioned in. They have three cask ales all for $10 a pint: Wanda, a chestnut mild ale, Giuseppina, an Italian-American IPA, and Gina, a traditional thyme American pale ale.

If you’re not an alcohol drinker or just want to try something different, I suggest the traditional Italian refreshments such as Lurisia Chinotto. Chinotto is an Italian soda made from the fruit of the Chinotto tree. The fruit is a bitter citrus which comes from the tree also known as “myrtle-leaved orange tree”. Chin chin e salute!



Eataly Main Website http://www.eataly.com/

Birreria Main Website http://www.eataly.com/birreria

Birreria Dinner Menu


Twitter Accounts:



#SCBDReview: Xai Xai Happy Hour

scbdreviewphoto 1Xai Xai is by far one of my favorite happy accidents. The Financier and I met in Hell’s Kitchen, originally intending to meet at a dive bar, I had been meeting to check out the past few months. However, by the time I got to 51st Street and 9th Avenue, it turns out that the dive bar I wanted to go to had closed down. I stood on the corner of 9th and 51st, wondering what our back-up plan would be, when I noticed the façade of a bar down 51st. The bar was covered with lights and vines and it didn’t seem too crowded, so the moment the Financier arrived to meet me, I suggested we try that bar solely based on its outside appearance.

photo 4While many appearances can be deceiving, I was pleasantly surprised by the happy hour at Xai Xai Wine Bar. The Financier and I had three drinks each: a cosmopolitan, a gin and tonic, and a glass of sangria. The cosmopolitan was made with top shelf vodka without us even having to ask, which was a great deal considering the cosmos were only $8. We specifically asked for Hendrick’s Gin in the gin and tonic. It was the first time I had ever tried Hendrick’s, and I quickly became a fan since Hendrick’s is a gin from Scotland which is infused with cucumber and rose petals. Finally, the sangria was simple and delicious, and only $7!

photo 5We considered trying the $1 oysters, but it was not a risk I was willing to take on a Friday night. When we first arrived to Xai Xai, we were about half an hour early since happy hour at Xai Xai starts at 4 PM and ends at 7 PM, then presumes again from 10 PM until it closes. However,

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since the Financier and I stayed at Xai Xai for about two hours, they gave us happy hour prices for our three drinks anyway. The bar was dead at 3:30 PM, but starting around 5:00 PM, the bar already started picking up with a few patrons. I was quite sure that as the night went on, more and more people would have come through to Xai Xai. I cannot wait to go back! As the quote on their happy hour board says, “dance like no one is watching and drink like it’s your last drop.” Cheers!

photo 2Links:

- http://www.xaixaiwinebar.com/ Offical Xai Xai Wine Bar Website

- http://www.opentable.com/xai-xai-wine-bar Open Table website for reserving a table

- @XAIXAIWineBarNY on Twitter

- www.hendricksgin.com/ Offical Hendrick’s Gin Website (must be 21 or older)

#SCBDReview: Perfectly Posh at Pastis


On Monday night, I met up with The Dentist and his younger brother at Chelsea Market. Since they are from Pennsylvania, they trusted my SCBD skills to lead them to the proper dining establishment in the Meatpacking District. I suggested that we get perfectly posh at Pastis: a French restaurant made popular by the show Sex in the City. There, Carrie Bradshaw enjoyed brunch with “the Russian” while I dined with two handsome gentleman.

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For dinner, I had a Hamburger à Cheval which is a hamburger with a fried egg on it. It’s worth noting that Pastis only uses organic eggs. It was $17, which, even for Manhattan prices, I find a bit steep just for a burger. However, the hamburger with the organic fried egg was delicious. It came with a load of fries, a large bun, a huge crispy piece of lettuce, onions, and a tomato. The Dentist had a Croque-Madame, which was the same price as my hamburger.

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A croque-madame is the same as a croque-monsieur except that the madame has a fried or poached egg on top. In parts of Normandy in France, this is called a croque-à-cheval. I’ve come to believe that Pastis is all about the cheval. The Dentist was really pleased about his grilled ham and cheese sandwich topped with the poached egg. He wasn’t sure if he had to eat the leafy decoration on the side, but I assured him that since he was paying $17 for a croque-madame that he could do whatever he wanted within the bubble of the non-judgmental SCBD reviewing zone.

The Dentist’s brother was an interesting character since he noticed that the wait staff was extremely adept at constantly refilling our waters. He was disappointed by the fact that the water was unnecessarily warm in the summer heat without ice cubes. He asked for a huge cup of ice, and they served us ice in a tiny cup with a spoon that was intended to serve all three of us. If you’re a fan of ice with your water, Pastis is apparently rather stingy when it comes to ice service. In fact, the service was not remarkable at Pastis, but I come to Pastis for the French food in the heart of the MPD.

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The Brother had Assiette de Saumon Fumé which, on the menu, was listed under hors do’oeuvres, but the Brother had it as a resonable entrée. When you’re paying $16 for smoked salmon, potatoes, cucumber, and pickled onions, I’d rather have it as my entrée. The Brother was extremely pleased the Assiette de Saumon Fumé. He devoured the entire dish like a true champion of smoked salmon eating. The Dentist and I were too busy enjoying our Hoegaarden white ales and Stella Artois to notice much else. Cheers!



Sandy may have hit but we will stand #JerseyStrong

Last night, I’ll admit I watched Restore the Shore on MTV. No, I’m not a fan of the show Jersey Shore but I love where I grew up and it was the only way I could see some of the damage. I held back tears, the beaches may be gone but my memories will always have a special place in my heart. But it’s not just the beaches that have been hit, up where I live in Bergen County, Moonachie & Little Ferry have been flooded. Traffic and what used to be normal commutes have not been the same.

First, I want to start with good news! I hosted a Sandy Fundraiser mentioned in this post with fellow Bergen County blogger Boozy Burbs. Thanks to all the local vendors who graciously donated to our raffle and brought food to the event. You can see the full list & event details, here. View pictures taken by Bergen.com, here.

I’m proud to announce we raised a total of $4,216 that will go to the Moonachie Relief.  Thanks to all who attended & donated to help with such a great cause! It was great to be part of such a great, successful event in the county I reside in!

But places still need help, so here is my handy guide of ways to help those affected by Sandy:


I can’t stress it enough! Many businesses lost power which means they lost a ton of money, especially those in areas hit the hardest. Go to local restaurants & dine, don’t forget to tip well too!


“Sing for Hoboken” tomorrow night at Las Olas Sushi in Hoboken starting at 7PM. There is no cover but all proceeds that night will go to the Red Cross to help those affected by Sandy.

Interested in attending Brother Jimmy’s Hurricane Relief Party?
YOU MUST RSVP to vip@brotherjimmys.com 

The Manzo brothers will be guest bartending at Village Pourhouse Hoboken this Tuesday and donating their tips to relief efforts! See more information in the flyer above!

On Thanksgiving Eve, Biggies Clambar will be donating a $1 from every purchase of any signature item to the Moonachie Fire Department.

The School of Rock Montclair will perform music from the classic film The Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Unitarian Church of Montclair (67 Church Street) on Friday, November 30, 2012 from 7 pm to 9 pm. Sponsored by Fairway Market, the live concert, originally planned for Halloween but postponed due to Hurricane Sandy, will benefit Toni’s Kitchen, a food ministry that serves low-income residents in the area. Each ticket buyer at the show will receive a goodie bag that’s filled with promotional items and special offers from such local sponsors as Proponent Federal Credit Union, Best Friend Photography, and Ah Pizz.  There will also be prizes for the best “Rocky Horror” costume provided by The Bellevue Theater and a free raffle for a $50 Ah Pizz dining card. Tickets are $10 and will be available at the door on the night of the show.  For more info, contact School of Rock Montclair at 973-337-5296 or visit Montclair.SchoolofRock.com.

In addition, Fairway Market will hold a shopping night on Wednesday, November 28, 2012 in its Woodland Park store (1510 Rt. 46W) from 4 pm to 10 pm, with 25 percent of proceeds from registered shoppers also going to Toni’s Kitchen.

Session Bistro in Maywood, will be holding a Sandy charity dinner on Wednesday, November 28. It’s $30 a person, 3 courses beginning at 6:30pm. $5 of each meal will go to those affected by Sandy, there will also be a donation box at the restaurant that night.


The Jersey Strong design (above) represents how New Jersey is in our hearts and gives a little shout out to our beloved beach towns. We need to stick together and do whatever we can to help those in need! 100% of the profit will be donated to restoring and reviving our communities.


Those are just some of the many ways you can help those affected by Sandy in my home, the Garden State. Stay posted by following me @smchickbigdeals  and stay updated & become a fan on Facebook!

Happy Donating :)

Sara Monica, Founder

At the young age of 23, Sara is the founder and head editor of Smallchickbigdeals.com aka #SCBD. Sara is a Jersey Girl raised by the shore, currently residing in Northern New Jersey. When she is not working, she is finding something new to post and share with her readers whether it be a new food product, recipe, restaurant review or another interview. Read her full bio, here. Read the full story behind #SCBD, here.  When she is not writing for #SCBD she also contributes to Jersey Bites,Carter Int’l Concierge, & New Fork City. Follow her @SmChickBigDeals!

#SCBD & Boozy Burbs Bergen County Sandy Relief Fundraiser

Please join Small Chick Big Deals & Boozy Burbs to support those affected most by the Super Storm Sandy in Little Ferry & Moonachie. All proceeds will be going to the Borough of Moonachie Relief.

Tuesday, November 13th from 7-9:30pm
At Rockleigh Country Club
26 Paris Avenue, Rockleigh, NJ

Cash Bar (portion of proceeds being donated to relief efforts)
Complimentary hors d’oeuvres from area restaurants and caterers
Raffle (entire proceeds being donated to relief efforts)
$5 Suggested Donation/Entry Fee

RSVP via Facebook here or here.

Interested in donating or helping out?

Email #SCBD at smallchickbigdeals@gmail.com or Boozy Burbs at info@boozyburbs.com

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