NJ Dining: Vitamia and Sons


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Vitamia & Sons
206 Harrison Ave, Lodi NJ 07644
(800)PASTA-UNO

Web Site: http://www.pastaboy.com

Sometimes you can only find the best places by sheer accident, or as a result of a string of unfortunate events.

About two weeks ago New Jersey experienced a severe rain and lightning storm which disabled a critical water treatment plant that caused our local water supplier, United Water, to issue an advisory requiring all Bergen County residents to boil their water before consuming, affecting approximately 800,000 people. This also caused our local health department to shut down just about every restaurant in the county. Unfortunately, this happened on a Saturday, one of the busiest restaurant days of the week. Jon and I originally planned to visit Lodi Pizza on a recommendation from Carlo Bartolomeo, the owner of my favorite local Italian deli in Palisades Park. When we got to Lodi Pizza, it was closed — as was just about every local food business. Jon suggested we drive around Lodi and intentionally “get lost” and see what other local food options we should explore, since we never really hang out in Lodi.

Eventually, we drove down Harrison Avenue and found one of the only food businesses still open — Vitamia and Sons, a bakery, pasta factory and Italian deli that has been in business for over 41 years. It was like as if God himself had sent us there. It should be noted that there is a major Roman Catholic church across the street, so I won’t rule out divine influence even if it is from a different religion from my own.

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Vitamia (pronounced Vee-ta-mee-ya) and Sons Bakery on Harrison Ave in Lodi.

You don’t even have to walk into this store to come to the immediate realization that you’ve discovered a fresh bread and pasta paradise. Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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I have no other words to describe Vitamia and Sons as anything other than “the real deal”. These are the most hardcore, real Sicilian-style baked goods, pasta and pre-prepared Italian and Sicilian specialties as you are ever going to find on this side of the Hudson river. I’d even compare it favorably to the stuff you can find on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, which is a pretty serious statement right there. The Satin Dolls strip club may be the most famous business in Lodi for being the film location of the fictional Bada Bing club, but if any place in Lodi deserved to be immortalized on the the Sopranos it should have been this one, given the importance food was to that show.

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Jon and I found this big, hulking guy, an actor currently working in a new Spike Lee film, eating a big sandwich. I asked him what he was eating and he looked at me quizzically and said “WHAT? You never had one of ‘dese? Hey, Paulie, make this guy a sandwich!”

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This is Paulie and his brother Pino (background) proudly wearing their trinacria T-shirts. Paulie is the conversationalist and Pino is the straight man. All I have to say about Paulie is like his store, he is the real deal. He’s incredibly knowledgeable about Italian food and and wine (he makes his own) and will happily let you try pretty much anything in the store. Want to be taught about the nuances of aged Provolones and Parmigianos? Want to get a tasting tour of his Prosciutto di Parmas and his Culatellos? No problem. Want to learn about the history of Sicily? Okay, you might be in the store for a while.

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Exhibit A, a fresh mozzarella, prosciutto, marinated peppers with balsamic vinegar on freshly baked Vitamia bread.

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Closeup of the Sangweech. Oh man was it good.

Ham and Provolone Stuffed Hot Peppers

This is what Paulie calls an “Appeteaser”, a marinated hot pepper stuffed with Sorpressata and Provolone. They are awfully good, I’ll say that.

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A close-up of the Antipasto bin.

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All kinds of pre-prepared goods that are ready to eat are in the offing. The things on the upper right are arancini, delicious saffron rice balls stuffed with cheese and meat, a Sicilian specialty.

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Like these nice big meatballs.

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And lasagne.

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And these stuffed peppers. They have both riccota cheese/mozzarella and sausage/mozzarella varieties.

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Vitamia also makes its own fresh Italian Sausage.

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Vitamia’s stuffed breads are truly fantastic, particularly their sausage bread. It’s great eaten at room temperature or heated up. I ripped into this one cool right in the store — Jon had to stop me from finishing the whole thing in one session.

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Some of the other breads need to be heated in an oven before fully appreciating them, such as the prosciutto bread, which has prosciutto ham and mozzarella cheese in it.

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Prosciutto Bread, heated and cut up.

Vitamia Foccacia with Fresh Mozzarella, Garden Grown Tomatoes and Basil

Vitamia’s foccacia are also world class. Here we’ve topped it with fresh mozzarella cheese, cherry tomatoes and fresh basil from our garden, and baked it in the oven to get the cheese all nice and melty.

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Vitamia’s cannolis are also absolutely decadent, filled with marscapone cheese and candied orange peel.

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I didn’t try these sflogliatelle (pronounced Shfoo-ya-dell in Soprano-speak) but I’m definitely going to get some next time. I caught hell from Rachel for not buying any.

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What Vitamia is best known for, however, is their raviolis, fresh pastas and pasta sauces, which they make every day, and in many different varieties. I bought some of the traditional large Sicilian ricotta and parsley filled ravioli to try out at home.

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The first way we tried them was in the most simple preparation possible, which was to boil them and then toss them in a quick made tomato sauce made from canned San Marzano tomatoes, fresh garlic and fresh basil.

Vitamia Ravioli, Boiled with San Marzano Tomato Sauce

Boiled ravioli in San Marzano tomato sauce with Parmigiano Reggiano grated on top, plated.

Vitamia Ravioli Cross Section

Vitamia ravioli cross-section.

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We also tried it in the traditional Sicilian (and Paulie’s preferred) manner, baked in a pan over some of the San Marzano tomato sauce and with fresh mozzarella on top.

Baked Vitamia Ravioli with Fresh Mozzarella

I have to admit that of the two variations, both of which were excellent, this was my favorite. When in doubt, listen to Paulie.

20 Responses to NJ Dining: Vitamia and Sons

  1. double 0 says:

    I’ve been going there for years. Great stuff, great semolina bread, great pasta products, but man o man are their prepared items expensive.

  2. I’ve never been able to buy that kind of stuff cheap anywhere, especially if it is decent. The stuff in the Bronx at Mike’s Deli is just as expensive. Bartolomeo isn’t cheap either.

  3. Julia says:

    Vitamia is the ultimate Italian gourmet deli. NO ONE compares, in my opinion.

    Are their prepared items ‘expensive’? Probably, because they use the best, do it in house and have those labor costs involved. Worth ever penny

  4. Joe B says:

    Did you notice nothing has a price on it. I wonder if the prices change by what is selling good or what is selling slow. Also if you go on a holiday get there at least an hour before it opens many times the line is around the corner.

  5. Jim says:

    I’m dyin’ here. We have NO places like this out in the burbs of Chicago, and it makes me want to go hunting for food in Little Italy.

  6. Julia says:

    Price doesn’t change regardless, as Vitamia makes it fresh each day.

    Their stuffed breads are a bargain. I toyed with the idea of doing some in house and after adding up product cost, prep time, labor and gas – the price is just right. Oh, and did I say it was delcious, too?

  7. Their food cost and labor has to be pretty high to make some of those things, they only use top quality salumi and cheeses. Anyone who can make top quality breads and pasta like that deserves every single penny. Vitamia is certainly going to put a dent in my travel to the Bronx, that’s for sure.

  8. The 2 Witches says:

    Oh Wow …. I’m in NJ but not in this area and so wish I was …. the food looks beautiful and delicious !!!!

    Mama Kelly

  9. Jon says:

    I gotta agree. Every time I’ve been in this store I’m faced with a cast of characters BEYOND even those who appear in the Sopranos. Its like this is the essence that the Sopranos boiled it down from originally.

    Of course I’m not saying there are a bunch of mobsters hanging around there. But there are packs of little old Italian ladies, weird muscle guys, etc.

    Another thing: everyone is very, very nice. Italians get a bad rap from those who don’t know them. What you are actually faced with are staff and other customers who go out of their way to be friendly, informative and nice. Maybe not “polite” by uptight WASPy standards–but nice.

    As for the food? I can’t add much to what Jason already has said. It just doesn’t get any better than this. In general I don’t think pictures of food like this successfully conveys how good it is, so take how impressed you are from the photos and double or triple it.

  10. davey. says:

    They have the best fucking ravioli I’ve ever had. My wife and I go here probably 1 sunday a month in the morning. We pick up some ravioli, their awesome bread and some stuffed peppers and make sauce all day. good times. The pictures of the jumbo ravioli doesn’t do them the justice….they gigantic and EXTREMELY filling.

  11. Sam says:

    Sometimes you never know what’s in your backyard until someone lets you know. This place looks absolutely fantastic, and I can’t wait to make a trip there. Thanks for the great posting, Jason!

  12. A&E says:

    Everything is excellent but beware, sometimes paulie’s finger is on the scale when he is weighing the meats. Also count your change.

  13. Xenos says:

    This place reminds me a lot of a small Calabrese/Sicilian place here in my hometown of Westerly, RI called Ritacco’s Market. Looks excellent.

  14. dinkster13 says:

    Vitamia easliy ranks up there with any joint on arthur ave, bronx, ny

  15. Lois & Joe says:

    Shopping at VitaMia’s has become holiday tradition in our Italian/Irish household for almost a decade. Beginning in November 1989 My family and I have shopped at Vita Mia’s.We have patiently waited on line the day before Christmas Eve in order to purchase the Best ravioli’s ,manicotti, sausage bread and other delicious dishes! We have often brought and or sent ther delicious entree’s to our rleatives residng in North Carolina or South Jersey. Say what you want about Philly -Vita Mia’ Lodi New Jersey is the true taste of Italy. We enjoy the whole Vita Mia experience. I will be shopping at Vita Mia’s tomorrow. 12/23/08 and by doing so our family will begin our holiday celebration. Buon Natale and a Happy New Year to all!

  16. Thanks a million for all the kind words. May God bless you and your loved ones. Now go eat!

    (My dad’s Pauly. lol)

  17. Gabriele Ostoni says:

    We ate his beautiful food, and it was delicious-and we are in Milano, Italy!!!!!

  18. Gianluca from Fair Lawn, NJ says:

    F— Arthur ave, buncha Albanians! Come to Lodi, NJ and Vitamia see what a REAL Sicilian neighborhood is like! Vitamia Deli takes a greasy vodka sauce dump on the Bronx!

  19. You can go in the entire Tri-state area and I can assure, you will not find another Italian food establishment with fresh made Italian food more genuine than at Vitamia and Sons! The best Sausages Bread that I have ever had!!! The best semolina bread ever! The best cannoli!!!! No fresh ravioli or other fresh made pasta will even compare! Everything prepared with love and fresh ingredients. Paulie is one of a kind, and people like Cavaliere Antonio Vitamia (The Patriarch of the family) aren’t many left in the world, I think they destroyed the mould; he is a total Gentlemen, a men of the Old World without equals. You can eat and enjoy all their food without any worries, if you have not tried as of yet, IU suggest you do it sooner than later…. you really do niot know what you are missing!!!!!!

  20. […] dear friend Anthony Vitamia said it best this morning: “I can’t think of one damn actor today who even comes close […]

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