Freestyle Italian: ORA in Oradell

ORA is a vibe! OK, I’m not entirely certain I am using that correctly but the moment I stepped into Bergen County’s brand-new ORA, I felt something and I’m pretty sure it was a vibe. The mood is established before you walk in. The newly constructed two-story restaurant evokes modern Italian farmhouse and the white facade fits like a fresh clean tee while stacked, floor-to-ceiling windows overlook the first-floor bar and upstairs lounge, inviting you to take a peek into its soul. You already know this is going to be a good night.

Interior of ORA restaurant

Inside is equally impressive. For a minute you may just forget that you are on Kinderkamack Road, in Oradell, NJ. No disrespect to the quaint town, but ORA feels like a NYC restaurant without pretension. The warm and welcoming staff will soon remind you that you are inside a neighborhood spot.

Chef and co-owner Tom Silvestri had a lifelong vision. His plan? To open a restaurant that fused New World techniques with the Italian traditions he grew up on.

The Vision Comes to Life

This is by no means a Jersey Italian red sauce joint. After one bite of the homemade bucatini in a pesto trapanese with tomato, mint, and Sicilian almonds, you might think you’re sitting in someone’s wood-paneled basement eating their nonna’s pasta. But this is like a fancy grandma who has Chef Tom’s Culinary of Institute of America education and high-end restaurant experience. Silvestri is the first to note that his restaurant’s success is thanks to “the whole team and leadership.”

Steak at Ora

ORA prides itself on using fresh and locally sourced ingredients that will change throughout the seasons. The inaugural menu delivers on many levels—just like the caviar cannoli from the raw bar. What’s that, you ask? Why, it’s a savory parmigiano shell delicately stuffed with chive-whipped mascarpone and topped with pearls of Royal Ossetra caviar. If salumeria is more your thing, check out the paper-thin slices of prosciutto di Parma, paired with crispy pillows of cacio e pepe zeppole and melon mostarda.

The current menu includes five wood-fired pizzas. Of those, the early favorite seems to be the Sunday Morning. This pizza is topped with homemade meatballs, broccoli rabe pesto, provolone, hot pepper, and crispy garlic. The crust is an ideal combination of chewy and airy and the imported Fiero Forni pizza oven provides just the right level of char. From shareable plates, pastas to entrees, the menu is packed with delicious options. Now I’m starving!

Better. Stronger. Faster.

ORA sits on the remnants of what used to be Cool Beans, a popular neighborhood coffee shop and hang out. The space was razed and the new 304 Kinderkamack Road was built specifically for ORA, which means every aspect of it was designed to be efficient, ergonomic, and better. The most impressive part of the restaurant is behind closed doors, what the public can’t see. The sterile kitchen is split on two floors, one for cooking and the other for food prep with all the bells and whistles. Refrigerated filing cabinets separate the seafood hierarchy keeping dozens of littlenecks, mussels, and lobsters in their respective drawers. And freshly made sauces and stock sit in plastic quart containers in walk-in fridges larger than my first apartment. 

Cocktails at Ora

You can dine in the main room, al fresco on the outside patio or at one of the many bar top tables just feet away from mixologists serving blue cheese stuffed martinis and glasses of house made negronis. Upstairs there is a lounge and a labyrinth of individual rooms for private dining, wedding rehearsals or cocktail parties with passed hors d’oeuvres and a full bar. Shoot, you can even elevate your next fantasy football draft with some Butcher Cuts like the 10 oz. porcini-rubbed filet with black pepper balsamic jam and a side of artichoke gratin. I’m looking at you, commish!

Ora's beautiful bar

I’m guessing ORA is just a clever play on its hometown of Oradell. But it translates from Italian as now—as in “You should go to ORA right now.” And you can thank me later.

304 Kinderkamack Rd.
Oradell, NJ