Fare: Modern Italian
Price: Expensive - Very Expensive
Food Quality: An inspirational modern Italian menu creatively prepared using healthy, high quality, organic, and sustainably raised ingredients from local sources, supplemented by importing dry ingredients from Italy.
Service: Knowledgeable, friendly well trained, attentive staff without being intrusive or pretentious.
Ambiance: Undergone a beautiful renovation. Cozy, elegant, rustic Italian farmhouse decor
Overall Rating: 3.5 Stars --- Rated the best Italian Restaurant in Monmouth County --- Classified as an upscale Chef-Inspired Casual Dining restaurant (* Note - See below restaurant classification for details)
Note: Four star Rating System from 1/2 Star = Poor to 4 stars = Best in Class
Noise Level: Low - Moderate
Dress: Upscale Casual
Recommended For: Diners who enjoy upscale dining in a beautiful setting with an artfully presented, creative menu of regional Italian dishes and American favorites, prepared with high quality, mostly organic, sustainable ingredients.
Not Recommended For: Cost conscious diners who enjoy a traditional "Old World" Italian red sauce menu served in huge portions.
Recommended dishes: When available, The Mugnaia pasta with Toasted Garlic, Pepperoncino Cruschi & Pecorino; The Whole Grilled Bronzino, wild caught from Portugal; and the 45-day dry aged Porterhouse
il Nido, opened in March 2019, has quickly become a success as one of the Best Italian restaurants in Central Jersey. This is a destination restaurant that is not for just a night out for dinner --- Il Nido is an excellent upscale, Chef-Inspired Casual dining experience.
Unlike many old school traditional, red sauce Italian restaurants in Central Jersey, Il Nido (translated as "The Nest") sets itself apart with serving an inspirational modern Italian menu with authentic regional specialties.
il Nido originated as a vision by owner Joe Folgore, a successful local business entrepreneur who emigrated from Sicily, with the idea of creating an upscale Italian restaurant in Western Monmouth County that serves an inspired menu with dishes prepared using only the highest quality, healthy, organic ingredients
Joe Folgore is an innovative entrepreneur who is continually upgrading the menu and the physical structure.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, he upgraded the interior ventilation system by installing HEPA filters in their HVAC system as well as UV-C Lighting as precautionary measures to ensure a safe indoor dining environment.
His vision became a reality when he secured the location of two former Italian restaurants, Brioso and L'Antica Trattoria, along with an adjacent storefront location, and recruited highly regarded Executive Chef Joseph Voller. The two teamed up to create a restaurant unlike many any of the other low to mid-range traditional, Old World, red sauce Italian restaurants that dot the Central New Jersey landscape.
Chef Voller comes with impressive credentials. He received his formal culinary training at the Art Institute’s Culinary Arts School in Philadelphia, and later honed his culinary skills under famed Philadelphia chefs including Guillermo Pernot at the former Nuevo Latino restaurant, and Jose Garces at Alma de Cuba. He later became Executive Chef of Eno Terra, a high-end Italian restaurant in Kingston, NJ, nun by The Terra Momo Group. Prior to coming to Il Nido, Chef Voller served as Executive Chef at both the famed Le Virtu and Brigantessa restaurants in south Philadelphia.
Chef Voller oversees the kitchen that serves a weekly changing menu with inspired, artfully presented dishes that are creatively prepared using healthy, high quality, mostly organic ingredients.
Many of his menu items are inspired dishes from the Abbruzzo/Puglia regions of Italy that are creatively prepared with healthy, high quality organic and sustainably raised ingredients from local sources, supplemented by importing dry ingredients from Italy. You will not find any traditional red sauce dishes, such as chicken parmigiana here!
The seafood is sourced from Local 130 Seafood in Asbury Park specializes on locally caught, sustainable seafood. No farm raised seafood here. The meat products are sourced from Four Story Hill Farm in Pennsylvania that raises all-natural, apple-fed pigs, pastured chickens, and veal. No antibiotics, hormones, or unnatural supplements of any kind are ever used on the animals. The produce is sourced from Cherry Valley Cooperative in Montgomery, NJ, a collaboration of farmers, chefs, innovators, students, artists, and wellness professionals specializing in growing high diversity vegetables, berries, fruit, flowers, mushrooms, herbs and pasture raised eggs, lamb, and pork.
Most of the dry ingredients are imported from Italy. For example, the flour used in the homemade pasta dishes is imported from Sicily.
One of the signature dishes at Il Nido is their homemade Mugnaia pasta, a chewy, rustic pasta. During a month-long trip to the regions of Abbruzzo and Puglia, Italy, Chef Voller learned how to master the technique of making Mugnaia under the guidance of co-owner Antonietta of Ristorante La Bilancia, in Abbruzzo, Italy.
La Mugnaia, which literally translates to "the miller's wife's pasta", is rarely found in Italian restaurants in America. It is made by forming the dough into a doughnut shape and hand rolling into an 7-8-foot strands to a diameter of about 4–6 mm, where each strand is cooked and served un-cut, and unbroken.
At il Nido, Chef Voller cooks it al-dente (retaining a bit of firmness ) covered with a light, tasty sauce made with flavorful cruschi peppers and toasted garlic, twirled into a nest., and served on an attractive wood platter.
The menu also offers several popular, high quality American favorites including a variety of grass-fed Aged Wagyu Beef and meats with no antibiotics, hormones, or unnatural supplements, and wild caught seafood.
When available, Branzino lovers will savor the whole grilled, wild caught Branzino from Portugal. This succulent dish is cooked whole with head, tail, and bone. After cooking, their talented chef will de-bone it, and serve it with a side of vegetables. If you are fortunate to be seated at waiter David's table, he will debone it and prepare it table side.
Daily specials tend to be higher priced. While specials use quality, imported ingredients that justify the higher prices, with taste being subjective, be sure to ask the staff about the prices and the food preparation to ensure that both prices and taste meet your expectations.
The ambiance at il Nido is cozy, rustic Italian farmhouse, yet elegant. The 115 seat restaurant has undergone a beautiful renovation to include four dining areas; Two main dining rooms, one of them has an attractive stone fireplace, a smaller, quieter Cave room, and the chefs table dining area with two booths overlooking the open kitchen.
The interior is beautifully done up with red brick walls adorned with attractive paintings of Portofino and other Italian Riviera coastal towns, open exposed ceilings painted in black, wooden tables set with attractive, softly lit table lamps, surrounded by comfortable soft cushioned chairs. The Tables are spaced apart for quiet conversation.
As an alternative to COVID-19 compliant "bubbles", also known as igloos, for year round outdoor dining that other restaurants have recently began installing, Il Nido has their own version of a private cozy, well ventilated safe, three sided earth tone tents, with ground level propane heaters. The private tents can accommodate small groups of 4-8 diners.
il Nido is not recommended for children
il Nido is open for dinner 5 days/week: Wed, Thu, Sun 5:00 pm–9:00 pm, & Fri, Sat 5:00 pm–10:00 pm
Reservations are highly recommended.
*Description of Restaurant Classification - Chef-Inspired Casual Dining:
The most popular upscale restaurants in New Jersey, classified into three categories: Chef-Inspired Fine Dining, Chef-Inspired Casual Dining, and Contemporary Casual.
learn more about the three types of upscale restaurants and how reviews are created.
(updated; November 2020)