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Tuscany Villa Ristorante: Where Italian Tradition Meets Modern Elegance

MORRIS COUNTY — There’s no doubt the general Parsippany area can boast of being the home of numerous excellent Italian restaurants. Within a several-mile radius, one can probably find every style of Italian eatery you’re looking for, from a small local trattoria, an old school “Nonna” pizzeria joint, to an elegant, upscale dining experience.  A solid, if not great, Italian restaurant can be found in almost any of New Jersey’s 500-plus towns. But the bottom line is it’s not so much about quantity as it is about those deciding factors and small details that provide a truly satisfying, enjoyable, and memorable dining experience.

The interior is classy and upscale, but rest assured, upon entry, you will find an attractive, spacious, casual, cozy, and relaxing atmosphere.

Tuscany Villa Ristorante, an architecturally attractive building with salmon-colored stucco, stone façade, canopied windows, and decorative railings, provides a welcoming introduction to the business.  Anchored at the end of a small strip mall on Changebridge Road in Montville, Tuscany Villa stands out with its modern exterior appearance that screams classy and upscale, but rest assured on entry, you will find an attractive, spacious, casual, cozy, and relaxing atmosphere. Relatively new, Tuscany Villa was constructed in 2016 and opened its doors in January 2017 as an independent, family-owned business.

Owner Elvis Mejia, a native of Guatemala, is not new to the restaurant industry. He and a few relatives were also partners in Delizia Pizza Kitchen in Boonton and El Rancho Restaurant in Morristown. Like many restaurant owners and chefs, Chef Mejia worked up the culinary ladder as a young man. Following his arrival in the U.S. in 2000, he found a job as a dishwasher at Frank’s Pizza in Lake Hopatcong. Eventually, Chef Mejia, following 10 years of hard work, studying, and honing his culinary skills, earned a position as a Sous Chef. Deciding to pursue his dream and open his restaurant, and with the help of his relatives and friends, he was introduced to Montville, which he found was the perfect location for his Tuscany-themed restaurant, and where he gives back to the community by sponsoring local youth and High School sports.

Chef Elvia Mejia, Pat Minutillo, Vasil and Chef Tony Abillo

Tuscany is known for its landscapes, history, artistic legacy, and influence on high culture. It is regarded as the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance and of the foundations of the Italian language. Creating an ambiance, vibe, and sense of Tuscany’s culture, lifestyle, and beauty would require imagination.  Careful planning paid off, and Tuscany Villa creates just such a sense of a serene Italian villa, offering a warm and inviting atmosphere where one can relax and enjoy a delicious meal over a glass of wine. Did I mention that Tuscany Villa is BYOB, so feel free to bring along your favorite vino? Conveniently, there is a liquor store next door, just in case you forget. The interior is meticulously clean and spacious, with beautiful décor that captures the essence of Italy and certainly reflects the restaurant’s theme. The color scheme is comforting and cohesively comes together with assorted cozy lighting, tasteful and thoughtfully placed artwork, Italian artifacts on the walls, comfortably spaced rustic wooden tables & booth seating, ceiling fans, and tiled flooring.  Aromas of freshly baked pizzas, savory tomato sauce, spices, herbs, and all those scrumptious fragrances that tantalize your taste buds and make your mouth water as you peruse the menu.

Linguini & Clam Sauce: Available with red or white sauce.

I would neglect to mention (especially now that the warm weather is upon us) that Tuscany Villa also offers outdoor patio seating. This is a gorgeous setting to dine and relax, reflecting the restaurant’s theme, complete with vine-covered trellises and soothing natural landscaping.

The menu offers the usual array of delectable Italian choices, including appetizers, soups, salads, antipasti, pasta, seafood, baked pasta, hot and cold subs, grilled dishes, chef specials, strombolis, wraps, paninis, calzones, and, of course, traditional, gourmet, and Sicilian pizza. A children’s menu is also offered, as are numerous specials. There is pretty much something for everyone. And don’t forget dessert!

Chicken Contadina (artichokes, mushrooms, onions & a touch of marinara sauce, and served over pasta).

Now that our group of hungry travelers had a chance to sip some wine, unwind, admire the décor, and check out the menu, it was time to start ordering. Our server, Vasile, was on hand to help with any questions we may have had. As far as service goes, Vasile was as good as it gets. Friendly, knowledgeable, and efficient, Vasile made us all feel like valued guests from the moment we sat down. His affable manner and sense of humor all contributed to a fun dining experience.

A Culinary Gem: Eggplant Rollatini at Tuscany Villa Ristorante

As always, the group chose a selection of appetizers to share. Choices included tender and flavorful eggplant rollatini, a well-packed meat stromboli (Sausage, Ham, Pepperoni, Salami, Meatball & Mozzarella), and at the suggestion of Vasile, ginger calamari (Fried Calamari Tossed in Ginger Sauce with Roasted Peppers & Mango). Each appetizer was luscious, with generously sized portions. The freshness and high quality of the ingredients were evident and cooked perfectly. To me, the star of the show was Ginger Calamari. Delizioso!!!  Nice plump-sized calamari, tender and crisp, sweet and sour, with a bit of heat and lots and lots of flavors. An exquisite, sweet Italian treat with an Asian flair!

A Spicy Treat: Shrimp Fra Diavolo Over Pasta

For my entrée, I ordered the Shrimp Fra Diavolo, which came in a spicy Marinara Sauce, over pasta.  As usual, I asked them to punch up the heat. Shrimp Fra Diavolo, a favorite of mine, is made with juicy, large shrimp cooked in a hearty, spicy tomato sauce with garlic, white wine, and fresh parsley; when it’s good, it’s good. Others in the group ordered the Chicken Contadina (artichokes, mushrooms, onions & a touch of marinara sauce, and served over pasta). I didn’t try this, but it was a phenomenal-looking dish and generously portioned. Linguini & Clam Sauce (comes with red or white sauce), and a couple of guys went with your traditional Veal Parmigiana (nice sized pieces of veal, covered in Tuscany’s house tomato sauce and lots of melted mozzarella topping it off.

Delight in the Creamy Goodness of Chocolate Mousse at Tuscany Villa

Everyone enjoyed their meals, and the dessert menus arrived (as if we needed them now, but why not).  I like pistachios, so the Pistachio Truffle quickly caught my eye. It turned out to be a great choice. The creamy ganache, infused with chocolate and nuts, came generously loaded with pan-roasted pistachios. Every bite into this creamy, crunchy, decadent, indulgent dessert was delightful.  Others chose Chocolate Mousse and Chocolate Glass. Along with our Cappuccinos, those sweet and creamy treats made for the perfect ending to a genuinely nice dining experience.

Ricotta Pistachio Cake: A luscious creation with creamy ricotta layered with nuts, generously topped with pan-roasted pistachios.

When you’re in the area, I recommend stopping at Tuscany Villa Ristorante and trying it. Not to be redundant, but good food, beautiful décor, reasonable prices, and great service are a winning combination. Plus, they make a tasty pizza.

“Vivi la tua vita al meglio!”

Tuscany Villa Ristorante, 223 Changebridge Road, Montville. Phone: (973) 334-1400; Banquet Room (Great for Special Occasions) Holds 50 People. Outdoor Dining Patio – BYOB. Dine In – Take Out – Delivery -Catering. Monday Pizza Special. Hours: Seven Days, 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Ginger calamari (Fried Calamari Tossed in Ginger Sauce with Roasted Peppers & Mango)

Reprinted from Parsippany Focus Magazine, June 2024

NJM Insurance Group Awards $5,250 Grant to NJAC Foundation

PARSIPPANY — NJM Insurance Group awarded the NJAC Foundation a $5,250 grant for county vocational-technical school graduates who plan to continue their education in New Jersey at a county, state, or university college or university.

The NJAC Foundation will distribute one $1,750 scholarship in each county where NJM maintains a corporate office, which includes Morris, Atlantic, and Mercer. Since 2014, NJM has awarded the Foundation grants totaling $57,500, which has helped more than thirty students pursue their educational dreams. “I’m grateful that NJM and the NJAC Foundation have once again partnered on this unique opportunity to provide county vocational-technical school graduates with generous scholarships,” said NJAC Foundation President Arthur Sypek.

“We are pleased to support the efforts of the NJAC Foundation for the eleventh consecutive year that provides expanded educational opportunities for county vocational-technical school and county college students,” said Pat Hartpence, NJM Giving Officer. “We commend NJAC for its continued commitment to creating NJ-based educational pathways for deserving students.”

About NJM, founded in 1913, NJM is among the Mid-Atlantic region’s leading property and casualty insurers. The Company is consistently recognized for its award-winning customer service, superior claims handling procedures and overall customer satisfaction. NJM’s personal insurance products are available directly to consumers in Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. The Company also works with a preferred network of independent agents to deliver business insurance in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. One of the Company’s core values is to support the communities it is privileged to serve. It is a value exercised through year-round employee volunteer efforts at local non-profits and a formal corporate giving and engagement program. For more information, click here.

The NJAC Foundation is a non-profit organization affiliated with the New Jersey Association of Counties (NJAC). It is committed to providing innovative educational opportunities for county vocational-technical school and county college students. Please visit our website at www.njac.org for additional details about the NJAC Foundation.

Parsippany Animal Shelter: Guinea Pigs Up for Adoption

PARSIPPANY — The Parsippany Animal Shelter has three guinea pigs available for adoption. While little is known about the two, one is 2.5 years old and named Cornelius.

If you want to adopt one of the guinea pigs, please submit an adoption application by clicking here. Applications will be processed, and suitable homes will be contacted promptly to schedule a meet and greet.

Community Gathers for Rainbow Lakes Fire Dept. Picnic

Following the Memorial Day Parade, the Rainbow Lakes Fire Department District Two continued its cherished annual tradition by hosting a lively barbecue.

This year’s event saw an impressive turnout, with the dedicated volunteers going above and beyond to create a festive atmosphere.

The weather was perfect, adding to the enjoyment as attendees savored mouthwatering hamburgers, hotdogs, potato salad, and coleslaw, complemented by refreshing Birch Beer and a variety of adult beverages.

The day was filled with laughter, community spirit, and a shared sense of celebration, making it a memorable occasion for all who attended.

Attendees enjoyed an abundance of hotdogs at the Rainbow Lakes Fire Department’s annual barbecue, celebrating community and camaraderie.
Attendees enjoyed an abundance of hamburgers and cheeseburgers at the Rainbow Lakes Fire Department’s annual barbecue, celebrating community and camaraderie.
Mark Rabson, the Treasurer, was pouring the mouthwatering Birch Beer.
Frank DeRienzo, President of the Rainbow Lakes Fire Department, with Council Member Judy Hernandez
The two members who made it all happen are the Chefs: Firefighters Bobby Onufrick and Commissioner Pete Deegan. Both volunteers live in the Rainbow Lakes section.
Councilman Justin Musella, Rescue and Recovery Nick Limanov Sergeant At Arms and Andrew Ludwig, Treasurer

End of an Era: Bob Iracane Steps Down from Parsippany Zoning Board

PARSIPPANY — At the Parsippany-Troy Hills Township Council Meeting on Tuesday, May 21, Robert Iracane, Chairman of the Parsippany-Troy Hills Zoning Board of Adjustment, announced his resignation. Iracane has been a member of the Board for 35 years, serving as chairman for the last 25 years.

Wednesday, May 22, was his last meeting overseeing the board.

Iracane is moving out of town after 53 years living in Parsippany with his wife, Elinor. The Iracanes have been married for 54 years.

Bob was toasted by former Council President Michael J. dePierro and Joseph O’Neill, an attorney who often appears before the BoA.

He was honored with a plaque from the Board of Adjustment members, presented to him by fellow member Davey Lane Willans.

Mayor James R. Barberio also presented Bob with a proclamation recognizing his years of service to Parsippany and his volunteerism.

Mayor Barberio also presented Bob with a Key to the City of Parsippany.

Parsippany-Troy Hills Mayor James Barberio read a proclamation to Robert Iracane and then presented him with a Key to the Township.

Parsippany resident Stephanie Silbiger said, “What a true dedication to local city service! And a lovely tribute to Bob. Well done!” Former Councilwoman Loretta Gragnani remarked, “Congratulations, Bob, enjoy your retirement.”

“Bob did a great job over the years. He was an asset to the Town and the Board. I’m sorry I missed the presentation. He deserved the honor,” said Parsippany Attorney Bob Garofalo Sr.

He was honored with a plaque from the Board of Adjustment members, presented to him by fellow member Davey Lane Willans.

Community Service Gets a Boost with New Woman’s Club Members

PARSIPPANY — Ginny Scala, Co-Chair for Membership, welcomed new members Nancy Choffo, Karen Landrigan, and Addie Burke Rufino on Monday, May 20, at the Elks Lodge on Parsippany Road during the Installation/Salad Supper for the Woman’s Club of Parsippany-Troy Hills.

Nancy, Karen, and Addie have already shown their commitment to the group by participating in several projects and activities that benefit the community. The Woman’s Club of Parsippany-Troy Hills is thrilled to welcome these three women into their growing group of enthusiastic volunteers, united in fellowship and service to promote projects that generate positive outcomes in education, culture, and civic betterment of the community.

The Woman’s Club of Parsippany-Troy Hills is a member of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs (GFWC) and the New Jersey State Federation of Women’s Clubs (NJSFWC), the largest volunteer women’s service organizations in the country and state.

These organizations provide opportunities for education, leadership training, and community service. General Meetings are held on the fourth Monday from September through April at 7:00 p.m.

Those interested in attending the next General Meeting to learn more about the club can call Ginny at (973) 887-0336, visit the website at parsippanywomansclub.org, email the club at womansclubofpth@gmail.com, or follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

Parsippany Police Athletic League Partners with A3Digital Media

PARSIPPANY — The Parsippany Police Athletic League (PAL) proudly announces its strategic partnership with A3Digital Media, a leading digital marketing agency based in Parsippany. This collaboration aims to enhance community engagement and support local youth programs through innovative digital marketing strategies.

“We are excited to partner with A3Digital Media,” said Thomas Bushnauskas, head of the Parsippany PAL. “Their expertise will help us reach a wider audience and enhance our community programs.”

A3Digital Media will provide comprehensive digital marketing services to promote PAL’s events and initiatives, including content creation, lead generation, and branding.

For more information on A3Digital Media, click here.

Letter to the Editor: Mayor Barberio Criticized for Favoring Developers Over Residents

Dear Editor:

In a recent article, Parsippany Focus reported that HK Truck Center spent $3.68 million to purchase land between 10 and 30 Fanny Road. The company plans to redevelop the area, which is situated close to several major transportation routes, including the construction of a new state-of-the-art truck repair facility. 

As noted in the article, NAH James E Hanson’s Michael Walter stated, “With the limited supply of space for redevelopment in Morris County and the surrounding area, we are thrilled to have helped our client secure fair market value while allowing a tenant to continue their business at the space.”   

A limited supply of space for redevelopment in Morris County? Parsippany’s proximity to several major transportation hubs? Fair market value? No need to pay off the developers with 30-year PILOTs? 

Does Mayor Barberio know all of this? Not only ignorance, downright laziness, or greed can explain why the Mayor completely ignored his constituents’ best interest while kowtowing to the out-of-town developers and lawyer who represented them.      

With less than a year to go before the Republican primary for Mayor, Parsippany residents seem to deserve better than ignorance, laziness, and greed.  

Bob Crawford

Parsippany-Troy Hills Council Meeting Scheduled for May 21

PARSIPPANY — The Parsippany-Troy Hills Township Council has scheduled a meeting for Tuesday, May 21, at 7:00 p.m. The meeting will occur in the Council Chambers at 1001 Parsippany Boulevard within the Parsippany Municipal Building.

Formal action may or may not be taken.

Any individual who is qualified as a disabled person under the Americans with Disabilities Act may request auxiliary aids such as a sign interpreter or a tape recorder to be used for the meeting. Auxiliary aids must be requested at least 72 hours before the meeting date. Please call (973) 263-4351 to request an auxiliary aid.

Click here to download the agenda.

Click here for the 2024 calendar.

Mayor James Barberio
Council President Paul Carifi, Jr.
Council Vice President Frank Neglia
Councilman Justin Musella
Councilman Matt McGrath
Councilwoman Judy Hernandez

Parsippany Hills High School Key Club Hosts Relay for Life

PARSIPPANY — Parsippany Hills High School hosted “Relay for Life” on Saturday, May 18.

The event started at 5:00 p.m. with the opening ceremony and survivor celebration, which included a survivor dinner from The Miner’s Apron.

Survivor laps around the field

Followed by 5:30 to 8:30 with assorted activities, games, tournaments, and lap walking. At 6:00 p.m., a Frozen T-Shirt contest. At 6:30 p.m., Road-To-Recovery Car making, a race lap to follow which car makes it to the “Hope Lodge” the fastest.

At 7:00 p.m., Pure Barre of Morristown did a Pop-Up Class. 7:30 they held a water ballon toss; 8:00 p.m. Kickball Tournament. At 9:00 p.m., the Luminaria ceremony and closing at 9:30 to 10:00 was the fight back.

Throughout the day, activities included collecting lap beads, Jail-n-Bail, Face Painting, Field Goal Kicks, Yard Games, and fun-themed laps!

The students raised $17,284.45.

The three top teams were CerulloStrong, which raised $4,668; Answer For Cancer, which raised $4,054; and Team Morristown Rotary-Interact, which raised $2,302.

The top three individuals were Matthew and Robert Hemenway, who raised $2,476; Cori Mastropolo, who raised $ 1,903; and Shari Botta, who raised $810.

You can still donate by clicking here.

Relay For Life is the world’s largest volunteer-based fundraising event. For over 36 years, communities worldwide have come together to honor and remember loved ones and take action for lifesaving change. We strive to make this event as safe as possible and will follow local COVID-related guidelines.

At Relay For Life, community members take turns walking around a track lined with luminaria bags. In our first lap of the day, attendees had the opportunity to cheer for local survivors (or participate as survivors). Caregivers of cancer patients (currently or previously diagnosed) were invited to join the Survivors. Local entertainers will keep you energized.

The Parsippany Hills High School Key Club is sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Greater Parsippany.