Jersey Food

Jersey Spin - October, 2008

Inside This Edition: New Jersey Food Reviews By The Jersey Shadow: Bona Vida Osteria in Summit, NJ and Ritz Diner in Livingston, NJ 


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Feedback is always welcome on all of my reviews.  Drop me an email if you like! - Jersey Shadow - 


Bona Vita Osteria - The Mamma Tucci saga continues as the team has moved to Summit and taken the new flowery name of Bona Vita Osteria.  Mamma Tucci worked just fine for me, but then so did their little Bistro in Madison, then the more ambitious version in Livingston.  This group of hardworking individuals did try hard at both locations with many a pleased diner, but apparently both were far from successful financially, otherwise they would still be there.
Tucked away on Maple Street is the team trying to get things right from a business perspective at their new location, and they may well be on the way to years of success.  The food has always been superb, and now this new location may provide ownership and staff with a stable and profitable business.  It's flat out stupid to rush right into a new place with an eye toward evaluating it, but after at least a couple of months if things aren't right at this new location, they are not likely to get better as the team has been doing this for quite some time. 


Much larger than Mama Tucci in Madison and smaller than Mama Tucci in
Livingston, Bona Vita Osteria is comfortable and cozy with an old school
feel to match the old building.  Affluent Summit also is a great place for
"try number three" with heavy foot traffic and not totally impossible
parking.  It's also a good area for walking with many bustling shops.
Great meals continue and on this day I decided to try the Italian Chicken
Salad special complete with perfectly dressed greens shaved parmesean
cheese and of course flavorful cold grilled chicken breast.  My guest went
with an Italian flat-bread sandwich comprised of salami, roasted tomatoes,
mozzarella and dressed with a sweet balsamic vinaigrette. The sandwich was
served with arugula dressed with the same balsamic vinaigrette -- all very
The story here is way more than the food, which in and of itself is
memorable, and has been consistently delicious over the years.  Underneath
all the great food and impeccable service beats the heart of an undying
American Dream built on a solid product of culinary excellence backed from
the start with thoughtful and appreciative service.
Bona Vita Osteria is quite fortunate to have a chance to build a future in
such an affluent place such as Summit.  Diners will undoubtedly feel
appreciated and delightfully satisfied with the experience.  Bon Vita
Osteria is quite a mouthful name-wise and one not too easy to remember,
but you won't forget the great food and service.

Bona Vita Osteria
37 Maple Street
Summit, NJ 07901
Phone:  908-227-1414



Ritz Diner - The Ritz Diner has been a mainstay in Livingston for many years and caters to the discerning local rather Jewish population with it's specialty foods and desserts.  I have been there many times and decided to check it out early one evening.  The place was busy but not uncomfortably so and a guest and I got a table right away.  The busboy arrived with some waters and marinated cabbage which was awesome and complimentary.
When in Rome or, in this case Livingston, it seemed to me befitting and a good test to order a hot pastrami sandwich.  The warm friendly service was good albeit a little slow as it can get from time to time in a New Jersey Diner.  I like my hot pastrami hot and it arrived only warm but it was lean, tasty and quite authentic.  It was a good sandwich, not too gigantic but nicely portioned and it was good but would have been great if it arrived hot as the pastrami does taste better that way at least for me.
The corned beef sandwich ordered by my guest was remarked as good with lean flavorful beef.  All in all it was a good experience but not outstanding.  There was a lot of takeout piled high awaiting pickup on this evening and the bakery offers many traditional Jewish and American selections like rich chocolate brownies.  I ordered one to go and it was rich and tasty.  The Ritz Diner is a place I will visit in the future especially when I think of that awesome cold marinated cabbage salad and warm service.
Ritz Diner
72 E Mount Pleasant Avenue
Livingston, NJ 07039
Phone: 973-533-1213


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