Beeps from shrimp are to die for! Of course, the pot cheese pasta and chicken Savoy are fantastic! I adore the stern environment.
Spirits of New Jersey: Belmont Tavern is a must-see for its retro appeal.
The newest cookbook by chef, author, TV broadcaster, and restaurant Lidia Matticchio Bastianich is titled “Lidia’s Celebrate Like an Italian.” Poughkeepsie Journal/Barbara Gallo Farrell
The Belmont Tavern and Restaurant in Belleville is like stepping into another era. This is a secret gem that few New Jersey residents are aware of, lying unassumingly between a pet store and an Indian grocery store.
My first visit made me feel as though I had walked into a scene from “Goodfellas” because this Essex County hotspot was jam-packed with men and women who were all dressed to the nines. However, given that it was just Monday, there was still a wait to be seated, which to me is a surefire sign that the establishment is a good one.
The restaurant was full and boisterous, but everyone seemed to be having a wonderful time and lost in discussion with one another. The tables were covered in traditional red-and-white checkered tablecloths.
Four of my six friends were regulars at the Belmont Tavern and were familiar with the local customs. When I attempted to purchase a Sauvignon Blanc at the bar, I made the mistake of asking when they would have it in. I was promptly informed that it would be “next week.”
Regulars at the Belmont Tavern nudged me and hushed me, telling me that you can only order red or white wine there.
The bar’s retro atmosphere and way of thinking really stuck with me. This antique establishment doesn’t serve any sophisticated cocktails. There is just good old-fashioned liquor on ice, whiskey neat, white or red wine, and beer to be had, no muddling fruits or martinis.
The bartenders also have that classic edge that is missing from most places these days; they speak the truth about the situation. It made me happy that settings like these still exist where you can feel both out of place and welcome at the same time, much like your beloved grandfather or favorite aunt.
If you were from another state, you might have thought you were entering a Sopranos-style tavern. At the Belmont Tavern, everyone is familiar with one another. The food is traditional, and the restaurant is primarily owned by families.
Everything about it, from the salad they serve you first to the cavatelli with pot cheese ($13.95), was fantastic. The clams oreganato ($7.95), Belmont’s renowned shrimp “beeps” ($13.95), Stretch’s renowned chicken savoy ($14.95), chicken arragiato, also known as chicken parmigiana ($7.95), and chicken parmigiana a.k.a. Along with specials like pork chops Francese and giambotta, crazed chicken costs $14.95. In this trendy setting, it’s simple to enjoy these dishes with a sizable group when they’re served family-style.
None of these choices will let you down. Additionally, since there isn’t a dessert menu here, you may fill up on your entrée. But in classic Belmont Tavern fashion, two enormous platters of Italian pastries were brought to us by a group of men seated next to us. The kind customers who gave us access to these treats were warm and hospitable, just like everyone else.
For a dining experience unlike any other, The Belmont Tavern is a must-go for residents of New Jersey. Simply avoid getting a fancy cocktail!