This past week I had a chance to visit a restaurant for the first time. Attilio's Kitchen in Denville has been open for 10 years, and , unknown to me until now, has a reputation as one of the finest Italian restaurants in New Jersey. The last three years they have been named the best Italian Restaurant in Morris County. One of the owners is Gino Pesci, cousin of actor Joe Pesci. I knew nothing about the place or even what kind of restaurant it was. I went because recently I've heard from 2 different people that they serve the best Italian Hot Dog in Jersey.
I decided to go and see for myself. Unless you are a hot dog fanatic like me, you come here for posssibly the best Italian food in the state. Even if you are a hot dog fanatic, you should still come here for Italian food. And the Italian Hot Dogs, which are top notch. A beautiful restaurant which definitely has the best atmosphere of any restaurant I've been to. The building is the restored 19th century E.C.Peer General Store that dates back to before the Civil War. It was a store as well as a residence. It has a rustic, log cabin feel to it. Much of their homemade food is available in their store to take home. There are a few dining rooms as well as a couple of private dining rooms upstairs that you can reserve.
I was so impressed with the place itself that when I returned home I googled it and read many reviews, all of which were positive. Since I was there for an Italian Hot Dog, that is what I ordered. But while there, I was told that the homemade mozzarella came in 2nd place in the Star Ledger Munchmobile's contest held a few years ago. That's impressive since there were close to a thousand entries. I decided to order it as an appetizer. The mozzarella came with peppers and black olives, and was outstanding. Better than any I've had.
As for the Italian Hot Dog, it was better than what I anticipated. I had expected a good one based on what I heard, but the sandwich here I would put in the top tier of Italian Hot Dogs along with Jimmy Buff's East Hanover and Tommy's in Elizabeth. The bread was good, thick, and sturdy. Very similar to what is served at the Jimmy Buff's mentioned. It comes from JC's bakery in Parsippany. The dogs are from Best's and are 8 to a lb in size. The green peppers (I don't get onions) were done perfectly and generously applied. As good as I've had anywhere. The potatoes were tasty and cut in chunks like Dickiee Dees rather than in thin slices like Jimmy Buff's or Tommy's. I usually prefer the thin sliced potatoes, but these were fine.
I would definitely recommend the Italian Hot Dog if you live in the area and crave one for lunch. But unless hot dogs are your favorite thing to eat (like they are for me) I suggest that if you're going to travel here, come for the other food. The website is http://www.attilioskitchen.com. I noticed many people eating pizzas (it was lunch time) so I ordered 2 to take home for later. I got the Pizza Margherita and the Pizza Gorgonzola. Both were fantastic heated in the oven later, but I especially enjoyed the Pizza Gorgonzola with mozzarella, gorgonzola cheese, mushrooms, and bacon. One of the best pizzas I've had.
Before I left I got to talk with Gino Pesci. He makes it a point to try and meet everyone who visits his restaurant. Of course, I spoke with him about the Italian Hot Dog. He grew up in Newark and ate many Italian Hot Dogs at Dickiee Dees. That's why the potatoes are similar. And that's why you can get a great Italian Hot Dog in Morris County where you don't usually see them. But the sandwich here is much better than Dickiee Dees. The bread is better, the dogs are bigger, peppers are soft instaed of crunchy, and while the potatoes are similar, they're better at Attilio's.
There is no liquor license, so bring your own. There is a lunch and dinner menu (see website) and entertainment on Friday and Saturday evenings. I'll be back soon.
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