October 26, 2022

Under New Management, One 53 Restaurant Offers the Same Excellent Food and Service

DINING OUT: “People like to come here. We have so many regulars and lots of people come in at least once a week and even more often. Our restaurant is really about friends and family. Folks come in for a great dinner, and often find people they know. They all enjoy talking to each other. It’s a very friendly, relaxed setting.” Faith and Bob DeJean (second and third from left), owners of One 53 Restaurant – Bar, are shown with their longtime staff.

By Jean Stratton

It is still the same excellent restaurant, known for delicious dining and attentive personal service.

Nothing has changed except the new owners.

“When we bought it, the message from the regular customers was: ‘Don’t charge a thing!’ That was the rule for the new acquisition — same great food, same staff, same service,“ says One 53 Restaurant – Bar’s new owner Bob DeJean.

A favorite Rocky Hill dining spot, located at 153 Washington Street since it opened in 2006, the restaurant has an exceptionally loyal clientele.

“The former owners were our friends, and we had been coming here for a long time,” adds DeJean. “It’s been our favorite restaurant for 16 years, and we think it is the best restaurant in the area within 30 or 40 miles.”

Enthusiastic Reception

Many diners will agree, and the reception since DeJean and his wife Faith became owners in December 2021 has been enthusiastic.

“Our guests have been so happy to come back, especially after our having been closed for 14 months during COVID,” points out general manager Katie Vetere. “They have been incredibly loyal, and are so glad to be able to go out again and be together. We have a longtime clientele from all over the Princeton area and beyond.”

In addition to its regularly returning customers, the restaurant has garnered very positive reviews from food critics from the New York Times, Star Ledger, Times of Trenton, New Jersey Monthly, and other publications. Happy diners also report regularly on social media.

What is it about One 53 Restaurant – Bar that is so special?

“We pride ourselves on consistency. Guests know they can count on us for high quality meals,” observes Vetere, who has been with the restaurant for 10 years. “We are an American/Euro bistro, offering classic American cuisine with French, Italian, and Spanish influences. We provide high quality casual dining.

“We use the best and freshest seasonal ingredients and local sources whenever possible. Our pasta is from Lucy’s Ravioli, poultry from Griggstown Quail Farm, coffee from Small World Coffee, and ice cream from the bent spoon.”

Seasonal Menu

The menu, which changes seasonally, offers a variety of classic and intriguing tastes — from starters to entrees to desserts and libations. There truly is something to tempt everyone’s palate.

Popular starters include spicy shrimp in white wine garlic sauce; and mussels in tomato-white wine broth with Andouille. And who can resist grilled halloumi with drunken figs?

Pasta is a happy choice for many diners. A variety of options includes sautéed shrimp with roasted garlic and cherry tomatoes over angel hair; butternut squash ravioli in sage cream sauce with candied pecans; and, always in demand, spaghetti and meatballs with spicy garlic bread.

Cooktop selections feature chicken Milanese over arugula with tomato fresca; also pan-seared scallops with lentils, cauliflower puree, and bacon-onion compote; and roasted lemon chicken with grilled artichoke hearts.

Options from the grill include the very popular char-grilled double-cut pork chop; char-grilled market fish; and the favorite One 53 burger, among many other choices.

Available sides are hand-cut fries with truffle mayo; sautéed greens with garlic and EVOO; roasted hot peppers with garlic and mushrooms; and mac ’n’ cheese, among others.

Sweet Tooth

Customers can definitely indulge their sweet tooth at One 53! Many opportunities are available, but just to name a few favorites: grilled pound cake ice cream sandwich; warm and gooey chocolate chip cookie with vanilla ice cream; and pumpkin cheesecake with bourbon caramel sauce and candied pecans.

Coffees of all kinds are offered, as are wines, beer, and a medley of artisan cocktails, made with fresh juices and extra special care by expert bartenders.

The One 53 signature cocktail features Magellan gin, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, and lemon. Other favorites are Pomegranate Margarita, Bourbon Blossom, Smoke and Ice, and Cider Mule, among many, many more.

Spirits of all kinds, including single malt scotch, are offered, as is a major selection of more than 100 different wines from Europe and the U.S. There is certainly a drink for everyone!

Many people enjoy sipping their libation at One 53’s popular bar, which also offers the opportunity for eating.

“The bar is a very popular spot,” says DeJean. “But everything here is really about dining, and you can have a full dinner at the bar. Many people choose to eat there.”

Modern Flair

“It is a very accessible bar,” adds Vetere. “Everyone feels very comfortable there whether they are alone or with friends.”

The restaurant seats 120, with attractive banquette style or individual table format. The atmosphere is informal and comfortable, and as Vetere points out, “Our look is casual dining with a modern flair.”

In addition, 24 diners can be seated in the downstairs wine cellar, which is also available for private parties. It offers a very different decor and intriguing ambiance; an opportunity to dine amidst shelves filled with a myriad of wines. A wine connoisseur’s dream come true!

Outdoor dining is also featured during seasonal weather. A charming setting offers tables with umbrellas, lanterns, and even heaters for cooler nights. Thirty-six diners can be accommodated.

Bob DeJean is very encouraged about the new direction his life has taken. “I am enjoying this new adventure,” he says. “This restaurant means so much to us, and we want to make sure the dining experience continues to be the best. We will ensure that comfort and convenience are there for our customers, including our complimentary valet parking in the area behind the restaurant.

“We are also getting the word out, and marketing ourselves more online and with social media. This is part of being in today’s world.”

High Quality

Vetere anticipates an exciting future for the restaurant, and continuing its outstanding reputation. “Every time I come in, it’s different. Every day is different. There is always something new to look forward to. We are basically a small restaurant, with a small staff, and we’ve all been working together for a long time. We know each other well, and everything goes smoothly.

“Everything is made to order, so customers know it is very fresh. Our chef is the best, and all our staff is excellent. And again, what we want everyone to know — and this is the most important thing — we may have new ownership, but everything is the same. The same chef and bartenders, and the same high quality food and service.”

Prices at the restaurant cover a range, with starters from $8, entrees $25 and up, and desserts from $7.

One 53 Restaurant – Bar is open for dinner only Sunday, Wednesday, and Thursday 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday until 9:30 p.m. Reservations are strongly encouraged, although seating at the bar is on a first come, first served basis. (609) 921-0153. Website: one53nj.com.