The Spain Inn - The very best in Spanish and Portuguese cuisine

The very best in Spanish & Portuguese cuisine


Courier News: February 2013

A meal at The Spain Inn combines old-world ambience with an informal,
family-friendly air.
- review excerpt

We tried to create the feel that you are dining in Spain at a friend's house.

Luis Rodriguez owns the restaurant and another with his brother, Jose. They opened The Spain Inn, which features Spanish and Portuguese food, in 1986. They opened Spain Inn 2 in Asbury Park about 12 years ago.

Pictures of matadors, bullfights and the European countryside complete the atmosphere.

We did extensive renovations last year, and I think it helped to modernize the restaurant while still keeping its charm. We are always making cosmetic changes and trying to imporove.

The menu features traditional dishes and many seafood options. People love our camarones al ajilo, which is shrimp in garlic sauce, and our almejas en salsa verde, which is clams in green sauce, he said.

Other menu highlights include mariscada, a shellfish casserole, with fresh lobster, shrimp, clams, mussels and scallops, all cooked in tomato, brandy and wine sauce served over saffron rice; and paella valenciana, which is a combination of shellfish, chicken, Spanish sauge and saffron rice.

The Spain Inn also features some of the largest steaks in the area. Rodriguez recommended the solomillo a la parrilla, which is filet mignon prepared with wine, brandy and mushroom sauce.

While he was born in Spain, Rodriguez grew up in Newark.

I first started working in restaruants when I was 14 as a bus boy, he said.I have also been a waiter, a bartender and a chef. I do a little bit of everything. My brother has has worked in restaurants a long time too. I know the restaurant business very well, and even now I mingle in all parts of it.

Rodriguez said he decided to open the restaurant in Piscataway when he realized there were no Spanish/Portuguese restaurants in the area. Everyone had to go to Newark if they wanted Spanish food, so we decided to bring the food to them.

The Spain Inn can host private functions of up to 400 people, he said. They host corporate luncheons, wedding receptions, rehearsl dinners, birthdays and more.

for the The Courier News
by Liza Jaipaul

New Jersey Monthly

1987, 1991, 1992 - Reader's Choice Award

Voted Reader's Choice Award 3 times best Spanish and Portuguese restaurant.

The New York Times

The Ironbound? No, Piscataway
★ ★ (very good)

Lovers of Spanish and Portuguese food invariably turn to Newark's Ironbound area when they want to indulge themselves. The choice of restaurants there is large, prices are more than reasonable and the food makes up in quantity for what it sometimes lacks in quality.

But once outside Newark, Spanish and Portugese restaurants are hard to find. They exist, but are far removed from one another and are often more expensive than their counterparts in Newark.

This makes it all the more reason to celebrate a new Spanish restaurant in Piscataway that has many of the same characteristics as those in Newark.

The Spain Inn, owned by Emanuel Kouroupas, a Greek, and two Spanish brothers, Louis and Pepe Rodriguez. The Rodriguez brothers were formerly employed at Don Pepe's in Newark, and they seem to have brought to Piscataway many of the dishes served in Newark.

The menu lists fairly standard selections that are rather well prepared; however, I wish that a few of the more unusual Spanish dishes were available.

The wine list is very small, primarily Spanish and Italian, and the lone French wine was unavailable each time we asked for it. Sangria, on the other hand, comes in red or white and is a perfectly acceptable accompaniment to some of the hearty dishes that would probably destroy a more delicate wine.

The garlic shrimp here are addictive. Offered as an appetizer that would easily serve two, they are lightly sauteed in oil with crisp nubbins of browned garlic curls. Grilled shrimp also were excellent. In this dish, the shrimp were larger and served with the shells on. They were sauteed with red pepper and so they had a "bite."

Clams in green sauce and mussels in green sauce were equally good. However, the sauce lacked a lot of the parsley that gives it its name, but the flavor of the garlicky sauce mingling with the shellfish juices was extraordinary.

Chorizo, the spicy Spanish sausage, was sliced into disks and sauteed - one time perfectly and the other a little too much. Clams casino were chopped, rather than left whole but they were delicious nonetheless.

Asparagus with vinagrette were the canned white variety, and the stuffed mushrooms were tiny and tasty, but overcookded. As a result, I couldn't tell what they were stuffed with.

A decent gazpacho, crunchy with chopped raw vegetables, and a hearty vegetable soup were both sampled.

Recommended main courses include a good paella Valenciana, the rice heady with saffron and the dish filled with a variety of shellfish, chicken and Spanish sausage.

The shellfish stew called mariscada - it is served with either a green sauce or a red sauce with wine - was equally good, as were the shrimps with hot sauce. The last named dish actually wasn't very spicy, but had a very good tomato based sauce, and there must have been one and a half pounds of shrimp, along with chopped onions and peppers, in the big metal casserole the dish was served in.

Steamed lobster was very good, and reasonable...Salmon broiled with lemon and butter was lightly cooked, as requested, and filet mignon with a wine, brandy and mushroom sauce was also cooked as requested.

However, there was nothing mignon about the cut. In many other restaurants, it would have been called chateaubriand and only served for two people.

A decent flan that is made on the premises is offered for dessert, but most of the other desserts are brought in. However, both the regular and chocolate cheesecake are worth ordering, but I wish they would make some of the wonderful desserts found in Spain.

for the The New York Times
by Valerie Sinclair

The Courier News

The food from Spain is anything but plain (at this inn) - review excerpt
★ ★ ★ (very good)

For those who have been reluctant to navigate the somewhat confusing ethnic neighborhoods of Newark to reach the city's highly touted Spanish and Portuguese restaurants, here's some good news.

A Spanish restaurant of substance has recently opened in Piscataway, and the cuisine can compete and, in come cases, surpass the more renowned Iberian establishments.

The Spain Inn occupies the building that was once the site of the Schooner Inn. Because Spanish food relies heavily upon seafood preparations, the atmosphere translates well in accommodating the Mediterranean theme.

Formally attired waiters were very attentive and helpful. They were anxious to please and respond to requests...

Servings are traditionally large at Spanish restaurants and that custom was evident this evening as well. The Menu offers a welcome and a reminder that "whatever the occasion, we are here to serve you." a visit to the Spain Inn is bound to offer an occasion of culinary enjoyment.

for the The Courier News
by Mary Buckingham and Jeff Ross

The Home News

Classic Spanish cuisine in Piscataway - review excerpt

Sometimes you're in the mood for something nouvelle ...

And then there are times when you crave something more classic and satisfying - a thick and aged steak, fresh seafood, or a perfectly constructed Paella. When this mood strikes, head out to Spain Inn in Piscataway, where the food is classically Spanish, with a special emphasis on seafood, and every dish comes in more than ample proportions - so ample that one takeout contanier of leftovers fed two people for dinner.

The Spain Inn looks like its name - a rustic Spanish inn, or at least someone's idea of a Spanish inn. The interior is decorated in heavy, dark woods and prints of bullfighting and other Spanish scenes adorn the walls.

The Spain Inn has been open for (16+) years and is owned by partners Manny Kouroupas...and Jose "pepe" Rodrigues...and his brother Luis...The Rodrigues brothers have been in the restaurant business for the past (27+) years, starting as bus boys and working their ways up the ladder.

The menu at Spain Inn is extensive, authentic and representative of all regions of Spain. Entrees came on huge platters with saffron rice... Fried fish and seafood is typical of the cooking in the Andalusia region of Spain,...The Pollo al Ajillo is a dish found on almost every Spanish restaurant menu Spain Inn's version was delicious and more food than anyone should be able to eat at one sitting.

Beef does not play a major role in traditional Spanish cuisine, but gringo meat lovers will be more than satisfied by the Medio Bistec de Lomo, what Spain Inn describes as a small sirloin steak. If this is small, you can imagine what the larger like. The 3/4 inch thick steak came medium rare as ordered and must have had a good pedigree because it was both full of flavor and tender.

by Jeff Milgram