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San Marzano Pasta Bar Offers Slice of Italy on South Ave.

Brothers-in-law Joseph Petracca and Maurizio Minniti are looking forward to an official grand opening in mid-May.

San Marzano Pasta Bar, located at 339 South Ave., is enjoying a soft opening this week before celebrating its official grand opening on May 18. 

The eatery is named for the San Marzano tomatoes, imported from Italy, that co-owner Joseph Petracca said are the secret to his brother-in-law and business partner chef Maurizio Minniti's sauce.

"There's no sugar in it, no preservatives," Petracca said. "Everything is made fresh. Nothing is frozen." 

All the pasta is homemade by Minniti as well. The chef, who has owned two restaurants previously, one in England and one in Italy, most recently worked with Mario Batali.

Petracca, who serves as the resident pizza purveyor, trained in Rome for three months to perfect his dough, which he allows to rise for 48 to 56 hours, before kneading and baking in a wood-fired oven.

San Marzano's pie differs from the traditional pizza in many ways, Petracca explained. 'Pizza al Taglio' is cooked in a long, rectangular pan and relatively thin. Petracca said diners can choose the size of their own slices, which are cut with scissors, and pay by the weight. 

"It's so light, you could eat a whole pie yourself," he said. "But you can try an inch if you want to. We are the only place in New Jersey doing it this way. Westfield should be proud."

The entrepreneur, who lives in Kenilworth, said he and his brother-in-law chose to start their business in town because they believe residents and those who work in the area will appreciate what the pasta bar has to offer.

In addition to its pasta and pizza, the shop features paninis, salads and freshly-made soups. A ricotta cheesecake is another specialty of the house.

"That, he won't tell me how he makes," Petracca said with a laugh. "I know he uses ricotta, maybe cream, and some vanilla beans. It is as light as panna cotta."

Located directly across from the train station, San Marzano's opens at 6 a.m. to offer espresso, cappuccino, organic black leaf tea and other hot beverages to commuters. 

The cafe strives to recreate the flavors that Petracca and Minniti grew up with in their native Italy. They are incorporating their favorites from as far south as Siciliy and as far north as Milan as well as some of the classics that Americans know and love.

"We want to bring the good memories with us," said Petracca, who streams music from an Italian radio station throughout the restaurant. "We have had a lot of moms with kids come in. It is nice and open, very casual, and bright, not the traditional dark of an Italian restaurant. We will have outdoor seating in a few weeks."

Petracca said his and Minniti's motto is "Mangiere, Bene E Sano" which translates to "eat, good and healthy."  

"It's all about simplicity and authenticity," he said.

Although he is still hiring and training his staff, Petracca said customers are welcome to come in and check out the eatery prior to next week's opening. 

For more information, visit San Marzano's Facebook page or call 908-232-3222.

Anna May 11, 2012 at 01:28 PM
These guys are doing a great job!!! The food is outstanding. The chef's name is spelled incorrectly though. His name is Maurizio Minniti not Mimmit.
Gregg Fine May 11, 2012 at 01:47 PM
I tried the pasta puttanesca and pizza here. Food was excellent!
Elizabeth Alterman (Editor) May 11, 2012 at 03:10 PM
Hi Anna, the spelling of the chef's name has been corrected. I regret the error. The food is amazing. Thanks, Liz
Anna May 11, 2012 at 05:56 PM
Thank you Liz!
Nanette Loftus May 11, 2012 at 07:59 PM
Will they be making fresh mozzarella also? That is something that would be fantastic!
Elizabeth Alterman (Editor) May 11, 2012 at 09:13 PM
Good question, Nanette. I'll ask and get back to you.
Rusty Cut May 14, 2012 at 11:23 PM
Looking forward to trying this place out! Nice to have something convenient in town that offers something a bit different. Looks good.
Kerry Mooney May 16, 2012 at 06:00 PM
We just got lunch from there for our office and everyone enjoyed the food. Good luck to them I hope have great success.
Dsun May 18, 2012 at 07:40 PM
Best pizza I had outside of Rome!
Robert Eckman June 27, 2012 at 12:31 AM
Had dinner there the other night. Ordered fusilli bolognese, got instead, rotelle pasta and a very heavy beaf stew like sauce. There was a plastic tag in the meal. Would never go back or recommend this to any one.
Marlene August 20, 2012 at 11:44 PM
Yeah, that is incorrect. I have been going to this place for almost two months and rotelle pasta doesn't even exist in their menu, nor their specials. BUT what I actually found was an Andrea Doria coin in their Bucatini Matriciana and I sold it for a million dollars! DUHH, I couldn't say anything because of course this is a rare coin. BUT if I would of found a plastic tag I would said something. I would of reflected and realized maybe I'm in a clothing store not a restaurant. I'm sure if you would of said something, they would of given a new order FREE OF CHARGE. Please don't HATE. After ten years spent in Milan, Italy I know what real authentic Italian food is. For the past ten years in the U.S. I've been trying to find a restaurant that is authentic as San Marsano. Finally, Westfeild has an authentic restaurant; I get really upset when someone tries to knock down authenticity because they never had any better. Keep eating chicken Alfredo and meatball parm. I'll be having my Amatriciana tonight
JoAnn Fasano December 08, 2012 at 12:27 AM
This is a great Italian restaurant, pleasant staff, clean, food is made to order.....everything is so fresh.....
JoAnn Fasano December 08, 2012 at 12:29 AM
Food is great have not had a bad meal, try this restaurant and see for yourself...

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