July 19, 2012

Revamped Verona Inn Maintains Traditions

The reinvented Verona Inn celebrates its 65 year in business this month with a completely new look in a brand new space.

Opened in 1947 next to the Annin Flag Company, the restaurant’s new home in the center of town at 642 Bloomfield Ave. may be just down the street from its original location but it’s worlds away in terms of design.

The reimagined restaurant has a contemporary yet comfortable feel with an upscale bar that manages to maintain a warm, pub feel, striking the perfect balance between old and new, family-friendly and free agent. The huge, newly constructed space exudes an air of tradition with red brick façade complimented by a tastefully designed interior full of rich oak paneling, dark wood floors and walls partially lined in subway tile.

June 25, 2012

Verona Chef Sliced and Diced, Never “Chopped”

Verona just might be the next hot dining destination thanks to a local chef hitting it big in a nationwide cooking competition.

The town’s claim to culinary fame follows Avenue Bistro and Pub‘s chef Michael Dilonno’s win on the Food Network’s “Chopped” last fall.

As the last chef standing, Dilonno was anointed “Chopped” Champion, proving he’s got the chops to compete against the best in the business. But the title and the $10,000 that came with it might just as easily never have come to pass.

If Dilonno had it his way, that is.

June 13, 2012

‘Best’ Bridal Boutique in Our Own Backyard

For three years running, one bridal salon in New Jersey has been named Best Bridal Boutique in the state, and more recently in the county, by the magazine that should know.

Park Avenue Bridals in Verona has held the title, awarded by New Jersey Monthly, since 2010. Last year the bridal salon also won Best of Essex County in Suburban Essex magazine’s readers’ choice awards.

“We were thrilled,” owner Andrea Burggraf recently said of the honors. “It’s nice to be recognized,” she acknowledged, “that you’ve done your job right.”

Burggraf, who runs the third-generation family business with her husband Gary, said she and her staff recognize the significance of the event in a woman’s life.

“It’s our mission to make the girls feel special,” said Burggraf. “It the most important time of their lives.”

May 9, 2012

Going ‘Beyond’ in Cedar Grove

Approaching its two-year anniversary this September, Delmonico Steak & Beyond has established itself as the go-to place in Cedar Grove. That’s because owner and restaurateur Bobby Wong carefully considered the location, the community and the residents.

“I think about the people,” Wong said of his plans for the space when he bought it in 2010.

Formerly Jim Dandy’s Rib Joint, the restaurant Wong had envisioned for the location was utterly different. He transformed the space and designed a restaurant that would suit the needs of the community.

“When the space became available I couldn’t resist,” said Wong. “I saw how underserved the area was.”

Wong moved to Cedar Grove several years ago and noticed plenty of pizzerias and delis — along with Rare, the high-end steak house up the road – and he detected a void.

“There was nothing in between with good food at a reasonable prices,” he said.

Delmonico filled that void. The restaurant and bar, opened with partner James Gandolfini (yes, you read that right), provides a sophisticated yet family-friendly atmosphere with an extensive menu offering a considerable variety of dishes. That’s where the “beyond” comes in.

April 4, 2012

Veteran Business Owner Proud to Serve at Home and Abroad

When Don Johnston opened his Subway restaurant at the corner of Bloomfield and Pompton Avenues in Verona, he just may have picked the worst possible moment.

The great recession was in full swing and the worst winter to hit the town in a decade was on the horizon.

Still, he soldiered on. No doubt the determination, perseverance and strength he gained from his military experience served his business well.

At just 17 Johnston enlisted in the military and spent the next 10 years in a combination of the Army and the Army reserves.

Although he contemplated leaving the military for civilian life shortly before Sept. 11, the terrorist attacks on that day convinced him otherwise. He reenlisted and spent another six years working in Special Operations.

March 13, 2012

Anthony Robert Salon Gets Even More ‘Jerseylicious’

The "Jerseylicious" cast: Tracy DiMarco, Anthony Lombardi and Gigi Liscio. Credit: The Style Network/Timothy White.

To hear salon owner Anthony Lombardi speak, you’d never know he’s the star of the hit reality series “Jerseylicious.” He seems to have taken the seismic shift in his life and career all in stride.

The show’s popularity has catapulted this small-town salon owner into big-time celebrity and turned his new normal into a life of talk show interviews, public appearances and photo shoots not to mention several months of filming a year. Oh, and the actual business of running a salon.

If all that wasn’t enough, Lombardi is also in the middle of opening a brand new, cavernous space just up the block from his current location in Verona. The new salon, to be located at 277 Bloomfield Avenue, is slated to open in April.

Now entering its fourth season, the show propelling Lombardi’s expansion has been a hit for the Style Network from the very start when it won the channel its best ever ratings for a new show among women age 18 to 49. Since then, “Jerseylicious” has gone on to win close to 10 million viewers and has become the network’s number one series.

March 13, 2012

Mom Seeking Moms to Share Their Stories

New mom and writer, radio producer and Montclair resident, Hillary Frank, is calling on other mothers (and dads) for her newly launched blog and podcast, The Longest Shortest Time. Her site vows to tell “the truth about early motherhood,” and, Frank hopes, to create a space for new mothers and those about to become new mothers to find support and help through those first long days of motherhood.

Frank became a new mother herself about a year ago when her daughter, Sasha, was born on a snowy winter day in February. At the time Frank had been a freelancing radio producer for such national shows as This American LifeMorning EditionAll Things ConsideredStudio 360 and Marketplace. She was used to hustling for work, but her pace slowed as her belly grew.

“As I became more and more pregnant, I started to shave off more work,” Frank said. “When I came back I shaved off more and more until I had none.”

March 13, 2012

Local Adoptee Shares Her Story in New Memoir

Montclair resident, adoption-advocate, and author Zara Phillips just released the American version of her adoption memoir, Mother Me, after having previously published it in her native England. It hit bookshelves here yesterday, Valentines Day.

Phillips’s book chronicles her journey to discover the truth about her birth and herself. Although Phillips knew she was adopted ever since early childhood, it was something that was never spoken about.

“Yes, you know, but don’t tell anybody,” Phillips recalled of the prevailing sentiment in 1964 when she was adopted. “I could never talk about being adopted.”

February 7, 2012

Two is Plenty

See what I have to deal with?

AGE It’s not polite to ask a woman her age, but fine – I’m 38.

HOMETOWN / WHERE DO YOU LIVE NOW? I’m a native New Yorker, but I was raised in central, NJ. I now live in northern, NJ.

NUMBER OF CHILDREN Two and that’s plenty.

DAY JOB Freelance writer/mother/household manager/laundress/short-order cook/cleaning lady/personal shopper/chauffer/nutritionist/social coordinator/tutor/event planner.


HOW DO YOU COMBINE WORK AND FAMILY? I don’t. It can’t be done.

Well, it might be possible but only with constant anxiety, struggle, stress, mental wear and tear and massive amounts of effort, energy and determination. After a decade of trying to solve this conundrum, I still haven’t come up with a really good answer – I mean one that doesn’t cause me a heart attack daily.

November 14, 2011

At Tia’s the Food is all About the Love

For Tia D’Addario, there’s never been any question of what she would do with her life. A passion for cooking simply runs in her blood. In fact, she is a descendant of the Celentano family, who ironically enough began their ravioli empire in Verona back in 1947.

D’Addario started her business, Tia’s Food of Love, in Montclair nine years ago, but the space was small and as her catering business grew, she needed to find a new home. She, too, found it in Verona.

“This turned out to be the perfect place for us.”