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Red Sauce Italian joints

My current top three for what I call "red sauce" Italian restaurants with a bar on premises would be Casa Dante in Jersey City. Libretti's in Ornage, and Taormino in kenilworth. Went to Taormino's last weekend for the first time and have already been back. I may go once a week until I die or move to Florida. It is as authentic as you can get from the clientele to the cavatelli.

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  1. I'm not familiar with your 3 choices however as just mentioned in another thread regarding Ocean Grove, my personal favorite is Jimmy's in Asbury Park.

    1. Always loved Jerry's of East Rutherford

      1. Would Spirito's in Elizabeth qualify as a red sauce Italian joint? Been going there most of my life and still enjoy it.

        1. I'm dying to find a "red sauce" Italian restaurant that makes their own pasta. When I was in college I used to go to a restaurant in Wilmington, DE called Mrs. Rubino's that made all their own pasta and served a homemade marinara sauce that still haunts my dreams. Delaware is too far to drive and I don't even know if the place still exists. Anyone know where I can get that sort of thing in northern New Jersey?

          4 Replies
          1. re: creamfinger

            I believe that Michaelangelo's on Ridge Road. in North Arlington makes their own pasta. Spirito's, in Elizabeth makes their own Ravioli. I just don't know if they make all their pasta. Ravioli are little pillows of perfection.

            1. re: DownNeckBetty

              "Ravioli are little pillows of perfection." You are a poet!

            2. re: creamfinger

              This place is really out of the way for most of you, but the Italian Villa on Rt. 539 in Plumsted is a great little hole-in-the-wall place with delicious traditional red sauce food. And, yes, they make their own pasta!
              Any one going to Six Flags Great Adventure can find it by traveling a little further on Rte. 537 to Rte. 539.

              1. re: creamfinger

                I left Wilmington in 2002. I always thought that Rubino's reminded me, food wise, of Rita & Joe's in Jersey City. http://www.rita-joes.com/

                I have not been to either in well over a decade, but . . . .

              2. I don't know the other two, but calling Taormina a red sauce joint does it a disservice, imo. Maybe my definition is off, but I think of red sauce joint as one who does the southern Italian/Americanized Italian dishes.

                Looking at Taorminas menu I guess I can see how it could be construed a red sauce joint but the specials are always adventurous.... At least the 3 times I have been there. Baby goat last Easter was very well prepared. All in all I would put Taormina up there with any Italian restaurant in NJ.

                3 Replies
                1. re: TomT

                  Well, the chef at Taormino is from Sicily...that's pretty far south.

                  1. re: coldbeer

                    Understood. Just saying I think his menu is a little more adventurous for my definition of red sauce joint.

                    1. re: TomT

                      None of it is "Italian", it's Ital-American, hence "red sauce".

                      For an idea of what you get in Sicily, check the menu here, so different than anything on this side of the pond...


                2. Haven't been there in a while but I used to frequent Laico's in Jersey City and always thought it was very good. Coldy, would you consider that a red sauce joint?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: bifpocaroba

                    I would...I love a spot like that with the bar. That's the key. Order a Grey Goose Martini on the rocks with olives and you get those crummy little shriveled up olives in a faux crystal glass while the Sunday gravy wafts from the kitchen. Laico's lost a speck of it's draw when Marie retired at the age of 90 or so. Would write your order down on a clipboard with a magic marker.

                  2. I'd suggest Barcelona's in Garfield:

                    and Patsy's Tavern in Paterson.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Sdenred

                      OMG Barcelona's in Garfield is still around? Used to go there when I worked in Lodi from 85 to 90. Always an experience!

                    2. If you look up red sauce Italian joint in the NJ dictionary, you will see a picture of Espo's in Raritan. Yum.

                      1. La Sorrentina, North Bergen

                        La Sicilia, Belleville.

                        Great red sauce places. Magnificent mussels at North Bergen joint.