The Garden State’s dining scene and chefs are ever more dynamic, adventurous and assured.

By Eric Levin | | July 26, 2019

Robbie Felice has a knack for creating dishes that taste even better than they sound, such as a recent tagliatelle with shrimp and corn in a buttery jalapeño pesto. You don’t want to share it, yet you want everyone at the table, maybe even the world, to taste it.

At the same time, he reinvents dishes you think you know, like tricolore salad. The key is the ultrafine slicing of the endive and radicchio and the topping of radicchio cream, hazelnut brittle and a snowdrift of grated ricotta salata. His fried calamari eschews the mainstream marinara, instead imbuing the crispy rings with the flavors of seaside Sorrento—fresh lemon most of all, soothed with butter, sparked with Calabrian chilies and pickled shallots. “It’s one of the dishes that’s made us who we are,” he says.

The bresaola, porchetta and other salumi he and his team laboriously create in house are stellar. At 28, Felice has realized his dream of owning a second restaurant: Osteria Crescendo in Westwood, also on this list.

Riding herd on both places, breaking downsides of meat at a friend’s butcher shop, working out in the gym every day at 6 am, and tearing around on his racing motorcycles when time and weather permit, he has gotten where he is by never taking his foot off the pedal, in any sense. BYO

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