BY JOE KUHN
Rebranded, renamed, and under the new management of Chef Joey Gio, the former Bella Vita pizza place in Suffern has transformed over the course of a month into a fine Italian restaurant called Joey’s Gourmet Pizzeria and Restaurant.
Situated between the Walmart and ShopRite in Suffern/Tallman, Joey’s looks unassuming but the food is several notches above a pizzeria. Gio implemented a complete overhaul of the menu. Joey’s now offers every kind of authentic Italian meal, all of them plated and prepared to look and taste like the kind of food reserved for fine dining.
Such dinners include classic entrees like chicken Florentine, a fried chicken cutlet served in a white wine sauce and topped with spinach and cheese. The buttery sauce is flavorful but not overpowering reflecting the chef’s preference for lighter sauces and aversion to “drowning” his meals in too much of any one flavor. The chicken melts in your mouth and the spinach offers a tangy sweet taste that offsets the overall richness of the dish.
The veal is equally tender and delicious, cooked to perfection and served in a sweeter sauce that balances nicely with the savory flavor of breaded meat. The house or “Joey’s Salad” is crunchy and refreshing; it’s served with a special vinaigrette dressing made with reduced vinegar that both sweetens the mixture and prevents it from becoming too thick. The black olives and juicy diced tomatoes tossed in with the salad add extra layers of texture and flavor to the dish while red peppers and fresh mozzarella give it a truly authentic Italian taste.
Every dish is paired with fresh vegetables specifically chosen to complement the flavor of each meal; whether its clams stuffed with baby tomatoes or veal topped with chopped asparagus Chef Joey has strived to make his food lighter and healthier than the usual fare.
That doesn’t mean everything on the menu is health food. The dessert platter offered by the restaurant is deliciously decadent piled high with crispy cannoli and fluffy tiramisu. The cannoli filling is delectably sweet and its shell is crunchy and coded with powdered sugar. The tiramisu is light, creamy, and refreshing, the perfect way to cap off any meal.
Despite the new focus on traditional gourmet dishes Joey’s is still an excellent pizzeria. The pizza is made with a thin crispy crust and comes with a huge variety of toppings. Joey’s also offers deep dish gourmet pizzas and extra thin crust variants for customers looking for a little more variety.
Chef Joey Gio has spent decades running his own eateries and helping other restaurateurs improve their own brands, he’s even worked as a personal chef for the New York Yankees. The man has created thousands of his own recipes in his time as a professional chef and demonstrates a true passion and enthusiasm for his work. Joey’s Gourmet Pizzeria and Restaurant is an excellent eatery run by people dedicated to creating and sharing delicious authentic Italian cuisine.
“I want people to pay for the food, not the chandelier,” quipped the new manager and head chef when explaining his personal cooking philosophy; Mr. Gio is committed to serving gourmet quality dinners at more affordable prices.