Vivid Italian oil paintings adorn the walls of Milano Grille’s dining room; together with the crisp, white-clothed tables and the soft lights cast by hanging lamps, they create a facsimile of Italy on par with the plates of pasta and meat-based entrees to come. Servers’ heels click against the tile floor as they emerge from the kitchen carrying lunches of paninis, personal pizzas, and calzones or dinners of veal, chicken, and seafood. Though Milano Grille offers full delivery and catering, the restaurant lures guests in to its dining room with a BYOB policy that allows them to bring in their favorite bottle of wine or flask of virgin moonshine.
Like many chefs from Sicily, Filippo Russo learned to cook by emulating his mother's traditional recipes. But unlike most, he sometimes steps out of his kitchen to entertain diners with his singing and piano playing. At Da Filippo's, the musical chef delights taste buds as much as ears, serving up pastas, seafood, and house specialties. Braised baby octopus and savoy cabbage topped with shrimp highlight a selection of palate-priming appetizers. For the main course, diners can dig into dishes such as risotto with housemade sweet pork sausage and parmigiano reggiano cheese. The signature pasta con le sarde blends bucatini pasta with sardines, fennel, pine nuts, currants, and saffron.
For more than 55 years, the Verdicchio family has satisfied appetites for Italian fare with a menu of expertly crafted pizzas, sandwiches, pastas, and house-made sauces. Pies are selectively bred into a mouthwatering menagerie of red- and white-sauce specimens, such as the bacon-topped bianca romano ($10.50–$16.95) and the pleasantly pastoral garlic-and-basil pizza rustica ($9.75–$14.95). Sandwiches, pastas, and entrees—such as a tantalizing pollo valdostana ($15.95) served in a white-wine-and-cream sauce—grace plates with flavorful aplomb, and a full quiver of wine, beers, and coffee beverages eagerly awaits matchmaking with sought-after meals.
After honing their pizza-making craft at the helm of Paisano’s in Watchung, Greg Oliva and Jimmy Nelson opened the doors to Amici Pizzeria in Raritan, where they produce hand-tossed, crispy thin-crust pies crowned with savory tomato and white sauces. Familiar toppings of pepperoni, chicken, parmesan, and meatballs provision company pizza parties and little-league-baseball celebrations, while more exotic garnishes of broccoli raab, anchovies, and artichokes cater to refined palates and little-league-cricket celebrations. Hot subs filled with melted cheese and steak make for satisfying lunches, and feasts of baked ziti, mussels fra diavolo, and chicken marsala ensure homestyle warmth even on nights when you can’t cook.