Philly-Born Pizzicato Has Taste For Bigger Things

Pizzicato opened Nov. 22 at the Morristown Mall in New Jersey and the best advice I can give is to get there fast before the crowds really start coming.  The stand-alone restaurant -- well, it shares the building with a Pei Wei -- in the mall's parking lot is the fourth in a chain started 13 years ago at 248 Market St. in Philly. It was followed by one on Route 73 South in Marlton N. J. five years later which was followed by one that opened earlier this year in Ocean City.

The generous menu is common to all branches and is, mostly, Italian fare prepared to near perfection. There are 12 appetizer courses on the dinner menu including a classic antipasto plate. There are also eight salads; 10 pizzattes, which are gourmet pizzas for one; 13 pasta courses; and seven entrees.

Prices for the main meal range from $16 for the Bucatini al'Amatriciana pasta dish which features onion, pancetta and pomodoro sauce to the $25 for the Black Angus New York Strip Steak in a porcini rub with cipollinis and fingerling potatoes. It should be noted that the whole fish dish -- its stuffed with lemon, garlic and herbs and filleted tableside with mashed potatoes and mixed vegetables -- is market price.

All the pasta, by the way, except for  the whole wheat spaghetti, is prepared on premise by Executive Chef Rich Sciavetti, who has been with Pizzicato almost from the time the Philadelphia original opened.

For our meal, I started off with the Tuscany bean soup -- which was a special -- while my companion had the pear salad with the lavender dressing. Both were delicious and extremely filling to the point that neither of us chose to finish with the expectation of what was to come.

For the main course, I had the pollo saltimbocca which was chicken generously wrapped in prosciutto and sage on top of a bed of sweet mashed potatoes covered with wilted spinach. It was delicious. It was abundant. It was different. It was perfect. I did not finish the sweet potatoes, as tasty as they were, to save room for desert.

My companion had the eggplant involtini which was ricotta, spinach and Parmesan over that home-made pasta del giorno and marinara. Likewise she raved about her dish and her serving was ample enough to take a good bit home. She also saved room for dessert, which in her case was two cannolis whereas mine was the white and dark chocolate mousse cake. I finished this one.

The desserts are also made on premises and have a standard price of $6.75. They are delicious and a bargain.

The restaurant was so clean it sparkled. It was well lit and the booths were many and comfortable. Our waitress, Mary, was fantastic. The other waitstaff were equally upbeat and showed no hesitation to pitch in whether  to refill our coffee cups or clear our dishes. Joe Evangelista, the manager, was everywhere greeting customers. You could tell he enjoys his job.

The restaurant's hours are 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursdays with it being open an extra hour on Fridays and Saturdays. It's BYOB but there is no corking fee. There is a children's menu. It does takeout and catering.

Any criticisms? Why yes.

The website, www.pizzicatoristorante.com, does not list the newest restaurants. Really, what's up with that?

The coffee was just average. Hardly worth mentioning but the only reason one would notice was that everything else was so good.

Would I return? In a heartbeat.

If you need to MapQuest for directions the address is 400 Route 38, Moorestown NJ. 08057.

Pizzicato is a quality operation with what looks like a good formula. Don't be surprised to start seeing new ones pop up in Pennsylvania.

 

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