Home Food + Drink Matthew’s in Clifton: A Beloved, Hidden-in-Plain-Sight Italian Restaurant

Matthew’s in Clifton: A Beloved, Hidden-in-Plain-Sight Italian Restaurant

by Jennifer Tripucka
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Right off the busy thoroughfare of Route 3 in the Bloomfield/Clifton area lives a small, unassuming brick exterior. Once you’ve parked, you’ll walk in, and the small space is cozy, inviting, and usually, Matthew himself greets you as you come in. The food is top-notch, and rivals any Italian spot in the area, but the ambiance is what you’ll stay for. This is Matthew’s in Clifton, located at 1131 Bloomfield Avenue in Clifton, NJ. Read on for more about this local, family-owned Italian restaurant in the North Jersey area.

All About Matthew’s

A date-night favorite among locals, Matthew’s has been the namesake of its lovely owner, Matthew Tyahla, a Clifton native. His career in the food service industry began humbly at La Finestra, an Italian restaurant located right near his home on Vincem Drive in Clifton, and after repeatedly bugging the restaurant’s owner to see if he was hiring, Matthew finally got his way and, at 14 years old, landed his first job serving as a food-runner and busboy on the weekends.

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“I fell in love with the [restaurant] business from day one,” Matthew shared.

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Fast-forward to age 26, over a decade later, and Matthew saw the closure of his then-employer’s cafe, Bella Napoli (which turned into Cafe d’Amici), as an opportunity to follow his entrepreneurial restaurant dreams.

“I’d been waiting a long time for an opportunity to come along and when it did I put everything on the line,” he said. “I reacted very quickly [because] my dream always was to have a restaurant of my own.”

He acquired the restaurant fully on his own, as the sole owner, which meant all decisions were his own. And over a decade later, Matthew’s has become the talk of the town, bringing both locals and visitors inside its doors.

The restaurant has a full bar, and the drink menu includes an extensive wine list, but the espresso martinis are definitely something to write home about (and the bartender even made us decaf since it was late!).

The food menu is filled with classic Italian favorites: calamari, stuffed mushrooms, and the hot antipasto are musts.

For the gluten-free patrons, there is gluten-free pasta, which is a serious win when it comes to Italian food offerings. Other menu items to note include the bolognese, chicken parm, scallops, and the filet mignon — and a side of broccoli rabe.

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Ambiance-wise, it’s an upscale, cozy, bright interior with white tablecloths and tables near each other — perfect for a business lunch, date night, or family dinner. It’s a small space, so definitely make reservations if you can.

Matthew’s is open seven days a week from 11:30AM to 11PM, and is a serious fan favorite. But if you’re a local, you already know.

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