By Jerry Del Priore
In my recent rounds of devouring splendid New Jersey fare, with awesome company, my girlfriend, Maggie, I would be remiss not to grab some great Italian food, which included three places that offer up fantastic pizza, pasta, riceballs, and salads, and another eatery the serves one of the greatest food mainstays today — bagels, carbs notwithstanding.
La Pastaria — 327 Springfield Avenue, Summit, New Jersey
My first stop on my list was La Pastaria, an Italian joint in downtown Summit that specializes in good, old-fashioned, homestyle comfort food.
Maggie ordered the Penne Puttanesca — imported plum tomatoes sautéed with capers, black olives & a hint of anchovy over penne pasta. She loved it, so I felt the overwhelming urge to sample it for myself.
The anchovies and black olives brought out the decadent flavors and aromas of the dish, making me want an order all to myself.
However, I had a wonderful spinach stracciatella soup and salad combination coming my way that, by the way, didn’t disappoint.
Chatham Bagels — 260 Main Street, Chatham, New Jersey
Have you ever tried to get a good bagel outside the New York/New Jersey area? Yes, I know, good luck with that.
Well, Chatham now has Chatham Bagles, which opened its doors a few months ago to rave reviews. And for good reasons: fresh, warm and delicious, not to mention topnotch service from Chatham Bagels staff.
We had a whole wheat bagel with cream cheese and lox, and it couldn’t have been any fresher and tastier.
Clemenza’s Gourmet Brick Oven Pizza — 382 Millburn Avenue, Millburn, New Jersey
Being from Brooklyn, where pizza is known to be the best, I’m always on the lookout for formidable slices and squares.
I happened to attend the Millburn-Short Hills Street Festival and stumbled upon Clemenza’s, which turned out to be another New Jersey pizza place that delivers quality pizza.
I enjoyed a slice, with its crispy crust, savory sauce, and fresh mozzarella, the pizza is baked to perfection in its coal-fired brick oven. What you end up with are all the required elements that make for a delicious experience.
Don’t sleep on Clemenza’s salads, pasta, wraps, and sandwiches.
A friendly side nugget: the owners’ uncle is the late Peter Clemenza, an actor who was in the timeless, iconic film “The Godfather.” He was also an Academy Award-Nominee for the 1970 film, “Lovers and Other Strangers.”
Therefore, they would never disrespect La Famiglia by serving bad food.
The Little Sicilian Food Truck was another food establishment — rolling, albeit — I hit while at the Millburn-Short Hills Street Festival.
This colorful, animated-looking food truck brings Palermo’s world-renowned street food scene to the New York, New Jersey, and Pennslyvania areas, according to its website.
If you like rice balls, then you’re in luck, as TLSFT makes 30-plus different versions of the riceball, and I’d like to gorge on each and every one of them.
But I had the Classico (risotto ball stuffed with meat sauce, fresh, melted mozzarella, and sweet peas). Plus, the Broccoli Rabe & Sausage (broccoli rabe, pork sausage, melted mozzarella, and pecorino romano cheese).
Yes, they were both mouthwatering and absolutely delicious.
Additionally, TLSFT serves pizza, baked ziti, egg and chicken parmesan, eggplant rollatini and lasagna. Also, tiramisu, vanilla and chocolate cannolis for the sweet lovers out there.
TLSFT also caters private events. So, if you’re interested, you can contact them at https://www.thelittlesicilian.net/contact for more information.