San Giuseppe Italian restaurant, located uptown in Hoboken near the city’s only movie theater, goes far beyond what you might expect from a place describing itself as “coal-fired pizza and cucina” – offering everything from linguine with lobster tails to ribbon pasta in veal sauce to unique gourmet pizzas in an elegant setting with 40 tables. It’s a great place to take a date (soft music is usually playing) or to bring the family, and in fact, there were three families with babies dining there when we went.
The appetizers and desserts are as unique as the entrees, with four varieties of dessert pizzas, including one containing caramelized apple, candied walnuts, and vanilla sauce.
Joseph Russo grew up in the small town of Carini, outside Palermo, Sicily. He and his wife, Hoboken native Maria, were married in St. Anne’s Church, so their Hoboken roots go deep.
The couple opened the restaurant, named after their devotion to St. Joseph, this past December after closing the place they ran in Staten Island for 30 years. They wanted to try something different, so they returned to Hoboken, where they raised their kids.
“We chose this area because we see a need for a good Italian restaurant in this new part of Hoboken; where people don’t have to go too far for a relaxing cozy intimate meal,” Maria said.
The menu reflects both traditional and unique homemade food, from both the northern and southern Italian cuisine that are part of their heritage.
“We like to be creative,” said Maria with a smile.
“It’s a great location [the Peachtree Hollow Commons],” said Joseph. “There’s plenty of parking. It’s a new part of Hoboken. People are coming from word of mouth.”
Plenty of customers have taken advantage of the free parking outside the restaurant, although others walk from the theater or the newer condo developments in the area.
Despite the fact that it’s in a very small shopping center near the Clearview Cinemas theater near the Viaduct, people are finding out about it. Friday and Saturday nights are getting busier, and the restaurant takes reservations.
What we ate
The waiter brought out warm, seasoned foccacia thins. Then we ordered our appetizers.
We started with the popular coal-fired chicken wings with caramelized Vidalia onions. We also ordered coal-fired roasted vegetables and a Tuscan salad. Appetizers and salads run from $8.95 to a combo selection of meats and cheeses for $21.95.
The wings were a delicious twist, not spicy at all. The vegetables – yellow sweet peppers, zucchini, eggplant, onions – were well presented and soft, a nice, healthy dish. The salad contained chick peas, tomatoes, parmigiano reggiano shavings, Gaeta olives, and lettuce, another tasty, healthy start to the meal.
Main courses to choose from included gnocchi, penne in an “angry, spicy tomato sauce,” two spaghetti dishes, and then the list of creative “San Giuseppe Signature pasta dishes.” Among those: Nero di Seppia (black linguine with cuttlefish/little squid, sautéed with garlic, oil, and black squid ink, $16.95), and Pasta Buona Sera, rigatoni with sweet sausage, chicken, Gaeta olives, coal-fired peppers and onions in a balsamic sauce, 16.95.
I ordered the popular Pasta Amore, which is Orecchiette pasta served with sweet sausage, peas, plum tomato, and fresh basil, in a white wine sauce, $15.95. The hubby got Pappardelle Bolognese, 13.95, which is flat, wide ribbon pasta in a ground veal sauce with a touch of cream ($13.95).
I also had to try the butternut squash pizza. Other pizza varieties include prosciutto di parma and figs, and a pizza called the Romanza: Fontina cheese, coal-roasted mushrooms, and truffle oil. Signature pies, 14 inches, range from $16 to $20.
Everything was delicious and filling. The sausage and peas were a nice touch to my bowl of Pasta Amore. I also sampled hubby’s ribbon pasta and wanted more: The long, thin ribbon woven through the tomato sauce was a delight. There were also carrots and celery.
As for my pizza – delicious! The sweet, soft squash puree was abundant and well complemented the fontina cheese. The coal-roasted crimini mushroom slices on top were a fresh, juicy delight.
We were also brought the standard margarita pizza, with mozzarella and tomato sauce. San Giuseppe’s pizzas are thin-crust, hot, and crispy. I loved the melted fresh white mozzarella.
The restaurant offers more than a dozen toppings you can add, from caramelized onions to coal-fired roasted sweet peppers.
“We are the only ones in town that will make you a heart shaped pizza.” – Maria Russo
The dessert offerings were very unique – including four 12-inch dessert pizzas, and four pastries.
The cheesecake ($6) was described as more creamy than bready. I enjoyed it more than the standard cheesecake, and liked the thick, fruity crust.
The Linzer torte in a hazlenut crust ($6) was also thick, more crust than jam, and unique but not too sweet. It was dappled with confectioner’s sugar and streaked with raspberry dressing. The restaurant recommends the Baci pizza, which has Nutella and fragole sprinkled with confectionary sugar, $12. Also popular are La Dolce Vita, which has caramel apples, candied walnuts, and vanilla icing, $12, and Sogni Dolci, which has pear, sweet gorgonzola, and candied walnuts ($14).
I enjoyed the La Dolce Vita, especially the sugary walnuts and the vanilla drizzle. There was plenty to go around.
Other pastries include cannoli ($4) and profiteroles ($6).
As for drinks, the restaurant is BYOB, and several customers on Saturday had brought their own wine.
The restaurant doesn’t have its own website yet, but it does have a Facebook page with its complete menu. Right now, they are open Monday through Saturday, but they will expand to Sundays at some point in the future.
They also have started delivering, but usually not at their busiest times – which are Friday and Saturday nights. Reservations are accepted those nights. They also offer curbside takeout.
San Giuseppe’s is located at 1320 Adams St. in the Peachtree Commons shopping center next to Clearview Cinemas. It is open from 4:30 to 10 from Monday through Thursday and until 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. For more information call (201) 942-9200.
Caren Matzner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.