Teresa Caffe is a trattoria and the first eatery of the Terra Momo Restaurant Group in Princeton, NJ, which is conveniently located at Palmer Square East. Several of my friends have raved about the food, so I thought I’d check it out. I called to make a reservation, and was told they don’t make them, but my name and phone number were taken to help us get a table sooner. Once we arrived, there was a crowd inside waiting for tables. We made our way to the front to “check in”, and were told there would be a 15 minute wait. We walked around town for 10 minutes. It was a Sunday evening, and from what we could see from the outside, most other restaurants were one-quarter to half full, while Teresa’s was packed. This gave me the impression that it’s a popular restaurant, and was a good sign of what’s to come. Once back inside, we were seated within a minute.
The interior is warm, friendly, bright and open. I love how the look of the exterior brick façade is brought inside with a brick arc to the right as you enter.
Our server greeted us after a minute or two, gave us menus, and took our drink orders. She was very friendly, and smiled while speaking. That put us in a great mood. Our table for two was small and cozy. The tables were somewhat close together, but I assumed this would be the case since it’s a trattoria. We both ordered a sweetened raspberry iced tea to see how it compares with other places (I’m a big tea drinker). It wasn’t too sweet and had a good raspberry flavor that wasn’t overwhelming. Two thumbs up for the drink. We placed our orders, then received a small basket of sliced bread and baguette, and a small bowl of herbed olive oil. The bread was good. I believe it was from the Witherspoon Bread Company, also part of the Terra Momo Restaurant group.
For the first course we ordered a Caesar salad and a garbanzo minestrone soup with chorizo on the list of daily specials. The romaine lettuce was nicely cut into small bite-sized pieces, the salad dressing lightly coated the leaves and had a nice flavor and the croutons were herbed and added a nice taste to the salad. The soup needed a little salt, and while it was very good, it wasn’t extraordinary according to my husband. I found it to be good comfort food.
For the second course we had the Scottish salmon and braised ribs special (which was an appetizer). I ordered the salmon medium, which was moist and cooked to perfection. The dish was wonderfully accompanied by a parsnip purée (I think mixed with mashed potatoes), Swiss chard, chopped pistachios, pomegranate seeds, and a pomegranate molasses. The colors and different textures were great combinations, and they all worked well together on my palate. The food was served hot, not lukewarm, which I really appreciated!
The braised baby back ribs were requested as a double order to make a main course, but there was only one order left, so my husband decided to take it as a smaller portion. He was happy he did, because he loved the flavor of the meat, which practically fell of the bone while eating it. It was served with a field green salad with hearts of palm, which added a nice brightness to the richness of the meat. He was very pleased with his order.
We ordered tirimasu and a peach bread pudding with crème anglaise, and I believe peach sauce, for dessert. The tirimasu was nice, but lacked the stronger liqueur and espresso flavor I like, but it makes a great family treat. The bread pudding was delicious, but the sauce was just a tad bit too sweet for me.
Our server was very attentive. She always knew the right time to clear the table, asked if we would like more to drink, asked us how our food was, and promptly brought us the check. This is important to me, because the server is like an ambassador for the restaurant.
The ambiance was cozy. Teresa Caffe is nice for casual dining, great for families, which we saw a good number of, and smaller groups. I like that the pizza oven is visible to patrons, and it’s great that in a town where it’s hard for some restaurants to obtain a liquor license, they have a bar.
I had a hard time deciding what to order, which is a good thing. I need to go back for the rosemary chicken dish served with wild mushrooms, the shell pasta with chicken in a balsamic reduction and cream, and the penne with bay scallops.
Overall, it was a wonderful dining experience, and the food was great. I like that you can order small pizzas, pasta dishes or entrées, which is good for those with different budgets. Considering it’s a trattoria, they offered dishes foodies would appreciate. I would love to see a vestibule where patrons could wait for their table instead of gathering at the very front, though it helps that there is a bar for people to have drinks while waiting for their table. Hats off to Chef Luis Martinez for his wonderful menu, and to the staff for their friendliness. I would definitely recommend dining here.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary gift card to write this review. As you can tell, these are honest opinions. I never disclosed to anyone that I would be writing a review, and took the photos after dining so I wouldn’t make anyone suspicious.