Veneto Restaurant Gourmet Pizza & Deli in The Hills is a good place to relax and enjoy a meal for every occasion. That can mean relaxing with your high school buds over a couple of slices and some garlic knots, a festive meal with family or friends, or even an intimate dinner with a special someone.
The restaurant, located in the center of The Hills' Highlands Village Center off Allen Road in Basking Ridge, has a spacious pizzeria on one side and a separate dining area in a pretty restaurant on the other.
Most of the food on the restaurant's menu is available in either dining section, except those seated in the restaurant must order pizza by the whole pie, rather than the slice, said owner Joe DeMaio. But all of the pasta and other Italian meals — based on family recipes — are available for anyone, anywhere, DeMaio said.
In good weather, customers even take their food out to some tables on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant.
The dining room also hosts special deals every Monday through Thursday (except holidays, including Valentine's Day this Monday night.) Personally, I find myself asking the question of why even head to a cheap, fast-food restaurant, when you can enjoy pasta for two for a total of $14.95?
On Monday through Thursday, patrons can also order in or take out two full entrees for a combined $21.95. One plate of pasta, combined with an order of an entree, totals $17.95 on nights with specials, DeMaio said. The dining room area is B.Y.O.B.
Although Veneto's customer base is strongly based in The Hills (I remember walking up with a group of friends during a snowstorm — when the restaurant remained open — for one particularly enjoyable get-together.) it does attract clientele from nearby towns.
I heard tell of one couple from Connecticut who used to visit their daughter in the Bedminster section of The Hills who loved to go to the restaurant for their specials on every visit down in New Jersey.
The restaurant also does a brisk takeout and catering business, so order ahead if you're picking up a pie on many nights.
A regular large plain pie is $13.50, and the restaurant serves a large variety of pies. A slice of my favorite -- pizza Margherita, with fresh mozzarella and basil — costs $2.75 by the slice and $16.95 for a pie. The best time to buy pizza by the slice is when there's a crowd, and the pizza is freshest.
It's easy to become a regular here. DeMaio knows that my son's favorite sandwich to grab is the chicken stromboli ($6). In season, teams of Little League players head over after a game at the local baseball field.
This past year, Veneto also started serving many flavors of gelato, the Italian version of ice cream. However, given the big chill recently, the gelato bar is now closed, and will reopen around March, DeMaio said.
I also enjoy any dish here with red sauce. DeMaio said that the sauce, and all other foods, are made on site. Everything enters the restaurant uncooked, he said.
Reservations are taken for the restaurant. Delivery service also is provided.
Veneto Restaurant Gourmet Pizza & Deli
554-556 Allen Road, Basking Ridge
Open 7 days: Sunday through Thursday: 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Friday and Saturday: 10;30 am. to 10 p.m.