While a trip to Italy might be out of the question for some, you can still enjoy the taste of Italy at Sarelli’s restaurant in Bayonne.
This quaint bistro located in the heart of town has plenty of charm with its dark peach walls, cherry wood chairs, hanging ceiling fans, and a fireplace in the back for colder seasons.
But the atmosphere is only part of the allure. The locals who pack the restaurant come back for the food, which is nothing short of delicious.
Whet your appetite
On a recent Wednesday night, my companion and I stopped in to try some of their homemade specialties.
After sitting down, we were promptly served a loaf of fresh bread that came with butter and a dish of olive oil.
Soon after, our friendly and supremely competent waiter George served us tapenade and fresh parmesan cheese over toasted bread, which was fantastic.
With all the bread to munch, on we opted to start with a healthy salad. We choose the “Caprini,” which is a delicious mix of fresh greens, toasted walnuts, and chopped tomatoes. It was topped with heavenly, warm goat cheese balls and only lighted coated in a vinaigrette dressing.
Next, we sampled the grilled shrimp appetizer over broccoli rabe and white beans. This lovely starter was big enough to split. The grilled shrimp which were lightly seasoned didn’t need much more than a squeeze of fresh lemon and was paired perfectly with the rabe.
My companion declared that the rabe was perfectly prepared and said that “someone who doesn’t like broccoli would still like it,” as it wasn’t too tart or over seasoned with garlic.
Other appetizers include: eggplant rollatini; grilled vegetables; fresh mozzarella, roasted peppers and tomatoes; deep fried mozzarella served with marinara sauce, shrimp cocktail, and more. The appetizers are priced from $6.95 to $11.95.
Other salads ($6.95 to $7.95) included: classic Caesar; arrugula, mozzarella, fresh tomato, and the “Sarelli’s,” which is a mix of fresh greens, hearts of palm, corn, tomato, mushrooms and shaved parmesan.
Pasta and pollo
For dinner, we opted for one of their specials for the evening – the homemade ravioli and a chicken dish from their regular menu.
We were told by George that the kitchen will try to accommodate any special requests or dietary needs.
The fantastic ravioli was topped with a cream sauce that was infused with truffles. The dish was topped with chopped tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes, asparagus, and delicate grilled shrimp. Although filling, we finished every last bite of homemade goodness.
My companion said, “That ravioli are generally heavy, but these ravioli were light and delicious.”
Next, we sampled the “pollo alla Livia,” which combined chicken with Portobello mushrooms and mozzarella.
We were served two large chicken breasts that were layered with thick slices of mushroom and topped with melted mozzarella. This had a smoky, earthy flavor from the roasted mushrooms and a nice tart finish with the drizzled balsamic sauce. It came with a generous portion of grilled endive and lightly grilled fresh vegetables – carrots and beans the night we were there.
Both entrees more than satisfied, although we can’t say enough about their delicious ravioli – definitely not to be missed!
Other entrees include: grilled salmon, shrimp fra diavolo, grilled sirloin, shrimp scampi, eggplant parmesan, vodka penne, and much, much more. There are almost a dozen different pasta dishes to choose from (not including nightly specials) and the chicken and fish can be topped just about anyway you please – Florentine, Parmigiana, Marsala, Francese, and more. Entrees are priced from $10.95 to $23.95.
There are many homemade desserts to choose from including tiramisu, Italian style cheesecake, chocolate or lemon tart, a variety if sorbet, chocolate cake and others.
We tried the chocolate cake and the tiramisu. The rich, dense chocolate cake was moist and layered with thick icing – a true, chocolate lover’s dream.
Equally delicious was the tiramisu which was light and creamy with a hint of cinnamon and spices throughout. Coffee, tea, cappuccino, espresso are available as well.
In addition, there is a full bar that includes a wide selection of liquor, wine, and beer.
Reservations are recommended for large parties and all major credit cards are accepted.
Sarelli’s is open for lunch and dinner. They are located on 241 Broadway in Bayonne. For more information, call (201) 858-0865.
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