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Good Italian places in NJ


tommy
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a poster on this thread suggests that there is good Italian food to be found in NJ at local restaurants. anyone know where? OG is obviously not a very good option.

we could really use an injection of Vitamin B (batali) here in NJ. the red sauce places just aren't cutting it, and usually can't make "italian" food better than my irish grandmother or me (in fact, it's usually much worse).

i think i'll go to Babbo for lunch.

Edited by tommy (log)
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Oh, for a seat at the bar at The Jefferson...SNIF.

"I'm not eating it...my tongue is just looking at it!" --My then-3.5 year-old niece, who was NOT eating a piece of gum

"Wow--this is a fancy restaurant! They keep bringing us more water and we didn't even ask for it!" --My 5.75 year-old niece, about Bread Bar

"He's jumped the flounder, as you might say."

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Have you tried Marra's or Marcello's in Ridgewood lately. I have not been to either in a while but I have had some enjoyable meals there.

I have had some good standards (stuffed artichoke) pasta dishes at IL Mulino in Dumont also there is Cafe Italiano Ristorante in Englewood, but I have not been there in a long while.

Edited by Deldino (log)
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Definitely missing The Jefferson in Hoboken. Augustino's is very good (in fact, I'm well overdue for a return visit). Haven't had much experiences outside Hoboken, but I enjoyed Tratoria Fresco (there's an old thread you can find) in Caldwell very much -- similar in style to the Jeff and BYOB as a bonus...

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Tell us more about Augustino's, please, Jon!

While I like Trattoria Fresco, I just don't think of it the way I do (did) The Jefferson. Damn, I miss that place.

"I'm not eating it...my tongue is just looking at it!" --My then-3.5 year-old niece, who was NOT eating a piece of gum

"Wow--this is a fancy restaurant! They keep bringing us more water and we didn't even ask for it!" --My 5.75 year-old niece, about Bread Bar

"He's jumped the flounder, as you might say."

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We like the food at Il Mondo Vecchio in Madison. However, the noise at primetime can be loud; better to go at an off-hour.

We recently tried and enjoyed Divina in Caldwell on Bloomfield Avenue. It was formerly a pizza place with a casual restaurant, but they took out the pizza area, redecorated nicely and it is now a pretty nice restaurant. I would call the food a little rustic, it's certainly no Babbo, but we enjoyed it for what it was.

I know Rosie and others like Corso 98. We haven't been there in a long time. Is it still good?

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I was just at a really great Italian restaurant today. This was the third time in the last year or so that I have eaten there. A small group of us met for a holiday lunch.

The name of the restaurant is:

Castalia Trattoria

997 McBride Ave

West Paterson, NJ 07424

(973) 785-8880

http://www.castaliatrattoria.com/

They are also a BYOB and I noticed today that they had a small party room.

It is in the almost same location (if anyone should remember) as the old "Ernesto's" restaurant on McBride.

Today, we had a number of appetizers and main courses and each one was delicious. This is definitely not one of the "red sauce" places and I would highly recommend them and look forward to going back again.

Edited by nizza (log)
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While I like Trattoria Fresco, I just don't think of it the way I do (did) The Jefferson.  Damn, I miss that place.

that's because the Jefferson was an ingredients-driven restaurant with interesting dishes, and most of the rest are red sauce places. I was not very impressed with TF, although it seems more interesting than 99% of "italian" restaurants around.

curlz, here is augustino's menu. note the unfortunate use of cream in the carbonara. the rest of the menu doesn't do much for me and reads pretty typically. i'll give them props for serving chicken on the bone, though. the best part of the place is getting yelled at by the owner.

growing up in NJ and NY, i have to say i haven't had all that many good meals at italian restaurants, in contrast to what the poster on the other thread suggested.

Edited by tommy (log)
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Tell us more about Augustino's, please, Jon!

While I like Trattoria Fresco, I just don't think of it the way I do (did) The Jefferson.  Damn, I miss that place.

As Tommy references above (and you can see from the menu), Augustino's is nothing like the Jeff. It does old world, traditional Italian fare, and does it well. I've only been once, but everything has been very solid (an excellent veal chop with peppers which I think was a special was the highlight). It definitely is an old world Italian experience (as opposed to the Jeff, which was more creative, Italian influenced, ingredient driven (as Tommy points out) cuisine. Augustino's is more the "red-sauce" traditional Italian style, but does it very well, and it feels like an old-world Italian experience. You do need reservations, as it is quite popular (a lot of "regulars" there). It's worth trying once, if nothing else, for a solid meal at a family run Italian. While you won't have your socks blown off, (it's not fine dining), it is fun and the food is solid and homey.

As for Trattoria-Fresca, I don't hold it in quite as high a regard as the Jeff, but the one time I was there, I thoroughly enjoyed my meal -- it was definitely leaning more to the Jefferson style, than to a traditional red-sauce place.

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Another place comes to mind, that isn't mentioned here often, Corrado's in Rutherford. Food and service have always been excellent. I often choose the fish specials and have never been disappointed.

and it's a BYOB!!

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I haven't been back recently, but I had a great meal at La Fontana in New Brunswick about 5 years ago. Service was professional and attentive, we had a very nice meal.

I live in an area awash in red sauce, really miss having a Northern Italian place nearby for a change of pace.

"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast" - Oscar Wilde

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a "red sauce place" has a menu that reads something like this:

- clams oreganota

- spiedini

- fried calamari

- caesar salad

- various veal dishes including parm

- lots of chicken breast dishes

- seafood consisting mostly of shrimp and maybe a salmon dish

- pastas with various uses of cream including "a la vodka" or some other "pink" sauce

- pastas with red sauce and cheese

other elements:

- enormous portions of everything made by a kitchen that likely doesn't have a chef who's driving the menu

- lack of anything seasonal

- pasta often cooked well past al dente

- sauces often sweet and heavy

- lack of arw ingredients actually imported from italy

- pink and white tablecloths

"red sauce joint" isn't necessary a pejorative, but it usually suggests that your expectations shouldn't be set very high. what those restaurants are serving is probably more accurately called "italian-american", and most don't do a very good job at it. that's fine sometimes. but i'm wondering about the real good stuff.

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a poster on this thread suggests that there is good Italian food to be found in NJ at local restaurants.  anyone know where?  OG is obviously not a very good option. 

we could really use an injection of Vitamin B (batali) here in NJ.  the red sauce places just aren't cutting it, and usually can't make "italian" food better than my irish grandmother or me (in fact, it's usually much worse).

i think i'll go to Babbo for lunch.

Picola Italia in Ocean, NJ...

=Mark

Give a man a fish, he eats for a Day.

Teach a man to fish, he eats for Life.

Teach a man to sell fish, he eats Steak

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Good Italian food in NJ? Of course! I have always liked Casa Dante in Jersey City. Haven't been there in a while so I can't speak to recent going on's. I also like Cafe Italiano in Englewood Cliffs. Again, haven't been there in a while, but a few years ago they finally got a liquor license. I liked it a lot as a BYO and would always bring a very nice bottle as I always enjoyed the food.

Further north, anyone have any thoughts on Grissini's? A little too much of a show for me but the few times I've been there I enjoyed it. Too crowded and not enough room but the food was good. Anyone been there recently? I also like Armando's (Fort Lee).

Is E&V (Paterson) still open? I've had some nice meals there too. I think a "controversial" favorite of mine is LuNello's. Whenever I've gone, I enjoyed it. That's what counts with me. LOL.

Eric

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Tommy, I'm surprised you haven't recommended the Belmont Tavern... :wink:

Blessed are those who engage in lively conversation with the helplessly mute, for they shall be called, "Dentists." (anonymous)

Life is too short for bad Caesar Salad. (Me)

Why would you poison yourself by eating a non-organic apple? (HL)

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jpr: I haven't really seen any impressive Italian places in NA/Lyndhurst... I'm sure they're good, but not the greatest, and unless I've missed it, none are really chef-driven places. I'm open to be persuaded otherwise, though.

ELA: E&V is still definitely open. I thought about mentioning it but I didn't want to expose my lack of Italian breadth by citing it. I thought everyone knew about it. :-/

IMHO, I don't consider E&V a "red sauce" place in a perjorative sense, but it does have the red-sauce menu. I will say this, though: do NOT let that dissuade you from going to E&V. Make sure that someone definitely gets the seafood risotto. It's worth the cash-only policy and lack of reservations.

"Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside" -Mark Twain

"Video games are bad for you? That's what they said about rock 'n roll." -Shigeru Miyamoto, creator of The Legend of Zelda, circa 1990

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