When New Jersey native Chef Michael Colletti decided to return to the Garden State to open a restaurant, he opted to take the familiar food of his grandparents and father, who emigrated from Sicily, and give it a modern twist. The result is modern seasonal Italian cuisine beautifully done at VB3 located in the Newport section of downtown Jersey City.
Having been formally trained at the Culinary Education Center in Asbury Park and employed at popular dining establishments like Le Cirque and Mai House in New York City and Good Stuff Eatery in Washington, DC, Chef Colletti and his talented team turn up unpretentious food in a trendy yet comfortable space.
During a first visit, the food my party enjoyed was spot on. A must-try starter is the Antipasto Board, a delectable array of Italian cheeses and cold cuts, house-cured olives and pickled vegetables. The adjoining pizzeria provides artisanal pizzas and the Crispy Guanciale version with ramps, eggs and Parmigiano-Reggiano is spectacular and perfect for sharing.
The pastas are outstanding and the star is perhaps the House-Made Ricotta Gnudi, melt-in-your-mouth and simply perfect in a light, flavorful basil-infused tomato sauce.
Selecting an entrée proves difficult based on the tempting options put forth by Chef Colletti’s team. Especially delicious are the Day Boat Scallops, with fennel, Sicilian cara cara oranges, cured black olives and citronette and the Berkshire Pork Belly served with Swiss chard, hedgehog mushrooms and watermelon agro dolce. Don’t pass up the opportunity to taste the VB3 Burger which is topped with Biellese pancetta, provolone, egg, ramp aioli and served with herbed fries. Chef Colletti has won burger competitions on Food Network and knows what a great burger should taste like.
The main dining room accommodates 80 guests with its comfortable banquettes and the large bar with its orange ‘lava’ countertop is inviting and attracts a fun happy hour crowd from adjacent hotels. A specialty cocktail to try is the “Fig”etaboutit, a concoction of bourbon, vodka, fresh lemon juice, Amaretto and Angostura bitters.
VB3 is located on the ground floor of the Monaco building between the Westin and Doubletree hotels. Hotel guests won’t ever complain about eating “in” after savoring the food at VB3. Nor will the locals.
475 Washington Blvd.
Monday – Saturday lunch – 11AM to 4PM. Dinner – 4PM to 12PM
Sunday brunch – 11AM to 3PM. Dinner 5PM to 10:30PM
Lounge is open Friday and Saturday from 12AM to 3AM
Happy Hour – Monday – Friday 5PM to 7PM
Veronique Deblois, Food & Wine Chickie: Veronique is a food and wine writer based in Morris County, NJ. As the author of the popular blog, Food & Wine Chickie Insider, Veronique shares recipes, wine and restaurant reviews and insight into the travel industry of which she’s a 15-year veteran. Follow Veronique on Twitter or like her Facebook page.