...the quintessential Italian dining experience...
Critical AcclaimL'allegria cited by Morris Magazine Madison's L'allegria restaurant has been selected by the readers of Morris Health and Life magazine as "the best" in a variety of categories. In a county noted for its fine restaurants, L'allegria was selected as the best Italian restaurant overall, the most romantic atmosphere and the best wine list. "We are gratified by the honors," said co-owners Saverio and Giovanni Allocca. "Satisfying our clientele is always uppermost in our minds."
*** 1/2 In trying times, L'Allegria maintains its standards by Cody Kendall / The Star Ledger
click to read more... March 2008
L'allegria Restaurant & Cafe is once again a proud
recipient of the Distinguished Restaurants
of North America Award
click to read more... Wine Spectator Award of Excellence 1995 - 2009 L'Allegria is a feast for the eyes, stomach Daily Record, January 2, 2004 "The decor is so arresting one keeps looking around, rewarded each time with some new visual treat." Excellent, Wine Spectator Award of Excellence, 1995-2008 Member: ORPI - Guild of Italian Restaurant Professionals of the World "All agree they serve "inventive without being weird food", "polished" service, "pretty, romantic setting" - Zagat Survey, 1999 ** 1/2 (two and half stars) New Jersey Monthly, February 1994 The Star-Ledger
Week of Feb. 11-17, 2000
By: S.J. Gintzler
"Sublime Food matches décor at L'Allegria" "L'Allegria - Italian for "cheer" - puts a smile that just won't quit on your face. Enjoy wonderful food that's graciously served in sublime surroundings. The elegant eatery is quite a gustatory getaway." "Ambience: Faux and fabulous Tuscan villa. A series of sumptuously appointed dining rooms are lavished with hand-painted murals of Mediterranean streets and countryside." "The staff: Exemplary. Efficient, yet warm. Attentive, not fawning." "The food: A lively array of inventive yet grounded Northern Italian cuisine. Both the unexpected (wild boar sausage) and the reassuringly conventional (fettuccine with fresh tomato and basil) are in the offing." "A bottle of smooth, oaky Bollini Chardonnay ($24), culled from an appealing, largely $30-plus wine list, made for good sipping." "Also winning was a Milanese specialty, dainty disks of polenta dripping with rich, mildly pungent Taleggio cheese, accented with pancetta and sautéed onions." "A special pasta, kitchen-created striscette (available in full and half orders), was a savory jumble of multi-colored fettuccine-like noodles tossed with butterflied shrimp and white beans in a light tomato sauce. Osso buco ($25.50) was a fine specimen, the tender veal shank braised in a rich tomato sauce." "A show-stopping aragosta specialita della casa ($28.50) was a tasty tour de force. Chunks of fresh lobster meat were extracted from the shell, sparked with cognac and bourbon, caressed in a creamy tomato sauce lightly zested with sage and cayenne pepper, returned to the shell and served with gusto." "Particularly memorable was a remarkably fresh cannoli, an impeccable balance of creamy filling encased in a shatteringly crisp tube of dough. A delectable chocolate mousse cake was so fresh it jiggled when placed on the table." "Any which way you slice it, L'Allegria is a class act that's worth the trip and the tab." "The term "fine dining" lives up to its name at L'allegria, a Tuscan trattoria in Madison" **** (Four Stars), The Star Ledger, Laurie Sammeth, May 1995 "The food at this upscale Tuscan Trattoria strikes a rousing chord of delicacy and gutsiness, just as its ambiance reflects a fine blend of high style and informality." "This handsome Madison restaurant, just off the town's storybook Main Street, has been laid out with picturesque flair." "The service has a smooth, relaxed Old World ease." "The extensive wine list features a few real bargains and many worthy treasures." "The cooking style is clean and forceful. Rigorously fresh and first class ingredients are shrewdly seasoned and shored up with simple, bracing sauces and reductions." "This is food to be savored." "Desserts were stylish and splendid…beautifully presented, they formed a terrific finale to a triumphant dining experience." "The Italian Tribune" by Reverend Joseph Orsini, Chief Food Columnist ***** 5 Stars L'allegria is Madison, New Jersey, is your quintessential Italian dining experience. Well appointed dining rooms add to the excellence of the cuisine. Upon entering the restaurant, I was greeted by the impeccably tuxedoed maitre d'hotel Carlo Canziani, who led me into an attractively subdued classical Italian dining room. My waiter, Adam, an Albanian from the country of Montenegro, was an Old World professional. While staying in the background and not intruding upon my dinner, he was able to attend to my every need and presented the appearance of being my table's private waiter. When the dish was placed on the table in front of me by Adam, I had a momentary dilemma: which should I do first, photograph or eat this masterpiece. In the end, despite the beautiful artistic presentation of the appetizer, my hunger won out over my appreciation of fine art. "This is superior to the pasta al pesto I had in Genova and Genova is the original home of pesto!" Of L'allegria's signature dishes, I must recommend the following: Gnocchi al ragu di vitello - potato dumplings with a veal enriched ragu for $13.00 lunch and $14.00 dinner; Baccala - cod as a gourmet delight prepared traditionally with potatoes, onions, and olives in a light tomato sauce for $19.00 lunch and $21.75 dinner; and the incomparable Anitra alla strega - roasted duckling in a sauce flamed with Strega and flavored with hot cherry peppers and fresh pine nuts, served with a pear poached with strawberry liqueur at lunch for $18.50 and at dinner for $21.25. After dinner I had the customary cup of espresso - yet another experience that brought thoughts of my trips to Italy to mind. The coffee used in L'allegria is made by Illy, the best coffee produced in Italy. In addition, the wine list has won the Award for Excellence from The Wine Spectator every year since 1995. Wanting to get a "feel" for what L'allegria is really like and knowing that he had worked in and owned restaurants in both Italy and America, I called Carlo over to the table to have a chat. He said that working at L'allegria was both a pleasure and a challenge. He commended the owners - Saverio and Giovanni Allocca - because of their dedication to serving only authentic regional Italian cuisine. Carlo says that they know exactly what they want from the kitchen and that they don't hesitate to criticize the chef if the food is not up to their high standards. Their respect for the traditional cuisine of Italy prohibits them from compromising their standards in any way. L'allegria is a time machine that transports its patrons back to the Old Country, back to Italy when food was as much an art form as something to eat. Saverio and Giovanni Allocca say about their restaurant: "Since our opening in early 1984, we have been dedicated to bringing to the table the finest and freshest products. We present them in a most innovative and interesting manner, while adhering to the best traditions of fine Italian cuisine." Of the hundreds of restaurants I have reviewed, this restaurant has no equal and is, simply, the best.