Exaggeration? Perhaps, but let's be honest here - the main focus of a pizzeria is and should be pizza and that squarely places everything else it offers as an also-ran to the star of the show.
However, I found that was not the case at all at Nonna's Pizza and Restaurant. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised by the well-conceived and authentically-prepared dishes they served that gave me the distinct impression that this was a first-rate Italian restaurant surreptitiously masquerading as a pizzeria. It was a clever deception, but one my flavor sensors detected immediately.
This second location, also set within a strip mall of sorts, sits along the heavily-traveled southbound side of Route 17 in Paramus, a traffic-laden thoroughfare connecting Bergen County's glut of shopping malls and superstores; a route that frequently experiences massive amounts of congestion exceeded only by the amount of temper flare-ups one must endure while traveling the highway. For better or worse, the establishment is conveniently located mere yards from this mobile free-for-all, however, be forewarned - if you accidentally drive past its entrance, traffic snarls and u-turns could make for quite a delay and a headache-inducing appetizer. In this regard, I highly recommend the utmost attention be paid to your GPS.
Creative offerings like Salmone Alla Griglia con Rapini ($19.95) – grilled salmon served over broccoli rabe with garlic and olive oil; Salmone con Gamberi ($19.95)– broiled fillet of salmon topped with diced shrimp, diced plum tomatoes and shiitake mushrooms in a garlic white wine and lemon sauce; and Branzino Marechiarro ($20.00)– Mediterranean striped bass sautéed with clams & mussels in a light tomato oregano sauce over sautéed spinach now compliment old standards like Zuppa Di Pesce ($24.95) and Fra Diavolo ($19.95), each expertly-prepared.
As for our entrees, we'd chosen two of the evening's specials, Parpadelle con Giamberi ($20.00) – wide noodles in a light pink sauce with shrimp, asparagus & shiitake mushrooms topped with crab meat, and the aforementioned, Branzino Marechiarro.
The Branzino Marechiarro was no less extraordinary in both presentation and execution. The tastefully sautéed branzino was served beside over a dozen shelled clams and mussels in a wonderfully light tomato oregano sauce that was delicately seasoned with floral undertones. This subtle touch perfectly accented the brightness of the seafood. The sautéed spinach, though delicious in its own right, was a mere afterthought beside the stars of this dish. This dish excelled on all counts and one I hope to enjoy again.
And if that wasn't enough, in addition to the pizzeria and restaurant business, Nonna's also offers a full line of catering options. In fact, their catering menu is an astounding 16 pages!