Neighborhood Eats: Cielo Restaurant in Fairfield, New Jersey

Lauren Glassberg with the Neighborhood Eats.
April 18, 2014 3:15:23 PM PDT
The name of a Fairfield, New Jersey restaurant is a bit fitting for a chef who has creative culinary moments in his dreams.

Anthony Pucciarello named it Cielo with his late father in mind who he believes helped him secure the location right across from the Essex County Airport. "I named the restaurant Cielo, which means sky or heaven it can be pronounced," he said.

And in two years he's built a loyal following.

Anthony says he dreams of dishes at night such as petit filet mignon meatballs with peppers or the short rib sandwich over a gruyere pancake.

When it comes to seafood, his approach is a little different.

"Anytime I cook fish I like to cook clean, I don't like to bury anything with any kinds of sauces," said Pucciarello.

His John Dory for example. He filets moments before he lightly sautees it. In another pan he sautees spinach in roast garlic and adds in cannelini beans.

A bit of lemon on the fish and that's it. The flavors shine bright, and because this is an Italian restaurant, of course there's pasta.

In warmer weather the outdoor patio gets busy, and Cielo is family friendly, which is something Anthony believes in.

"This is about family, and to come here and have a dish of macaroni or have a stuffed meatball, or have a piece of fish that reminds you of your childhood and those memories, then I 've done what I'm supposed to do. I've done my job," he said.

Recipe for John Dory with Fresh Cannellini Beans & Baby Spinach

  • 1 pound fresh small Cannellini Beans
  • 4 fillets John Dory or Tilapia
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Olive Oil
  • All-Purpose Flour
  • 4 Cloves of Garlic, Chopped
  • 1/2 stick Salted Butter
  • 1/4 cup White Wine
  • 1/2 cup Chicken Stock
  • Juice of 2 Lemons
  • 8 ounces of Fresh Baby Spinach
  • 1/4 cup Chopped Parsley
  • Lemon Wedge for garnishing
  • Directions 1. Soak beans for 4 to 6 hours in cold water. Drain. In a large pot, cover beans with heavily salted cold water. Bring to a boil. Cover & simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until tender. Set aside.
    2. Season fillets on both sides with salt and pepper. Coat bottom of a large skillet with olive oil, and heat. Lightly dust the fish with flour and pan-fry for 1 minute on each side. Remove fish.
    3. In the same skillet, brown garlic in butter. Add wine and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add lemon juice and beans. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
    4. Place fillets in a baking dish. Top with bean mixture and bake, uncovered, for 10 to 12 minutes. While fish is baking, blanch spinach. Season with salt & pepper.
    5. Place spinach on serving platter. Top with fish fillets and beans. Garnish with parsley and lemon wedges.