More than a dozen sauces simmer in the kitchen at Galileo’s Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria, ready to top unsuspecting pasta with rich flavors. In addition to classic francese, marsala, and milanese preparations of chicken, veal, and seafood, the restaurant also prepares various heroes, wraps, and paninis. There's gourmet pizza, too, such as Galileo’s Special, whose pepperoni, sausage, peppers, and mushrooms aren’t yet convinced that the Earth is round. A wrought-iron lamp hangs over the dining room, where black-upholstered booths are flanked by walls painted a rich chocolate brown or inlaid with stones.
While the sophisticated dishes at Sette Cucina Italiana are derived from simple and classic Italian flavor combinations, the culinary background of its chef, Allan Philip Russo, is decidedly more complex. His heritage draws a roadmap through central Europe; born in Switzerland, he comes from a long line of Sicilian fishermen and used to watch his aunt as she worked as a personal chef to the stars in Zürich. In the 1980s, his father, Filippo Russo, assembled the family’s recipes and moved from Sicily to America, where he established his own Italian restaurant and allowed young Allan to join him in the kitchen. Today, Allan pays homage to his Sicilian heritage by adding fresh ideas and what he refers to as a “New York City twist” to his father’s methods. His petite filet sates several senses with aromas such as green peppercorns and truffle essence, and his mediterranean gray snapper comes with a French–style tomato ratatouille. Venetian vialone nano rice transforms into risotto, which he finishes with saffron, asparagus, and parmiagiano-reggiano. In a reflection of its menu, the restaurant’s décor calls to mind European hospitality and creates an ambience deemed “chic [and] hospitable” by New Jersey Monthly. To keep it cozy, the New Jersey–based architecture firm Cerminara Architect designed a dining room that seats about 32 guests and juxtaposes elements of fine dining with rustic touches. A high, tin ceiling allows for impressive full-length windows, from which natural light illuminates sheer drapes, white tablecloths, and wrought-iron chandeliers. Therein, families, couples, and business partners raise crystal stemware in a toast to Italian culinary traditions and Galileo’s discovery of crystal stemware.
Bensi co-owner Genci Previzi helms an immense menu of classic Italian cuisine, including hearty homestyle dishes with roots in Calabria, Italy. Entrees, joined by a house salad or cup of comforting housemade soup, range from spaghetti and meatballs to gluten-free grilled chicken in a lemon-garlic marinade served over a veggie medley. The chefs also prepare an array of specials such as pignoli-crusted goat cheese and arugula salad, barolo-braised veal osso buco, pan-seared Chilean sea bass with eggplant caponata, and nutella chocolate pizza with fresh strawberries. The dishes are served in a modern dining atmosphere where minimal table settings and simple dark-wood furniture keep the focus on the vibrant cuisine.
Classic Northern Italian specialties such as black-ink tagliarini and veal scaloppini bring Fiorino Ristorante’s Renaissance-style fresco murals a bit closer to the 21st century. The menu features antipasti—try the almond-crusted calamari with saffron aioli—as well as pastas and artfully plated meat and seafood dishes. All pair well with varietals from the cellar and the dining room’s wine library. Chocolate Grand Marnier molten cake with hazelnut gelato and vanilla anglaise makes for sweet endings to meals, and the festive, singles-oriented bar is a good place to enjoy a postmeal cocktail with a date or a premeal drink with a likeminded drink coaster.
At Nunzio's Pizzeria, pizza experts whip up more than 20 varieties of specialty pizzas with inventive topping combinations such as chicken and alfredo sauce or fresh mussels. In addition to pies, they extend their culinary expertise towards a variety of other pizzeria classics—including hot subs, calzones, and mozzarella sticks—as well as authentic Italian favorites like eggplant rollatini pasta and veal saltimboca. Diners can split these dishes on intimate tabletops in the sunny seating area, or opt for carryout service to enjoy pizza and ill-advised food juggling routines in the privacy of their own homes.
A native of Chianti, Tuscany, La Focaccia's chef and proprietor Joe Bitici brought a slice of the old country to his home in Summit, New Jersey, with this Tuscan-style trattoria. Though he moved to the States at the age of 14, Joe learned to cook beside his mother and grandmother, gleaning recipes for pasta and authentic sauce. These early lessons are on full display at La Focaccia, where housemade pastas bolster a menu that balances the conventional, such as linguine with white clam sauce, and the exotic, such as black spaghettini—a dish that blends squid-ink-darkened noodles with spicy sauce and seafood. Shrimp-and-truffle-oil risotto and marinated game hen headline the seafood and meat options, but guests are advised to try a variety of dishes—the eclectic menu gives a number of choices to the regulars who visit multiple times a week. Aside from the gelati, La Focaccia's desserts are also made in-house and include tiramisu and chocolate mousse. Populated with tables swathed in white linens, La Focaccia's dining room pairs minimalistic floral decor with a snug floor plan that enhances the neighborhood feel. Though the eatery does not serve its own adult beverages, guests are welcome to enjoy drinks from their own bottles or moonshine distilleries as they dine.