One of Hoboken’s best kept secrets – although well known among uptown residents – is Margherita’s, a cozy corner Italian restaurant with quality entrees and gourmet pizzas, all at reasonable prices.
Whether you choose the popular penne ala vodka, or chicken Sorrentino, or pizza with smoked mozzarella, or lobster ravioli, you’re going to enjoy high-quality food without paying the exorbitant prices that some places charge. The atmosphere is elegant but not overly formal.
The owners – who also own popular the Mikie Squared Bar and Grill further south on Washington Street – make everything from scratch, including their own pasta, fresh white mozzarella, and tiramisu.
Because Margherita’s is such a quality place to eat – perfect to bring family, a date, or even stop by to pick up a pizza – there is often a wait at peak time on Friday and Saturday nights. The eatery has 18 tables and several more outside during the summer.
Restaurant co-owners Mike Fasciano and his sister Margherita don’t take reservations, even for large parties. They do keep a list when there’s a wait. You can pass the time at the restaurant or at a bar across the street; the machine still works across the street to notify you when a table is ready.
The Fascianos opened the restaurant in 1993 in the Hoboken neighborhood where they moved from Italy as children. Their mother still lives on the next block and frequently comes in with friends to eat, so they have to make sure the food’s always top-notch.
My husband and I stopped by early on a recent Saturday evening, with our 15-month-old baby in tow.
At Margherita’s, you get great food and service right from the start. I used to live a block from the restaurant and was always impressed with the fact that they bring out delicious bruschetta on toast without charging for it. The bread they bring out is warm and hearty as well.
After enjoying the juicy tomato chunks, we ordered some appetizers, which range from $4.95 to $10.95. Choices include clams oreganata, stuffed mushrooms, calamari, spedini (deep fried, breaded mozzarella loaf in marinara sauce), and fried zucchini. We ordered the first two and found them tasty and more filling than at most places.
The restaurant also serves four types of salads, including antipasto.
They make their own pasta, mozzarella, and tiramisu.
Margherita’s has a menu with 22 pasta, chicken, and seafood entrees, plus a nightly list of specials. There’s also a pizza menu, with ingredients ranging from smoked mozzarella to sundried tomatoes and eggplant. The pizzas can be made with wheat dough for an extra fee.
We tried a pizza with broccoli, sundried tomatoes, and black olives. It was a terrific combination, and they didn’t skimp on toppings.
We also ate chicken Sorrentino, a popular dish with sautéed chicken, eggplant, and melted mozzarella on top. It came with healthy veggies: roasted red potatoes, carrots, and broccoli. The chicken was tender and the eggplant layer was a perfect complement.
I wanted to taste the homemade ravioli Mondella, which contains eggplant, sundried tomatoes, and cheese. I enjoyed the cheesy taste and the delicious tomato cream sauce. Lobster ravioli is also popular.
Make sure you check the specials. On the night we were there they included a filet of red snapper, shrimp and clams fra diavolo over black fettuccine, veal piccata, and handmade gnocchi with broccoli rabe and sausage.
Most entrées range in price from $10.95 to $18.95, with some of the specials climbing higher.
Dessert and drinks
The desserts are featured on a wipe-off board in the dining room each night, and range in price from $5.50 to $6.50. Several are homemade, including the tiramisu and tres leches cake.
The night we dined there, options included chocolate fudge cake, Limoncello marscapone cake, cannoli, red velvet cake, chocolate mousse cake, crème brulee cheesecake, pumpkin cheesecake, and regular cheesecake.
We tried the chocolate fudge cake, tiramisu, pumpkin cheesecake, and crème brulee cheesecake. The desserts were outstanding. In the past, I have had many pumpkin cheesecakes that merely tasted like a thicker pumpkin pie, but this one was amazing – the spices and consistency made it the best of both worlds.
The creme brulee cheesecake was the same way; it gave us the best tastes of both desserts, and the wet crust was delectable. The mousse and tiramisu were also delightful.
The restaurant does not serve liquor, but patrons are frequently seen toting bottles of wine. Also, there’s a bar across the street to enjoy while you’re waiting for a table.
Margherita’s is located at 740 Washington St. Their websites are margheritasrestaurant.com and margheritascafe.com. They also deliver and cater. Call (201) 222-2400.
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