Nonna Citi Cucina is a traditional Italian food restaurant and banquet facility in Englishtown along Route 9 North – very close to Route 520 in Marlboro and the Marlboro Shopping Center. We selected this restaurant as our venue for my daughter's wedding reception. We were originally seeking a location within Freehold, but we found that Nonna's was one of the few restaurants with a party room that was available on the date we needed – 7 pm on a Saturday night in September and that would accept a small party of about 40 people. But after our outstanding experience in terms of food, service and ambiance we could not have made a better choice. The bride, the groom and our guest were very impressed with the whole experience.
Nonna Citi Cucina offers two banquet rooms (the Party Room and the Tavern Room) and a Main dining room. A smaller Tavern Room holds up to 35 people while the and larger Party Room holds up to 55 people. These two banquet rooms have a divider between them that can removed to support 80 to 95 people. The main dinning room can hold up to 125 people. We reserved the Party Room for our wedding reception and it was set up to accommodate 52 people on the day of our event.
The decor of Nonna's is decorated like a Italian villa with lots of colorful artwork painted on the walls, dark brown wood columns and dark brown heavy curtains. There are 4 banquet meal choices for dinner – two Family Style meals and two a La Carte Package meals. The a La Carte Package meals are generally more expensive and offer a combination of sit down dinner for the main entree with family style appetizers and deserts. We choose the Classic Family Style which is the lower cost option ($39.95 + tax and gratuity on a Saturday) and offers a choice of two salads, two appetizers, two pasta dishes, two entrees and either a sampling of Nonna's homemade desserts or a custom cake. We found that this package offers well beyond the amount of food needed for our group. At the end of each course the servers collected the leftovers from each table for our family to take home in a collection of doggie bags. Servers were also willing to box up portions of the leftovers for others in our party to take home at our request. We very much appreciated this service.
Nonna's started the meal off with delicious, cut Italian bread and butter. Under the Classic Family style we requested Caesar Salad and Nonnas's salad (antipasto over a bed of lettuce) as our two salads; mozzarella and roasted peppers and meatball sliders as our two appetizers; Chicken Parmigiana and Salmon Nonnas as our two main entrees, Spaghetti with white Alfredo sauce and Filletto Pomoodoro (wide noddles with a crushed tomato sauce) as our two pastas and Nonna's homemade Italian deserts. Nonna's deserts are not made by Nonna's but ordered from La Dolce Bakery consisting of petits fours, cannolis, miniature eclairs and lemon squares. Soda, coffee, tea, water are available throughout the meal. I would say that the cut Italian bread, the Caesar Salad, the Meat ball sliders,the Chicken Parmigiana, the Salmon Nonna,s, the Filletto Pomodoro and the Nonna deserts were excellent. The Mozzarella and Peppers were also good but was better as a topping on the Nonna's salad than as a separate appetizer. The Fettuccine Alfredo was good but a little bland – though it did taste better with some Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top. The food was great and plentiful. Many of our guests did not pace themselves and ate too much of the bread and appetizers and could only sample the main entree and the deserts. Dinner was 3 hours long starting from about 7:30PM (most of our party arrived late) and ending at 10:30 pm with a 30 min break for a champagne toast and to play a group game. Background music played throughout the restaurant was R&B, but it can be turned down in the Party room so you can provide your own background music. You also have the option of bringing your own cake in additional to Nonna's deserts.
For alcoholic drinks they offer options for opening a bar tab to be paid by the host, but we decided that the guest should pay for their own drinks. The bar is very close to the banquet room so this is convenient to do. For children (5 to 10 years old) they offer the Classic Family Style meals for half price. But, for our children their parents ordered off the restaurant children menu which was cheaper at about $10 each. They can accommodate those who have allergies. We had two in our party that were gluten free diners– one adult and one child. They provided plain grilled chicken cooked in olive oil and salt and gluten free pasta as a separate meal.
This was a wedding reception but we did not do any dancing, or have the big wedding cake or throwing the garter. But we did do the toast. For an additional $3 a person we ordered a champagne toast. We coordinated with the servers so the toast would be done between the first course and main courses of the meal. So the guest had bread and appetizers, then the servers cleared away the plates, brought in champagne in glasses, shut off the background music playing in the banquet room and closed the doors to the banquet room to make it quiet during the toast.
We also played a short game similar to the Newly Wed Game where we asked the bride and groom questions – like where was your first date, what destination would your spouse say he or she would love to visit, etc.
To make arrangements for the banquet it did take few phone calls to organize the event and one visit prior to the dinner to see the room. During the visit we also bought food from the restaurant's take out menu to sample their food prior to committing. We needed to call to ask questions and Nonnas would call us back with suggestions to help organize the affair. We got to meet/speak with Joe the owner, Sarah the banquet manager and Cassandra who helped us through this process. We really appreciate their calls back with additional suggestions in terms of room layout especially since we were adjusting our room count and arrangement up to the morning of the reception. On the day of event, the servers (I think their names were Joe and Mike) really hustled to meet our needs. They were very accommodating.
The only issues we had with our event were
1) With music in the Party room turned off and its doors closed there was still considerable noise from the other banquet room next door which had a birthday party going on.
2) Saturday nights are very busy and parking spots at the restaurant can be difficult to find. They can also use more lighting in the parking lot at night – specifically in the areas behind the restaurant.
3) BEWARE Nonna's list their address as 190 US 9 North in Englishtown, NJ. Google maps does find it at that location. However my Magellan GPS took me to a different location with that address. I had to set my GPS to 190 US 9 North, Marlboro, NJ to reach the correct location. Make sure that your GPS is taking you to a location just South of Rt 520, Newman Spring Road and North of Union Hill Road to be sure you are going to the correct location on US 9 North.
3) With seating for 52 people - close to the max of 55 for that room – spacing between some tables were little tight. This was mostly caused by how we requested the room to be set up for a wedding reception which varies from Nonna's suggested table plan. The restaurant did contact us with some suggestions to help alleviate this problem, but we wanted to maintain our arrangement and Nonna's honored our request. All did go well with our event.
NOTE: To help with planning table arrangements, Nonna's does offer a diagram with a suggested seating plan for the Party room on their Private Party menu handout and on their web site. The Party room works bests with five tables in the room. Nonna's recommends keeping the two tables in the middle of the room with no more than 8 people and all other tables with no more than 12 people. In our arrangement we requested those two guest tables in the middle be set up for 9 and 10 people, the other two guest tables at 12 and 14 people and our bridal table had just 7 people - which is 5 people less than the recommended by Nonna's. So all of our four guest tables were longer than Nonna's recommendation. This room could handle 55 people with adequate spacing when Nonna's suggested table layout is followed.
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