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12 Farms is mentioned in "Dishing Up New Jersey–150 Recipes from the Garden State" by John Holl. Published in May, 2016. (Photo on right.)


What an honor to be mentioned in a national magazine, alongside the best Farm-to-Table restaurants in every state.
(Spring 2016)

We are so thrilled to have been featured in the Last Bite section of the Summer 2015 Issue of Edible Jersey. Here is the text that accompanied photos of our chalkboard and our food:

We opened at the beginning of February–not the most ideal time of year for a farm-to-table restaurant. We experienced all manner of hiccups along the way, from an incorrect phone number on the website to getting our little Fiat stuck in the muddy snow at Beechtree Farm, one of our partners. Farmer Charlie Huebner just looked at the car and said, “I’ve got hay bales that weigh more than that. Don’t worry about it.” He then helped to lift the Fiat back onto solid ground.
One of the most pleasant surprises has been how enthusiastic our community would be for a restaurant that uses (mostly) ingredients direct from local farms. From the very beginning, we’ve been completely full on Fridays and Saturdays. The kitchen and the front of the house took a while to find their groove. Happily, today we are running smoothly, just as a bounty of fresh produce begins to arrive in our kitchen from local farms.

—Chef/Owner Rennie DiLorenzo, on the opening of 12 Farms Restaurant



This was the first article about our restaurant opening in February, 2015.

Link to Article
By Susan Sprague Yeske | For The Times
on May 28, 2015

You wouldn't expect a locally sourced farm-to-table restaurant to open its doors in February, when farm fields are frozen and the harvest season months away.

But that is exactly what Rennie DiLorenzo did, opening 12 Farms Restaurant in Hightstown with a menu of hearty dishes of meats, poultry, homemade pastas, root vegetables and greenhouse greens.

"There was enough available that we were able to open with 80 to 90 percent local ingredients," he said of that frosty opening.

Now that we're well on our way toward summer, the menu has changed dramatically, favoring fresh local vegetables and the first fruits of the season. That makes every day a culinary adventure for the enthusiastic DiLorenzo, who grew up cooking with his mother and helping out in the family vegetable garden.

"My family didn't have fresh vegetables available where they lived, so we grew our own and preserved what we grew so we had vegetables year round," he said.

Behind the counter of the casual restaurant on Hightstown's busy South Main Street is a chalkboard listing the origins of some of the ingredients currently in use. The total doesn't number 12; that's not the origin of the restaurant's name. DiLorenzo coined it based on a plan to feature a different farm each of the 12 months of the year. By the time the harvest season comes to an end, it is likely the number of farms will far exceed a dozen.

The menu reads like a who's-who of farms in the region, starting with a shaved roasted beet salad, $8, made using beets from Tuscarora Farm in Pennsylvania. The flavorful beets are served with a heap of mixed greens, a sprinkling of pistachios and dollop of chevre cream for a salad that will satisfy any beet lover.

A salad of mixed greens, $8, was a combination of local greens with blueberries, fennel, candied pecans and New Jersey goat cheese. A citrus vinaigrette was a nice finish, contrasting with the creaminess of the cheese and the sweetness of the nuts.

Strawberry soup, $8, was the soup of the day, served chilled although summer heat hasn't yet arrived. Savory rather than sweet, the mildly tart soup was a different take on a fruit we are used to enjoying in sweeter forms.



From among the entrees, an order of scallops, $25, was caught off the coast of New Jersey, dipped in a pistachio crust and pan-seared to the perfect doneness. Served with a Sambuca cream sauce, a scoop of farro and seasonal vegetables, this top-notch presentation was a favorite of the meal.

At 12 Farms the chefs make their own pasta using flour from an old-fashioned mill in Bucks County, Pa. We tried the homemade lasagna roll, $18 with Bolognese sauce made using beef from Beechtree Farm in Hopewell Township. There also is a meatless version, $15, but we very much enjoyed the hearty meat sauce that DiLorenzo said is the creation of executive chef Jerry DiFoggio. The pasta was cooked perfectly and the sauce was outstanding.

A pork chop entrée, $18, was a meaty chop from Simply Grazin' Farm in Skillman, which was stuffed with a mixture of apple, fennel and raisins and served au jus. This is a good dish, but I would have preferred a little more stuffing to go with the hefty size of the chop. Garlic mashed potatoes and Swiss chard completed the plate.

DiLorenzo serves ice cream from the Bent Spoon in Princeton, $7 for three scoops, and a short list of housemade desserts. We sampled the crème brulee, $8, which was light and creamy with traditional crunchy topping.

You can bring your own wine to 12 Farms, or take advantage of the restaurant's partnership with Working Dog Winery, which is located nearby.

The number of farm-to-table restaurants in the region has gradually been increasing in recent years, and 12 Farms in a happy addition to the list. Those who like to know where their food comes from and like to support local farms will no doubt easily find something to enjoy on this menu.

12 Farms Restaurant
LOCATION: 120 N. Main St., Hightstown
CONTACT: 609-336-7746, 12farms.com
HOURS: 5-10 p.m. Wed.-Sat., 10 a.m.-3 p.m. and 5-10 p.m. Sun. Closed Mon., Tues.
CREDIT CARDS: Most major.
FOOD: A varied menu featuring locally grown and raised ingredients is good to very good with flashes of excellence.
SERVICE: Pleasant and attentive.
AMBIANCE: This former coffee shop offers casual dining with an open kitchen where you can see the chefs at work.
COST: Appetizers $8-9, entrees $15-$26.
BYOB plus wines from nearby Working Dog Winery


120 North Main Street, Hightstown, New Jersey 08520 © 2014 www.12farms.com