🍝 These are the four best Italian restaurants by region, according to TripAdvisor

🍝 Many are BYOB eateries in North, Central, South and at the Jersey Shore

🍝 Enjoy classic dishes and discover some new ones

Mangia! Mangia! Mangia! Anyone who hails from an Italian heritage most likely had that grandma who always wanted you to eat, right?

New Jersey is no stranger to Italian restaurants. There are so many to choose from, and according to recent Census data, Toms River is home to the largest Italian-American population — 29,000 residents — in New Jersey.

So, what are some of the best Italian eateries in the Garden State? Trip Advisor chose the top four in each region of the state: North, Central, South, and the Jersey Shore.

Paisano's (Google Street View)
Paisano's (Google Street View)

North Jersey


132 Park Ave, Rutherford

Paisano’s has been family owned and operated in downtown Rutherford since 1989. It was named Best Italian Restaurant Bergen County in 2018 by NorthJersey.com.

The restaurant on this quaint street offers classic dishes from Northern and Southern Italy. It is a BYOB so feel free to bring your favorite bottle or red or white, beer, or spirits.
When the weather is warm, you may enjoy dining al fresco.

There are so many dishes to choose from like the Grilled King Octopus as an appetizer seasoned with Spanish paprika, black olive aioli, ove roasted golden potatoes. There is also the Stuffed Eggplant which is sliced and filled with ricotta, mozzarella, and parmesan cheese, then baked with tomato sauce.

Looking for that perfect pasta dish? Try Paisano’s Pappardelle Rustica, Spinach and Chicken Ravioli, Spaghetti Carbonara, and more.

Some of their entrees include:

Seafood Malafemmina (lobster tail, shrimp, scallops, and clams, sauteed in white wine garlic and fresh herbs, served over homemade linguine)

Chicken Vodka Parm: chicken cutlet topped with vodka sauce and served with penne.

Stuffed Pork Chop: double cut, oven-roasted, maple glazed and stuffed with gorgonzola cheese, figs, prosciutto, and walnuts. It is served with mashed "sweet potatoes" and vegetables.

Here is what some people are saying on Trip Advisor:

"They make their own pasta and have the best food around! Paisano's is always my first choice when I'm in the mood for a good Italian meal! The place is BYOB, with no cork fees. You will need reservations for weekend evenings"

"I recently held my wedding rehearsal dinner at Paisanos in Rutherford, New Jersey.
They set up my private party in a back room of the restaurant. The food and the service was excellent. My family and friends enjoyed the fact that we could bring our own wine and beer since the place is a BYOB. I would definitely recommend Paisanos if your planning a private party or a rehearsal dinner. The staff was friendly and professional"

"Any time you are in Rutherford, NJ you should eat a meal at Paisano's. It will cheer you up"

Toscana's (Google Street View)
Toscana's (Google Street View)

Central Jersey


474 State Route 28, Villa Plaza, Bridgewater

Whether you enjoy pizza or classic Italian cuisine, Toscana’s serves it all. Choose from a wide variety of appetizers, salads, wraps, stombolis, sausage rolls, and so much more, as well.

Plus, it is a BYOB!

Some favorites include:

Balsamico Dinner: diced chicken breast and asparagus tossed with pasta in a light pink sauce

Veal Carmela: veal, pan seared and sauteed with broccoli rabe and hot cherry peppers in a light demi-glaze.

Shrimp Firenze: fresh arugula tossed with jumbo shrimp and plum tomato in a garlic and white wine glaze with your choice of pasta.

What people are saying on Trip Advisor:

"This is just a great place - whether you just get pizza for take out or eat a delightful meal there. You won't regret a visit"

"A great Italian menu of seafood, chicken, veal and pasta, casual atmosphere, went with family of adults and everyone very satisfied, excellent portions, took a lot home, be sure to try the appys"

"Jewel in disguise - worth the trip"

Mama's (Google Street View)
Mama's (Google Street View)

South Jersey

Mama’s Pizza Grille & Bistro

2973 Marne Hwy, Mount Laurel

Mama’s Pizza Grille & Bistro has been a staple in the Mount Laurel community for years. Locals and visitors, alike enjoy the regular deals on food so they can try new things, and maybe even discover a new favorite.

It’s a BYOB so be sure to bring your own bottle of wine, beer and/or spirits to enjoy the meal

Enjoy great pizza both classic and gourmet, as well as Grandma’s Pizza (thin crust with plum tomatoes, basil, fresh mozzarella cheese, and extra virgin oil).

The restaurant serves strombolis, turnovers, steak sandwiches, wraps, specialty paninis, pasta and so much more.

Some favorite entrees include:

Chicken Abruzzese: chicken and eggplant topped with mozzarella cheese and sun-dried tomato in a white wine sauce.

Shrimp Mare and Monti Pasta: with fresh shrimp, peas, and spinach
Veal Alla Fancese: egg dipped and then sauteed in lemon with sun-dried tomatoes and white wine.

Some TripAdvisor reviews:

"My wife and I have eaten here several times and it is by far our favorite Italian Restaurant for several reasons. First of all it is a nice quiet, romantic restaurant to enjoy the best Italian Food in South Jersey and you can bring your own wine. We really like the owner Giovanni because he makes sure that everything is perfect. It's nice to see the owner care that much"

"I love this spot... This place uses the best ingredients and makes incredible tasting food"

"Amazing food!! The owner is from Italy...true authentic Italian. From the appetizers to dessert, there was nothing that was not perfect!!"

Trama's (Google Street View)
Trama's (Google Street View)

Jersey Shore

Trama's Trattoria


115 Brighton Ave, Long Branch

Hailing from New York, Chef Trama uses the highest quality local, farm-to-table ingredients according to the seasons.

According to the restaurant’s website, Chef Trama has always had a passion for food and cooking, ever since he was young and helped at his parent’s eatery. His travels and experience inspired him to open his own Italian restaurant that featured authentic Tuscan cuisine.

The first was Ama Ristorante Tuscana in Atlantic Highlands. Now, it’s Trama’s in Long Branch.

Be sure to try the Caprese Salad as an appetizer (made with buffalo mozzarella, lucky tomatoes, basil leaves, extra virgin olive oil and sea salt).

The Carpaccio is another fan-favorite app (thinly sliced filet mignon, summer black truffles, baby arugula, and shaved Reggiano

Try the chef’s Orecchiette pasta made with broccoli rabe, garlic oil, crushed red pepper, parmesan Reggiano and crumbled sweet sausage.

The Branzino is prepared with butter bean puree, sundried heirloom tomatoes, broccoli rabe pesto, and micro arugula.

Try one of Trama’s signature and seasonal cocktails, or enjoy something from the restaurant’s beer and wine selection.

Here is what some people are saying on TripAdvisor:

"My family and I have been enjoying Chef Pat Trama's food since the original location in Atlantic Highlands. It's simply the best Italian food made with the freshest ingredients by someone who puts passion, thought, love and heart into what he puts on every plate. Great people, service and food! What's not to love? I only wish that they were open for lunch!"

"One of the best restaurants in New Jersey or anywhere for that matter. The dinner we had last night here was better than anything we just ate on a recent trip to Italy"

"Homemade lemon spaghetti with zucchini blossoms. It was out of this world!! One of the best pastas I’ve ever had! Trama’s is our favorite Italian restaurant in Long Branch"

So, these are the top four Italian restaurants broken down by region, according to TripAdvisor. Do you agree with the picks?

Whether you do or not, there are plenty of restaurants and trattorias to choose from across the state.


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Jen Ursillo is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at jennifer.ursillo@townsquaremedia.com

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