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Lasagna @ Librettis – Orange, NJ

This list is close to my Italian-American heart. Half of my great-grandparents emigrated from Southern Italy (Avellino and Calabria) in the 1890s, passing through Ellis Island and settling in New Jersey via the Pittston, PA coal mines. Authentic Italian for me is red sauce and pasta Italian, not white sauce and risotto.

My favorite dishes growing up: lasagna, braciole and mussels in spicy tomato sauce. Now I appreciate bistecca alla fiorentina, osso bucco and ricotta gnocchi.

Spirito’s – Elizabeth, NJ

In an authentic New Jersey Italian restaurant, somebody should be speaking Italian, at least one of the waiters or bartenders should be over 60, and a few of the customers should be dead-on Sopranos casting-call types.

Pasta Putanesca @ Libretti’s – Orange, NJ

Don’t see your favorite Italian? Share yours. I’ll add the most popular to the list, and to the map. Looking for New Jersey’s best pizza?


Best Italian Food in New Jersey
Where to Find the Best Italian Food?


22 Responses to “Italian”

  1. Anthony says:

    Not really – though you can find longstanding Italian restaurants all over the state. Most urban areas of New Jersey had significant Italian-born immigrant communities in the first half of the twentieth century. Neighborhoods like Chambersburg (Trenton) and the Ironbound (Newark) would have been considered “Little Italy”s then. Today, newer immigrants from other countries have moved into many of these neighborhoods.

  2. Gn Jersey says:


    Is there any place in Jersey that would be considered like a “Little Italy?”


  3. Sharyn says:

    The best pizza and Italian food in New Jersey is at Patsy’s Tavern, 7th Avenue and E17th St. in Paterson.

  4. In my opinion the best Italian Restaurant on Route 130 in Mercer County. This restaurant consistently delivers high quality dishes. The desserts are homemade on-site – YUM. Your readers will not be disappointed!

  5. Provenzano says:

    Il cibo a Queen Margherita in Nutley e’ molto bene! La Pasta, La Pizza, il pesce e’ tutto bene

  6. Anthony says:

    Thanks for the tip – always looking for new spots to try. There are so many decent Italian restaurants in Jersey, it’s tough to keep the list manageable.

  7. Many of the restaurants you have listed I have been to and they are seriously inferior to Rosie’s Trattoria in Randolph. I’m very surprised that it is missing from your list. The food is very upscale italian done in a very friendly informal atmosphere. I’ve been going there for years, and happily drive the 1/2 hour it takes me to get there every month or so. Please consider checking them out!

  8. Meade says:

    There should be a reference to ethnic restaurants that cater. This would be very helpful. My favorite is Joe Leone’s in Pt. Pleasant and his severall locations. He recently expanded and opened a new store in Pt. Pleasant by Stop & Shop and Hoffman’s Icecream. Easily one of the best Italian speciality stores in NJ.

  9. Teresa says:

    As a suggestion you should try Giulio’s Pizzeria in Dunellen, NJ
    it’s a nice italian family oriented restaurant with great food and at a nice price too!! a must try Penne alla Vodka or Chicken Francese

  10. Anthony says:

    My Grandfather used to take me to Marco Polo. I haven’t been in a long time. I see they get mixed reviews these days – have you been recently?

  11. meade says:

    I think Maco Polo in Summit should be featured. They are a landmark. They have been in Summit since the ’30’s and have an excellent menu. The canneloni is excellent. I used to go in the Seventies when they had live entertainment. They used to have a combo called Jon & Elaine. Jon would play trumpet and piano and Elaine would sing. I ran into them at a wedding a few years back. Good family restaurant/many good memories.

  12. meade says:

    My barber Tom owns Bella Sogno in Bradley Beach. They are rated well and have a good Zagat rating. Their website is Reservations are suggested.

  13. Anthony says:

    Meade – I’m working on the burger category. For now, check out “Burgers” in the search box. Bobby’s Burger Palace is on the map.

  14. Anthony says:

    They’re not featured categories yet, but there are two Greek restaurants and eleven Korean places on the map so far. (Use the search box for the full list of ethnic cuisines.)

  15. Anthony says:

    Many people like Pete & Elda’s. For me, the crust is way too thin. That’s why it’s in my “Didn’t Like It, But You Might” category over on the Pizza list.

  16. meade says:

    Was also wondering the best place to get a hamburger by the Shore. The best hamburger I ever had was a Santa Fe burger at Bobby’s Burger Palace at the Freehold Mall. This is owned by chef Bobby Flay.

  17. meade says:

    Was hoping someone could post a thread for good Greek food and Korean. My favorite Asian Food is the Noodle House in the Borgata in Atlantic City. They have a great variety and really good cimchee(spelling?)

  18. meade says:

    Pete & Elda’s in Neptune City consistently wins New Jersey Monthly Magazine’s best pizza award. They have the best thin crust pizza at the Jersey Shore. Not to be missed. I don’t know why it was left off the list.

  19. Anthony says:

    Usually from the box (Ronzoni) growing up, but on special occasions, my Mom would break out the pasta maker and press out her own fresh egg pasta, leaving it to dry on towels on the kitchen table.

  20. Jay F says:

    You say your Italian is red sauce and pasta. That sounds very much like my grandmother’s next door neighbor when I was growing up in Plainfield. I think, but I’m not sure, that she was from Naples. Anyway, I wonder if your mother ever made her own egg pasta, or was it always from the box.


  21. Catherine says:

    Check out Luce on Bloomfield Avenue in Caldwell AND Russillo’s on Bloomfield Ave in West Caldwell – both totally YUMMER!