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Jan 21, 2008 05:14 AM

"Real" Italian Food In Central NJ

Ok, this is probably going to set off a big debate, but I am looking for "real" Italian food. I live near Trenton, and there is some truly wonderful Italian food around here - it's my favorite type of food. However, I'm dating a guy who lived in Italy for a few years - he finds the Italian restaurants in the area to be very Americanized. I'd like to take him to a restaurant that serves food as close to it would be in Italy as possible (region doesn't matter). Are there any good places for that around here? Any places that make their own pasta? Somewhere in the Trenton, Princeton, Hamilton, or even New Brunswick area would be great. What about Chick and Nello's?

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  1. I went to Sal DeFortes in Ewing a few weeks ago and it was excellent. They do have some of the more americanized items on the menu, but I think that will be true for the entire area. I have friends who go there for dinner at least once a week, and one of them is a real food snob. She really enjoys it. I think this is one of the better Italian places I have been to in the area. I'd say give it a try.

    1 Reply
    1. re: mschow

      I've been wanting to try that anyway:-)

    2. this will surely bring some debate ! don't know if freehold is to far but if not, try solo for the bolognese, lasagna, potato pizza, carbonara(no cream !) occasional specials
      yes, there is some americanized stuff as well, just order wisely or ask giorgio, the owner.
      ok, i am ready for you ......

      2 Replies
      1. re: chefMD

        Freehold isn't too far, I don't think. I will definitely check it out. Potato pizza?

        1. re: chefMD

          I happen to really enjoy the bolognese at Solo and the pine nut salad too. Unfortunately, I haven't found much else on the menu that I particularly enjoy, but do go occasionally for these items.

        2. The thing about food in Italy that I found consistent in all the best places was the freshness of the ingredients. I think if you want to find the same quality of food here you have to look more for places that source locally and use those ingredients without a lot of heavy handed sauces. This, to me, is far more important than the "style" of the cooking.

          My thought for a place that does Italian style food this way is Scalini Fedeli (sp?) in Chatham.

          Having said that, if you do happen to come across any place that serves a Bollito sandwich like Nerbone in Florence, etc. please let me know.

          1 Reply
          1. re: seal

            I agree with Seal. Having lived in Verona Italy and eaten some of the best meals of my life in small family run trattoria's, the common thread was always fresh ingredients, pasta simply prepared without a meatball or red sauce in site!!

            In our area, One 53 in Rocky Hill has a selection of fresh pastas (produced by their sister place, Luci's Ravioli in Princeton) along with a compliment of well prepared starters and entrees. By ordering a half order of one of their pastas along with an entree, you can have the typical Primi e Secondi course structure you'll find all over Italia.

            Further afield, Bottega del Vino in NYC is a sister restaurant to the original Antica Bottega del Vino located in Verona. Their Tortellini della Bottega is ethereal!

          2. I could be the guy in the original post! Having lived in Italy I am constantly disappointed in the food in Italian restaurants here. I'm not sure that it's even the freshness of the ingredients, but there is also a tendency to take a simple dish and complicate it, e.g. cream in carbonara sauce. So, the bottom line is, I don't have any recommendations.

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