River View Observer reviews Laico’s Restaurant one of Hudson County’s favorite and Best Italian Restaurants
by Sally Deering
Thirty-eight years ago, Louis and Felice Laico opened a neighborhood restaurant on Terhune Ave in Jersey City, where families shared a huge pizza pie, soda came in a pitcher and beer flowed from the tap. A humble family eatery serving delicious Italian cuisine to neighborhood regulars, professors at the local colleges and old-timers who shared colorful stories of Jersey City back in the day.
Although Louis and Felice have since passed on, their son Louis Laico, Jr, who worked side-by-side with his mom and dad, took over the restaurant, keeping that warm, ‘welcome-to-the-family’ ambience that invites you in as soon as you enter the door. Laico family members wait tables and bartend – Louis’s brother-in-law Jimmy Wolowitz is bar manager and Louis’ wife Gloria sometimes fills in when they need a hostess.
Laico’s dining room offers a warm ambience and the bar has been somewhat modernized with sexy light spilling from Italian glass fixtures and HD-TV on the wall. But the restaurant’s main ingredient and menu regulars like spicy calamari; and Speidini alla Romana appetizers are house favorites along with entrees including Paglia e Fieno with shrimp and lobster in vodka cream sauce; Orechietti with broccoli rabe and sausage; and filet mignon scaloppini Madeira with wild mushrooms. Louis complements these dishes with daily specials like pan-seared Diver scallops; fresh-grilled Bronzino filet with grilled asparagus; and pastas like rigatoni with pork ragout. (Laico’s appetizers range from $6.95- to- $12.95 and entrees from $14.95- to- $26.95.)
“Louis started out using old family recipes and now he makes up his own recipes,” Nancy Salerno, Louis’s sister-in-law, who handles Laico’s PR, says. “Over the years, the menu has become fresher and lighter. In the beginning it was heavy Northern Italian, chicken parmesan, lasagna, things like that. Louis still makes those classics but added wonderful robust-y dishes like pastas, pork loin and veal chops.”
Hearty dishes attract hearty eaters and many of Laico’s regulars are Giants and Jets professional football players. When a reporter from Forbes Business magazine was doing a story on the teams, several members mentioned Laico’s as one of their favorite places. The reporter called Louis and said, ‘your name keeps coming up’ and after a visit to the restaurant, she named Laico’s the best Italian restaurant in New York and New Jersey.
Laico’s is also vegetarian-friendly and Louis can reconstruct dishes on the menu with a vegetable broth base and other vegetarian specifications. All entrees are served with a family-style salad made with Laico’s famous secret dressing and homemade garlic bread and fresh Italian bread. The full bar offers classic and specialty drinks and a vast selection of wines by the glass and bottle, and everything on the menu is available for take-out. Laico’s can also cater any type of party, business luncheon, wedding reception – you name it.
More than just a neighborhood eatery, Laico’s has a solid reputation in the tri-state area as a fine Italian restaurant serving great food at reasonable prices. And you don’t have to worry about finding a parking space, either. Laico’s offers free valet parking.
“Over the years, the clientele has become so diverse,” Salerno says. “It started out as a neighborhood pizza place and bar and now we have customers from New York, Pennsylvania. I have friends who live out of state and the first thing they do when they come to New York is eat at Laico’s. Teachers from New Jersey City University come at lunchtime and bring their family back at night for dinner. Seats are close and people are always striking up conversations with the people sitting next to them. It’s really good food – nice portions at a reasonable price and people come back because it’s worth it. The atmosphere and the people that are here, it’s a nice social place.”
67 Terhune Ave, Jersey City
Reservations accepted – walk-ins welcome
Hours: Mon-Thurs 11:30 am-10 pm;
Fri, Sat 11:30 am-11 pm; Sun 1 pm-9 pm
Free Valet Parking
Photo of Laico’s Restauarant Yelp.com