Business is booming at the Village Trattoria. A sudden snowfall on Wednesday afternoon didn’t keep anyone away, as more than half of the restaurant’s 25 tables were packed with a typical lunchtime crowd of co-workers, students and families. Sounds of laughter and easy conversation filled the air at this modernly-decorated downtown pizza joint.
Everyone seemed to be enjoying different dishes. At the table to my left, a mom noshed on a Greek salad while her two young children devoured penne pasta, getting marinara sauce all over their cheeks. Next to them, a group of students worked their way through a barbeque chicken pizza, and behind me an older couple was polishing off homemade fried calamari. No matter what they had in front of them, every table looked and sounded happy.
Normally, the South Orange Avenue restaurant—a sibling to the Trattoria in Maplewood Village and another location in Summit—only has wait service for dinner. I didn’t realize this—should’ve checked the Patch listing before I went!—so when we got there, we took a table and waited for the server to take our order. I felt silly once I realized we were the only group that didn’t order before sitting down, but rather than make me feel awkward, someone brought me a menu and acted as our waiter. The staff was friendly, ready to help customers choose from the many menu options.
Everything about our meal was fabulous. The bread was soft and freshly baked; salads were crisp with just the right amount of dressing. I ordered the Vegetable Roselli, a cold sub with grilled zucchini, eggplant, roasted red peppers, arugula and mozzarella cheese in a balsamic marinade. It’s served on the Trattoria's special “pizza bread”—if your favorite part of a pizza slice is the crust, you’ll love this bread! My dad had a huge serving of Chicken Parmigiana, and there was enough to bring home for a second meal. The breaded chicken was incredibly tender, and the chef clearly didn’t skimp on the cheese. The calzones were also overflowing with cheese, with the dough cooked to perfection.
Village Trattoria is the place to go if you are looking for a casual, affordable yet incredible Italian meal. Everything is homemade, with the pizza tossed right behind the counter. Only open since the summer in the location of the often-missed Dancing Goat Cafe, it's sure to be a hit for years to come.
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