DiPaolo's in Penns Grove...wow!
Last night the SO and I needed to drown our sorrows after our planned trip to Venice was axed this week thanks to the Iceland Volcano. :( On a rec from some family members we decided to give DiPaolo's a try, and we were exceedingly pleased with the results!
The place seems completely out of place in the middle of, quite honestly, not the greatest neighborhood in South Jersey. The interior of the restaurant was pleasant if a little kitschy American-Italian. I wasn't sure at all what to expect, but was told by our great and friendly waitress that they had transplanted many years ago from Southwest Philly? Anyway, I had a bit of sticker shock when I saw the prices (12-20 for antipasti, 17-50 for entrees) but heard it was like a steakhouse with monster portions, but also with a lot included. So we skipped apps, ordered a great, smooth bottle of Chianti Classico Reserva (for $32), and dove in.
All entrees come with salad (very nice and fresh, not drowned in dressing) and a great vegetable antipasti platter and bread. I loved their oil-cured olives especially, but the antipasti also included eggplant, fried zucchini, chick peas, broccoli rabe, some wonderful cheese, and a lot more. I had a Linguine Fradiavolo in a spicy lobster blush sauce which was amazing. Very fresh-tasting seafood in a rich sauce that was not at all greasy or oily. My SO had a 28 oz steak special with buratta cheese, served with mashed potatoes, asparagus and more broccoli rabe. It was the largest, best steak I've seen or tasted since we were in Florence 4 years ago and got a true bistek fiorentina. It may have been $49 but it was well worth every penny, and enough food to last for several days afterward.
No way we could find room for dessert but it was great I was able to get a nice grappa to finish the meal and we also had some espresso. Our bill was $145 before tip, and considering all the food we had left over and the quality of it all, it was well worth it. It's rare to find a restaurant that can present both quality *and* generous quantity, and I don't know how DiPaolo's does it. I'm not even that much of a fan of Americanized "red-gravy" Italian, but I loved this place and would go back in a heartbeat. It's head and shoulders above any other Italian place I've tried in South Jersey to date.