A familiar restaurant known for its superb cuisine and ambience has made way for a successor in Madison. After ten years, Top Notch owner and executive chef Kevin Stender announces the opening of 4 Park Ave. Trattoria at its namesake address.

"We felt that it was time to take a hard look at what the marketplace wants," notes Stender, who adds, "our new menu caters to that clientele while continuing to provide the highest quality food and service that built our reputation and accounts for our longtime presence in Madison." Stender, a graduate of the renowned Culinary Institute of America (CIA) and Seton Hall University, came naturally to the restaurant business.

"In addition to my CIA training and my own passion for good food," he says, "I learned much of what I know from my father, who has been in the business for his entire professional life." Hans Stender, who honed his skills in Germany and Italy, bringing his expertise to the Montclair restaurant scene, will join his son in the 4 Park Ave. kitchen, preparing a host of dishes - some signatures that already draw people to this dining destination, and others that are new to an innovative bistro menu which includes a variety of regional Italian presentations like thin-sliced eggplant parmesan with a touch of ricotta and American staples like prime rib of beef.

"In addition to the gamut of traditional pastas, homemade on premises," Stender adds, "we'll prepare veal, chicken, and pork dishes as well as individual, thin-crust pizzas with optional toppings, perfect for an appetizer or a light snack." The Margarita pizza is available with a whole-wheat crust.

"We recognize that today's economy and casual lifestyle warrant a new approach to going out for dinner," Stender says. "People deserve to enjoy an evening out with their friends or families and this requires attention to atmosphere and pricing. Many of the pasta dishes, ample in quantity, are priced from $11 and up and most main courses top out in the $18 range. We have reasonable kids' favorites and delicious salads and appetizers, including our own version of the wedge and our house salad, calamari, and stuffed artichokes. There is something for everyone here. As always, we are a BYOB establishment and that saves money for our customers as well." 4 Park Ave.'s dessert menu includes specialty coffees and delights like tartufo, varied sorbets and gelati, and Stender's homemade warm apple strudel, topped with ice cream.

"Our goal is to serve a wide clientele in an atmosphere that is spacious and where tables are far enough apart to allow good conversation and companionship, always with the privacy associated with this location." Stender has added a television set, perfect for people to get together for good food while they watch their favorite teams. He plans special sports nights for major events like the Super Bowl.

"We've always been known for the way we welcome and recognize our returning customers and this will continue at 4 Park Ave.," says this owner-chef. "My mom Toni Stender will still be there to set the tone right from the beginning of the meal and our professional wait staff will continue the sense of relaxation in an unrushed setting we know is crucial to a meal out. The restaurant honors reservations and can accommodate large group celebrations." Stender notes that there will be an early-bird menu from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week, and specially priced lunch menus as well.

For those who want to dine on 4 Park Ave. dishes at home, Stender is instituting a takeout pick-up or delivery service, and as a major service change, a complete catering menu, where dishes for 8-10 people come in large trays. Delivered and ready to serve, they range from $18 to $60. A 4 Park Ave. party at home will feature food prepared with the creative presentation and dedication that consistently marks Stender's career.

"We want our loyal customers as well as our new customers to know that they can dress casually, park easily in our newly paved parking lot, and enjoy the kind of good food that I have enjoyed preparing for over a decade. Nothing makes me happier," he says, "than when customers tell us that the food was great, they felt at home, and they'll be back soon."

Visit www.4parkave.com or call 973-660-9222 to take a culinary tour of Madison's newest gathering place. 4 Park Ave. Trattoria is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily, and welcomes reservations and major credit cards. Bring this article to 4 Park Ave. Trattoria to receive a 15% discount.