At Biagio’s Ristorante, chef Jimmy Perides bakes individual pans of housemade lasagna and tosses imported and gluten-free pastas that earned the restaurant its Zagat rating. He puts his own mark on the menu with the steak ala chef, a new york sirloin steak crowned with cherry peppers, roasted garlic, and shitake mushrooms. Servers deliver wines from a selection of 50 handpicked bottles, which are often uncorked at seasonal tastings or splashed around at annual “wine fights.” The restaurant’s robust wine collection won it a 2010 Wine Spectator Award of Excellence. A gurgling rock fountain stands at the entrance of the restaurant, welcoming patrons into the main dining area and adjacent wine room, and a flickering fireplace casts a warm glow over terracotta walls.
Inside the Garden State Plaza mall lies a gateway to the past, where flickering flames illuminate the charred interior of an oak-burning pizza oven, and the aroma of bubbling sauce made with freshly crushed tomatoes mixes with wisps of Frank Sinatra's silky voice. The charm that surrounds the rituals of Italian cooking drifts into Papa Razzi's dining room from an open-air kitchen, where cooks bustle around steaming pots of pasta. The culinarians use only fresh and imported ingredients when cooking, just as Old-World chefs did before they took jobs fixing the cleaver-wielding robots that would replace them.
Behind a wood-accented, 15-foot bar, mixologists sling a list of libations that includes mimosas, sangria, and wines selected to complement meals. In the dining room, fresh flowers sit atop white tablecloths, and celebrity photographs line the walls, reminding guests of treasured nuggets of pop culture.
The seasoned chefs at Dinallo’s Restaurant craft authentic, classic Italian dishes from fresh ingredients. Gastronomical expeditions can begin with a pit stop at the full bar before sampling the spiedini alla romana, a cheesy bread served with butter and anchovy sauce ($9). The menu runs the gamut from traditional, hearty eats, such as the scaloppine di vitello al marsala ($24), to lighter fare, such as the insalata di rucola, with Gaeta olives, goat cheese, and roasted peppers ($9). The linguine con salsiccie gives guests the chance to enjoy a satisfying serpentine mix of Italian sausage and tomato sauce while pilfering bites from fellow diners' plates with a noodle lasso ($16). Classic white tablecloths, polished wood paneling, and wood floors set the scene for pescatorialists to appreciate their salmone alla griglia ($21).
Que Pasta's chefs have a simple recipe for success?using high-quality Durham flour, they create their own fresh pastas every morning. The ravioli, gnocchi, penne, and tortellini are created in small batches to ensure quality, and they go on to support housemade sauces ranging from sweet brown sherry sauce to spicy cream of leek sauce. They also might hoist a seafood medley, pan-seared chicken, or tender veal.
Those who wish to take the pasta creations home don't even have to attempt to leave any noodles on their plates?Que Pasta actually sells the housemade pastas for people to make at home. These include a selection of seasonal pastas, such as ravioli stuffed with roasted turkey, cranberries, and walnuts, and pumpkin ravioli with tiny candles inside. In addition to a full menu, Que Pasta now serves wine and beer.