Nutley, NJ 07042
- Cost: $$
- Credit Cards: All Major
- Alcohol: BYO
- Parking: Street, Metered
- Take Out: Yes
January 25, 2014
This storefront restaurant is located on a commercial stretch of Nutley’s Franklin Avenue. From the potbellied Italian chef statue out front to the pictures of Frank Sinatra in the dining room, Michael’s Pastaria has all the requisite atmospheric elements for an Italian-American spot in Jersey. There is a small dining room with red checkered tablecloths. Stacks of pizza boxes sit across from the pizza counter. On a Friday night, the place was bustling, filled with families in the dining room and a steady stream of pizzas heading out the door.
The food and service match the ambience. Fresh garlic knots arrive in the bread basket. The menu includes all the Italian-American basics – clams oreganata, pasta fagioli, baked ziti, ravioli, spaghetti carbonara, shrimp scampi, chicken marsala, and veal piccatta, for example. For an appetizer, try the fried calamari with an excellent spicy marinara sauce. After that, we went straight for the pizza, but the dinner plates that went by looked good. This also a place for Italian subs and sandwiches.
Michael’s gets strong reviews for its thin crust pizza. I’d call the crust here somewhere between a thin crust bar pie and your standard Jersey-style pie. The edge has some chew and the crust is substantial enough to fold easily. There is minimal char underneath from the gas-fired ovens; the crust is a bit on the oily side. I liked the sauce, which isn’t too sweet. Overall, a decent pizza. We enjoyed the Margherita with anchovies. There are plenty of toppings to choose from, and specialty pies like Nicky Boy’s Italian Style Hot Dog, with potato, peppers, onions and hotdogs (scary!), and the Zingada, with pepperoni, mushroom, sausage, meatball, and hot cherry peppers (something I’d try.)
Michael’s is a family-owned place with lots of regulars. Don’t fret – the servers are very friendly, even when the place is busy, and you will be welcomed with open arms.