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A Food Columnist Bids Farewell

As he hangs up his dining utensils, Dave Valiante offers his parting thoughts on the restaurant scene in Collingswood and the surrounding area.

Last week, I said goodbye to one of my favorite TV shows, 30 Rock, as they themselves bid farewell to the audience that supported them through seven slapstick and hilarious seasons.

By the nature of show business, television shows rarely get a chance to say a proper goodbye. If its ratings are good enough, the network will typically renew a show until it inevitably becomes a parody of itself, viewers abandon ship, and the show goes out with a whimper. 30 Rock was afforded the unique opportunity to go out on its own merit, to close Tina Fey’s vision the way she intended.

I bring this up because I, too, am saying farewell. Please, hold your gasps. It’s true. Your beloved food columnist is packing up his keyboard and hitting the road, onto bigger and brighter things.

Ok, that’s out of my system. You can stop rolling your eyes, now. Thanks.

I know I’m not Walter Cronkite bidding farewell, but I had some great times eating out around Collingswood and Haddonfield, and documenting my adventures, and to the folks who took the time to read my stuff, whether they liked me or hated me, I want to say thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

Nearly two years ago, I got in touch with Tim Zatzariny about doing some freelance food writing for Patch. He took a flyer on me, giving me an abundance of freedom in choosing where I ate and what I wanted to write about. I did my best to live up to Patch’s expectations, through a carousel of editors and an abundance of dinners, and I hope I served them well. I’d like to thank them for sticking with me when I’m sure they had opportunities to go with more experienced and qualified writers.

Eating in and writing about this area has been a fantastic experience, something I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life. I never once exaggerated throughout the course of my column: I truly believe that Collingswood is the best restaurant town in South Jersey, and all signs point to an even brighter future. Haddonfield is evolving into a premiere dessert destination, with fantastic bakeries opening seemingly every other month. Coupled with Westmont as an expanding craft beer hub, I truly believe that the little stretch of Haddon Avenue between Haddonfield and Collingswood will be a weekend spot to rival anything Philadelphia has to offer.

Once again, thank you for checking in, thank you for reading, and thank you for your comments, both the good and the bad. Enjoy your new food writers, and don’t be so harsh. I still believe Knight’s Bistro is a pretty decent place. Give it a chance.

Morsels

I’d like to take this opportunity to name a few of my favorite places and foods in Collingswood and Haddonfield.

Favorite Restaurant: Zeppoli.
I had one of the best meals of my life at Zeppoli over the summer, and I’ll be returning often. Don’t pass up their Antipasto Siciliano, a truly memorable experience.

Honorable mention: Blackbird, IndeBlue, Fiesta Mexicana

Favorite Hangout: The Pour House.
The Pour House has a number of things going for it. Best burger, best beer list, best specials. Enough said.

Actually, no, it’s not. The Pour House has the best burgers in South Jersey. Go try one. They have the best beer menu. Find a better selection and better prices. I dare you. They have the best specials. Buck-a-Shuck Wednesdays? I’m all in. I love The Pour House, and you will too.

Follow them on Twitter, @ThePourHouseNJ, to keep updated on what’s on tap.

Favorite Sushi: Sagami.
There’s enough sushi spots now in the area that it merits its own category. However, the original is still the best. Sagami’s simplistic, minimalist approach makes all the difference. A true connoisseur’s destination, Sagami is the only option if you want to try Japanese food the way the Japanese eat it.

Favorite Lunch Spot: Split decision.
Indiya has . Knight’s Bistro (oh, stop) has a great menu for lunch (yes, they do) and can have you in and out in twenty minutes. You decide what’s right for you.

Favorite Mission Style Burrito: Just kidding.

Favorite Dessert: Indulgence Cupcakery.
I can’t give any recommendations, because they’re all equally delicious.

Favorite Ambiance: Bistro di Marino (courtyard).
On a pleasant early summer night this June, make your way over to Bistro di Marino and take in their courtyard. You won’t regret it.

There you have it. I could keep going on and on about what I love around town, but I think I’ve done a pretty fair job of that over the last few years.

Thank you, once more, sincerely, from the bottom of my heart, for riding along on this wild journey. I’m still close by, so if you have any recommendations, please don’t hesitate to drop me a line. And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter, @davevaliante.

Happy eating!

Don't forget to check out the adventures of Jamie and Jessica Blanchard, as they take up Dave's mantle every Friday here on Patch.

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