With an extensive Mediterranean menu and a convenient location, Rigoletto Italian Ristorante on Park Avenue in Weehawken is the perfect stop for a dinner date or just a night out with friends.
With a welcoming entrance, the large dining area is suitable for about 50 patrons. The colorful blue and yellow décor in the dining room is a definite eye-grabber, and the service is superb. Led by the vision of executive chef Filippo Bizzarrini, the menu's top entrees include agnolotti al pecorino served with pecorino cream ($9.95); spaghetti alla matriciana served with tomato sauce, Italian bacon and crushed hot red peppers ($9.95); penne alla vodka served with Italian bacon; risotto alla perugina served with sausage and mushroom cream; chicken parmigiana ($12.95); grilled chicken ($12.95); and grilled lamb ($16.95).
"Everything we prepare and bring to our customers is fresh," Bizzarrini said.
Rigoletto's opened its doors in Weehawken less than a month ago, and so far they have attracted the local crowd and surrounding area residents. Bizzarini is confident that in the fall, and through word-of-mouth, business will continue to grow.
Near the kitchen, there is a posh European-style espresso/cappuccino bar. Patrons are also encouraged to bring their own wine for dinner.
"We have excellent Italian food. We want to be the place area residents come for dinner," said owner Monica Bizzarrini during a recent interview.
I began with a plate of fried calamari ($5.95) and an antipasto Rigoletto sampler ($10). The calamari was crunchy and fresh, with a spicy tomato sauce. The antipasto featured ham, salami, artichoke, olives and seafood. It was enough for two, and a smart way to start the meal. Other appetizers include fresh tomatoes with mozzarella and basil ($6.50), seafood salad ($8.95), and prosciutto and seasoned fruit ($7.95).
For the main course I enjoyed a plate of tronchetto ($13.95). This excellent entrée consisted of spinach and ricotta cheese with tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella in a cannelloni. Ideal for cheese lovers, the combination of ricotta and spinach was just right. I also tried the lasagna ($9.95). This traditional Italian dish featured chopped meat, tomato sauce, and mozzarella. Enough for two, the meat was well-proportioned, and the melted cheese in the meat brought out the sauce's flavor.
If that wasn't enough, I also tried a piece of their sirloin steak ($16.95). Served with special herbs and sauce, it was prepared medium-well. I ate the steak with a side dish of their dolce vita salad ($5.95). The salad came with lettuce, arugula, pecorino romano, cheese, and fruit.
For dessert I had the terrific tiramisu ($4.95) with cappuccino. This pudding-like Italian favorite was mushy on the inside and sweet on the outside. Other desserts include ice cream and chocolate cake.
Rigoletto Italian Ristorante is located on 3706 Park Ave. in Weehawken. They serve dinner seven days a week. For more information call (201) 325-8300. q