Wall sconces cast an orange glow on Basilico’s exposed-brick walls, creating a soothing atmosphere as guests munch on authentic, lovingly crafted Italian dishes. After graduating from the Hotel Management School in Alassio, Italy, owners Mario DeMarco and Angelo Delbecchi journeyed to Millburn to showcase their culinary prowess and inhuman ability to squeeze wheat flour so hard that it transforms into pasta. Patrons can sample dishes such as hand-tucked ravioli with porcini mushrooms drenched in a walnut-and-white-truffle sauce, and braised veal shank coupled with homemade fettuccine. In warmer months, guests can nosh on freshly handmade pastas or grilled skirt steaks out on the patio.
At Il Vicolo Ristorante, Italian tradition comes above all else—a mantra the kitchen staffers demonstrate by making fresh mozzarella in-house. The fruits of their labor help create the cozy flavors of the menu’s comfort foods, bolstered by fresh vegetables and piping-hot sauces. One such sauce, the tomato basil, lends a bit of savory tang to the ravioli’s creamy filling of ricotta and pecorino cheeses, and a sherry sauce highlights the sweetness of the pollo danzis' pears and sun-dried cranberries. These dishes arrive at tables amid a rustic setting in the dining room. Faux-textured walls, leafy potted plants, and paintings of Venetian waterways and Mediterranean beaches emphasize the eatery’s homespun, Old-World charm and the suitability of the walls for hanging pictures. At its core, Il Vicolo Ristorante strives for familiarity by bringing both the spirit and the flavors of the Mediterranean to the mid-Atlantic.
Nestled in an eatery near the South Orange Performing Arts Center, Cafe Arugula's chefs curate lunch and dinner menus packed with savory Italian eats doled out in a dining room that seats up to 60. Afternoon eaters can sidle up to a plating of penne toscana, nested in a bologense-based sauce swimming with mushrooms, peas, and onions ($10.95), or chomp into a protein-packed italian hero sandwich layered in ham, salami, and provolone cheese ($7.95). The restaurant's rack of baby lambs ($29.95) tantalizes evening eaters' taste buds with an entourage of sautéed spinach and garlic mashed potatoes. Instead of hailing the next food truck headed toward the coast, guests can settle for the seafood sampler ($18.95), which serves up a school of ocean delicacies, including shrimp, oysters, and clams. Round out a savory dinner with Cafe Arugula's traditional Italian desserts, such as house-made gelato sundaes ($6.95+) and rich chocolate velvet ($5.95) oozing with enough ganache to keep mouths from screaming out the lyrics to "On The Good Ship Lollipop."
For more than half a century, Starlite Restaurant & Pizza has filled bellies with specialty pizzas, fresh seafood, and hearty Italian classics. Slices of pizza in the classic thin-crust style grow even more appetizing with the addition of gourmet touches and combinations, such as shrimp and arugula, tomatoes and basil, savory pesto, and vodka sauce. The menu's impressive seafood section features dishes as varied as shrimp scampi with roasted garlic, mussels marinara over linguine, and broiled salmon.
At his namesake restaurant, Chef Ricci prepares his Italian cuisine from the highest-quality ingredients available using authentic cooking techniques. He packs each handcrafted lunch and dinner dish with flavor, from crabmeat-stuffed portobello mushrooms and homemade cavatelli to any of the chef's special entrees, such as veal florentine or the broccoli rabe tossed with shrimp or sausage by Leonardo da Vinci’s ghost. For hand-held eats, Ricci stacks a variety of hot and cold sandwiches, which pair such meats as genoa salami and prosciutto with the distinct flavors of imported sharp provolone and roasted red peppers.
At L'Allegria, founders Saverio and Giovanni Allocca seek to transport diners to an al fresco Mediterranean courtyard with their authentic cuisine and decor that evokes a breezy villa. The menu brims with classic italian pastas and succulent veal dishes, made with hormone-free meats. Extensive wine lists complement entrees with dozens of varietals from Italy and California.
Patrons sit upon floral-patterned chairs in the high-ceilinged dining room, amid beige walls and exposed brick. At times, a pianist's melodies reverberate throughout the eatery, relaxing diners and reminding the walls' paintings of a simpler time when they were young, impressionable canvases.