It’s no secret that New Jersey is loaded with Italian influence at every turn. Thanks to the tiny state’s thriving Italian population largely developed in the early 1900’s, it’s not hard to find great Italian restaurants here. From hole in the wall eateries that look like a scene from Goodfellas to swanky upscale establishments, New Jersey has something for everyone. Whether you’re a local or just visiting, these restaurants have you in mind. Here are the 25 best Italian restaurants in New Jersey.
25 Best Italian Restaurants in New Jersey
*As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to evolve, please double-check with restaurants’ current guidelines for dining.
When it comes to authentic Italian food in a warm setting, Paisano’s is the place to be. St in the heart of downtown Rutherford, Paisano’s has been a family operated favourite since ’89. Specializing in fares from Northern and Southern Italy, there’s something for everyone. Be sure to load up on their New Zealand mussels in marinara or cajun calamari with balsamic glaze. They also offer a wide range of events like comedy nights and occasional brunches that only add to the lively atmosphere.
This cosy BYOB Italian joint is the epitome of old school Italian dining. Family owned and operated Gianna’s managed to get off the ground during the pandemic and has dealt with its fair share of hurdles since. This small family eatery is worth it not just for their incredible staff and down-home atmosphere, but of course, the food. Eat your heart out with their eggplant siciliano and treat your tastebuds to a big plate of the famous pappardelle Giovanni. Don’t skimp on the homemade tiramisu either. Trust us.
With a catchphrase like “Italian without borders,” you know you’re bound for a good meal at Fascino. This elegant Italian eatery is famous for its world-class hospitality and sophisticated yet warm atmosphere. Each one of the menu items is made with expert hands, but the real star of the show is the pasta. Be sure to try Fascino’s squid ink pappardelle with octopus and crab ragu and ask for a wine pairing.
For nearly 30 years, Giumarellos has set the bar for great Italian food in The Garden State. Here you’ll find generations-old recipes steeped in the rich culture and traditions of Northern Italy. Be sure to load up on the gnocchi bolognese and see if you can grab a table on Monday for their legendary “Mussel Mondays.”
Nobody does rustic, romantic, traditional Italian fare like Luca’s Ristorante in Somerset. From the bruschetta right on to the mareterra veal tenderloin and decadent tiramisu, you can’t go wrong with either of their menu items. Be sure to treat yourself to their crunchy calamari in spicy tomato sauce and seal the meal with an excellent wine pairing.
Quaint, charming and intimate are just a few words to describe Zeppoli. This 35 seat BYOB Italian eatery is the epitome of old school Italian dining. They serve a wide range of Italian food, but their focus lies on Sicilian fare. Take your pick from any of their melt-in-your-mouth menu items that will transport you right to the heart of Palermo. We recommend the pollo di Sicani followed by a cannoli or two.
Warm romantic atmosphere, live piano music and fine Italian food are just a few things to look forward to at Il Capriccio. Opened in ’76 by Italian husband/wife duo Antonio and Clara Grande, the two bring Italian cuisine to life with their passion for traditional gourmet food. Start your meal with their famous Judith Point calamari affogati flavoured with tomato, basil and English peas. Then work on to the traditional veal Milanese. Whatever you do, though, don’t forget dessert. They’ve got all your faves like tortino, tiramisu, crostata di pera and more gelato than you can imagine.
Undici is just about as ancient Tuscany as it gets. Constructed from centuries-old stone, wood and plaster to model a Tuscan farmhouse, Undici is the real deal. Take your pick from any of their drool-worthy menu items like the mafaldine bolognese pasta made with slow-cooked veal, beef and pork. Or how about the mouth-watering chitarra papalina with cremini mushrooms and prosciutto di parma? Either way, you’ll be a regular in no time.
Di Paolo’s Italian Ristorante is the fine dining Italian gem you’ve been looking for. This South New Jersey fave is known for their stellar hospitality, tasty seafood and steak meals and incredible wine lineup. Take your pick from any of their time-tested family recipes like the veal osso bucco or the delectable crespelle soup.
Lefty’s in Paterson is the ultimate place to get your stromboli, calzone or pizza fix. This casual Italian joint has all your favourite crusty delights from personal pizzas to jumbo Sicilian style pizzas. Be sure to try the famous “drunken Grandma pizza” made with vodka sauce, fresh mozzarella, basil, olive oil and more. Don’t leave without a classic tartufo either.
Luigi’s is the brainchild of Puglia born chef Luigi Viola. In the 20+ years that this cosy Italian eatery has been open, he’s been dedicated to bringing the best of rustic Italian cuisine to New Jersey. Treat yourself to any of the life-changing antipasti such as the congole oreganata or the polenta con porcini before moving on to the pastas. We recommend the pappardelle ai formaggio or the lobster ravioli for a meal you won’t forget anytime soon. Don’t forget to ask for a wine selection to accompany your meal.
Matthew’s is everyone’s favourite community, Italian joint. Here you’ll find a warm and welcoming atmosphere alongside all your Italian faves. Their extensive menu items are loaded with classics like crisped-to-perfection calamari and white clam linguini. See if you can reserve a table on Sunday’s when they whip up their famous “Sunday sauce.” We’re talkin’ slow-simmered country style ribs, spicy meatballs and sausage slopped over fresh rigatoni.
Vic’s takes thin crust pizza to the next level. Since 1947, this traditional family restaurant has been serving up the absolute best paper-thin pies around. All of their sauces and dough are homemade, too. Load up on a classic cheese pizza or spruce it up with some sausage and green peppers. Don’t forget an app to get you started, either. We recommend the calamari marinara, shrimp cocktail or mozzarella sticks.
Set in a renovated carriage house, Amarone Ristorante is the perfect setting for a rustic Italian meal that sings a song of the old days. Amarone Ristorante is famous for being one of the best Italian spots in New Jersey for its excellent selection of traditional Northern Italian fares. From the farfalle al salmone to the goat cheese salad and pollo margherita, each dish is more delectable than the last. Be sure to order a glass or bottle from their extensive wine list to seal the deal.
Jozanna’s the casual neighbourhood Italian eatery of your dreams. This family-owned business prides themselves on using only the freshest ingredients to bring together your favourite Italian dishes. The real highlight, however, is the atmosphere. At Jozanna’s, everyone is undoubtedly treated like family. Feast on their three-way parmigiana made with veal, chicken and eggplant smothered in mozzarella and tomato sauce and some red wine.
Seafood is the name of the game at this Somerville favourite. Run by Chef Filippo Russo who was brought up in Siciliy and spent his days on the water fishing with his father, you can rest assured you’ll be served the absolute best Mediterranean seafood here. Delight your taste buds with an order of the pesce in caprione made with whiting fillets topped with caramelized onions and red wine sauce. Then treat yourself to an order of the soglila abbottonata made with wild flounder, plum tomatoes, Parmigiano and olives.
White table cloths dotted with Italian classics and service with a smile are a few things to look forward to here. Il Michelangelo Italian Restaurant is run by the Cascio family who prides themselves on bringing the very best of their Sicilian heritage to your table. Chow down on some of their famous Sicilian rice balls before working your way down the menu. Additionally, we recommend an order of the homemade pappardelle smothered in the truffle cream sauce with a bold wine pairing.
Sofia’s is one of the best Italian restaurants in New Jersey for its homey and casual atmosphere. In addition to an environment that is sophisticated yet welcoming, the food is out of this world. Go to town on their house speciality, “hotsy-totsy shrimp” and then fill up on some lobster ravioli or penne ala vodka for the meal of your life.
La Fiamma screams classic Italian dining with its exposed brick, rustic fixtures and white tablecloths. Whether you opt for the sauteed shrimp in marinara as a starter alongside some cheese tortellini or go for a pasta feast, it won’t be hard to see why La Fiamma is one of the best Italian restaurants in the state. Treat yourself to a classic rigatoni bolognese or a linguini con vongole straight from the sea, either way, you’ll be back for more.
This lowkey no-frills eatery is one of the best in The Garden State for its authentic Italian bites and homey atmosphere. Belmont Tavern is cash only, family-run and always delicious, you can’t go wrong with any of their menu items. We recommend starting off with the spaghetti Juliano made with hot shrimp, scungilli and clams or the classic pork chops pizzaiola. Don’t forget a pitcher of wine to seal the deal.
For over 40 years, Bella Italia Restaurant has been the place to be for your fave traditional Italian dishes. Here you’ll find the perfect blend of banquet-style dining in addition to warm hospitality and elegant Mediterranean bites. They offer a vast range of Italian classics from clams oreganate right on to chicken cacciatore and gnocchi bolognese. Be sure to try their famous veal and pepper cacciatore to be transported right to the heart of Italy.
This swanky Italian eatery complete with an extensive wine list and candlelit tables is one of the best Italian restaurants in New Jersey. At Bottagra they pride themselves on traditional, simple Italian food that’s never lacking in flavour. Whether you opt for the Sicilian arancini, linguini vongole, beef carpaccio or penne Toscana, you’ll be raving for days.
If you’re looking for locally sourced Italian fare that celebrates old traditions in a modern setting, Viaggio has you covered. This Tuscan farmhouse-esque eatery is famous for its farm to table dishes in addition to its vibrant modern setting that just can’t be beat. Feast on a helping of any of the antipasti from charred octopus and then the comforting butternut squash soup. Afterwards, load up on the pappardelle “alla mema” made with sweet sausage and sugo. Lastly, don’t forget to top it off with their legendary affogato made with caramel gelato, hazelnuts and biscotti.
Polipo al salmoriglio, ravioli all aragosta and guazetto allo scglio, oh my! Trattoria La Sorrentina is one of the best around when it comes to Italian seafood that is fresh, authentic and full of flavour start to finish. They offer a wide variety of meat and vegetarian options, but we recommend their seafood picks for an unforgettable meal. Start with the carpaccio di polipo, thin slivers of octopus smothered in lemon and olive oil and then head on to the pasta.
Last but not least, Cafe Venezia takes Mediterranian hospitality next level with their warm atmosphere and classic Italian dishes. Obviously as the name suggests, this cosy BYOB joint is known for their unforgettable Venetian fares that will have you raving for days. Take your pick from their vongole veraci alla posilipo or calamari Venezia to start. Then head on to the rigatoni Venezia or fusilli Mama Mia. Without a doubt, you’ll be a regular in no time.