It’s July and in West Caldwell has already booked a Christmas party.
That’s a good sign for a business that opened its doors less than two months ago.
Almost everything is new at this pizzeria and restaurant, with one notable exception. Husband and wife owners Tom and Bonnie Graziano — Basking Ridge residents — are proud to bring Gennaro Romeo back to this location at 40 Clinton Road, where Tom worked for about a decade when it was home to the popular Italianisimo.
The Grazianos say they were matched up with Romeo—who is known for his grandma pizza and signature gravy—through a mutual friend. After searching for the perfect location for more than three years, it was Romeo who suggested going back to the same kitchen in this strip mall after Italianisimo’s successor, .
The large storefront was gutted and remodeled into two spaces, a casual counter-service area and a more elegant sit-down area.
The Grazianos own franchises at the Willowbrook Mall, including Dairy Queen and Charlie’s Cheesesteak. This is the first time the couple from Basking Ridge has ventured out of franchising.
“We know how to run restaurants and he [Gennaro] knows how to cook,” Tom Graziano told Patch Tuesday.
Bonnie Graziano added, “We really want to offer very high quality food at very good prices.”
Entrees range from $14.95 for chicken parmigiana to $19.95 for filet of sole oreganata—one of Bonnie’s favorites. Dishes come with salad and a choice of vegetable or pasta.
From the more casual selections, a slice of pizza is under two dollars and cold subs and wraps are $6.95.
Romeo, who hails from Naples, said he has been cooking professionally for more than 25 years. He said he uses recipes that were passed down by his mother and grandmother.
The chef is enjoying being recognized by customers and along with the owners is seeing a lot of repeat business.
Gennaro’s Cucina is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and is now offering delivery. Major credit cards are accepted. It’s a B.Y.O.B. The restaurant is available for parties and offers off-premise catering.