Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Luigi's Classic Italian Restaurant / East Hanover, NJ

Luigi's Classic Italian Restaurant

Berkeley Plaza

434 Ridgedale Avenue
East Hanover, NJ 07936

(973) 887-8408

Classic Italian Fare
Open for lunch and dinner Monday thru Friday
Open for dinner only on Saturday and Sunday

Full Bar in separate room with tables / Separate outside entrance
Daily specials
Catering available
Low calorie dishes offered
Gluten-free dishes offered
Website has photos of many of the dishes

Owner Luigi Viola was born and raised in Italy where he learned the fine art of Italian cooking from the time he was a child. Twenty-three years ago he brought his culinary skills to New Jersey and has been making happy diners ever since.

Following up on a recommendation from a friend, we visited Luigi’s to see for ourselves if the food was as good as our friend had said it was. We were not disappointed. Although the restaurant is inauspiciously located in a small strip mall, the interior is quite charming with dim lights and linens and wall decor. We arrived early but several tables were already occupied and the bar was quite lively.

We were led to a corner table near a window. Our waitress quickly presented us with menus and reviewed the daily specials. We knew immediately that making choices was going to be difficult. While we hemmed and hawed, we were served bread and a complimentary dish of marinated sliced vegetables which was delicious.

For appetizers we settled on the Homemade Crab Cake made with white lump crabmeat and topped with a brandy shrimp sauce. This was a freshly made crab cake, not the frozen kind that many restaurants use. It made us very happy.

And we were equally happy with our second appetizer, Polenta con Porcini, a generous square of tasty polenta topped with a light porcini mushroom sauce.

Our first entree was Capellini Adriatico. This was a bowlful of angel hair pasta mixed with assorted seafood—clams, calamari, shrimp, lobster. This can be served in a white or red sauce. We opted for the red.

Our second entree was Pollo Nonna. This dish included pieces of chicken breast sauteed with shiitake mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and black olives in a Marsala wine sauce. We enjoyed both of these dishes. Since we were saving room for dessert, we took home half of our entrees for another night.

Onward to dessert. We chose Crème Brûleé and Tiramisu, both homemade and both delicious dishes. The Crème Brûleé was very creamy and rich with caramel flavor. The burnt sugar topping was light and crispy. The tiramisu was outstanding. We have tried dozens of tiramisu desserts and would place this one among our favorites.

The menu at Luigi’s is extensive, so you should leave time for careful perusing. Then if you can’t get all the dishes that appeal to you, you’ll just have to go back another time. That’s what we’re planning to do. The woman at the table next to us told us that she and her husband have been going to Luigi’s for years and it’s one of their favorite restaurants. Easy to see why.