Café Lia, known for its fine Italian cuisine served in an intimate atmosphere, will celebrate its first anniversary with a party Monday, Nov. 14, starting at 7 p.m.

Café Lia will celebrate with food, music and the many men and women who have come to the restaurant as customers and left as friends.

“It’s our way of saying thank you to the community for supporting us in these very hard economic times,” said Cesar Gutierrez, general manager of Café Lia (117 North Union Ave., Cranford. 908-276-4011). “We have a distinctive, elegant style in the food we create and the atmosphere in which we serve it. And the people in the area seem to like it.”

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The best words to describe Café Lia are: Comfortable, relaxed and romantic. It’s a quaint bistro, where you can get a romantic candlelit dining experience with attentive service. There’s a warm atmosphere, delicious food and live entertainment.

Café Lia is “where the food and atmosphere speak for itself,” the restaurant notes on its website (

“We make food the old fashioned way,” Gutierrez said. “Our vegetables come from the farm, not from a can. Preparation is done in our kitchen under the supervision of executive chefs Tom Lia and Luis Jimenez, not in a factory watched by a foreman. We make our food like Mama did.”

And real critics, the people who eat at the restaurant, agree: Café Lia is a hit.

“Wonderful food, ambiance and service,” a reviewer noted on Google. “Cesar makes everyone feel like family! Our new favorite spot.”

“This gracious restaurant always makes me fell like they’ve been waiting for us to show up,” Jhon S. wrote on “The food is amazing: Top quality ingredients prepared with artistry. …The host and staff are the soul of hospitality.”

Samantha S., another reviewer, added: “The menu has so many yummy sounding choices, it was hard to decide. (The) strawberries flambé and vanilla ice cream: This was quite possibly the best dessert I’ve ever had.”

Regular dishes on the menu include: A wide variety of appetizers (fried calamari, New Zealand mussels, baked clams, mozzarella en Carrozza), salads (goat cheese, fennel, Caesar and tri-color), paninis (chicken, broccoli rabe and sausage, salmon, eggplant, prosciutto di parma, grilled vegetable), pastas (pappardella alla lia’s, classic rigatoni vodka, oreccheitte, spaghetti pescatore, linguine alla vongol, homemade fettuccini, penne Bolognese, cheese ravioli), entrees (pork, salmon, veal, shrimp, chicken, beef, fish) plus decadent desserts (homemade tiramisu, cannoli, Italian cheesecake, tartufo, cream carmel, flambe).

Café Lia said its full bar is the best any area restaurant has to offer – bar none.

“We have the best selection of premium liquor,” said Gutierrez “And it is served in the elegant surroundings of our full bar with appetizers ranging from fried calamari and baked clams to a shrimp cocktail and tomato and fresh mozzarella. It’s a great place to relax, unwind and refresh.”

Most menu items can be prepared for takeout. Catering is available in the restaurant for up to 65 people and off premises for larger groups. And when there’s a party at the restaurant, the staff can even make room for dancing.

“We’re so proud of being in Cranford and what we’ve accomplished in our first year,”

Gutierrez said. “We want our friends to help us celebrate. It is because of their business, their suggestions and their loyalty, that we’ve come this far. And the best is yet to come.”