15 Fox Place in Jersey City Puts the Home in Home Cooking

Pictured (r) Kathryn Budinich and her friend and Co-worker Mary Lou Roche
Pictured (r) Kathryn Budinich and her friend and Co-worker Mary Lou Roche

Kathryn Budinich Transforms her Jersey City One-Family into Supper Club

By Sally Deering

 15 fox place inside dining roomLike many other houses in the Marion Section of Jersey City (west of Journal Square) Kathryn Budinich’s humble little home has a screen door, cozy rooms and a backyard – and that’s about all it has in common with the other houses on the block.

 In 1999, Budinich, her husband Richie and son Mark transformed the family’s modest one-family into an exclusive dining club where Budinich and her staff, including her long-time friend Mary Lou Roche serve guests in two floors of rooms decorated in Victoriana frills, figurines and frou-frou and formal table-settings in crystal and porcelain. The lighting is low, intimate and perfect for the six-course dinner Budinich serves over the course of three luxurious hours.

 A self-taught chef, Budinich learned to make Italian dishes and desserts listening to her mother, aunts and neighbors who brought in suppers when Budinich and her family worked the feasts sponsored by Our Lady of Mt. Carmel church and school their children attended. Years later, Budinich opened Word of Mouth caterers and in 1999 she turned her 15 Fox Place home into a supper club. Fourteen years later, business is so good customers have to make reservations two months in advance and Budinich only opens Friday, Saturday and one other night during the week. She also had to move out of her home to accommodate the demand for reservations. 

 “One Valentine’s Day I needed the seating, so. I took everything out of my office and put a table and tchotchkes in there. We now called it the Library,” Budinich says. “I live in Nutley now.”

 Reservations are necessary because Budinich only opens for dinner on Friday and Saturday nights and then either Thursday or Sunday nights – depending on her schedule. She also doesn’t give her guests a menu with lists of dishes to choose from. Instead, Budinich and her son, Chef Mark Budinich design a seasonal menu and everyone is served the same dishes. (If you’re allergic to something, Budinich will accommodate your dietary needs if you contact her in advance.)

 And what a menu it is. Six courses of homemade Italian dishes that make you feel you’re vacationing in Naples. Yes, that good!  On a recent visit, I tasted a few dishes like Pizza Frittes, little pizzas made with lightly fried dough stuffed with cheese and topped with her sweet, delicious tomato sauce. I ate four of them and could have eaten four more. I also tried Budinich’s Eggplant Rollatine and it was out of his world. The eggplant was thinly sliced and light as a feather. I also tried her Meatballs with Peas. Budinich’s meatballs are light and tasty in her signature red sauce with plump peas a yummy addition. She stuffed Cubanelle Peppers with her own tasty bread crumb mixture and her Baked Manicotti overflowed with cheese smothered in her sweet red sauce. Everything was really delicious.

 Other classic Budinich dishes include Polenta Arrabiatta, polenta served with a hot and spicy sausage sauce; Shrimp in White Wine Sauce; Baked Mussels; Chicken Saltimbocca; Baked Homemade Manicotti with Budinich’s “Sunday” Gravy and Asparagus and Cream Pasta.

Budinich serves guests who travel from all over the world including Australia, Italy and Hawaii to eat her cuisine; 15 Fox Place has a mailing list of 9,000. It’s also a terrific venue for weddings and private parties and there’s an outdoor patio for guests who prefer dining under the stars in summer.

 15 Fox Place has been favorably reviewed by Zagat and Yelp customers who have given the dining club a five-star rating. The New York Times also favorably reviewed 15 Fox Place and Budinich and her restaurant were just featured in a segment on TV’s Pix 11.  All this attention is great for business, Budinich says, but she doesn’t do it for the reviews, she cooks because she loves what she does.

 “Every day is a party and every day I’m making people happy,” Budinich says. “When people come here, they have a different attitude than when they go to a restaurant. They’re coming for the experience. It’s a happy place.”

 If you go:

15 Fox Place

Jersey City

Fri, Sat nights; and, either Thurs. or Sun. nights

Reservations Required

 (201) 333-1476


For info, email: staff@womcatering.com


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