With their forward flavors, diverse cuisines and down-home to upscale vibes, these winners will put a smile on your face.
By Adam Erace, Andrea Clurfeld, Eric Levin, Fran Schumer, Jill P. Capuzzo, Karen Tina Harrison, Lauren Yobs, Mary Ann Castronovo Fusco, Peg Rosen, Rosie Saferstein, Suzanne Zimmer Lowery, Tammy La Gorce and Tara Nurin | February 1, 2017 | Appears in the February 2017 issue
Robbie Felice made a fateful decision when he graduated from high school in Sussex County. He started a landscaping business, but he had always loved working in his father’s Italian restaurants. He went with the latter. After earning a CIA degree, he spent five years working in top kitchens in Europe and the U.S., including major stints with Mario Batali. Viaggio, the first restaurant of his own, has a filigreed sign that’s hard to spot in its strip-mall location, but inside there’s no mistaking his skill, passion and tireless work ethic for anything generic. His handmade salumi are consummate, his pastas deft and delicious. Perhaps his most rewarding creation, one of the best dishes of the year, is his braised and charred octopus on a tart-sweet apricot mostarda (think Italian chutney) with toothsome gigante beans and chunks of oven-roasted tomato. Felice recently turned 26. As you can tell, we think he made the right decision back when. Viaggio means “journey” in Italian, and his will be worth following.—PR
1055 Hamburg Turnpike, 973-706-7277.