You need to be in training if you plan on eating an entire dinner at Buon Appetito. The servings are humongous, so you either have to come starving or at least alert the rest of the family that you will be bringing home a lot of delicious food.
We visited when there was the slightest hint of spring in the air, and tables were already out on the sidewalk, a positive sign that you could soon eat al fresco at this ever-popular Broadway eatery.
They have an extensive wine list and lots of bottled beer, which our waiter, Derik, rattled off from memory. We settled in with a couple of beers and a huge basket of fresh bread. I was really glad it came with butter. Olive oil is great, but sometimes you just want butter to melt on a beautiful slice of warm bread. Fair warning! Easy on the bread, you’ve got a long way to go.
My dinner companion ordered lobster bisque, a Friday specialty. The menu said a cup, but it was a large bowl. I took a sip. It was light and tasty instead of too heavy and creamy.
Anthony Stoebling, the owner, sent out many more dishes than we could possibly have eaten, but here is a rundown. All of it was flavorful, well balanced, and prepared with a creative combination of ingredients. The first to appear was a very large but somehow delicate homemade lasagna with meat and cheese, and a lovely zuppa dépêche, a savory seafood stew with clams, mussels, scallops, and shrimp, served with spaghetti. To get some greens into our meal, we ordered a side of spinach, sautéed with garlic.
Any normal people would have called it quits at this point, but out comes two more delectable dishes: veal osso bucca, meaning “bone with a hole,” a braised veal shank with mashed potatoes and gravy, and chicken Michael Angelo, topped with prosciutto, jumbo shrimp, and fresh mozzarella in a light sherry cream sauce.
At this point, I decided that I would just have to come back another time and try any one of these dishes all on its own.
OK, here’s where my friend thought I’d lost my mind. I wanted to order dessert. I wasn’t going to leave a fabulous Italian restaurant without ordering a fabulous Italian dessert. I chose the tartufo, vanilla and chocolate ice cream with cherries in a chocolate shell. It had something crunchy in the middle—an almond maybe? I nearly finished it, and my friend couldn’t resist taking a bite.
We ate it with frothy cappuccinos topped with lots of whipped cream. OMG!
A word about the ambience: Jimmy, the manager, and Derik, our waiter, couldn’t have been more gracious and accommodating. The dining room is painted in tranquil, muted colors with posters on the walls, and Josh Groban sings softly in the background. There is a small bar to the left as you enter.
We came early on a Friday evening, and soon the dining room started to fill with Bayonne regulars, a friendly, neighborly bunch, starting the weekend at their favorite hometown eatery. — Kate Rounds
While you can never predict what kind of crowd you’ll get at a restaurant on any given night, a recent Friday night at Buon Appetito had a good mix. Families and friends came early, and later on, dating couples drifted in.
This is one of those quality places that doesn’t intimidate you, providing a comfortable, pleasant atmosphere that doesn’t make you feel like you ought to wear the best clothing you own.
That is until the food arrives, and you get bowled over with not only the flavor and quantity, but prices so reasonable you can fill up and still keep the mortgage to your home.
Considering the location at 906 Broadway is a short ride from downtown Jersey City or Hoboken, Buon Appetito is a good choice for anyone looking to avoid the parking issues of those places and still have a quality dining experience.
The place is full, but not overly crowded, a popular local eatery with several new features such as the sidewalk café tables outside that give the place a Hoboken feel. The interior is lighted by tiny crystal chandeliers that combine with the earthy colors of the drapes and paint to give the place a quiet luxury.
A diverse menu
The menu is remarkably diverse with ample dinner specials, a remarkable selection of fish, numerous sauce combinations, and pleasant and original appetizers.
While the menu has its share of meat items, it is particularly rich in veal dishes, including traditional ones as well as some unique to the restaurant.
Entrees range from $10.95 for eggplant rollatini to $36.95 for surf and turf with most items under $20, including a number of chicken items.
The menu offers a number of pastas and homemade raviolis, including rigatoni vodka at $9.95, homemade potato dumplings at $10.95, and stuffed rigatoni at $13.95.
The menu provides some of the classic appetizers including fried calamari with marinara sauce, and mussels with a choice of marinara or white wine sauce – a terrific blend of wine and garlic.
The calamari was very tender and the mussels were very fresh. Both sauces were richly spiced.
Other offerings include stuffed mushrooms, claims oreganata, stuffed eggplant and stuffed shrimp. Appetizers ranged from $8.95 to $9.95 with ample quantities.
Salads and soups range from $3.50 for soup of the day to $6.95 for fresh mozzarella salad.
The lobster bisque soup is buttery without being overly sweet, thick with bits of lobster.
Fish is the dish
Fish is one of the specialties of Buon Appetito, and Tony Stoebling, the owner, said he seeks the freshest fish he can find. But it also has to be high quality.
“If you use the good stuff, it comes out differently than if you use cheap stuff,” he said.
Sneaking in samples of some special appetizers, the prosciutto wrapped shrimp was stunning, a complex combination of cured meat and extremely fresh shrimp.
The classic steak dinner was tasty and very American, a hearty dish that gives the diners yet one more choice in what seems like an endless variety of quality dishes.
The wine list is terrific. Recently expanded, it offers quality selections for each person’s budget, providing selections from $16 a to $108 bottle, although most selections range between $16 to $18.
Because Stoebling realizes that his place is attractive to families – many of those in the place looked like grandparents with their grandkids – he offers a kids menu that includes homemade macaroni and cheese, and other items that might appeal to the younger crowd.
If the main menu was a challenge to choose from, desserts were overwhelming, not only in choice, but in taste, from Italian-style cheesecake and sorbet to tortoni and the classic cannoli. Each dessert had a complexity and richness that made it stand out from the others, yet any one of them might have served as a signature piece.
Open for lunch, too
With a corner bar, the restaurant can easily become a quiet gathering place for couples later in the evening.
Open from 11 a.m. to about 10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday, and 1 to 9 p.m. on Sundays, Buon Appetito offers provides a good daytime place for lunch as well as dinner, and is loaded with daily specials and intriguing offers. Offers include Thursday’s free for kids with one paying adult, and Friday’s seafood extravaganza. Saturday has a family-style menu which serves two to three people and includes a bottle of wine for $5.
Buon Appetito also offers free delivery and catering on and off the premises.
The lunch menu includes cold and hot sandwiches, usually in three sizes ranging in price from $7 and $8 for small sandwiches, $7.50 to $9 for medium, and $15 to $18 for large. The menu includes soups from $3 for a pint to $6 for a quart, except for lobster bisque offered on Fridays at $4.50 and $9. There is a rich selection of lunch time pasta dishes ranged from $7 to $12, and an all you can eat buffet on Wednesday and Sunday for $12 per person. As with the diner menu, the lunch menu has an ample selection of veal, chicken, and seafood sections as well as eggplant dishes.
For more information you can call the restaurant at 201-436-0043 or go-on line at http://www.buonappetitoitalian.com.
Ristorante lives up to its name
by S.J. Gintzler, the Star-Ledger (10/29/04)
Buon Appetito in Bayonne is a double delight. You can get its well-prepared Italian-American standards either in the siit-down restaurant or takeout at its adjacent deli.
Ambience: Access both the restaurant (to the left) and the deli (to the right), via one entrance. A bar fronts the simple, spacious, brightly lit dining room, which has been a popular neighborhood spot for a dozen years. A family-friendly feel permeates the space.
Food: Reasonably priced, hearty portions of home-style dishes. Meatballs and spaghetti, linguine in clam sauce, shrimp parmigiana and veal parmigiana are typical options along with daily specials. Complete family-style diinners are also available: $19.95 for eight or more, including antipasto, salad, pasta, entree, dessert and beverage. An all-you-can-eat buttet offers a selection of dishes off the regular menu. At the deli, you'll find cold cuts, sandwiches, cheeses, salads, soups and daily hot specials (lasagna, baked ziti, heroes) to go.
Appetizers more than satisfied. Our hands-down favorite was a salad of bocconcini (small balls of mozzarella), roma tomatoes, basil, roasted peppers, cheese tortellini, greens and pickled vegetables, dressed just so. A flavor-packed chicken-pastina soup made us feel like kids again. Stuffed mushrooms were big, juicy and packed with seasoned cubed bread, cheese and chopped 'shrooms in a bread-dunkable garlic-wine sauce.
Entrees were appealing. A simple, sensational rigatoni with broccoli rabe was a garden of perfectly cooked bitter greens tossed with al dente pasta in a savory roasted garlic broth. Eggplant parmigiana had two fork-tender rollatine rolled around and around thin layers of ricatto. It was topped in tomato sauce and molten mozzarella. A terrific veal brasciole coated in marinara was stuffed with a savory-sweet combo of prosciutto, sausage, herbs, pignoli and raisins. Chicken francese was just right - three hearty fillets resting in an A-plus garlic/butter/lemon/wine sauce. Dishes came with choice of pasta with marinara.
For dessert, we opted for the imported reginetta, a frozen confection featuring a chocolate cookie base topped with vanilla ice cream, coconut and a crown of chocolate.
Buon Appetito is a fine spot for well-executed Italian-American fare.