Even though the number of customers may have been inflated by a wedding party the night of our visit, Nuova Venezia – after two and half months – has already been discovered by Bayonne residents, winning a devoted following of regulars that include politicians, teachers, even sports personalities. And with very good reason: the food is outstanding and unusual, although fans of Italian cuisine can still find many of their favorite dishes. For private parties, the chefs will satisfy requests.
Edward Gallegos, manager, said Nuova Venezia offers dishes that are largely found in Northern Italy, and so provides food lovers with a slightly different taste from what most people might expect as Italian.
“We make New York dishes at Bayonne prices.” -- Edward Gallegos.
“Everything here is fresh,” he said. “While people might have to wait a few minutes longer for it to be prepared, it is worth the wait.”
And he’s right.
With a private party room downstairs and a bi-level arrangement in the main room, Nuova Venezia offers several atmospheres, from the slightly elevated dinning area with about a dozen tables to the bar area on the lower area.
Open from 11:30 a.m. to about 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 11:30 to 11 p.m. on Saturdays, and noon to 9 p.m. on Sundays, Nuova Venezia offers a lunch and dinner menu and a number of daily specials, all moderately priced.
Dishes on the lunch menu run from about $6.95 for eggplant or sausage pamagiano sandwiches to $15.95 for filet of sole. Most items average about $9.95.
The dinner menu offers a larger variety and a broader price range. Antipasto costs from $4.95 for broccoli rabe to $9.95 for mussels in white or red sauce. Soups cost $5.95. Pasta dishes range from $11.95 for spiral pasta with smoked bacon and mozzarella to $18.95 for ravioli stuffed with lobster meal and shrimp.
Most of the dishes are relatively light, using fish or chicken with only one steak offering, although there is an ample menu of veal dishes – ranging from $14.95 to $16.95.
“We make New York dishes at Bayonne prices,” said Gallegos.
Patrons at other tables said they came here because Nuova Venezia offered unusual Italian dishes that are tasty, but not overpriced.
To get an idea of the quality of the dishes, we selected two dishes commonly offered in Italian restaurants, and two dishes that seemed particularly special to Nuova Venezia. Even the more typical dishes had their own special flavor, partly because some of the ingredients were specially imported, such as the fresh tomatoes in the Mozzarella Caprese which, gauging from other diners reactions, is a very popular dish.
The same imported tomatoes were included in Spaghetti a Lila, which was a delightful play off traditional garlic and oil with fresh mozzarella and olives, avocado and basil. The variety of ingredients provided a different mix with each forkful, no one dominating the taste.
Mussels in red sauce were flavorful but were not overwhelmed by the sauce. We ordered this as an antipasto, yet we got more than enough to feed two people.
The baked polenta in Gorgonzola, Fontina and cream sauce over white mushrooms had a delightfully original taste, something akin to caramel flavor.
The Sautéed Salmon with artichokes, capers, cherry tomatoes and Portobello mushrooms in lemon and white wine sauce was a real surprise, partly because the spicing tends to bring out the flavor of the fish, and partly because the salmon taste added to, but did not overwhelm the rest.
For dessert, we decided to order a traditional and a non-traditional Italian dish. The Tiramisu, a kind of cake made from espresso, was just sweet enough without overkill.
The most unusual dessert on the menu was the streusel and ice cream. Normally known as a German dish, this variety was far more in keeping with Italian tradition, cutting back on the heavy German spicing to provide something much lighter, but still flavorful, very crispy with fewer raisins and apples sliced paper thin.
The eatery is located at 392 Broadway, Bayonne. For more info, call (201) 436-9700.