Wednesday, March 16, 2011

St. Patricks Day ~ Parsippany NJ Blackthorn Irish Pub

The Blackthorn Hosts St. Patrick's Day Bash

New Jersey is rich with Irish pubs and that’s a good thing, especially as the calendar turns toward St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, which falls on Thursday this year.

In Parsippany, the Blackthorn Restaurant and Irish Pub will be the place to celebrate.

There will be live music throughout the day, including Irish bands, bagpipers and step dancers to enhance the mood. Outside, a tent will be set up in the parking lot. To ensure that those looking for a drink are of legal age, an age verification machine is used to scan drivers’ licenses to make sure they are legitimate.

“We try to make it like a weeklong festival,” said Eugene Gillespie, Jr, who works at the restaurant with his parents and founders Eugene Sr. and Rosemary. At their St. Patrick's Day bash, family is pulled in to work the floor. So if you’re a mother, father, cousin, niece or nephew, in this family, it doesn’t matter; you will be drafted to serve.

The Gillespie family made its entry into Morris County last fall when they opened the 40 table restaurant, Blackthorn, on Route 46 East in Parsippany. It’s named for the Blackthorn tree which grows in County Mayo in western Ireland; that’s where Eugene Sr. and the shillelagh hail from. The shillelagh is the traditional Irish walking stick which can sometimes be used in self-defense, although at the Blackthorn they are merely decorative.

Eugene, Sr., wife Rosemary and their 25-year-old son, young Eugene, are the mainstays in Parsippany; this new restaurant follows in the footsteps of their seven-year-old restaurant of the same name in Kenilworth.

The restaurant,which opened in the fall, is celebrating its first St. Patrick’s Day at the Parsippany location and the family is bracing for a good turnout.

The Irish network is widespread in Morris County.

“There’s a small, close-knit community of Irish,” in the area, said Eugene, Jr. It might be easy to view other restaurateurs and pub owners as rivals for business but that’s not the case with this Irish community. Eugene, Sr. regularly connects with local pub owners like Jim Mongey of the Dublin Pub in Morristown and Molly Malone’s in Whippany and Eddie and Brian Fitzpatrick of the Grasshopper off the Green, also in Morristown.

“Any promotion of an Irish place promotes the Irish overall,” says Eugene Jr.

So, while there are plenty of pubs and restaurants in Morristown, the Gillespies expect to see many of their local Parsippany clientele this Saturday after the Morristown parade.

Blackthorn’s menu typically features everything from Irish fare to chicken nuggets and even pasta, but on St. Patrick’s Day itself the menu will be tuned to the all-Irish station to celebrate the patron saint of all that is Gaelic.

That means bangers and mash (sausage and mashed potatoes) if you’re in early enough for breakfast. For lunch and dinner, the fare includes fish and chips, Shepherd’s pie, chicken pot pie and that Irish-American favorite, corned beef and cabbage. If a burger better suits your fancy, it can be topped with some Irish cheddar. Barbecued wings will be bathed in Guinness barbecue sauce. It’s a calorie rich assortment that can justly be viewed as “comfort food” for both Irish and Americans.

On tap are favorites Guinness, Harp and Smithwicks; if you favor a little drop of the drink, they include well-known Irish whiskey such as Jamison and Tullamore Dew.

Desserts carry an Irish lilt as well; a sure crowd-pleaser will most likely be the Irish soda bread pudding served with coffee ice cream and Bailey’s cream-flavored whipped cream.

Blackthorn Restaurant & Irish Pub 1735 Route 46 East Parsippany NJ 07054 973-334-4900; 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. 7 days a week. Late night pub menu available. Major credit cards accepted.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Blackthorn Restaurant & Irish Pub Parsippany NJ

When you enter this beautiful Restaurant you realize that when it was being built the Engineer put a lot of thought into the design. We appreciated it as we enjoyed the wonderful food and conversation without any noise interruption from other areas of the restaurant. The acoustics were well planned. Eugene Gillespie owner, has brought a little bit of Ireland to Parsippany N. J. The warm welcome we received by Eugene, his wife Rosemary, daughter’s Karen, Laura, and son Eugene Jr. was delightful and with the extra effort they gave we knew we were in for a special evening. Chef Joseph Labita who had training while at Tavern on the Green, New York and other well known restaurants had the skills of a master which showed when we started sampling the food. We started with The Blackthorn Combo, ($12.99) this is a favorite appetizer for all to sample…potato skins, chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks, buffalo wings and onion rings. I enjoyed the Spinach Artichoke Dip, ($8.99) baby spinach, artichoke hearts and roasted peppers, topped with Irish cheddar and Parmesan cheese served with warm chips. The Donegal Style Mussels, ($10.99) are very special, New Zealand mussels sauteed in olive oil, chopped shallots, white wine and a touch of cream. For Veggie enthusiast they have a Southwestern Veggie Roll, ($7.99), portebello mushrooms, zucchini, carrots and caramelized onions rolled in a herb tortilla and deep fried with a spicy red pepper sauce. The soup, Potato Leek, ($4.99) was delicious and the Irish Stout Onion Soup, ($5.99) was to die for. It was difficult to choose an Entree as they all looked so appetizing. Lennie (Ch 7) had the Gaelic Steak, ($28.95) 200z prince steak rack of lamb served with mince jelly. I had the Blackened Chicken Alfredo, ($14.95), Cajun skillet seared chicken served over fettuccine in our homemade creamy Alfredo sauce. Blackthorn is the name of the wood that makes the Shillelagh, (a wooden walking stick, typically made from a stout knotty stick with a large knob at the top, that is associated with Ireland and Irish folklore, and also the name of an Irish Pub from County Clare, Ireland. Eugene has brought his part of Ireland to America.

Posted on January 12, 2011 by Sylvia Harte

Blackthorn Kenilworth NJ Review

customers have spoken....

"Drive by on way to Kenilworth and thought it was just a noisy sports bar. Found it to be a pleasant place with good food. Will come back again"

"Blackthorn is a local restaurant in my neighborhood. I brought a friend from out of town who loved it. Sat my the fireplace, and both of us enjoyed our delicious, fresh entrees".

"Very warm and welcoming atmosphere. Will definitely recommend to friends as a great place to meet, dine, and enjoy a good time!!!"

"Nice decor, pleasant service, easy location right off Rte 22 with loads of free parking."

"Everything, from the moment we walked in, till the moment we walked out, was excellent!!!"

"the service was amazing..the managers were so attentive..our server was the best i've experienced..though Blackthorn is not in my area..i would definitely make the trip to visit again ! excellent !"

"excellent quality and quantity of food. They are always making sure your dining experience is the best they can make it! Highly recommend them to all my friends."

"Our server was great! Everyone was VERY nice and accommodating. We felt comfortable and welcome."

"Great, neighborhood pub. Good food, dependable service. Reminds me of the bar in "Cheers" TV show!"

"Wonderful experience and a GREAT chef! Can't wait to go back."

"Loved everything. Our waiter was great and the food was by far superior than what we expected"

"I visit this establishment for both business and personal events. I am always happy with the service and the food! Thanks"

"Beautiful restaurant inside and out. Food was terrific, seating comfortable, with a large bar and a TV area. We will definitely visit again!"

"We travel from Edison to dine and socialize at the Blackthorn. This will be our 5th year going up the GSP to a GREAT Restaurant & Irish Pub. All the employees are wonderful. Where can you get great food, wonderful atmosphere, great people, and when the check comes its very reasonable... Alane & Ron Levine Edison, NJ"

"It was ST Patrick's Day so Blackthorn was the obvious choice and though they VERY crowded they had everything under control and our server was attentive and very pleasant. Great Job all around!!"

"The restaurant had a very nice decor. The dining area was very pleasant and seperate from the bar area. The staff and management was very attentive and nice."

"The restaurant had a very nice decor. The dining area was very pleasant and seperate from the bar area. The staff and management was very attentive and nice."

"the food here is of the best quality you could imagine. the wait staff is very good and they meet any of your requests/needs. the management is warm and friendly, they treat you like family."

"Loved the oudoor dining area, the live entertainment. Should promote this feature more, we were pleasantly surprised."

"We have eaten there several times and the food is always excellent"

"If it were closer to home would probably eat there more often. It was a wonderful experience."

Friday, January 14, 2011

Perfect Pints - Blackthorn Irish Pub Parsippnay NJ


The Perfect pint. I've been searching all over Morris County for the perfect pint.

Usually this Irish brew is poured too cold, too quickly and without much care. There are many pubs and restaurants that serve Guinness, but the new Blackthorn Restaurant and Irish Pub is only one in the area that with the know-how to pour a perfect pint.

I suppose the fault of this is firmly in the hands of the bartenders, having never been taught how to pour.

At the Blackthorn, which opened in late August, it is patience that guides the art of pouring a perfect pint. But how do you pour a perfect pint? Try asking owner Eugene Gillespie.

He carefully explains that you cannot just pour Guinness in one motion and serve it straightaway. You must have patience. The secret is the way the brew both rises and falls within the glass.

The slightly convex head of Guinness will taste at first just like freshly churned butter. It is at first sweet, then bitter, from the deeply colored roasted grains. At the peak of your glass there is a small shamrock carved into the head of the stout. This little extra touch of creativity links the pint in your hand to those served in old Ireland.

The bartender is Jenna Martinez of Parsippany. She asked me at the halfway point of my pint if I'd like another. She wasn't rushing me — far from ... It takes time to pour a perfect pint. The head of this thick foam must be built and this takes time.

If you don't have the time, then order another kind of brew. They have a fine selection of beers at Blackthorn. But what I came for was a pint of dark, a perfect one at that.

At this temple of Guinness, much effort has been given to make the pub as an authentic Irish experience as possible.

The soft luster of hand-polished wood, burnished stone and a cheerful fireplace are the bedrock to this Gillespie family enterprise. They're hitting their stride. A recent lunch included Shepherd's Pie, savory beef and lamb woven with carrots, peas and real mashed potatoes piped over the top. It then was finished under the broiler, creating a crunchy, steamy mouthful.

They also serve a fine portion of country food and more modern offerings — such as their flavorful burgers — and take the time to care about how your food tastes at Blackthorn.

Richie Fagin, originally from the Bronx and now living in Glen Rock, has known Gillespie since he came to this country. He exclaims that the "food is good and the drinks are well-poured."

Matt Keefe of Annandale is visiting with his friend, Erin Goss of Denville. They are enjoying their lunch and suggest trying the fish and chips — crispy, beer-battered and perfect with malt vinegar, or the Celtic burger with Irish bacon and cheddar Guinness sauce on a Brioche bun. A bread pudding made from Irish Soda Bread is topped with caramel and whipped cream. It's just the thing to finish a fine luncheon.

Gillespie and his wife, Rosemary, are extremely busy running two restaurants. They run the Parsippany location and their other restaurant in Kenilworth with a smile and abundant "Craic" (friendly Irish-style conversation).

The Blackthorn restaurants are a family affair with their MBA-educated son, also named Eugene, and daughters, Karen and Laura, helping to run the show.

Step into Blackthorn and there is a friendly greeter there to show you either to the front bar, one of their graciously appointed private rooms or perhaps the lovely outdoor terrace.

Great efforts have been made to give this pub a decidedly Irish feel. With the classic interior colors in warm yellow, deep red and miles of gleaming dark wood, Blackthorn looks like you're in a rollicking pub somewhere in Ireland's rough-and-tumble west coast. Peel back the layers of good cheer and fine food and drink and find their own tried-and-true system for hospitality that is essential to running an Irish Pub in Parsippany.

But first, it's all about pouring a perfect pint.

ADDRESS: 1735 Route 46, Parsippany
PHONE: 973-334-4900
HOURS: 11 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. daily, open every day except Christmas Eve.
CUISINE: Irish pub with a twist
LIQUOR: Full bar and that elsewhere hard-to-find perfect pint of dark
RESERVATIONS: Recommended for groups of five or more
DRESS: Casual
ATMOSPHERE: Cheery and bright
OUTDOOR DINING: Seasonal on patio
PARKING: Excellent, and wheelchair access
PARTY ROOM: Several, call for details

Blackthorn: A Pint of Old Ireland on Route 46

The Blackthorn Restaurant & Irish Pub didn't need any gimmicks on opening weekend in September.

The crush of patrons lining up at the bar had been waiting for months, since construction began at the former Bennigan's site on Route 46 East.

The Gillespie family, who owns the Blackthorn, knew the township longed for a true Irish pub. And three months after opening, it's obvious they were right.

"The community has embraced us,'' said Eugene Gillespie Sr., who runs the pub with his wife, Rosemary, and son, Eugene Jr.

The Parsippany Blackthorn is modeled after the Gillespie's Kenilworth pub, also called the Blackthorn. But that doesn't make it any less authentic, according to Eugene Sr, who's from Rathball, a small village in Ireland's Ballina, County Mayo.

"Sometimes, believe it or not, someone will come in here and ask me if Blackthorn is a chain [restaurant]. I respond, 'Sure, two links—myself and my wife,'' he joked.

At Blackthorn, you can enjoy Shepherd's Pie, chicken pot pie and bellmuller bangers and mashed potatoes, along with the Gaelic atmosphere.

The pubs' namesake is framed on the wall: Nine dark thorns, fresh from being plucked from a blackthorn tree in Ireland.

Eugene Gillespie Sr. emigrated to America in 1972, and in the process owned a few eateries in New York and New Jersey. He and his brother, Matty, opened The Waterfall Tavern in New York City. In the 1980s, they purchased 12 Pins in NYC.

In 1991, they bought Rosie's Steakhouse & Pub in Bergen County. Later, they bought The Porter House in Pearl River, N.Y. But the Gillespies sold both of these eateries and opened their initial Blackthorn in Kenilworth.

"Eugene is responsible for the construction [of the Parsippany facility], and my husband did the layout,'' Rosemary said.

"This took a long time to build,'' Eugene Jr. added. "We cut no corners.''

He grew up in the restaurant business. When he was younger, he bussed tables, peeled potatoes and performed other jobs. Later, he attended Bryant College In Rhode Island, where he majored in business management.

If there is one constant to Blackthorn in addition to the humor and Irish atmosphere, it's hearty food and friendly service. In addition to Irish favorites like corned beef and cabbage and fish and chips, there are chicken, lamb, steak, and even pasta dishes.

Yes, you can have an Italian entrée at Blackthorn. Separate restaurant and pub menus are available. Pair your meal with your favorite wine, beer or Irish whiskey, and it's easy to be green.

Saturday, September 11, 2010