*Savini: Italian; Allendale; 168 W Crescent Av; 24/21/$43; 201-760-3700; Beautiful setting in a country house; Date-friendly; Menu includes Caprese, Smoked Salmon, Seafood Salad, Crab Cocktail, Rock Shrimp, Lobster Tails Fra Diavolo, Shrimp scampi, Crème Brule. Enjoy dinner by the fireplace in winter; Lots of specials as well; Lively bar scene; Crowd is 30s-50s. 2014 Best of Bergen for best wine list, cocktails, & 2nd for Italian http://www.savinirestaurant.com/
*La Famiglia: Italian; Bogota; 107 E Main St @ Palisade; 23/15/$38; 201-489-1713; www.lafamiglia.biz/; Menu highlights include house-made pastas, traditional Italian appetizers, fresh fish and flavorful meats; BYO; Filled nightly with locals, staff will treat you like family; Extremely affordable classics are served. Calamari Fra Diavolo, Chicken Francese, Linguini con Vongole stand out. As authentic as it gets. Specials galore.
*Gianna’s: Italian; Carlstadt; 843 Washington Av @ Moonachie; 21/18/$41; 201-460-7997; www.giannas.biz; Been around since 2000 and they focus on huge family style portions; Thus, this place is great with a group of 6 or more; Individual portions available; Nice bar area; Good bang for the buck if you go family style; Attentive staff; Some question the overall product. Large menu; Excellent soups. Shrimp Scampi is great.
*Il Villaggio: Italian; Carlstadt; 651 Rt 17N @ Passaic Av; 24/23/$57; 201-935-7733; www.ilvillaggio.com; Upscale, mature setting; Classic Northern Italian dishes; The double cut Veal Chop and Crème Brule stand out; Huge menu & massive place; Smoked salmon; Seafood Salad; Chilean Sea Bass; Bronzino; Lobster Tails; Excellent, reliable restaurant. Mature date night or perfect for mature crowd; Great wine list. Endless specials… King Crab appetizer. Truly a great place. Even has a large bar area. Function hall/ weddings too. Full bar.
*Buco: Italian; Clifton; 953 Allwood Rd @ Rt 602; 22/17/$37; 973-779-3500; www.bucoristorante.com; Popular old school Jersey Italian joint; Friendly service, large portions, and one of the biggest menus you’ll ever see; Tons of pasta, chicken, port and veal dishes; Great place to go with family and good for groups. 7 soups on the menu. Also, well-spaced tables. Romantic vibe for couples. Nice wine list (full bar). Mmm Seafood salad.
La Riviera Gastronomia: Italian; Clifton; 429 Piaget Av; 25/18/$37; 973-772-9099; Incredibly good reviews; Very inexpensive; Basic menu featuring expected Italian classics; Standing out is the delicious seafood salad; Veal Parm; and the many pasta dishes- all large portions; Closed Monday; BYO; Must try the Tagliatelle Bolognese. If you love pasta – come here. Special quality. www.yelp.com/biz/la-riviera-gastronomia-clifton
La Riviera Trattoria: Italian; Clifton; 421 Piaget Av; 25/20/$45; 973-478-4181; www.larivieratrattoria.com/; Rave reviews on Yelp; Stuffed Artichoke is a favorite; Closed Monday; Formal-ish; Chilled seafood salad; Bufala Mozz; Homemade pastas; Lots of specials served daily; Calamari Salad; Excellent antipasto; Chicken “Hunter” style; Calamari Costa Viola; Shrimp scampi. Amazing service. Great website. Linguine Vongole is perfection. Lots of chicken, fish, veal and pasta selections.
Matthew’s: Italian; Clifton; 1131 Bloomfield Av; 26/19/$38; 973-928-4300; http://www.matthewsitalian.com/; Classy, cozy restaurant ideal for a date; Excellent service; Food cooked to order; Freshest ingredients; Restaurant that cares; Full bar; Young energetic owner; Very inexpensive overall; Shrimp cocktail, Stuffed Artichoke, Antipastos, Seafood salad, excellent soups, Stuffed Shrimp or scampi, Calamari Fra Diavolo stand out. Rave reviews by all; Seafood Salad is insane; Stuffed Artichoke; Full bar.
*Bone Gusto: Italian; Closter; 534 Durie Av @ High; 25/15/$42; 201-784-9036; http://www.buongustocloster.com/; Charming BYO Italian; The menu is large and the list of specials even larger; If you crave it – they will make it for you; Suffers from cramp seating so don’t go if there is more than 4 of you; Food is outstanding here as is the service. Home cooked meals and staff are all knowledgeable about menu. Tons of regulars here. Closed Sunday & Monday. Old school Italian at its best.
*Locale: Italian; Closter; 208 Piermont; 21/21/$53; 201-750-3233; http://locale208closter.com/; Italian-Med flavor; Exposed brick fire place décor and great bar area; Private functions; Great martinis, cocktails; Outdoor seating; Buffalo Mozz, Smoked Salmon, Shellfish platters, Escargot, Dozen pasta dishes, Long Island Duck, Zuppa di Pesce, Rib Eye Steak, Veal dishes; Lots of effort and variety. 201 Mag: Top 3 outdoor dining.
*Rudy’s: Italian; Closter; 71 Closter Plaza; 24/14/$31; 201-768-8444; http://www.rudyspizza.com/; 201 Mag Best Pizza; Incredible pizza; Homemade Lasagna; Try the Rudy’s Special “Sonya” salad with grilled calamari or chicken; Amazing cold and hot subs; Monster sized pasta dishes; Endless menu; Old school real-deal Italian cuisine; Huge take out business; Has full bar – dirt cheap martinis and house wine. The service is often lacking – and take-out staff is gruff to say the least. Been around since 1963. Best for lunch.
*Il Mulino: Italian; Dumont; 132 Veterans Plaza; 21/19/$41; 201-384-8016; http://www.ilmulinodumont.com/; Reliable southern Italian from the owners of Café Italiano in Englewood Cliffs; Soft Shell crab in season is excellent; BYO policy always helps; Attentive staff and a relaxed, casual environment; Menu has something for everyone and always some daily specials to entice; Great family or date restaurant. Sautéed calamari.
Al Di La Bistro: Italian; East Rutherford; 1Hoboken Rd; 23/16/$42; 201-939-1128; www.aldilaitalianbistro.com/; Great ‘classic’ Italian restaurant with a large selection of pasta, fish, veal and chicken dishes; Tapas/small plate menu available in addition to normal sizes; Very affordable; Venetian style; Stand outs include Seafood Salad, Ahi Tuna Tartare, Sunday Gravy Rigatoni, & Pork Osso Bucco; Lots of specials; Bottles of wine under $30.
*Café Italiano: Italian; Englewood Cliffs; 14 Sylvan Av @ Irving; 19/18/$38; 201-461-5041; www.cafeitaliano.net; Great outdoor dining on nice patio in summer; Friendly, neighborhood restaurant; Reasonable prices and reliable fare; Speedy service and large menu. Family feeling and well-made specials. They will take care of you with their drinks from well stocked bar, if you are a local or friendly. Lunch or dinner. Mixed reviews overall
*Grissini: Italian; Englewood Cliffs; 484 Sylvan Av @ Palisade; 19/22/$67; 201-568-3535; www.grissinirestaurant.com; Expensive but worth it- IF you get solid service; Huge menu with upscale Italian fare; Unique offerings plus classic standards; Try the Buffalo Mozz with Jersey Tomatoes followed by Linguine with whole lobster fra Diablo. Also a scene at night- people watching and great for a drink. Bring your expense account. Can have off Nights and locals heavily favored. Recent service reviews are harsh. Specials wildly overpriced.
*Davia: Italian; Fair Lawn; 6-09 Fair Lawn Av; 23/18/$35; 201-797-6767; http://daviarestaurant.com/; I love their menu; It is typical of a trattoria that serves the usual Italian classics but they have so much more as well; Even Beef Wellington and many seafood entrees; Pastas – you pick the type and the sauce with 12+ preparations to choose from; Everything well described; Maybe an older scene – better for a weekday; Have a full bar. Great place to bring the family or picky eaters.
Franco’s Metro: Italian; Fort Lee; 1475 Bergen Blvd; 22/15/$35; 201-461-6651; www.francosmetro.com; Been around for 40+ years; Local classic Italian standby; Brick over pizzas; Early bird specials; Nothing fancy and more of a casual neighborhood local spot; Food prepared with care; The pizza and Pork braciole over pappardelle are amazing; Has an endless menu; Full bar with lots of wines to pick from. Amazing salads. Super fresh. Cold seafood platter for two just $24.
GoodFellas Ristorante: Italian; Garfield; 661 Midland Av; 23/19/$40; 973-478-4000; Family style Italian so less needed; Lobster tail fra Diablo and shrimp scampi; Zuppa Di Pesce; Hugely long menu with all the standard Italian classics included; Old world charm; “Sopranos” feel. Great for groups. Authentic as they come. Certainly an older crowd; Full bar. Great seafood salads. Freshest Mozz. Lots of specials that change daily. http://goodfellasristorante.com/
La Cambusa: Italian; Garfield; 517 River Dr; 25/18/$39; 973-272-8739; http://cambusanj.com/; Lots of rave reviews for this spot; Homemade pasts; Freshest ingredients including top notch seafood; Imported Mozz; Pasta Fagioli is yum; Huge menu; Bronzino; Zupa di Pesce; Grilled salmon; Shrimp francese; Veal Caprese; Homemade Tiramisu; Burrata; Seafood Carpaccio; Closed Monday; No Rez and Full Bar.
*RoCCa: Italian; Glen Rock; 203 Rock Rd; 22/18/$40; 201-670-4945; www.roccanj.com/; Connected to a Market to buy goods; Inventive, well prepared classic Italian dishes; Fair prices and generous portions; Family style available; BYO; Well-spaced tables; Top shelf desserts. Market has incredible breakfast & lunch (especially sandwiches) selections to go; Closed Monday. Go on a Sat for dinner before 7pm to catch market open for business. Chilled Seafood Salad; Homemade pastas; Limited menu.
*Brooklyn’s Coal-Burning Pizzeria: Italian; Hackensack; 161 Hackensack Ave @ Rt 4; 25/12/$20; 201-342-2727; No slices served; BYO except Hackensack location which has beer/ wine; Fresher than fresh coal over pizza; Truly melt in your mouth pizza; Crust is beyond outstanding. Plenty of tables and it’s ideal for a heavenly lunch. http://brooklynspizza.net/
*Maggiano’s: Italian; Hackensack; 70 Riverside @ Rt 4; 20/19/$35; 201-221-2030; For a chain- very high quality; Family style dining; Huge portions of well prepared food; Perfect for groups; High energy setting; Decent cocktail and wine menu. Endless menu. Perfect spot to go to with a crowd; Attractive setting. Consider them for a birthday party or anniversary with the family. www.maggianos.com/
*Solari’s: Italian; Hackensack; 61 River St; 21/17/$38; 201-487-1969; Live music on Saturdays; Absolutely huge menu, yet you feel they care for each dish; Affordable and higher end items to choose from. Active bar scene; Locals love the place- been around for 75 years and 3 generations; Fun time while eating. Not pretentious at all. Family run business; Try the Shrimp Scampi or Linguini with Clams. Bit of a scene at night later on. www.solarisrestaurant.net/
*Dino’s Restaurant: Italian; Harrington Park; 12 Tappan Rd; 22/20/$42; 201-767-4245; What a gorgeous setting from the outside- country house feel; Inside, well-spaced tables, gracious service and an excellent menu of classics and a few surprises; Pasta dishes stand out. Neighborhood regulars; Closed Tuesdays. Gracious service. Pan seared Bronzino; Pork Ossobucco; Duck Breast. Nice wine list. www.dinoshp.com;
*Alessandro: Italian; Haworth; 157 Terrace St; 23/14/$36; 201-385-8544; http://www.alessandrosnj.com/; Small neighborhood Trattoria; Filled nightly with locals; Lunch and dinner served; 10 or so tables so reserve; It is BYO with liquor store next door; Try the seafood risotto; Grilled calamari appetizer. They feature excellent pizzas; Slow but friendly service from the owner and his staff. If crowded, you will wait for food; However, when on their game, few places offer better Italian ‘classics’.
Bottagra: Italian; Hawthorne; 80 Wagner Rd @ Thomas; 20/23/$48; 973-423-4433; www.bottagra.com; Revolutionary era home remodeled into a gorgeous ‘Tuscan Villa’; Full bar; Owners are young and energetic and it translates into the food; Try something from the raw bar, the Italian Seafood Salad, or one of the many pasta, steak or veal dishes. Seabass excellent. The Antipasto. Large menu for all. Great for small-medium private parties. The brunch is crazy – like a Rave party. See website.
Justin’s Ristorante: Italian; Hawthorne; 234 Lafayette Av; 21/16/$42; 973-423-4345; www.justinsristorante.com/; Nothing stands out as brilliant but everything they serve is reliable; Mostly Italian classics served with care; Lots of specials; For instance, you can order shrimp either scampi, francese, marinara or fra diavolo; Excellent fresh hot bread; BYO; Attentive service; Like you are in someone’s house.
Della Cucina: Italian; Hillsdale; 100 Park Av; 21/19/$42; 201-722-8880; http://dellacucinanj.com/; Southern Italian, welcoming staff, and a large menu highlight this reliable spot for locals; Try the antipasto or meatballs for an app; For a main course, the personal pizza pies are delicious – 10 to choose from; Entrees range from $12-$22 but most less than $18; BYO as well; Perfect mid-week dining experience.
*Anthony David’s: Italian; Hoboken; 953 Bloomfield @ 10th St; 25/20/$43; 201-222-8399; www.anthonydavids.com; BYO with inventive, nearly perfect Italian selections; They have a formal dining room and more casual bistro setting; Desserts excellent; Daily brunch; Gourmet market next door for shopping. Fantastic artisan cheese plates. Known for desserts- especially doughnuts. Serve a wonderful brunch. Seasonal menu. Order the Antipasto –pick 4-6 items; Tuna tartare; Very small dinner menu. Just love the vibe here.
*Augustino’s: Italian; Hoboken; 1104 Washington Av @ 11-12th St; 25/16/$49; 201-420-0104; Cash only- 10 table classic; Make a reservation and be prepared to consume incredible food; Homemade specialties; Spirited staff; Old school Italian feel- terrific atmosphere; One of the best around. Has a small bar. Truly an experience. No website sadly; This place serves GOOD food. Pork chop and Chicken Parm stand out. www.yelp.com/biz/augustinos-hoboken
*Bin 14: Italian; Hoboken; 1314 Washington @ 13th; 22/22/$46; 201-963-9463; www.bin14.com; Wine bar with Italian entrees and small plates; Sophisticated, date friendly space; From owners of Anthony David’s; Excellent wine list as you can imagine; Has wine tastings and events – see website; 80 wines by glass and 90 bottles; Wonderful bruschetta’s and grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch; Brunch served with Bloody Mary bar $6/drink. One of the best date spots in Hoboken;
Grimaldi’s Pizza: Pizza; Hoboken; 133 Clinton @ 2nd St; 24/13/$20; 201-792-0800; www.grimaldis.com; All about the pizza at this Coal oven institution. The original and far more famous sibling is in Brooklyn; No slices; Fresh mozz on the pies is fresh and perfect. Outdoor seating. They serve wine and beer. Has 2nd location in Hoboken now at 411 Washington @ 4th-5th; Small pie – 6 slices is $14.75 but worth it.
Trattoria Saporito: Italian; Hoboken; 328 Washington St; 23/20/$45; 201-533-180; www.trattoriasaporito.com; Red-sauce emphasis here at this classic local BYO; Very attentive service; Wonderful hot seafood appetizer; Fresh Mozz; Excellent soups; Giant selection of homemade pasta dishes; Specials always imaginative; Also, a great location close to the waterfront and local bars.
Margherita’s: Italian; Hoboken; 740 Washington Av @ 8th St; 21/16/$26; 201-222-2400; www.margheritascafe.com/; Family owned and run for years; They take pride in their food; Known for incredible pizzas; BYO; Huge menu of the most classic Italian pastas, chicken, seafood and veal; No Rez policy; Tight quarters; Some outdoor seating; Gets crowded in the summer and on weekends. Casual place. Friendly service.
Napoli’s Brick Oven Pizza: Pizza; Hoboken; 1118 Washington St @ 12th; 24/13/$20; 201-216-0900; Known for outstanding brick-oven pies; BYO as well; Can sit down there and have dinner / lunch; Lots of pasta and other entrees too; But, this place is known for pizza; Super casual; Ideal for an early weekday dinner or weekend lunch. Fast service; Try their Bruschetta! Huge menu. www.napolishobokenpizza.com;
Fontana di Trevi: Italian; Leonia; 248 Fort Lee Rd; 22/18/$42; 201-242-9040; First rate classy Italian; BYO; Old, welcoming setting; Try the Ossobuco, Linguini with little neck clams, or seared bronzino; For me – the double think cut veal chop; Closed Monday; It is certainly a stand-out for the area; Make a reservation as it is popular. Reliable standards on the menu as a whole. Tableside Caesar salads. Homemade Mozzarella. https://www.yelp.com/biz/fontana-di-trevi-restaurant-leonia
Sergio’s Missione: Italian; Lodi; 2 Mercer St; 26/19/$45; 973-778-4545; http://www.sergiosmissione.com/; Incredible google & Yelp reviews. Try the mixed grilled seafood platter over arugula; Clams on half shell; The main courses are traditional dishes mainly with lots of chicken, veal and pasta options. Closed Monday. Dinner only. BYO. Also – huge number of nightly specials! Prepare to be wowed.
Casa Giuseppe: Italian; Lyndhurst; 503 Valley Brook Av; 24/19/$45; 201-460-0060; www.casagiuseppelyndhurstnj.com; The chef/owner and biker has been cooking Italian classics for 40+ years; Pleasant dining room and service; BYO; Numerous shellfish options; Dinner only; Menu highlights include sautéed calamari, pork shank wings, seafood salad, and many veal/chicken entrees; Very inexpensive. Live music Thursdays.
Gelone: Italian; Lyndhurst; 650 Ridge Rd; 24/20/$45; 201-372-9200; http://gelonelyndhurst.com/; Well-spaced tables and somewhat pleasant décor; More old school feel; BYO; Rigatoni with Spinach, garlic and Shrimp; Seafood salad; Caprese; Calamari salad; Bruschetta; Great antipastos; Grilled calamari; Clams; Lots of pasta, Veal and Chicken dishes; Great menu overall and affordable. Rave reviews online except for rushed service.
Michael’s Riverside: Italian; Lyndhurst; 528 Riverside Av; 21/23/$48; 201-939-6333; www.michaelsriverside.com/; Somewhat large menu of really only ‘classic’ Italian appetizers, entrees and steaks; They do a very nice job; Place does a huge catering and special event business; They have a bar which features 22 different Martinis for $8 each – might want to come early for a cocktail; Nice place for a family event. Chilean Sea Bass, Steaks under $30, Stuffed Shrimp with Crab. Very affordable for genre.
Roxanne’s: Italian; Mahwah; 150 Franklin Tpike; 23/15/$38; 201-529-0007; www.roxannesrestaurant.com/; Attractive bistro setting with outdoor dining available; Brick oven turning out fabulous pizzas; Stylish red oak décor; Both individual and family style portions available; Tons of homemade pasta dishes to choose from and a large menu overall; Massive portions- and a full bar; Have whatever you want! $25 bottles house wine. Brick oven pizzas; Great for groups.
*Arturo’s: Italian; Midland Park; 41 Central Av; 23/20/$51; 201-444-2466; http://www.arturos.co/; Like eating at home with huge menu of Italian mainstays; Tuxedoed service- classy atmosphere; For a special occasion; Slightly pricy but overall great. Closed Mondays; Massive selection of food. Menu includes dishes ‘beginners’ will recognize. Lobster tails fra Diablo stands out. Calamari Salad; Smoked salmon; Tons of daily specials. Full bar.
Fiona’s: Italian; Midland Park; 118 Godwin Av; 20/18/$43; 201-857-5800; www.fionasristorante.com/; Nice family restaurant with doting service; Nothing too fancy – mostly core Italian dishes in the usual array of sauces; Multiple Chicken, Veal and seafood dishes; Calamari salad; Fresh Mozzarella; Pork Chops; BYO; Open for lunch; Place best described as reliable.
Ah’Pizz: Pizza; Montclair; 7 N Willow St; 21/15/$31; 973-783-9200; http://ahpizznj.com/; Brick oven brilliance; BYO; They serve tons of Italian specialties besides pizza including lots of salads and appetizers; Chicken and pasta main courses as well; Get the “Ah’Pizz” Pizza; Most individual pies are around $15. Pricy for pizza but worth it. Ask about weekly specials. Like a mom & pop upscale pizzeria.
Corso 98: Italian; Montclair; 98 Walnut St. @ Willow; 24/19/$45; 973-746-0789; www.corso98.com/; Upscale quality in a comfortable setting; Osso Bucco is amazing; Friendly service and outstanding menu; Though a limited number of selections (25 or so) it is original and often changing; Quaint dining room feel – like at home; Pan Seared Tuna; Chilean Sea Bass; Veal chop; See website to view well-presented dishes. Get a pitcher of Sangria; Has own free parking lot; BYO is welcome; Owners/service top notch.
Fascino: Italian; Montclair; 331 Bloomfield Av @ Grove; 26/22/$54; 973-233-0350; www.fascinorestaurant.com; BYO high end Italian; Desserts are fabulous; Unique, mouthwatering menu; Tasting menu available for $75 (5 courses); Top shelf cuisine complete with smallish portions and impeccable presentation. Perfect blend of traditional and modern. Romantic- aided by great service. Yellowfin tuna; Pancetta wrapped bronzino; Sea scallops; King salmon. Seasonal menu. Foodie joint. Closed Sunday. Spacious & romantic.
Bellissimo: Italian; Montvale; 12 S Kinderkamack; 22/17/$38; 201-746-6669; www.bellissimonj.com/; Lots of specials are the way to go including Lamb shank, short ribs and lamb chops; Salads are included and bread is fresh and warm; BYOB; All the pastas are homemade; Opened in 2008; Sautéed calamari fra diavolo; You can’t go wrong with a Veal dish. Décor is basic and uninspiring. Delicious appetizers – I’d order them all. Calamari salad. Great for parties or groups.
Momma’s Kitchen: Italian; Montvale; 15 W Grand Av; 23/17/$36; 201-746-9777; www.mommaskitchennj.com/; Family environment; BYO – wine or cake; No Rez; Known for incredible pizza; Menu features, as well, delicious Pork Ribs; Italian Nachos; Bruschetta; Assortment of fresh salads; Gourmet Meatballs – as an entrée or a Sub; About a dozen or so pasta dishes and chicken done your way – Marsala, piccata, parm, Milano. Kid friendly – casual setting. Not a date spot.
Bazzarelli: Italian; Moonachie; 117 Moonachie Rd; 23/17/$32; 201-641-4010; www.bazzarellirestaurant.com; Gigantic menu. Shrimp scampi and lobster fra Diablo jump out at you. Fairly standard neighborhood setting. Tight seating but perfect stop for pizza or a red sauce classic. Ideal Meadowlands bound eating option; Family run business since 1971; Try their pizza! Great soups. Choose a pasta and a sauce from huge selection. Lots of salads; You can pick your pasta type with a huge assortment of sauces.
Roman Pizza: Italian; New Milford; 858 River Rd; 24/12/$25; 201-265-9371; http://www.romanpizzarestaurant.com; Family oriented, casual Pizzeria with an endless menu; Amazing for take-out; Can dine-in and enjoy the huge family sized portions that feature dozens of different sandwiches, hot & cold; Salads; Pasta dishes, Chicken/Veal dishes and of course their famous pizza.
*Sanzari New Bridge: Italian; New Milford; 105 Old New Bridge Rd @ New Bridge; 25/20/$52; 201-692-7700; Large, interesting menu with daily specials; Soft Shell crab in season is spectacular; Creative entrees and appetizers; Menu has the usual classics; Spacious setting and dining room; Bar area more lively and energetic; Well maintained; Great service. Fairly fancy evening overall; Ahi Tuna salad, Calamari Oreganate, Bufala Mozz, Smoked Salmon appetizer, Egg Ravioli. Tons of seafood; Huge menu. Quality is top shelf. http://sanzaris.com/
Lassoni: Italian; North Arlington; 602 Ridge Rd.; 24/17/$36; 201-998-0911; http://lassonirestaurant.com/index.html; Truly authentic cuisine served in this non-descript spot with a nice bar; What makes it a hit is the large variety of appetizers, hot and cold including calamari salad and also the specials; Wonderful pasta dishes; Fresh ingredients and open daily; Extremely reliable for traditional Italian fare.
DiPalma Brothers Restaurant: Italian; North Bergen; 8728 Kennedy Blvd @ 87th; 22/22/$36; 201-868-3005; You are actually eating in an antique shop; Buy while you eat! Cozy feel with all of ‘grandma’s’ recipes; BYO; Rustic feel; Hearty Italian menu loaded with classic pasta selections; Unique experience Their meatballs are delish. Family style portions; Love the affordable prices. Closed Monday. Great find. http://www.dipalmabros.com/
*La Sorrentina: Italian; North Bergen; 7831 Bergenline Av; 26/14/$31; 201-869-8100; Near perfection; Top of the line in quality; Brick oven pizza is heralded; Fried Calamari; Try the 4 cheese pizza; Linguini and clam sauce; Basically- nothing fancy- just top preparations. Great wine list. Family run. And, dirt cheap! Insane popularity on Yelp; Huge portions. Real old school Italian from cooks who can do it up right. Tons of specials. http://www.sorrentinanb.com/
*Dimora Ristorante: Italian; Norwood; 100 Piermont Rd; 25/20/$55; 201-750-5000; Old school family owned restaurant; Chef Gino will take care of you; Classic Italian menu- large selection to choose from; Very friendly feel, full of regulars; Not the cheapest place; Always crowded and busy- can be noisy. Full bar; Certainly overpriced for the area and genre but quality is there. Whole bronzino & Osso Buco. Endless specials. https://www.yelp.com/biz/dimora-restaurant-norwood
*Ragazzi: Italian; Norwood; 530 Livingston St; 25/19/$33; 201-660-7950; http://ragazzirestaurantlounge.com/; What a wonderful addition to Northeast Bergen county; Affordable Italian cuisine in a clean airy setting featuring a well-spaced outdoor patio with extremely comfortable furniture; Full bar; Large portions of food fit for sharing; The Mixed Bruschetta, Calamari Fritti, Chilled Seafood Salad, Pappardelle Carbonara, Shrimp & Scallop Risotto, Pork Chop special, and Veal Sorrentino all are favorites. Be sure to say hello to super friendly owners Anthony & Damiano. Whole staff is great.
*Café L’Amore: Italian; Oakland; 455 Ramapo Valley Rd @ Rt 287; 24/16/$36; 201-337-5558; www.cafelamore.org Often as many specials as items on the menu; Locals flock to this family owned traditional Italian. Incredibly flavorful sauces are the trademark for pasta dishes and meat dishes alike; Though few chances are taken, they are masters at what they prepare; Friendly service to boot. BYO as well. Sea Bass; Large portions. Hole in the wall that produces serious food. Pizzas are amazing too.
Cenzino: Italian; Oakland; 589 Ramapo Valley Rd @ Franklin Av; 25/21/$62; 201-337-6693; www.cenzinos.com; Very consistent cuisine, expertly prepared by owners; Decent bar scene; Closed Sundays; Extremely good looking menu with mouth-watering selections to please anyone; Certainly a must-try. Ultra-friendly service; Seared Ahi Tuna; Mozz Caprese; Lobster tails; Tons of pasta dishes; Excellent service always. Upscale Italian.
*Biagio’s: Italian; Paramus; 299 Paramus Rd; 22/19/$36; 201-652-0201; www.biagios.com; Popular high volume restaurant with a good bar scene- especially late; Dining room & separate bar-lounge that serves food; The usual hugely long menu that will please most if not all palates; Great for catering or to host a birthday party; Service can be hit or miss if other large parties there; Reliable overall & a fun atmosphere. Blue crab ravioli; Appetizer menu stands out – meat and cheese plates and tons of hot/cold.
Pesto Italian Bistro: Italian; Park Ridge; 168 Kinderkamack; 24/17/$41; 201-690-6101; http://www.pestonj.com/; Small bistro setting with excellent service; Great for private events; Italian classics fill the traditional menu; Overall quite inexpensive; Can order chicken or veal with 8 preparations to pick from; Not a huge menu and nothing exotic; BYO helps with already low bill. Loved by Yelpers. Very casual.
E & V: Italian; Paterson; 320 Chamberlain Av; 23/16/$32; 973-942-8080; www.evrestaurant.com; Seafood is excellent here; Warm, family environment- very casual; In existence since 1967; Family style dining options; Massive menu – whatever you want is there; Spacious; They care about their customers; Inexpensive but Cash only. Sell beer & wine only. Absolute diamond in the ruff. Bottles of wine under $20. Lobster or Calamari Fra Diavolo; Linguini with Garlic & Oil;
*Kinchley’s Tavern: Pizza; Ramsey; 586 N. Franklin Tpke; 24/13/$21; 201-934-7777; Known for Thin Crust pizza; Friendly service; Bring cash; Extremely popular and been around for years; Fans absolutely love their pies. No slices; Has other Italian dishes as well. Nice drink specials – pitchers of beer. Great relaxing place for friends or family. Endless varieties of pies to pick from. www.yelp.com/biz/kinchleys-tavern-ramsey
*Tutto a Modo Mio: Italian; Ridgefield; 482 Bergen Blvd; 25/15/$45; 201-313-9690; http://tuttoamodomio.com/; Classic menu of locals enjoying consistent cuisine; BYO; Chilean Sea Bass stands out; Very friendly service and the owners will take care of you. Grilled Calamari, Stuffed Artichoke, Stuffed Talapia, Bronzino, Veal Osso Buco, Bufalo Caprese and tons of pasta dishes. Huge assortment of specials; They will alter any dish to fit your desires; Chef is absolutely outstanding; Try this diamond in the rough.
*A Mano: Italian; Ridgewood; 24 Franklin Av @ Chestnut; 22/17/$31; 201-493-2000; www.amanopizza.com; Very attractive and date-friendly pizzeria that serves other basic Italian specialties. Wood burning oven; 30 foot high ceilings; BYO; Salads and paninis also stand out. Ideal for weekend lunch. On your first visit – get the Margherita Pizza or A Mano Pizza (Buff Mozz & cherry tomatoes); Just a solid reliable neighborhood place that is a safe bet for a tasty lunch.
*Brooklyn’s Coal-Burning Pizzeria: Italian; Ridgewood; 15 Oak St @ Ridgewood Av; 25/12/$20; 201-493-7600; No slices served; BYO except Hackensack location which has beer/ wine; Fresher than fresh coal over pizza; Truly melt in your mouth pizza; Crust is beyond outstanding. Plenty of tables and it’s ideal for a heavenly lunch. http://brooklynspizza.net/
La Lanterna: Italian; Ridgewood; 29 W Ridgewood Av; 21/21/$40; 201-444-5520; www.lalanternaofridgewood.com/; Try the Carbonara or the Scallops with Risotto; Family run BYO Italian; Great service; Outdoor seating in summer; Closed Monday; Cute, welcoming scene; It does have a fairly limited menu but with Italian you can always find something; Run by Ridgewood locals. Cute inside- romantic setting. Dinner only.
S. Egidio: Italian; Ridgewood; 17 N Broad St; 25/16/$37; 201-389-3525; http://www.segidiopizza.com/; This pizzeria screams fresh ingredients and top service; Coal oven pizzas that are mouthwatering; Antipasto boards and selections to get you started; Burrata and Mozz di Bufalo; Prosciutto & Melon; 15 pizzas on menu; Closed Monday; BYO and they have sangria; Best possible place to go for lunch in Ridgewood.
*Rugova: Italian; River Edge; 259 Johnson Ave @ Rt 4; 23/19/$46; 201-880-8445; From owners of Sear in Closter; Upscale Italian in a warm setting featuring a full, active bar scene; Spaciously placed tables; Stand outs include – Chilean Sea Bass, Rigatoni Bolognese, Shrimp Arrabbiata, Tuna Tartare, Grilled Veal Chop, and Soft Shell Crabs – in season; Large menu and always several specials which I suggest. Mixed service. www.yelp.com/biz/rugova-river-edge
*Sanducci’s Trattoria: Italian; River Edge; 620 Kinderkamack; 20/17/$30; 201-599-0600; www.sanduccis.com; Comfortable setting, casual; Huge menu full of Italian classics; Numerous pizzas, pastas, chicken and seafood dishes; Probably 20 appetizers to choose from including Grilled Calamari; BYO and they serve wine as well; Private parties, take-out orders; Even have lunch & dinner buffet dining on certain days. No Rez.
*Nanni: Italian; Rochelle Park; 53 W Passaic St @ Rochelle; 21/19/$41; 201-843-1250; www.nanni.com; Been around over 25 years; Old world Italian, mature crowd; Large menu full of classic standards; Good, reliable cuisine; Can eat at the bar; Seafood salad, Mozz Caprese, Smoked Salmon, Escargot, clams & mussels galore, Seafood Risotto, endless pasta offerings; Lobster tails, Osso Bucco. Truly an endless menu. Great wine selection.
Paisano’s Restaurant: Italian; Rutherford; 132 Park Av; 24/20/$43; 201-935-5755; www.paisanos.com; Favorite gathering place for locals; BYO; Back patio for summer; Very inexpensive overall; Lots of specials; Try the hot & sweet rub Rib Eye; Burrata; Bruschetta; Bronzino; Endless pasta dishes; Stuffed Pork Chops; Last Thursday of every month is comedy night. Portions are huge.
*I Gemelli: Italian; South Hackensack; 268 Huyler St; 26/17/$46; 201-487-4220; www.igemelliristorante.com; Just excellent food in a rather plain dining room – but made up for with excellent service; Amazing specials; BYO; Grilled Calamari App, Seafood Salad, Fresh Mozz & Tomato; Seafood Risotto. They will accommodate your special requests; You are treated so very well here; Worth the trip despite location. Hard to order a poor dish. Shockingly good. Closed Monday.
*Giostra: Italian; Tappan; 65 Old Tappan Rd; 28/20/$52; 845-848-2575; http://giostrany.com/; Family run Italian by an immensely talented brother duo; Large menu featuring daily specials; Knowledgeable and attentive staff; Food wise, you will be taken back to Italy; Try the absolutely perfect Grilled Octopus; Numerous homemade pasta dishes served beautifully; Full bar; They cater and are available for private events; Closed Monday; Other menu highlights: Seafood Salad, Littleneck clams with crabmeat, Mozz Tower, Grilled Langoustines, Braised Short Ribs, Veal Scaloppini, and seasonal Soft Shell Crabs. Top 5 Italian in Bergen and neighboring counties.
*Amarone: Italian; Teaneck; 63 Cedar Ln; 23/17/$41; 201-833-1897; www.amaroneristorante.net; Filled with locals; Large sized portions served with style in a consistently good eatery; Traditional setting – tables for four laid out with space; Average décor made up for by service and food. They will work with you on adjustments to the menu- they will grill your calamari; Authentic Italian service. Neighborhood regulars. Always improving. Has full bar. Menu is predictable Italian classics.
BV Tuscany: Italian; Teaneck; 368 Cedar; 25/22/$42; 201-287-0404; www.bvtuscany.com; Neighborhood Italian; Not a huge menu – 10 appetizers, 12 pastas; 15 entrees; Mouthwatering aroma and food; Food becoming great; Perfect for a weekday dinner in welcoming environment. Osso Bucco. Lobster Fra Diavolo; Benny the owner is all about his customers; Ever improving restaurant. Good for special occasions. Full bar. Sea Bass, Yellow Fin Tuna, Wild Boar – great menu. Rave reviews. Closed Mondays. Great for a date.
Andreas Ristorante: Italian; Waldwick; 20 E Prospect St; 21/18/$45; 201-670-0275; www.andreasrestaurantnj.com/; Family neighborhood restaurant since 1984; Full bar; Signature Veal Chop; Lunch & Dinner; Large assortment of appetizers & soups; Mozz caprese; Entrees $20-$30; More than 50 dinner entrees to choose from; They have daily specials and will work with you; Gracious service. Menu is typical Italian classics.
Village Grill: Italian/ Seafood; Waldwick; 71 Crescent; 21/19/$41; 201-670-8200; What a fun menu with Italian, Seafood, American and even Asian items – focus on Italian; Nice bar area with martinis, cocktails, and a good wine selection; Specials and drinks of the week; Weekday Happy hour; Menu includes Tuna sashimi, Shrimp Scampi, Pad Thai, Stuffed artichokes, tons of gourmet salads, Grouper, Talapia, Steaks, Paella and Fish Tacos as well as dozens of pasta and more traditional Italian dishes. Endless choice!
*Bacari Grill: Italian; Washington Township; 800 Ridgewood Rd @ Pascack; 24/21/$45; 201-358-6330; http://bacarigrill.com/; Vastly improved restaurant since 2012 renovation/ menu changes; Huge selection of appetizers and main courses; Try the build your own antipasto bar – amazing; Fish dishes and pastas are delish; Seared Ahi Tuna; Scallops over Risotto; Grilled shrimp; Slow roasted duck; Tons of specials nightly; Classy service – healthy pours of wine; Great for private parties; Always packed so make a reservation. Brick oven individual pizzas as well. Sushi chef in house. Can’t go wrong here.
*Baci Italian Grill: Italian; Westwood; 36 Jefferson Av; 21/20/$44; 201-722-1900; http://baciwestwood.com/; Great bar scene –fully stocked; Classy dining area; Mozz and tomato special should be the go-to; Short ribs over orzo; Mixed reviews on dining room service; Restaurant will provide you with a date-friendly experience and solid weekday meal or weekend spot for appetizers and drinks. Ahi Tuna carpaccio!
*Caffe Anello: Italian; Westwood; 429 Broadway; 27/21/$52; 201-786-8137; http://caffeanello.com/; Tuscan inspired cuisine from hot local chef John Vitale; Known for the freshest ingredients including fresh pasta made daily; Fresh Mozz made daily; Also all vegetables from a local farm; Cozy atmosphere and attentive service; Rez only and BYO; Try the Homemade Mozz, Bucatini Carbonara or ala Amatriciano; Chilean Sea Bass or Rib Eye. Amazing Italian take-out next door: Johnny’s. Both restaurants winners of several Best of Bergen categories.
Café Amici: Italian/ American; Wyckoff; 315 Franklin Av; 22/16/$28; 201-848-0198; http://cafeamiciwyckoff.com/; Great for lunch or dinner; Friendly local spot; The menu is very simple and not huge but the quality of food is excellent; Doesn’t try to be what it isn’t; Nothing fancy – just a reliable spot for good red sauce Italian. It is also a BYOB; Come with expectations of an upscale diner & you’ll leave happy. Mozz Caprese w/ Prosciutto. Ahi Tuna. Individual pizzas.