Each plate of pasta at Theresa's Restaurant is a work of in-house craftsmanship made daily by dedicated chefs. This devotion to fresh ingredients is evident in the ravioli, which changes to suit the season, and in several seafood entrees, which need to be eaten immediately lest sharks track the scent of fish onto land. Meats such as steak and veal headline other main dishes, which waiters set on white tablecloths in a dining room filled with natural light. For dessert, a serving of homemade banana bread pudding—garnished with cinnamon gelato and caramel sauce—pairs well with a hot drink from the cappuccino and espresso bar.
Large pots regularly crowd the burners in Vinhus Restaurant & Lounge’s kitchen. A peek into the cauldrons reveals bubbling mixtures of seafood suggestive of what might happen if chefs strolled through a fish market and scooped up a few things from every stand—one combinations in particular pairs lobster, clams, and shrimp with a choice of green or red sauce.
These seafood surfeits belong to a menu inspired by Portugal’s seafaring traditions, complete with dishes such as grilled cod with skinned potato chunks, roasted peppers, and onions. The menu reaches east, as well, pulling flavors from Spain, France, Italy, and the Mediterranean into dishes such as veal marsala or a seafood plate whose lobster comes accented with chorizo, chicken, and saffron rice.
The fresh seafood and sizzling steaks perfume a dining room whose wooden floors and taupe-colored walls set the stage for decor including neatly arranged lighting fixtures, attractive artwork, and verdant foliage. Before or after meals, guests can retreat to the lounge, where patrons sip spirited beverages beneath a slanted ceiling that offers its protection to the room’s roaring fireplace.
A list of nearly 70 wines would be reason enough to visit The Vintage Italian Restaurant, but the housemade pasta, ravioli, sausage, and gnocchi give the bottles of red and white a run for their money. The Pollo Vintage pairs chicken breast with Sicilian artichoke hearts, sausage, and sun-dried tomatoes, and several of the restaurant's hearty pasta dishes can be made with whole wheat or gluten-free pastas.
Couples on dates and families sharing special meals gather at Luciano's Italian Ristorante & Lounge, a 200-seat eatery that serves classic pastas, meaty entrees, and zesty seafood dishes. To accommodate the dietary needs of their many diners, chefs are able to prepare any pasta dish without gluten by swapping in wheatless ravioli, gemelli, spaghetti, or penne. Regulars and New York Times critics alike rave about the sicilian braised short ribs and pan-seared scallops, which are both featured on the chef's tasting menu as well as the a la carte. The spacious restaurant fosters an upscale supper club ambience, with a large fireplace at one end of the dining room and impressive wine racks displaying an ample stock of bottles. Located walking distance from Rahway Station and Union County Performing Arts Center, Luciano's boasts a convenient spot for a pre-theater dinner or post-train heist cocktails.
Under the warm glow of crystal chandeliers in Ill Amici Ristorante’s elegant dining room, the Lavorato family adorns tabletops with expertly prepared fare from the northern and southern regions of Italy and ambrosial vino from an extensive wine list. Owner and executive chef Giovanni Lavorato began his culinary training in Italy at the age of 14, has cooked all over Europe and North America, and has racked up numerous awards, including Man of the Year in 1995 by Il Ponte Italo-Americano international cultural magazine. The recently renovated dining room charms patrons with classy Old-World decor and a deficiency of singing moose heads, and the Venetian-style lounge and spacious banquet hall provide accommodations for sophisticated revelry.
The front counter at Little Italy showcases the spectacular array of pizzas that the skilled chefs whip up back in the kitchen—thin-crust pizzas lined with gooey circles of mozzarella, deep-dish pizzas dotted with sausage, and square-shaped pizzas decorated in slender slices of lemon. Once pizzas are showered in combinations of vegetables, seafood, or meat, and loaded into the oven, chefs turn their attention to other Italian specialties—cheesy chicken parmigiana, crunchy Italian-style subs, and plump calzones.
Customers split orders of wings out in the warm dining room, where soft, white curtains surround large, light-baiting windows. Others opt for delivery services, preferring to enjoy meals in the comfort of their own home or the fancy bank lobby they like to pretend is their home.