First of all, the place is NOT what it appears to be, which is another red-sauce joint in a strip mall in the middle of Nowhere, New Jersey. In my neck of the woods (and I do mean WOODS), this is the closest thing to big-city fine dining you will ever encounter. The decor is casually elegant and upscale with brick accents, dark woods and recessed pottery pieces decorating the walls. What, no posters of Italy??!! The entrance is separated: one door for the dining room, and another, down a long hallway, is where they handle takeout. Other than an individual children's pie, THERE IS NO PIZZA ON THE DINNER MENU. Instead, chef Jerry LoPresti presents a contemporary take on classic Italian -- with a twist. And he does it really, really well: Traditional sausage and broccoli rabe is brought to another level, with a seared coil of hot Italian sausage sitting atop roasted red peppers and the sauteed greens, finished with a generous drizzle of 25-year-old balsamic vinegar and slivers of sharp provolone cheese. That is a meal starter! The tender Calamari Mondello is quickly fried, lightly dressed in a white balsamic sauce, and tossed with hot cherry peppers, roasted garlic and whole caperberries. Jerry's version of a bolognese sauce is meltingly tender veal, slowly braised and pulled, then combined with sauteed onions and fresh herbs. My favorite! Another big winner is the Salmon Jennifer, grilled and topped with sauteed cherry tomatoes, asparagus and garlic in wine sauce. And if you're gluten-free, like I am, you might think you'd died and gone to heaven: the menu includes gluten-free pasta (which actually TASTES like pasta), ravioli, and they are continuing to add GF bread and desserts. It's BYOB, so bring a special bottle of wine to measure up to the food. The service is cordial and attentive. The atmosphere is welcoming, and there's a little outside patio ringed by a garden wall for when the weather is nice. In fact, I just hosted a birthday party on the patio, 24 people with less than a week's notice, and every detail was PERFECT. My friends are still raving about the food. I had ordered the meal ahead, to be served family style; but that didn't stop Chef Jerry from coming out of the kitchen to consult with a guest who had an onion allergy and making him something special. That's the kind of place this is: not only is the food great, they really care.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.