Fall Arts Guide 2012: Try Some Classic Italian Joints

Red sauce diaries

Just across the Hudson River, you could hit up Casa Dante (737 Newark Avenue, Jersey City, New Jersey, 201-795-2750), which boasts its own parking lot. Hard to believe, but this place was written up in a 1980s issue of Gourmet as a place that editors of that magazine went when they wanted to hide out. Featured in The Sopranos, the two-story garishly painted green facade of Rita and Joe's (142 Broadway, Jersey City, New Jersey, 201-451-3606) has been visible to drivers along Alternate Truck Route 9 for decades. The restaurant is a little cheaper than Casa Dante. Don't miss spiedini alla Romana—a sort of Italian toasted-cheese sandwich—or the fried calamari, which might be some of the finest in the metropolitan area. The breadth of the beer list comes as something of a surprise.

Spend your clams on clams at Umbertos.
Tony Fischer Flickr
Spend your clams on clams at Umbertos.


The Village Voice's Fall Arts Guide:
Einstein Heads Back to the Beach
BAM hosts the Return of a now classic avant-garde opera.
By Seth Colter Walls

Let's Irk the Rabbis
Writer Nathan Englander relieves some theater urges.
By Alexis Siloski

Forget Olivier
Andrea Arnold adapts Wuthering Heights.
By Aaron Hillis

Red-Sauce Diaries
For fall, try some classic Italian joints.
By Robert Sietsema

Fall Picks: Art
By Christian Viveros-Fauné

Fall Picks: Books
By James Hannaham

Fall Picks: Dance
By Deborah Jowitt

Fall Picks: Film
By Aaron Hillis

Fall Picks: Music
By Seth Colter Walls

But the mother of all Italian-American joints in the area is L & B Spumoni Gardens (2725 86th Street, Brooklyn, 718-449-6921). This theme park of a restaurant in Gravesend is the scene of a perpetual traffic jam come weekend evenings, and you can choose from a series of three conjoined eateries: a pizzeria that specializes in "sheets," the Brooklyn name for Sicilian-style square pies; an Italian-ice dispensary famous for its (duh!) spumoni; and a sit-down restaurant where you can find all of the dishes mentioned above and more. Sit outside in the expansive picnic-tabled front yard as the leaves fall and marvel how this wonderful spot still exists.

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