BOONTON — On Main Street in the quaint, historic, little downtown of Boonton, it is not difficult to find several popular and excellent Italian restaurants dotted along the rows of small storefront businesses, but just a short drive away on Myrtle Avenue, separated from the crowd, you will find yet another gem you should seriously consider putting on your radar.

Ed, Barbara and Zach Joyce

Matta Donna Italian Ristorante & Pizzeria, a family-owned, and operated fine dining venue opened its doors in October of 2009, after taking over the prior location of Eduardo’s Pizzeria, which was owned by the Mastria family and which stood at that location for the 30 years prior. As one would expect, after 30 years major renovations were in order and the new owners wasted no time in putting their dream to work. On your visit to Matta Donna’s, you will find an establishment that is somewhat elegant, with an upscale and classy ambiance; yet still manages to feel cozy and comfortable. The well-thought-out setting is undoubtedly an expression of pride by the owners. The vibe is fun, cheerful, and welcoming, and yet somehow exudes a feeling that you are in store for a more sophisticated, formal dining experience. Simply, if you are looking for fine Italian dining which also offers some interestingly cool pizzas, Matta Donna might just be your place.

As soon as you enter you immediately are struck by the beautiful, reddish/brown oak woodwork throughout the interior dining room and bar. The appealing soft hues of the rich wood, which includes the wall paneling, floors, tables, and bar, lends itself to a sophisticated décor and ambiance that immediately exudes a feeling of warmth and comfort. The gorgeous wood is complimented with several pieces of beautiful artwork that adorns the walls and which adds another level of class to this already quietly elegant-looking venue. The dining room is spacious, airy, and nicely lighted by the restaurants’ large windows, and the tables are set up to be in full compliance with today’s pandemic safety requirements.

Shrimp Appetizer

On entry, we were warmly greeted, thanked for our visit, and offered our choice of tables. We chose a nice corner table with a lot of light. A basket of hot bread (whole grain and Crusty White), butter, and infused Olive Oil quickly arrived, and our drink order was taken without delay. I went with a Woodford Manhattan this evening and the bartender personally came to our table to ask how I like it. He made it to perfection. Nice, personalized service. Our server, Jake, was extremely knowledgeable about the menu, in addition to being very personable, attentive, polite, and efficient at his job, as was the rest of the staff. Our menus were brought, and water was poured as our group looked over the multiple appetizing looking menu options.

Goat Cheese and Caramelized Onions Pizza

Zach Joyce, who along with his brother, Edward, owns and operates this family-owned, independent eatery stopped by our table which gave me a chance to get some background information on Matta Donna. I was curious about the name of the restaurant, which being of Italian heritage, I knew translated to “Crazy Woman”. Zach laughed and explained that though the name does mean “Crazy Woman” it actually came from a ranch the family had owned in Wyoming, where there is an area called “Crazy Woman Creek” and that it is not a reference to anyone in particular. Zach told me that his brother, Ed, a classically trained Chef, runs the kitchen while he runs the front of the house. Mother, Barbara Joyce, who is also a classically trained pastry Chef, does not work in the restaurant but does supply them with several of her specialty desserts. Zach made it clear that all three have their roles in serving the area with fine, gourmet Italian cuisine, and of course, those specialty pizzas.

My inquiry then led to the bar’s countertop, which I previously knew has quite an interesting back story. The bar’s countertop is comprised of teak, which was acquired from salvaged deck planks directly from the USS North Carolina, the most decorated battleship during WWII, and which was involved in every major naval offensive in the Pacific during that time. Interestingly, North Carolina was being restored around the same time that the restaurant was being renovated. The somewhat rotted ship planks which were being replaced were acquired by Min-Craft Custom Cabinetry in Dover who meticulously restored the planks and utilized them to create the unique top of the appealing bar. Being a Navy veteran, I found this particularly exciting, not to mention patriotic and historic. The USS North Carolina, once considered the World’s greatest sea weapon, is presently a tourist attraction in Wilmington, NC. It was nice to see Zach express such pride in his family and their restaurant.

Time to eat! For our appetizers, we decided to share one of their small pizza’s that I have heard good things about, the specialty Goat Cheese and Caramelized Onions Pizza. We also went with the

Grilled Hot Sausage over Arugula

, with roasted red peppers and fresh mozzarella cheese, with a balsamic reduction, and the Shrimp Special. Did I mention, to complement your meal they offer a nice variety of wines at reasonable prices. All the appetizers were delicious. I would not have ever thought of ordering a Goat Cheese pizza, but I found it delicious and perfectly prepared. Tasty, thin-crust (you can order it thin or regular crust) and fully cooked to a nice, crunchy texture. The Sausage married perfectly with the peppers and mozzarella and was a treat; and the Shrimp, sweet with a deliciously tender texture, covered in a slightly creamy sauce. Great start!

For an entrée, I decided on their Cowboy Rib Eye, an 18 oz grilled, bone-in, Angus steak, topped with garlic-herb butter and served with hand-cut fries and sauteed green beans. My guests went with the Grilled Filet Mignon, served with sautéed mushrooms, and roasted red peppers, with a cabernet wine sauce; served with roasted potatoes and broccoli, and the Veal Cutlet Parmesan, served over pasta. The Cowboy Steak was prepared to melt-in-your-mouth excellence, savory, juicy, well-seasoned, and cooked perfectly to my specifications. The ample amount of cut fries were nice and crispy, and the green beans were fresh and slightly crunchy to the bite. The Filet Mignon and Veal Parmesan, which I, unfortunately, did not get to try, were also met with rave reviews. By now, everyone was clearly happy and satiated but how could you leave without one of Barbara’s decadent desserts.

Cowboy Rib Eye

I went with the homemade Blueberry Tart. Bursting with the fresh flavor of blueberries, with a deliciously textured homemade crust, this was a decadent and delectably good choice. Not too sweet, not too tart, exactly right! Went great with a meal ending Cappuccino. My guest’s Chocolate Lava Cake was also a home run.

Blueberry Tart

Matta Donna was a great stop. Delicious food, excellent service, moderate prices, great people, and what looks like a great bar scene. Next stop, I might just have to hit up the bar to enjoy one of their sandwiches, or a burger, both of which I hear is excellent; along with a beer or two. I certainly would recommend stopping in and giving it a try. I am confident you will enjoy your dining experience, I did.

Private Parking Lot, Dine-In, Take-Out, Delivery, Curbside Pickup

Hours of Operation: Monday and Saturday 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.; Tuesday through Friday 11:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Northern Italian Restaurant with Full Bar Service- Pizza, Pasta, Chicken, Beef, Pork & Vegetarian Meals.

Matta Donna Ristorante & Pizzeria is located at 304 Myrtle Avenue, Boonton. (973) 334-7138; https://www.mattadonna.com

Chocolate Lava Cake