here are many fine Italian restaurants in the New York area. The problem is choosing which one to go to. If you’re staying in Manhattan, and all those teeming crowds and exorbitant prices are getting a bit old, why not take a break from all that intensity and have a high-quality, reasonably priced Italian dinner in a more laid back atmosphere on the “Joisey side.” If that sounds good, take a quick, inexpensive PATH subway from 6th Avenue and 32nd Street to Hoboken and visit Tutta Pasta, just four blocks from Frank Sinatra’s old dwellings. My wife and I dined there on one of those rare “Injun Summer” nights when it was warm enough to sit in the restaurant’s inviting outside patio and take in the vibes from Washington Street, the “Restaurant Row” of Hoboken. There were plenty of people out that night, but it was still a pleasant change from the packed swarms on the other side of the Hudson River. efore dinner, we were welcomed by the owner, Fortunato DiNatale, a very gentile and friendly man, who treated us like royalty and clearly respected our magazine. Fortunato is a hardworking businessman who has happily exploited all that the American dream has to offer in the 42 years since he came to our shores. At one point, he had 17 restaurants on the East Coast. One of these, located in Manhattan’s financial district, had to close because of the adverse effects of 9/11. All the rest have been sold except for one other in Brooklyn. But Fortunato is still a big force in the Italian restaurant business. That’s because he now sells the same homemade pasta that is featured in his restaurants to distributors and foodservice companies that cater to restaurants and hotels throughout the country. His son, Jerry, is most active in this side of the business. Fortunato’s latest enterprise is in the early stages, namely mass-producing his authentic Neapolitan pizzas. This concept is being test-marketed in South America now. aving had a cocktail with the lively conversation we began our dinner with a couple of appetizers. The first was a stuffed eggplant that was simply outstanding. Jam-packed with ricotta and spinach, it was baked perfectly and covered with an extraordinarily hearty, tasty red sauce (or “gravy,” as they call it back East) that made the trip worthwhile right there. For the other appetizer we did something different, and ordered one of Fortunato’s napolitan’ pizzas – basically a traditional Margherita with sausage (the East Coast version is more like the Midwest’s pepperoni). It was melt-in-your-mouth succulent and spicy, yet thin and small enough so that we had plenty of room for more. s you would expect, Tutta Pasta provides an excellent selection of Italian and American wines, very inexpensively priced compared to Manhattan! We chose our favorite, a Chianti Classico. This time we ordered a Ruffino, tan label, which goes good with anything or can be enjoyed on its own. We opted for the soup, and both had cups of a memorable pasta fagiol, thick with tasty beans and al dente noodles. hen Enrico Caruso became a superstar tenor, but before he settled in New York, he was booked for an engagement at the San Carlo in his home-town of Naples.
He had really looked forward to returning home as the conquering hero, but he failed to bother with paying respect to some individuals who considered themselves the arbiters of public taste at the opera house. (And why should he?) As a result, his performances were disrupted and his Naples appearance was a flop. Justifiably angered, Caruso vowed never to perform in his native city again and to return only “to eat spaghetti con vogole.” To get the real deal, from a real Napolitan,’ and to take advantage of the fresh seafood from this part of the world, we split a full order of linguine con vongole for our pasta course. Tutta Pasta serves the large fresh, juicy clams in the shell for its version of this famous dish and it’s absolutely outstanding. Not too much oil, but plenty of garlic with the pasta cooked just right. Mmmmm! ow it was time for the main course. We had two entrées. Still having a yen for fresh seafood we split an order of assorted seafood (shrimp, mussels, clams, scallops, squid) with black linguini, the pasta strips soaked in calamari ink. This is a real southern Italian treat and one that is very, very rare west of New Jersey. This was so good that it’ll be a while before I get any kind of Italian seafood anywhere else. I was convinced by now that Tutta Pasta had great seafood, but what about my very favorite, veal parmigian’? It was the best I ever had, I kid you not. Two layers of tender cutlets, each delicately breaded, covered with melted mozzarella, swimming in that heavenly red sauce that we had a taste of with the eggplant appetizer. The portions were such that we took some back to our hotel and I revisited that veal in the middle of the night. It was so good that I was dreaming about it and had to have some more right then! utta Pasta, besides being an excellent Italian restaurant, also offers sparkling entertainment at its upstairs Comedy Club every Thursday. It is also a favorite hangout for the likes of Danny Aiello and Tony Lip. It’s definitely on our list of must-places-to-go from now on whenever we visit the Big Apple!
Buon appetit! Pasta 200 Washington Street Hoboken, NJ 07030 201-792-9102