The Par440 Restaurant and Lounge opened last summer to great acclaim and its first year has been a resounding success. Operated by Mario LaVecchia, who created such restaurants as Above in South Orange and La Grotta Degli Amici in Milburn, Par440 brings an extensive menu to the extensively renovated East Orange Golf Course. The 6,000 square-foot facility was built from the ground up and is anchored by the restaurant and upscale sports bar.
After a multi-year construction project, the transformation was nothing short of amazing. The new facility features a combination of retro and modern aesthetics, including flat screen televisions, an illuminated wall-length bar, disco balls and plush seating. Outside there is a wrap-around deck, a patio and the vintage bar that was restored from the original clubhouse. Par440 will also be adding a “scotch and smoke rings” location to the exterior where guests can enjoy high end liqueurs while indulging in fine hand-rolled cigars.
Authentic flavors of Italy reflect the core elements of the menu, but with an additional flair based on other international offerings. As an example, the grilled octopus is imported and topped with a touch of truffle balsamic demi-glacé. The Blue Bay mussels with pignoli nuts have a light pesto sauce and just a touch of cream, while imported Italian long-stem artichokes are grilled to perfection. The restaurant has an extensive raw bar and from Cape May oysters and Little Neck clams to the impressive Tower, it is a shellfish lover’s dream.
You will find other delicious starters that will make your mouth water – sautéed long hot peppers, broccoli rabe, grilled asparagus, corn risotto and traditional favorites such as wings, crab cakes, empanadas and Uncle Sam’s Slab Bacon.
On the lighter side, the salad selections are creative and delicious. Prosciutto di Parma features the famed imported prosciutto with arugula, roasted tomatoes, house-made mozzarella and a balsamic drizzle. Other selected salad choices include butternut, baby spinach and Cobb.
Even the pizza offerings show a spark of creativity rarely found elsewhere. The Ortolana uses a red sauce with house-made mozzarella, peppers, eggplant, zucchini and other grilled vegetables. The White Out is made using a béchamel sauce, mozzarella, ricotta, Asiago, Parmigiano and roasted garlic. It is difficult to beat the amazing taste and texture of the arugula pizza, which combines goat cheese and fig spread with house-made mozzarella, prosciutto, arugula, extra virgin olive oil and shaved Parmigiano Reggiano.
Par440 also has a great selection of wraps and burgers, but their pasta dishes and entrees are shining examples of the culinary arts. Porcini ala Amici is prepared with Strozzapreti pasta tossed in a Porcini mushroom sauce. The restaurant’s lobster ravioli is served with shallots and asparagus, finished with Pinot Grigio and a hint of cream. You can also enjoy delicious selections such as Chilean sea bass, Amici’s lamb shank and stuffed lobster tail. The kitchen’s attention to detail makes every dish unique. Combined with excellent service and beautiful presentation, your dining experience becomes not only memorable, but special. Owner Mario LaVecchia remarked, “If a customer wants something that is not on the menu, as long as we have the ingredients in the kitchen, we’ll make it. Parents don’t need to worry about what’s on a children’s menu when they dine. We’ll make whatever they want.”
The restaurant is equally accommodating for those with food allergies or sensitivities and the chefs will adjust dishes as needed for each diner’s preference. You can also have a fun night out on the town at Par440. Live entertainment is featured every Thursday, Friday and Saturday and on Sundays, Par440 serves a full brunch from 11:30 am to 3:30 pm. The restaurant is also the perfect venue for corporate events, birthday parties, weddings, showers and class reunions. For more information or to schedule an outing or group event, call 973-379-7190.
Par440 is located at 440 Parsonage Hill Road in Short Hills, New Jersey. The restaurant is open 7 days a week from 11:30am until 2:00am. For reservations, call 973-467-8882. Visit their website at www.par440.com.