All New Jersey natives know that Italian restaurants populate the better part of the state, but there are a few gems that really stand out, including a few places that have a bakery right next door. Queen Margherita Trattoria and its sister bakery Aromi Di Napoli, located at 246 Washington Avenue in Nutley, fall into this category and have been a small-town staple for almost two decades. From classic Italian dishes to unique dessert delicacies, the restaurant and bakery have a lot of good plates to offer any Instagram foodie or Italian cuisine connoisseur. Keep reading to learn about the restaurant’s family roots and what specials the spots have to offer.
The History of Queen Margherita Trattoria
In 1994, Pasquale Di Palma moved to Belleville, New Jersey to achieve his lifelong dream of opening up a Naples-inspired restaurant in the United States. He had been a restaurant owner with his wife Maria in Italy but also worked blue-collar jobs in order to make the vision a reality. “It all started with an idea to serve Napoli-inspired pizza since it’s unlike any other way of making pizza and can’t be easily found in the area,” Pasquale said.
Photo Credit: Jaime Fernandez
Pasquale originally opened Regina Margherita with his chef brother, Nicola Di Palma, in 2004. The restaurant was a success with its notable pizza being featured in outlets like The Star Ledger, Zagat, and The New York Times. After discovering there was a restaurant by the same name and cuisine in Boston, the Di Palma family chose to change the name to its Italian translation of “Regina,” or “queen.” The restaurant will be celebrating its 20th anniversary in May and may have some plans for the celebration. The family is also the owners of the iconic Blue Eyes in Hoboken which opened in 2015.
About Aromi Di Napoli
Right next door to the trattoria is where customers can find the “aroma of Naples,” or Aromi di Napoli, which opened in 2006. The bakery is a perfect Jersey “grab-and-go” spot if desserts for Sunday dinner at Nonna’s are necessary or the week’s supply of freshly sliced Panella bread for the house. The bakery’s specialty cake creations are also ready to buy in full and slice forms, or customers can order custom items. If choosing to eat at the restaurant, however, the coffee and dessert are provided solely by the bakery and make for an exceptional cherry on top of an already unforgettable meal.
The Food + Pastries to Rave About
Queen Margherita offers specials along with its jam-packed regular menu and changes almost daily. The bakery’s fresh Panella bread is served at the table first with a tomato-garlic tapenade that will leave anyone wanting to go home with a jarful that the MG highly recommends. Visitors can indulge in appetizers like the well-known clams oreganata and zucchini flowers; dinner for two can be enjoyed over either a specialty dish featuring pappardelle with mushrooms and pancetta or a classic like eggplant parmigiana — maybe even both to share. Top off the meal with a Nutella espresso and a slice or two of the black-and-white cake that the bakery is known for. Whether it be a date night or taking Sunday dinner out of the dining room for a change, this restaurant and bakery duo is sure to make any Italian, or honorary one, feel right at home.
Queen Margherita Trattoria is open for lunch 11:30AM to 2:30PM Tuesday through Thursday and 12PM to 2:30PM Friday and Saturday; the restaurant is open for dinner 4:30PM to 10PM Tuesday through Saturday. The restaurant is closed on Sunday and Monday. Aromi di Napoli is open 7AM to 7PM everyday.