Monday, September 8, 2014

Frank Anthony's Italian Gourmet / Verona, NJ

Frank Anthony's Italian Gourmet
Location: 667 Bloomfield Ave., Verona, NJ
Phone: 973-239-1303

Takes reservations by phone or online at the website
Open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner
Casual atmosphere
Family friendly but without the running around and screaming that we sometimes see in casual restaurants

Delivery service
Children’s menu
Weekly specials posted each Wednesday at the website

We’re happy to launch our restaurant review site with a visit to Frank Anthony’s Gourmet Italian in Verona. We stopped in early on a Saturday night and were given a table right away. By the time we left, however, the place was hopping, so we recommend a reservation on weekends.

Owners Anthony Tortoriello and Frank DiGiacomo began in 2005 with an Italian deli on Grove St. in Verona. After a few years in that location, they began to look around for a larger space that could accommodate the deli and a restaurant. Eventually they found their current location, then a car repair garage. In order to convert the garage into a restaurant, the new owners spent months on renovations, then opened in 2010.

The owners added a patio to increase seating and offer attractive outdoor dining. A trellis wall provides privacy from Bloomfield Ave. and gorgeous flower pots and hanging plants create a warm, inviting atmosphere. This past year a roof was put over the patio. The patio is a popular spot during the warmer weather. When nights get a bit cool, there’s a heater to keep you comfortable.

The deli remains a staple of the restaurant. The owners offer a variety of excellent sandwiches, most named after Verona residents. They also make wonderful salads. If you need some sautéed eggplant for a recipe at home but don’t feel like the mess of making it, just stop by Frank Anthony’s and get some to go. The only problem is that you may want to eat the eggplant before getting it into your recipe.

Also try Frank Anthony’s unusual gourmet pizza, a rectangular pie with a delicious sauce and fresh homemade mozzarella. It’s offered in a number of variations and with a choice of toppings. You won't get a pizza like this anywhere else.

The night we went we found a young, enthusiastic staff. We were quickly waited on. Our waiter told us about the numerous specials, a regular feature of the restaurant. One of us enjoyed the special Fresh Spinach Salad with Vermont goat cheese, cayenne candied walnuts, crisp bacon, and a roasted shallot vinaigrette dressing. The other diner enjoyed the Crispy Calamari which came crispy indeed and was made unique with the addition of black olives, capers, and pieces of hot peppers.

For entrees one of us had her favorite Penne dish which is served with grilled zucchini, squash, caramelized red onion, and chunks of homemade mozzarella. The cheese melts deliciously into the pasta. This pasta dish is a great alternative to pasta with tomato sauce. The second diner enjoyed one of the daily pasta specials: homemade tagliatelle mixed with hunks of fresh Maine lobster, a generous number of little neck clams, and shrimp. This dish was served with a light lobster cream sauce, asparagus tips, and grape tomatoes.

Although we did not have dessert, we did peruse the dessert menu which offered some tasty treats such as funnel cake fries, canoli wedges, and brownie sundae. Next time we will give into temptation. And we will definitely be returning.