Cozy and warm, Emilio is located in a charming Colonial-style white house with a front porch and green shutters, situated on a side street with a private parking lot. Inside, multiple carpeted dining rooms include white-tablecloth-covered tables and red and yellow walls adorned with copper pot planters.
At Emilio, which opened in 1979, pasta is the star—and it’s no surprise why. After all, Lidia, the 80-year-old mother of owner Sergio Brasesco, makes several varieties every day. All the authentic regional Italian dishes on the menu change seasonally (and are never repeated), with one exception: the panzarotti, small ravioli stuffed with ricotta and Swiss chard, served in a walnut cream sauce. Other than the pastas, standouts include the colorful antipasto table (with fare such as fried zucchini flowers, fresh figs with Burrata and prosciutto, and wild mushrooms sautéed with mint and shallots). The desserts, with the exception of the gelato, are made in-house. Current choices include raspberry crostata with white-chocolate raspberry sorbet; Emilio’s version of the Ring Ding (chocolate sponge cake filled with vanilla pastry cream, covered with melted milk chocolate); Key lime custard pie; and mini Napoleons (with vanilla pastry cream, fresh raspberries, and crème anglaise).
Like the food offerings, the extensive wine list (with 190 labels, 16 available by the glass or quartino) constantly changes and includes some esoteric varieties. Prices range from $8 to $30 per glass and $24 to $2,500 per bottle. Emilio hosts convivial monthly wine dinners, limited to about 40 guests.
Loyal customer Susan McDonnell of Harrison has been dining at Emilio since she was a little girl and praises the veal scaloppini. James Richards, also of Harrison, enjoys the homemade pastas. “My wife and I visit Italy every year and know that Emilio is as good or better than the Michelin-starred restaurants in Italy,” says Richards, a customer since 1982. “And you can’t beat the $29 three-course menu for quality or price.” Both McDonnell and Richards say they appreciate the friendly and professional staff. “Sergio always has a smile on his face and a funny story to tell,” says McDonnell.
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