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Spirito's -- Elizabeth

Wow! Loved it. The atmosphere, the food, the attitude. It's all there and it's all Jersey.

We had a two hour wait from the time I picked my brother up and waiting for our parents to arrive at Newark. We headed to Spirito's on the advice of a friend.

We got lost, called and the bartender gave us directions. We arrived and decided to eat in the bar. Baseball was on the tv and the locals were drinking beer and eating pies on a Sunday evening.

We ordered our beers. I got the ravioli and my bro got the chix parm with ravioli. The beers arrived along with Italian bread, but no butter. The waitress was a hoot. I bet you anything her name was Maria or Rose. At least in her late 60's and curt, at best. Honestly, I was a little scared to ask for butter.

When I finally got the nerve, she barked, "Ain't got it. Never had it. Not in 75 years."

But she said it with a smile.

I wasn't scared anymore. My asking for butter signaled that I wasn't a local. That and the fact that I said, "Hi, y'all!!!"

See, I was born in NYC, but moved when I was 4 to Louisiana. I have a little accent.

We waited in our green booth for our meals. This place opened in 1933 and I think everything's original. The bar, the tile floor, our waitress, our green painted booth with so many coats of paint that my brother said, "I think it's just layers and layers of paint holding the wooden booth together."

Our food arrived and it was hot. My plate had fluffy pillows of ricotta cheese at big as my palm. Huge, fluffy, delicate ravioli. The pasta was homemade. The sauce was simple, smooth and sweet. I loved it.

My bro's chix parm was HUGE! Three thin breasts covered in sauce and cheese. A.lot of food.

We got our leftovers in a box and a second beer each and sat and visited for a while. The waitress brought the bill and told us no rush. We were chatting and the bro offered to buy and took out his debit card to pay.

The waitress saw this and came running and barked, "No credit cards. Never took them. Not in 75 years."

We both looked at her.

"And no coffee either."

We just stared.

"No butter, no credit and no coffee. Not in 75 years."

Our bill was $48 for 4 beers and two entrees. We loved our meal and our waitress.

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  1. welcome to spiritos. growing up in lizabeth in the 60's this was the after little lague place to go. and yes the paint was green there was no butter and dad did not have a credit card if there were any

    1. You reminded me of something...I remember you would see folks who brought their own butter in. I used to go their once a week when we lived in the area, now rarely get to go. I'm so jealous, I could really go for a few of their ravioli right now!

      1. I was directed here in a reply from this board to my request for a place to eat while overnighting in Newark on my way out of the country. This is really a good local place and your description hits it perfectly. I had the "Veal Parm wit Ravs" as the bartender called it and it was excellent as well.

        1. After one bite you know this is AMAZING food!
          Yes, if you like butter on your bread, bring your own LOL

          1. Spirito's is the new kid in the neighborhood @ 75 years strong.

            Next time to complete your meal you need to walk down the block and around the corner for a real dessert treat @ Di Cosmo's Italian Ices.....@ 93 years strong.


            2 Replies
            1. re: fourunder

              jfood grew up on Spiritos and DeCosmos.

              He has a meeting in NJ on Tuesday and was thinking about a few dozen raviolis. Are they open for lunch?

              1. re: jfood

                Me too. Every week I'd be there with either my dad or my mom (divorced parents who loved to eat well), ordering the crisp veal cutlet and ravioli. I wish I could duplicate those ravioli at home? Anyone know the secret to those soft pillows or creaminess? JF- you know it's worth it to just stick around until they open and have dinner to satisfy your craving.

            2. They are not open for lunch during the week, 5PM.

              1. Updating after a few months … With some good friends, dined (uh, feasted) at Spirito's last eve. It hasn’t changed since I first started coming, 30 years ago … green and red decor, no table cloths, wait staff with an attitude (all NJ), table wine from a juice glass, bread – no butter, and the best homemade ravioli and sauce (uh, gravy)! The garlic salad is big enough for 4, I am still tasting and loving it today. What’s more, I’m ready to go back. Enjoy!

                Spirito's Restaurant
                714 3rd Ave, Elizabeth, NJ 07202

                4 Replies
                1. re: lorisueb

                  oh man. jfood has to figure out how to get there. too long not, too long not.

                  1. re: jfood

                    oh me too. I have no real reason to go down that way. Need to come up with one.

                    1. re: Jeffsayyes

                      The best darn garlic salad dressing on the planet...at least in the Spirito's world. Basically, iceberg lettuce, a few bits of tomato, maybe some crunch like celery and it's swimming in the garlic dressing. It's basic, but delicious....and everyone dining with you must eat it too so you're not the only one sweating garlic through your pores for days :)

                      Spirito's Restaurant
                      714 3rd Ave, Elizabeth, NJ 07202

                  2. RIP Mrs. Spirito

                    Sylvia Spirito | Visit Guest Book
                    Sylvia (nee D'Alessandro) Spirito, 90, passed away peacefully on Tuesday, May 3, 2011, at the Trinitas Regional Medical Center, Elizabeth, N.J. Relatives and friends are kindly invited to attend the funeral from the Petruccelli Funeral Home, 232 Christine St., Elizabeth, N.J., on Saturday, May 7, at 9:30 a.m., thence to St. Anthony's R.C. Church, Elizabeth, N.J., where at 10:30 a.m. a Funeral Mass will be offered. Interment will be in Rosedale Cemetery, Linden, N.J. Friends may call on Friday, May 6, from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. Mrs. Spirito was a lifelong resident of the city of Elizabeth. She was the former co-proprietor of Spirito's Restaurant, located in the Peterstown section of Elizabeth, from 1985 to 1996 with her late husband, Frank Spirito, and was the sole proprietor from 1996 to 2001. Mrs. Spirito was predeceased by her husband, Frank Spirito, who died in May 1996; her five brothers, Anthony (Tears) Guiliano, Vincent (Wings) Guiliano, Thomas (Gimps) D'Alessandro, Pasquale D'Alessandro and John D'Alessandro, and her sister, Raphaela DiMaio. She was the beloved mother of Beverly Anne Sporer, Gemma DeGregorio, Margo Berzito and Toni Peduto. She is also survived by two sisters, Anna DeMaio and Marie LaMorte; six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. In lieu of flowers, contributions in care of her memory may be made to the American Heart Association , 1 Union St., No. 301, Robbinsville, N.J. 08691-4183.

                    Spirito's Restaurant
                    714 3rd Ave, Elizabeth, NJ 07202

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: OGguy

                      Well that's sad. I need to go back and pay my respects by eating some of the lightest and fluffiest and tastiest raviolis on the planet.

                    2. I realize this is an old thread, but I just saw some comments on Yelp that mentioned that the way they make their ravioli had changed about a year ago...

                      It's probably been about 2 years since I've been to Spirito's. Has anyone visited in the last year or so? If I go back in a couple of weeks, will the ravioli be as wonderful as they'd always been in the past?

                      1. OK, we have been going to Spirito's since we were kids...now 67 yo, you do the math. We left Elizabeth for college, have lived all over the world, and NEVER go back for a visit without going to Spirito's. Cheese pie, ravioli (was there last month and don't think the recipe has changed), veal and peppers. Always plenty to take away. Our kids have never lived in NJ (Army brats) but never go to NJ without a trip to Spirito's. The waitresses never write down the order, rarely miss anything, and as noted, no butter, no coffee and no credit cards...and every drink is served in a seven ounce glass. Can't wait for my next visit!

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: hoffusma69

                          I've been searching for the ravioli recipe since H.S. and I can't figure out how they are so light, yet the dough has a nice chew, and the cheese is so creamy but yet still firm. A mystery I want to crack!