Former Terre à Terre Chef/Owner Todd Villani Joins Vesta in East Rutherford

Plus: Openings in Red Bank, Mount Laurel, Jersey City and more.

Chef Todd Villani, former chef-owner of the former Terre à Terre in Carlstadt, is joining Vesta Wood-Fired Pizza & Bar in East Rutherford. Mother’s Day will mark his first menu, but keep your eyes peeled for Villani’s first Spring Menu for the restaurant come mid-May. Vesta owner Frank Giampa is hoping the addition of a chef known for his farm-to-table style like Villani will help synthesize the restaurant’s evolving contemporary Italian-American concept. Vesta Wood-Fired Pizza & Bar, 64 Hoboken Road, East Rutherford; 201-939-6012


La Mondina marks the return of the DeRosa family, who were down—though clearly not out—after the closure of Savor Lounge (previously Luna DeRosa), their decade-plus spot in Seaside Heights. It’s an ambitious, significant return to say the least: housed in the former home of Rella’s Italian Tavern, the restaurant seats close to 300 (including 50 outside), though the 10,000 or so square foot interior still manages to feel comfortable and elegant (there are three bookable private dining spaces within the restaurant). The name “La Mondina” is an ode to Italian women who worked the country’s rice fields in the 1940s, and Italian maternal strength in general, and the menu follows on the dual themes of refinement and rusticity (as does the interior design: exposed wood, sleek lines). At the helm of the menu is chef Timothy Spielman (who you may or may not know from this video of him catching a baby duck outside of Asbury Festhalle & Biergarten, where he was currently sous chef). La Mondina is currently open Wednesday through Sunday. La Mondina, 110 Union Avenue, Brielle; 732-612-8331

Oceancrat the Boiling Seafood may have a name that’s hard to wrap your head around, but the concept is straightforward: moderately priced heaps of boiled or fried seafood. Think fried fish, fried oysters, fried shrimp (and fried chicken for pescaphobes) and steamed baskets of shrimp (head on or off, your choice) and mussels. There are several seasonings and sides like cajun fries, potatoes, and corn on the cob. Oceancrat the Boiling Seafood, 1134 Route 73, Mount Laurel; 856-372-2829

Amici Gelato & Caffe has been running smoothly for about a month now on Mattison Avenue in Asbury Park. The brainchild of two friends and Brooklyn-Little Italy natives Anthony Russo and Rob Castore and helmed by Milanese chef Emiliano Graci, Amici is a prim, bright Italian café storefront with a luxe rainbow of creamy gelatos, rich espresso coffees, and a small, thoughtful menu of panini, salads, pastry, even a short menu of breakfast sandwiches (including pork roll, or Taylor Ham, however you prefer to say it, they got it). Opens at 8am every morning. Amici Gelato & Caffe, 630 Mattison Avenue, Asbury Park; 848-226-3700

—Emerging in the former home of the Tropicana in Jersey City just over a week ago is The Franklin, a restaurant with an Italian-leaning dinner menu that plays to its Jersey City audience with an everyday (as in seven days a week) brunch menu from 7am to 3pm, which they’re taking pretty seriously per this Instagram pic of Mole Eggs Benedict for Cinco de Mayo. Also per Instagram, looks like the corner BYO restaurant is already in the habit of filling up—though it’s early days yet. The Franklin, 159 New York Avenue, Jersey City; 201-653-4710

—After six years of operation, Nick Napoletano and Erica Lieberman closed the doors to Whipped Creperie in Red Bank—and opened up shop just down the street. Cé La Vi picks up where their first shop dropped off, except with about double the crepe capacity. Even though they’re not in the name, you’ll still find plenty of crepes, including savory, on the European-inflected dinner menu. Cé La Vi, 16 Monmouth Street, Red Bank; 732-747-0076

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