WEST ORANGE, NJ — Since opening in January, Nicholas Anthony’s Family Kitchen has become a go-to-spot for West Orange residents in the downtown area. In order to commemorate its official grand opening, the casual Italian-American restaurant held a celebratory ribbon cutting led by Mayor Robert Parisi and other local dignitaries last week.
Joining Parisi were council members Michelle Casalino and Susan McCartney as well as members of the Downtown West Orange Alliance (DWOA), the West Orange Chamber of Commerce (WOCC) and friends and family of the owners. Located at 450 Main Street, Nicholas Anthony’s is owned by West Orange natives and siblings Nicholas Giambattista and Andrea Giambattista-Barbaro along with their spouses, Christie Giambattista and John Barbaro.
“All ribbon cuttings are exciting, but we’re very happy to see local people invest in their community,” said Parisi. “We’re just excited to see another business in our downtown, people believing in our downtown. We’re looking forward to seeing how successful they will be.”
Giambattista-Barbaro said that the ribbon cutting has been “a couple months coming” after she and her brother officially took over the space in July of 2018.
“Everything in here was built by us or by our family,” she said. “The tables were built at my garage, the decorations, me and my sister-in-law, my brother, and my father-in-law and my husband—everything here was hand touched by us, by family.”
Her husband, John, noted that it took the family about six or seven months, but the restaurant is finally exactly how they want it. John, who is not only a co-owner and has a background in construction, but is also the “official taste-tester” of Nicholas Anthony’s.
“Everything was hands on,” he said, while explaining who built each component of the restaurant. “We all did our part because it was a family effort. Even though I don’t have much to do with the restaurant part of it—I just come to eat—I was there in the beginning.”
Before becoming Nicholas Anthony’s, the site was home to Due Amici, another Italian restaurant, but the previous owners were set to retire.
“Their kids grew up and I don’t think their kids wanted to be in the restaurant business,” said Giambattista-Barbaro. “They were retired and we heard that it was for rent—so we came in, we did it and here we are.”
Casalino, who is close friends with Nicholas Giambattista and a former co-worker of Christie Giambattista, said she was impressed by the transformation of the décor and the renovations that the family did to the restaurant.
“It’s just so exciting to have them open up a restaurant here on the Eagle Rock section of town,” she said. “It’s great for our neighborhood, it’s great for the township and the food’s been nothing but consistent.”
Casalino shared that many years ago, she and Christie Giambattista used to work together at Gaffer’s Pub, which is now The Oak Barrel Pub located next door on 440 Main Street.
“I have a bond with her and her husband,” she said.
Zooming throughout the dining area before disappearing into the kitchen, Christie Giambattista said that her husband is the heart of Nicholas Anthony’s Family Kitchen.
“Everything is homemade with the exception of our steak fries, which we order, and they’re still fabulous,” said Giambattista-Barbaro. “Everything here is made from scratch—family recipes. That’s why we’re called Nicholas Anthony’s Family Kitchen.”
On the location of the restaurant, Giambattista-Barbaro said that it made sense to open in West Orange because of the four generations of history that they have in the township.
Nicholas Anthony’s Family Kitchen is named for the three-year-old son of Nicholas and Christie Giambattista, who—along with cousin John Joseph Barbaro Jr.—is a fourth-generation West Orange resident. But Giambattista-Barbaro also explained that the restaurant is named for her father, Anthony Giambattista, who died about seven years ago. Anthony was also a West Orange business owner, operating a bar on Lakeside Avenue with his wife until it closed in 1995.
“This is our town,” said Giambattista-Barbaro while reflecting on the family’s long history in West Orange. “No town is like West Orange…I’m not just saying that because I’m from here."
Giambattista elaborated on West Orange’s diverse population, but what connects everyone is that everyone in West Orange is treated like family.
“I’ve been around New Jersey and there’s no other town like this,” said Giambattista.
At the restaurant, where she and the other owners love to cater to their patrons, Giambattista-Barbaro firmly believes that “everyone should feel comfortable like family and just always feel like family.”
To learn more about Nicholas Anthony’s Family Kitchen, which is open seven days a week, click HERE.