The place was absolutely mobbed Saturday night! Never seen it this busy. Villa Barone has a tendency to be a noisy restaurant — there’s no carpeting — but when it’s filled to the max, and there are people waiting for tables, it is absolutely deafening in here. They were running a bit behind — although we had a reservation we still had to wait almost half an hour for a table. We didn’t really care much about that — we’re pretty easygoing — and what can you do if folks linger?

Pollo Fantasia: with spinach, ricotta, fresh mozz, and a light marinara

This is “our” Italian restaurant — the one a couple of minutes from home, where the food is good, the atmosphere is welcoming, the dress is casual. In our part of New Jersey, there are probably 30 Italian restaurants within five miles of wherever you are. It’s surprising how few of them pass muster.

House Toscano for 3: as you enter Villa Barone, you see a table to your left laden with tempting dishes of grilled vegetables, olives, white beans, sharp cheese… Ask for the House Toscano and your waiter will compose a platter of these wonderful vegetables for the table. Probably our favorite appetizer in the house. Beware: the grilled long hot peppers are sweet, hot, smoky, and, on occasion, ferociously hot. You can’t tell until you try one!

Portions are very generous at Villa Barone, but dishes are prepared with an eye towards lightness. Instead of a thick and fatty béarnaise or hollandaise on the Veal Oscar, the hollandaise is light and almost brothy. The marinara sauces, as well, are light and fresh, not thick, long-cooked, and meat-flavored.

Veal Oscar: with asparagus, jumbo lump crab meat, and hollandaise (a departure from the more traditional béarnaise). The veal was tender but not too (we want our veal to still have the texture of meat, not soft butter), and the crab meat was sweet and perfect.

Every table receives a basket of fresh rolls made from pizza dough, we believe, along with a dish of spiced garlic oil for dipping.

Everyone at the table receives a simple green salad. We particularly like the very lightly creamy vinaigrette.

38 Robbinsville Allentown Road
Robbinsville NJ 08691
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LAF review of Villa Barone