Tuscany With a Twist

Chef shares inspiration behind award-winning cuisine

Martini Grill, in Wood Ridge just off Route 17, offers an exceptional dining experience to visitors with its stylish, romantic Tuscan setting, welcoming service and an artfully created menu. The European cuisine leans heavily toward Italy, nods frequently to France, and often stretches trans-Atlantic to classic dishes unique to these shores. With flavors, spices and infusions from near and far, the restaurant has garnered many awards over the years.

Aside from winning the signature Best Martini, Martini Grill has also earned the accolades of Best Wine Bar, Best Calamari and Best Chef. Seeing the latter, we decided to interview Chef Aret Cakir about the creative inspiration behind the offerings at this prized restaurant.

When did you know you wanted to be a chef?

I always had a love for food and a passion for cooking and in high school I worked in the restaurant industry. That was when I decided I wanted to pursue a career as a chef and went to culinary school.

What is your favorite food to cook and why?

I love to prepare fresh seafood with many of the region’s seasonal ingredients.

What dish do you recommend at Martini Grill?

Some of my favorite dishes are the lamb shank, the crescent duck and the Chilean sea bass.

What is the inspiration behind the food at Martini Grill?

I love cooking dishes around seasonal ingredients from the local markets of the region. My cooking style is all about balance and a fundamental commitment to quality. I strive to get back to the basic, simple purity of food and highlight its flavors, colors and aroma for a dining experience that excites the senses.

What do you do to ensure the quality of the food going out to your customers?

I pride myself on the quality of my product, using only the best ingredients and the highest quality meats, poultry, seafood and vegetables available.

I ensure this goal is reached by purchasing exclusively from carefully selected suppliers who must adhere to my high standards and rigid specifications.

About the Chef

Chef Aret Cakir’s career began at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York from where he graduated with honors.  He had the privilege of expanding his knowledge and experience by working at world renowned restaurants with world famous chefs such as Maxines in Paris, France, L’Auberge-de-France in New Jersey with Chef Jean Louis Todishini and Le Cirque in New York City.

He later traveled to Los Angeles to work for Merv Griffin at the Beverly Hills Hilton.

Upon his return to New Jersey, he became chef-owner of several eateries, the latest being Martini Grill in Woodridge, New Jersey.

His vast knowledge and experience in gourmet cooking allowed him to expand into other venues with Gourmet In-flight Catering, whose customer base includes a wide range of celebrities flying in and out of nearby Teterboro airport.

About Martini Grill

Martini Grill brings a sultry ambiance and cuisine with a twist, serving fine Italian food with a European flair. Every aspect of the Martini Grill is designed to resound with a sense of romance. Every aspect of the environment is as warm and inviting as the menu. Upon entering you are embraced by the intimate atmosphere, warn, rustic Tuscan styling and a friendly, unpretentious service staff.

The menu is authentic with uncomplicated flavors that permit diners to savor the exquisite creations, coupled with the unique presentation of food that showcases Chef Aret’s talent along with his passion, flair and creativity. The result is a wide array of salads, pasta, meat, seafood and desserts that dazzle with every bite.  It is stylish, romantic dining at its best.

Diners can enjoy a pre-meal martini or cocktail in the stylish bar area any night of the week or during Happy Hour from noon to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. Live jazz is featured Friday and Saturday evenings

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Joe Garavente

Joe Garavente

Joe is the director of publications and communications for Meadowlands Media. He oversees editorial, advertising, production and distribution for all Meadowlands Media digital and print products. Meadowlands Media is the media and communications division of the Meadowlands Chamber, Meadowlands Live! | Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Meadowlands 2040 Foundation. Meadowlands Magazine—which has been serving the region’s business community for over 40 years—is the flagship publication of Meadowlands Media and reaches over 50,000 business owners and executives. It is the official publication of the Meadowlands Chamber. Meadowlands Media has also grown to publish for consumer, business and visitor audiences across print and digital platforms, offering readers critical information and advertising partners prime exposure for their brands. Joe can be reached at (201) 939-0707 or JGaravente@meadowlands.org

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