New Jersey’s large Italian American influence means lots of excellent Italian restaurants. The dishes themselves are as warm and welcoming as a hug from an old friend. Elizabeth has an impressive Italian dining scene with so much traditional flavors to explore.
You’re in the mood for pasta, right? But not just any pasta — you want the best. Enter Torna a Sorrento Restaurant. This place is an institution in Elizabeth. Here, it’s all about the food. If the sausage and broccoli rabe doesn’t win you over, you’ll have to try their tortellini alla panna. Rest assured that almost anything on the menu is a favorite of the usual clientele.
Ironbound Grill in the Renaissance Hotel would also like to help you with your Italian food craving. They’re serving up pasta primavera with beetroot fettuccine, wild mushrooms, and charred vegetables as one option on their eclectic menu. Dine at the Ironbound, or better yet, stay at the luxurious Renaissance Hotel when you visit Elizabeth. The Renaissance Hotel is conveniently located near Newark Airport, and the Ironbound Grill is open from 6 a.m. until midnight daily.
In a cute storefront on Broad Street check out Dolce Lounge for a casual cafe with amazing fresh pasta dishes. The menu includes fusilli calabrese, cavatelli (sausage and broccoli rabe), moscato orrechiette (mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, sausage, moscato pesto), and loaded baked gnocchi with aromatic applewood smoked bacon, cheese blend, scallions and mascarpone mousse. Let that sink into your culinary imagination. If you’re a traditionalist, Dolce also serves a classic lasagna with meat sauce and fresh mozzarella. That doesn’t even cover the full pasta menu! Life is sweet at Dolce Lounge.
Then again, you might wander Trumball Street and into Eli’s Pizza and Pasta for a serving of penne in vodka sauce or baked ziti. Eli’s might specialize in authentic Italian pasta dishes like chicken francese (chicken in lemon butter white wine sauce), but as the name implies, they can also knock a pizza out of the park!
So you’re not feeling like a bowl of ziti or spaghetti bolognese? Eli’s will blow you away with their selection of pies with everything on them including The Kitchen Sink ― a pizza topped with pepperoni, sausage, peppers, onions, and mushrooms. If you want something a little “greener,” try the Primavera Pizza with broccoli, green peppers, cauliflower, and mushrooms.
Ironbound Grill also has a great selection of hand-stretched pizzas that’ll have you considering moving to Elizabeth. You won’t go wrong with the Philly cheesesteak pizza or the eggplant and pepperoni. For those who don’t eat meat, try the margherita pizza or garden salad pizza made with local tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, and red onions for a vegetarian delight.
But wait! The options for pizza don’t stop there. If you want an authentic pie made the same way for generations, Elizabeth sports two classic pizzerias that have fed the community for decades.
In the Peterstown section of Elizabeth, John's Caffe Pizza and Caterers which has been tossing dough and baking up delicious pies for over 50 years. Run by a father and son team, Gerry and Giovanni, this is a restaurant serving old country flavor with the perks of 21st century easy online ordering.
For another classic pizzeria, you need to head down the alley of Santillo’s Brick Oven Pizza for an establishment a hundred years in the making! Al learned his pizza making ways from his father and grandfather and is still making the dough the way he was taught ― and still winning awards for it. The winner of multiple best in New Jersey and best in the United States lists for pizza, Santillo’s also features the oldest (built 1904) and largest (160 sq ft) brick oven in the state. he sizes and prices of the pizzas may vary, but the quality, crust, and flavor never do.
You’ve saved the best for last, right? The pizza and pasta have had time to settle in your stomach and now you’re looking for a little something sweet to finish off your Italian experience.
Bella Palermo Pastry Shop has over 50 years experience in handling such situations. Will you be able to leave with only a few cannoli, a light and flaky sfogliatella, or a single serving of tiramisu? Probably not, but that’s okay ― we wouldn’t either. Besides, a box of cannoli can make an excellent gift for an old friend who shows up and gives you a hug, right? Or it’s just a great dessert tomorrow!