PARSIPPANY — According to their website, Bruno’s considers itself to be an unassuming, old-fashioned, Italian neighborhood gathering place, without pretension, or misplaced aspiration. It is certainly that, and much more. Considering the enormous amount of competition here in New Jersey It is hard to stand out as an exceptional Italian restaurant. Bruno’s Italian Bistro has met that challenge and can easily be included among our areas’ premier fine dining destinations.
It is hard to miss the attractive, brightly lit, classy, exterior of this venue which is situated in the middle of the Powder Mill Plaza. Immediately catching your eye is the large, appealing outdoor patio, which is often heated with multiple California propane heaters, with string lighting tastefully placed overhead, with a large protective overhanging ceiling and no uncomfortable tent-like enclosures, you can still experience the feeling of a warm and cozy outdoor environment, even in semi-harsh weather conditions. If safe, comfortable outdoor dining is what you are looking for, this outdoor area is open year-round for your dining enjoyment.
As you pass through the patio and enter the restaurant you are immediately engulfed in the stylish, impressive ambiance, offering an inviting, casual, comfortable vibe, while simultaneously appearing upscale and elegant. Casual or elegant, there is no denying the warm, friendly, and welcoming rustic setting, accented with a decorative old-school tin ceiling, warm subdued lighting throughout. A perfect setting promising a thoroughly enjoyable dining experience. Did I mention that Bruno’s is a BYOB, so do not forget to bring along your favorite vino?
Owner/Chef Bruno Haklaj, and wife, Sonny, who serves as the restaurant’s General Manager, opened their Bistro in July 2017. After only a few minutes with them, I immediately found them to be two extraordinarily personable, pleasant, and energetic people who clearly loved what they are doing. Bruno explained that he found his passion for cooking back in Milan, Italy at age 21 while working for a local Chef, named Marco, who was going to become his inspiration and mentor. Apparently, Chef Marco saw something special in his young protege and encouraged him to pursue a career as a Chef and restauranteur. After his arrival in the U.S. in 1997 Bruno headed to NYC, where he continued to hone his culinary skills in a Manhattan restaurant, leading him to eventually open Cuneo Trattoria in Teaneck, and then Brunello’s in Garfield. All leading to Bruno and Sonny’s pride and joy, Bruno’s Italian Bistro.
Bruno, when asked what makes his venue special, referred to his always fresh and natural ingredients, his homemade pasta, and the pride, love, and passion he puts into every one of his dishes. Bruno’s commitment is evident in the fact that 3 to 4 times per week he is up at 3:30 a.m., heading out to the market for that day’s fresh seafood, and then working well into the evening most nights cooking and paying personal attention to every patron who walks into his restaurant. When asked, he said he could not pick out a favorite or signature dish as, “Every one of his dishes is like his kids, and you can’t pick favorites among your kids.” Bruno went on to state that he considers all his customers and staff family, and that he feels tremendous enjoyment and satisfaction in providing all his customers with a delicious, satisfying meal and great service, and that this sincere, personal touch is the reason he has so many regular, returning customers. His motto, which he proudly displays on his exterior window is, “We are not in the food business serving people, We are in the people business serving food”.
The friendly, accommodating, and proficient wait staff, all smartly dressed in classy white attire, could not have been better. The wine was quickly uncorked, ice water and hot bread appeared without delay; our classy and beautifully appointed table, complete with a fresh white linen tablecloth, sparkling glassware, and nicely folded napkins certainly added an additional layer to this restaurant’s overall vibe. There was a good size group of us this visit, so it was impressive how well they worked together as an efficient and coordinated team. Started off with a Caesar Salad, and Penne Alla Vodka, both of which were particularly good. The salad was bright, crisp, and fresh and the al dente penne pasta was perfectly prepared and served with a delicious, creamy, and properly seasoned vodka sauce.
Entrees among the group included Pork Osso Buco, Veal Sorrentino, and Chicken Scarpariello. Every dish looked and smelled amazing. Dishes were all plated with care, providing a beautiful visual presentation of a variety of mouthwatering authentic and creative Italian cuisine; the portions were generous. Everyone raved about their individual meals, but personally, I went with one of my favorites, Osso Buco. The rich, savory flavor of the meat complimented by Bruno’s delicious sauce was outstanding.
The moist, juicy, tender, succulent pork fell off the bone at my touch and tasted as good as it looked. Melt in your mouth goodness. The pork shank was accompanied with a nice side serving of light, tasty, and airy, Gnocchi, in a light sauce which perfectly complemented and carried the flavors of the star of the dish, the Osso Buco. How else to finish but with my usual Cappuccino and a traditional Italian Tiramisu for dessert (layers of flavor, ladyfingers, mascarpone, Italian custard, espresso, and a hint of cocoa); I must admit, the cheesecake and chocolate cake were also extremely tempting, but how could I resist the tiramisu.
No doubt, this was another memorable dining experience, enjoying fine Italian cuisine, made as it was meant to be made. I would certainly recommend you stopping in for your next planned night out. Molto Buono!
And, as always, please come out and support all our small, independent local businesses in any way you can.
Gluten-Free Options, Vegetarian Substitutions. BYOB, Ample Parking, Pick up and Delivery, Catering. All COVID 19 Health Requirements Enforced. Closed Monday. Rated 4.5 Stars in Tripadvisor.
Bruno’s Italian Bistro is located at Powder Mill Plaza West, 2900 Route 10 West, Morris Plains, NJ 07950; brunositalianbistronj.com; Phone: (973) 998-8004.