"Eat, drink and be merry!" The translation of the Latin maxim "Edamus, Bibamus, Gaudeamus" emblazoned on the Stone Horse Taverne and Grille's logo, seems like an order every customer takes seriously.
Upon entering the restaurant, the sound of laughter and chatter greets you like an invitation to join in the merriment. Just a few tables surround the bar, which contributes to the cozy ambience of the place. We dropped by the tavern on a Saturday night and almost all of the tables were occupied. A long, raised table by the entrance was occupied by a group of about 10 people, another table was occupied by a family of five, another by an older couple, and another by a group of friends, all sharing food, drinks and laughter.
We ordered the Italian Mix Salad and Mussels Marinara for appetizer. The Mussels Marinara with Mr. C's famous red sauce, which you can order mild, medium or Zig-Zag style, is delicious. The Italian Mix Salad, a blend of mixed greens, chopped ham, salami and provolone, tomato, olives, pepperoni, cucumbers and your choice of bleu cheese or Italian mix dressing, falls a tad short on taste despite its numerous ingredients.
We also sampled their New York Strip Steak served with rice (or garlic mashed potatoes or steak fries) and sautéed spinach (or broccoli) and an extra order of Stone Horse Special Seasoning or Giambotta (mushrooms, bell perppers, onions and potatoes). The steak was scrumptious and the salad siding is much more delectable than the huge serving of the Italian Mix Salad we previously had. Another delectable dish was the Penne a la Vodka. It was so tasty that even the huge serving we were offered was really easy to finish.
For dessert, we had a delicious Apple Cobbler. Served warm and crunchy with a dollop of whipped cream, it had just the right amount of sweetness.
There's also live entertainment at 10 PM on Saturday nights. By this time, everyone was having a good time, amid rounds of Absolut jars (special blend of fruit drinks mixed with Absolut vodka and served in vintage jars). The group of people we'd seen seated by the entrance earlier turned out to be a family, who were exchanging Christmas gifts by then. Stone Horse's owner, Chris Kries, all the while was cheerfully entertaining the other tables with her animated stories.
Indeed, the Stone Horse Tavern & Grill continues the Legend of the Stone Horse, started by its founders, the late Mossimo Chiafullo (Mr. C) and his wife. According to the story, it was President George Washington who gifted the couple with the stone horse painting (with the emblazoned words), as thanks for their royal hospitality and service to the country. Their inn was often used by the then-general to convene with other dignitaries before he went out to headquarters in Morristown. The painting inspired the tavern's present logo.
The Stone Horse Taverne and Grille, 382 Belleville Ave., is open Mon - Sat, 11am - 2am, and Sun 11am - midnight. Food is served until 10 pm. Visa, Amex and MasterCard accepted. Reservations are highly recommended for parties of 10 or more. Call 973-844-0440 for more information.