Just over five years ago, three owners, Jason Penedos, Chef Jimmy Katims, and Pastry Chef Juan Zaldivar decided to open up a neighborhood Italian restaurant. A place where regulars would become friends and eventually, family. A place not unlike that famous sitcom where everyone knows your name… except instead of boring bar food, you’re chatting about your week over a plate of perfectly al dante pasta. That place is Civile Cucina Italiana in Metuchen, quite literally meaning a courteous kitchen.
From Pasta to Steak Civile Cucina Italiana Has It All
Stemming from the old Civile in Kenilworth that burned down years ago, Metuchen’s Civile Cucina Italiana is all about giving their customers that cozy feeling paired with hearty, Italian comfort food. Pasta, fish, and of course Penedos’ Grandma’s meatballs are just a portion of what’s on the menu.
Then there’s their calamari dish (pictured above). A vision of crispy calamari rings paired with a little bowl of marinara sauce may come to mind. Not at Civile Cucina! What was originally a mistake at the old Civile kitchen over a decade ago when crispy calamari was accidentally tossed into a balsamic glaze turned into a must have staple on their current menu. Pair with the Pork Chop Giambotta that’s served with sweet sausage, peppers, onions, and potatoes and is known by many to be one of the biggest chops they’ll ever see. Oh, and do you think you can only get quality steak at a steakhouse? Think again.
“I would never think of going anywhere else to order a steak because nothing tops ours,” said Penedos. “People tend to overlook the fact that a nice Italian restaurant, like ours, could have the best steak they’ve ever had. Don’t make that mistake!”
Pair your savory dishes with some of pastry Chef Zaldivar’s creations, like his homemade mascarpone cheesecake and your intimate dinner for two (ask to sit in the front dining room and cuddle up in a corner over some candlelight) or your family dinner of 8 will have the perfect ending. And speaking of families…
Combining Families and Movies In One-of-a-Kind Specials
Civile Cucina is home to family style Sunday dinners. No need to slave away over a pot of Sunday Sauce all weekend, with the help of Civile Cucina, your family will eat just like they would at home, but probably better. On Sunday, for just $25 per person (minimum of 4 people), you’ll fill up with four appetizers, salads, four entrees, and a platter of desserts. You can also get this deal the rest of the week for just $35 per person. Think of it as a way to start the week or a way to get through it!
Yes, Civile Cucina is about serving up food made from the freshest and finest ingredients, but it’s also about bringing the community together and nothing does that better than their Dinner and a Movie night. There’s no need to pick out your seat online, because you’ve get the best seat in the house, right at your dinner table. Throughout the year, Civile turns up the volume on their huge HD projection screen, playing movies like Caddyshack, Goodfellas, and Donnie Brasco (where you’ll get an opportunity to ask a former FBI agent who worked on the actual case some questions – talk about being in the family!) while you dine on a five-course meal.
Along with live music featuring tunes from classic crooners like Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett a couple times a month, Civile Cucina has made a name for themselves as the place to go when you need home cooking and warm faces.
“We’re hands on owners,” said Penedos. “You can always find us out in the restaurant talking with our customers. We know them by name and look forward to that personal feel. Everyone knows who we are and vice versa.”
The restaurant is not only a great dinner spot for dates, families, or just a personal lunch out, they’re also known for their catering and for hosting parties at one of the 10-top round tables. After all, it’s about bringing people together over good food and seriously, who can argue with that?