Cafe Graziela

Cafe Graziela seems to have been around for years. And for the last 6 years I have lived down the road in Belle Mead, I have just driven past it thinking nothing of it. It’s in a pretty non descript strip mall with a coin op laundromat, a liquor store, a chinese restaurant (Big Wing Wah which was regarded as one of the best chinese restaurants in the state by NJ Monthly. I haven’t tried it, but I seriously doubt it) and the recently closed down Cost Cutters.

I say its been around for a long time, because in the 2 times I have been there, I think the youngest person in the place (apart from me, and I’m 42), had to be atleast 15 years older than me. I seriously thought that they had a special that night for the local old people’s home. The next time I went, it wasn’t any younger. Not exactly a date place, unless you are well into your 50s. Thankfully the restaurant is on the dark side, so it’s easy to tune out the denture crowd.

The food itself is very good. One of the better Italian restaurants I have been to. I lament the proliferation of NJ with mediocre pizza and pasta joints where there idea of a good meal is to pile a plate high with pasta and a bland red sauce. Graziela on the other hand has a serious, grown up menu (maybe that explains the age of the patrons?). It’s old world Italian with portions so large you could get 3 meals out of it. The couple of times I have been I have had the Osso Bucco with gnocchi and the pork chop which was flavorful, but a little dry. The appetizers of calamari, eggplant rotellini and something else whose name escapes me were all excellent. This is not diet food by any means, but it is good, flavorful food. Be ready to take a doggy bag home. The last time we were there my wife had the Osso Bucco, and we took it home and both shared it for dinner the next night. Good value.

Service is very attentive and the restaurant is BYOB. Rick introduced me to this place and he swears by it. I think he may have a permanent table here. Even he is young by its standards (maybe thats why he keeps going back). I have never had room for desserts here.

Overall, a good restaurant with good food and lots of it.

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