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Tuscany Villa Ristorante: Where Italian Tradition Meets Modern Elegance

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MORRIS COUNTY — There’s no doubt the general Parsippany area can boast of being the home of numerous excellent Italian restaurants. Within a several-mile radius, one can probably find every style of Italian eatery you’re looking for, from a small local trattoria, an old school “Nonna” pizzeria joint, to an elegant, upscale dining experience.  A solid, if not great, Italian restaurant can be found in almost any of New Jersey’s 500-plus towns. But the bottom line is it’s not so much about quantity as it is about those deciding factors and small details that provide a truly satisfying, enjoyable, and memorable dining experience.

The interior is classy and upscale, but rest assured, upon entry, you will find an attractive, spacious, casual, cozy, and relaxing atmosphere.

Tuscany Villa Ristorante, an architecturally attractive building with salmon-colored stucco, stone façade, canopied windows, and decorative railings, provides a welcoming introduction to the business.  Anchored at the end of a small strip mall on Changebridge Road in Montville, Tuscany Villa stands out with its modern exterior appearance that screams classy and upscale, but rest assured on entry, you will find an attractive, spacious, casual, cozy, and relaxing atmosphere. Relatively new, Tuscany Villa was constructed in 2016 and opened its doors in January 2017 as an independent, family-owned business.

Owner Elvis Mejia, a native of Guatemala, is not new to the restaurant industry. He and a few relatives were also partners in Delizia Pizza Kitchen in Boonton and El Rancho Restaurant in Morristown. Like many restaurant owners and chefs, Chef Mejia worked up the culinary ladder as a young man. Following his arrival in the U.S. in 2000, he found a job as a dishwasher at Frank’s Pizza in Lake Hopatcong. Eventually, Chef Mejia, following 10 years of hard work, studying, and honing his culinary skills, earned a position as a Sous Chef. Deciding to pursue his dream and open his restaurant, and with the help of his relatives and friends, he was introduced to Montville, which he found was the perfect location for his Tuscany-themed restaurant, and where he gives back to the community by sponsoring local youth and High School sports.

Chef Elvia Mejia, Pat Minutillo, Vasil and Chef Tony Abillo

Tuscany is known for its landscapes, history, artistic legacy, and influence on high culture. It is regarded as the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance and of the foundations of the Italian language. Creating an ambiance, vibe, and sense of Tuscany’s culture, lifestyle, and beauty would require imagination.  Careful planning paid off, and Tuscany Villa creates just such a sense of a serene Italian villa, offering a warm and inviting atmosphere where one can relax and enjoy a delicious meal over a glass of wine. Did I mention that Tuscany Villa is BYOB, so feel free to bring along your favorite vino? Conveniently, there is a liquor store next door, just in case you forget. The interior is meticulously clean and spacious, with beautiful décor that captures the essence of Italy and certainly reflects the restaurant’s theme. The color scheme is comforting and cohesively comes together with assorted cozy lighting, tasteful and thoughtfully placed artwork, Italian artifacts on the walls, comfortably spaced rustic wooden tables & booth seating, ceiling fans, and tiled flooring.  Aromas of freshly baked pizzas, savory tomato sauce, spices, herbs, and all those scrumptious fragrances that tantalize your taste buds and make your mouth water as you peruse the menu.

Linguini & Clam Sauce: Available with red or white sauce.

I would neglect to mention (especially now that the warm weather is upon us) that Tuscany Villa also offers outdoor patio seating. This is a gorgeous setting to dine and relax, reflecting the restaurant’s theme, complete with vine-covered trellises and soothing natural landscaping.

The menu offers the usual array of delectable Italian choices, including appetizers, soups, salads, antipasti, pasta, seafood, baked pasta, hot and cold subs, grilled dishes, chef specials, strombolis, wraps, paninis, calzones, and, of course, traditional, gourmet, and Sicilian pizza. A children’s menu is also offered, as are numerous specials. There is pretty much something for everyone. And don’t forget dessert!

Chicken Contadina (artichokes, mushrooms, onions & a touch of marinara sauce, and served over pasta).

Now that our group of hungry travelers had a chance to sip some wine, unwind, admire the décor, and check out the menu, it was time to start ordering. Our server, Vasile, was on hand to help with any questions we may have had. As far as service goes, Vasile was as good as it gets. Friendly, knowledgeable, and efficient, Vasile made us all feel like valued guests from the moment we sat down. His affable manner and sense of humor all contributed to a fun dining experience.

A Culinary Gem: Eggplant Rollatini at Tuscany Villa Ristorante

As always, the group chose a selection of appetizers to share. Choices included tender and flavorful eggplant rollatini, a well-packed meat stromboli (Sausage, Ham, Pepperoni, Salami, Meatball & Mozzarella), and at the suggestion of Vasile, ginger calamari (Fried Calamari Tossed in Ginger Sauce with Roasted Peppers & Mango). Each appetizer was luscious, with generously sized portions. The freshness and high quality of the ingredients were evident and cooked perfectly. To me, the star of the show was Ginger Calamari. Delizioso!!!  Nice plump-sized calamari, tender and crisp, sweet and sour, with a bit of heat and lots and lots of flavors. An exquisite, sweet Italian treat with an Asian flair!

A Spicy Treat: Shrimp Fra Diavolo Over Pasta

For my entrée, I ordered the Shrimp Fra Diavolo, which came in a spicy Marinara Sauce, over pasta.  As usual, I asked them to punch up the heat. Shrimp Fra Diavolo, a favorite of mine, is made with juicy, large shrimp cooked in a hearty, spicy tomato sauce with garlic, white wine, and fresh parsley; when it’s good, it’s good. Others in the group ordered the Chicken Contadina (artichokes, mushrooms, onions & a touch of marinara sauce, and served over pasta). I didn’t try this, but it was a phenomenal-looking dish and generously portioned. Linguini & Clam Sauce (comes with red or white sauce), and a couple of guys went with your traditional Veal Parmigiana (nice sized pieces of veal, covered in Tuscany’s house tomato sauce and lots of melted mozzarella topping it off.

Delight in the Creamy Goodness of Chocolate Mousse at Tuscany Villa

Everyone enjoyed their meals, and the dessert menus arrived (as if we needed them now, but why not).  I like pistachios, so the Pistachio Truffle quickly caught my eye. It turned out to be a great choice. The creamy ganache, infused with chocolate and nuts, came generously loaded with pan-roasted pistachios. Every bite into this creamy, crunchy, decadent, indulgent dessert was delightful.  Others chose Chocolate Mousse and Chocolate Glass. Along with our Cappuccinos, those sweet and creamy treats made for the perfect ending to a genuinely nice dining experience.

Ricotta Pistachio Cake: A luscious creation with creamy ricotta layered with nuts, generously topped with pan-roasted pistachios.

When you’re in the area, I recommend stopping at Tuscany Villa Ristorante and trying it. Not to be redundant, but good food, beautiful décor, reasonable prices, and great service are a winning combination. Plus, they make a tasty pizza.

“Vivi la tua vita al meglio!”

Tuscany Villa Ristorante, 223 Changebridge Road, Montville. Phone: (973) 334-1400; Banquet Room (Great for Special Occasions) Holds 50 People. Outdoor Dining Patio – BYOB. Dine In – Take Out – Delivery -Catering. Monday Pizza Special. Hours: Seven Days, 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Ginger calamari (Fried Calamari Tossed in Ginger Sauce with Roasted Peppers & Mango)

Reprinted from Parsippany Focus Magazine, June 2024. Click here to view.

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