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Pazzo Pazzo: Did 'Readers' Choice' Get it Right?

Our "Readers' Choice" winner gets the "Morristown Munchies" treatment.

People are passionate about their food. Just ask those who voted our .

Or, ask those who disagreed.

"Disagree completely. Sorry," noted reader Michael Poulo on our Facebook page. "We've banned them for years now, spending our money at other Motown establishments."

"No way, sorry but that's just wrong," reader Amanda Carroll Benjamin added, also on the Facebook page.

And then, there was this simple, one word response on : "Ugh."

Well, with such opinions in opposition to the decision, I knew we had to find out for ourselves.

And, after my inaugural lunch at Pazzo Pazzo I have to say: seriously, what's all the hate about? Maybe dinners are a bit expensive (judging from the menu), maybe the service is a little different when there's a crowd (it was relatively light, and the service was just fine when I went at around 1:30 p.m. on a weekday), but overall, I had a fine meal.

Upon first blush, however, something was immediately apparent: The dining room can really use some spruce. It's not that it's beaten up or ugly or anything like that. It's just kind of ... tired. This restaurant has been around since 1990s, after all, and it appears a renovation has not happened since.

But, the food's the thing. First up was the requisite plate of bread and butter. Served cold, with a pat of butter lovingly-placed beside it, the plate also featured a first for me: A little bowl of olives. That was an excellent, excellent touch. However, they were almost flavorless. Alas.

For starters, I got the minestrone, a classic Italian restaurant staple. Pazzo Pazzo's version was somewhere down the middle from what I've had. , by comparison, had a lot more character than this, but was considerably saltier. Pazzo Pazzo's was good, but nothing I would recommend anyone to dine there for exclusively. 

Where my lunch shined was, thankfully, in the entree. The Pannino con Bistecca–medium rare steak with arugula, carmelized onions and goat cheese–was bursting with flavor. Every item between the bubbly bread served a purpose. The arugula was sharp, the onions sweet, the goat cheese potent and the steak moist and tender. Hey, it was a really, really good sandwich. And, at $12, it wasn't the most expensive lunchtime item I've ever ordered in Morristown.

So, to the haters out there, I have to ask: Why do you hate them so much? I mean, I have my own opinions as far as what the best Italian restaurant is. Full (ish) disclosure: It's not Pazzo Pazzo. But, that does not mean I have such a distaste for them as to totally write them off. Maybe, for those who have, it's time to give this Speedwell Avenue destination another chance.

Marc Spiotta March 10, 2012 at 12:11 PM
I'm with you, Mike. These establishments make Morristown the great place it is... And the vast majority do a good if not great job.
Lois Lane March 10, 2012 at 12:13 PM
The outdoor area at Pazzo is beautiful and we love to go there when the patio is open. We avoid it in winter months because the food is so-so and the inside dining space and restroom are in desperate need of a facelift. I agree Settebello's has a fantastic outdoor dining space.
David V March 10, 2012 at 02:53 PM
While it may be a nice hangout spot, the poll was for best Italian restaurant. IMHO, it's far from the best, as the food is mediocre on a good day. Voting must have been rigged, or the voters haven't actually been to the other competing restaurants.
Maggie D'Agostino March 10, 2012 at 04:07 PM
Yes, it was for best Italian Restaurant and Pizza... They definitely have the best brick oven pizza, so thin... I think their pasta and the specials that they have are great as well... Of course everyone is entitled to their opinion... I learned about the contest through facebook! Pazzo is definitely a great place!
Ryan March 11, 2012 at 10:09 PM
Great thin crust pizzas. Great outdoor space in the summer. Great mojitos. Not the greatest for anything else. Guerrieros and Cappia are much better italian options.

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