Il Villaggio Restaurant
22 Gibraltar Drive 
(Powder Mill Plaza)
      Morris Plains, NJ  07950      
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Il Villaggio Restaurant
Where: Powder Mill Plaza, Route 10 East (22 Gibraltar Drive), Parsippany (with a Morris Plains address)
Phone: (973) 644-4888; fax: (973) 993-8977

Hours: Monday-Thursday, 11:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m.; Sunday, 12:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m.

Cuisine: Italian.

Liquor: BYOB. A liquor store is next door.

Payment: American Express, Visa and MasterCard.

Price range: Lunch, $7.50-$14.50; dinner, $11.95-$24.50

Reservations: Recommended for parties of five or more.

Dress: Casual but neat.

The scene: Business people from local offices on Routes 10 and 53; repeat customers, families and friends getting together. Large parties are drawn to Il Villaggio for the fine banquet facilities.

Atmosphere: Two dining rooms consisting of booths and tables. Additional dining room with a garden atmosphere for party facilities and/or regular dining.

Outdoor dining: Large patio with tables and umbrellas next to a garden.

Parking: 100-car parking lot in strip mall.

Service: Friendly, attentive and extensive knowledge about the menu. Usually a fine list of daily specials; off-premise catering is available. Entire menu is available for take out.

Specialties: Chicken & Sausage Giambotta (graced with mushrooms, peppers, onions and potato); Veal Toscana; Grouper Gratinato (breadcrumb parmesan encrusted fish with a light lemon/white wine sauce); Rigatoni Sausage & Cream.

Owner and manager: Frank Reda, owner; Debbie Savino, manager.

MTW Eats: 24-year tradition for elegant dining

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Il Villaggio Restaurant at Powder Mill Plaza in Parsippany (but with a Morris Plains address) is one of Morris County's notable veteran dining locations with a 24-year track record of success.

For long-time Morris County residents, this restaurant began as the Italian Chalet in Denville, moved to this location and was renamed Il Villaggio. Over the years, it has attracted a large following for its fine Italian cuisine in a gracious setting at reasonable prices.

When dining at Il Villaggio, there are a number of different settings. Enter a small intimate dining room as you walk into the restaurant. Then you can proceed into a large, gaily decorated dining room ideal for group get-togethers and celebration meals. And for the summer, enjoy the patio -- Il Villaggio's outdoor dining area with round tables and umbrellas looking out onto a garden.

Along with excellent standard Italian cuisine, Il Villaggio's menu boasts a variety of different touches. Chicken, for example, can range from Chicken Parmigiana, Francese, Bolognese, Cacciatore and Marsala to Scarpariello (chunks of white meat chicken sautéed in a white wine, lemon, butter and garlic sauce) Murphy (chicken, Italian parsley, hot cherry peppers, vinegar peppers, onions, white wine and herbs) or Balsamico (with vinegar peppers, mushrooms and capers in a tart balsamic vinegar sauce).

Also, there are a number of terrific fish dishes to try: Shrimp and Scallops Villaggio (shrimp & scallops over tri-color rotelli pasta with broccoli, peppers, garlic and oil) and Sole Marechiara (filet of sole with light red sauce with basil & onion). How about Salmon Primavera -- salmon filet with light tomato sauce with julienne vegetables? Or other dishes with a number of luscious seafood items Marinara or Diavolo (a blend of garlic, red pepper and marinara sauce).

"Our restaurant's success is really based on keeping good relationships with our customers," said Frank Reda, owner of Il Villaggio since it opened in 1984. "We have a large number of people who have been with us for many years.

"Our main goal is to prepare and serve a good quality product. Second, to attract and maintain a steady flow of customers, we also work at keeping our prices reasonable."

Reda also recognizes the community where this business has flourished over the years. For example, Thanksgiving festivities have been offered gratis to all senior citizens for more than 20 years. Dinner starts with a choice of soup; the entrée is a choice of turkey or meat with trimmings. Dessert consists of apple or pumpkin pie with ice cream along with coffee or tea.

And Veteran's Day dinner is free to veterans and American Red Cross personnel (sometimes topping 100 guests for this meal).

But the final vote on the quality of this restaurant comes directly from the customers.

Bob and Sheri Magnotta from Randolph probably come here three times a week and have been customers since Il Villaggio opened. Bob said, "The food is freshly made, always a wide variety, and they customize any dish you'd like."

Sheri added, "I have had a lot of different things here over the years. The food and service are very consistent. Bob often says to me, 'Where do you feel like going for dinner?' and I usually respond, 'Where do you think I want to go?' If we mention this restaurant to our family, my granddaughter Kimberly Magnotta usually says, 'Can't wait to see Debbie!'" (That's Debbie Savino, Il Villaggio's manager.)

Gail and Dave Heiner recently dined at Il Villaggio with their daughter Jillian (a student at the University of Delaware who is home for the summer) and Joan Deering, Dave's mother (all from Morris Township).

"We love the service," Gail said. "Everything is good, and the cost is excellent for the quality."

Jillian added, "I think I have come here more in the past year than having a home-cooked meal. I usually get their Chicken Francese."

And the Graver family -- Barry and Marlene with their daughter Amy Staats (she lives in Morristown). Barry said, "We have been coming here since the grand opening. Our children were raised on IV food. In fact, we even refer to the restaurant as IV's. The staff is another indication of IV's quality -- most have been here since the restaurant started. My praises go to Debbie, Lorraine, Jackie, Oscar and the owner, Frank Reda."

Marlene added, "The food and service are 100 percent consistent. Order anything off the menu and you will be absolutely thrilled. We have a long tradition with this restaurant -- our daughter Amy worked here as a hostess while in Randolph High School (class of 1993)."

Barry's final comment: "We were visiting Hawaii this past April and thinking about dinner. I simply told Marlene, 'I'm having an IV craving.'"

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