Angelina’s Restaurant Offers Fine Cuisine in a Cozy Hideaway
By Sally Deering
When you enter Angelina’s restaurant on Broadway in Bayonne, you’re greeted by an explosion of kitsch – a display of 45s and old photographs on the walls and music by 50’s and ‘60s groups like The Shirelles crooning from the speakers in a dining room that’s more like a salon with pink walls and red and white table settings. The place seats 35 lucky guests and if you’re one of those lucky ones, you’re in for a real treat and a dinner that will make you think your Italian mom is back in the kitchen cooking your favorites just for you.
Angelina Borrello is the owner and chef of Angelina’s and her son Jon Paul Schaffer is head mixologist and the two work together to give Angelina’s that unique mix of great food and fabulous drinks. On a recent visit, Jon Paul created three of his specialties, the Cherry Bomb, the Dreamcicle and a Mojito that were tasty, “zizzy” and absolutely “da bomb!” Jon Paul’s an artist when it comes to designing new drinks and each libation is a masterpiece of flavors.
The star of Angelina’s is Angelina herself, a self-taught culinary wonder who has been cooking for 38 years starting back when she was a waitress and bought a restaurant without knowing a thing about cooking. As she explains it, “Opening night of the restaurant, I was dressed in this pretty white dress and I was like the princess of the restaurant going around the dining room talking to guests. Then the chef walks out on me. I had to go in the kitchen and cook Shrimp Scampi for a table of six. I didn’t know a thing about making Shrimp Scampi, but I did it and from then on, I’ve been cooking.”
That’s an understatement. Angelina does more than just cook. She creates! She has passion! She takes chicken and crab and shrimp and steak and cooks dishes to order with a Zen-like approach: Keep it simple and let the flavors stand out. She uses only fresh ingredients and nothing is left over and rehashed. And, it’s all cooked to order.
“My regulars don’t even look at the menu, they just tell me what they want and I go in the kitchen and cook it for them,” Angelina says.
And her regulars come from as far away as Australia, Thailand and Ireland and from “Down the Shore”, Staten Island and New York. She has regulars from Pennsylvania who drive hours just for her Roast Pork. Her menu features a Tomato, Basil and Onion Salad; Romaine, Tomato and Onion Salad; Stuffed Artichokes; Eggplant Rollotine; Shrimp Saute; Dungeness Crabs; Shrimp Oregenato; Zuppa de Clams; Zuppa de Mussels; Prime Rib; Roast Pork; Veal or Chicken served Parmagiana, Milanese, Francese or Piccata; and a Seafood Combo of Lobster, Dungeness Crabs, Scallops, Shrimp, Clams and Mussels over a Bed of Linguini that serves four.
Served at every table is a basket of Italian bread – Angelina’s been serving Italian bread from Paramount Bakery for 37 years – and it’s crusty on the outside and soft on the inside, perfect for mopping up the light sauces and gravies Angelina creates from her tiny kitchen.
She has desserts and coffee for after dinner and there’s really no particular closing time. As Jon Paul says, “We close when the food runs out or when Angelina doesn’t want to cook anymore.”
Indeed, Angelina’s restaurant is as unique as Angelina. She works alone in the kitchen, no Sous chef, no dishwasher, just Angelina doing what she loves to do – cook. Not one for the spotlight, Angelina prefers making her dishes the stars of the show.
On a recent Internet search, one happy customer, “Billy C” wrote this review of Angelina’s on Yelp.com: “Hidden Gem! Reasonable Prices! Awesome Chicken Parmagiana, best I’ve tasted. Pork Tenderloin was juicy, moist and delicious. Escarole with garlic was spectacular. Angelina made baked clams even though it wasn’t on the menu. Best and freshest ingredients. Pasta is al dente. Angelina cooks by herself so don’t be in a hurry. Perfection takes time.”
Warm and welcoming, both Angelina and Jon Paul offer their guests a fantastic dining experience – great food, charming atmosphere and a graciousness you don’t find in a lot of restaurants these days.
If you haven’t tried Angelina’s, don’t hesitate. Grab your honey or your BFFs and head over to Angelina’s for a fabulous dining experience. It may be Bayonne’s best kept secret, but trust me, with delicious food like this, it won’t be for long.
928 Broadway (between 44th and 45th Streets)
Hours: Mon.-Sun., 5 p.m. ‘til closing