When a restaurant this big, bold, and delicious opens in the suburbs, it’s bound to make a splash. Which is why you must experience a meal at Neroli.
Located in the cozy center of downtown Westwood, Neroli Ristorante is a swanky new spot like this town has never seen before, serving upscale Italian cuisine with big city style, in a ten-thousand square foot space featuring 250 seats, including a big bar, beautiful patio, and private function room.
Mike DiSarro – GM/Owner, Neroli: “We tried to make it a little bit casual while still fine dining. And finding that balance is the key to everything here. We really want people to feel welcome. You know, it is a neighborhood restaurant. But at the same time we want you to feel small town when you walk up to Neroli Ristorante out front. But big city feels once you come inside. You see the size of the bar, how big the restaurant really is, and that’s the real feeling that we want people to have.”
That’s General Manager and Owner Mike DiSarro, who was born and raised right here, and knew Neroli was just the kind of place Westwood needed.
Mike DiSarro – GM/Owner, Neroli: “I grew up just a block away. Not a lot going on down here when I was growing up as a kid, the most you could do is you have the CVS and a pizza shop down the street. So that’s what I grew up on. But to me opening something of this size and really hitting all the bases, it really means a lot to me, because I know that there’s a need for this area. I know there’s been a need. And I’m really happy to finally fulfill it.”
And customers are happy too, filling a dining room awash in light colors, classic photos, and smiling faces, while dining on authentic Italian classics, and Italian-American favorites, all expertly prepared by Mario Lepori, a chef-owner who is confident in his cuisine.
Mario Lepori – Executive Chef/Owner, Neroli: “The food is out of this world. I’ve created the menu, I take pride in every single dish that’s on that menu. I would actually take any of my dishes and put them against any other Italian restaurant here in this area, or actually anywhere in the state.”
To start your night at Neroli, there’s a gorgeous meat and cheese board filled with imported ingredients, lightly fried Calamari tossed with pepper drops and drizzled with truffle aioli, and a Bruschetta like you’ve never seen before.
Mario Lepori – Executive Chef/Owner, Neroli: “I start off with a grilled piece of herb focaccia bread. The cheese that I use on this is a stracciatella cheese. So it’s a very creamy cheese, I top that on top of the bruschetta was some fresh pesto that we make, also with a little bit of balsamic drizzle, and some basil oil. And then I have an air dried roma tomato, fresh herbs, and it’s probably one of the best bruschettas you’ll ever have.”
The pastas here are absolute show stoppers, like Spicy Lobster Rigatoni with vodka sauce, garlic, and Calabrian chili; Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe and chunks of flavor packed sausage; and an authentically delicious Gnocchi Bolognese.
Mario Lepori – Executive Chef/Owner, Neroli: “Now this is actually tight to my heart. This recipe actually comes from my aunt in Italy. She used to come every summer and she would visit and one thing we would do is make sure that she made her Gnocchi Bolognese. She makes the gnocchi fresh so I learned how to do that, and then her Bolognese was to die for. It’s beef, pork and veal. I use some pancetta. It’s one of the best sauces you’ll find.”
Another outstanding option is the Carbonara, but this dish has a bit of a twist.
Mike DiSarro – GM/Owner, Neroli: “So Carbonara is done my way, and my brother’s way. We love it with rigatoni. So a lot of people say we should do it with spaghetti. It’s the authentic way, you totally can sub spaghetti for that, but we do it with rigatoni. Why do we do that? I really love to have the perfect noodle that has all the fillings inside of it. So every time you get a piece of carbonara or pancetta in there, you’re really going to taste all the flavors in every single bite.”
When it comes to entrees, there are classics like Seafood Zuppa Di Mare, and comfort food favorites like Chicken Under a Brick atop parmesan polenta. But most customers at Neroli are coming for one of The Parmesans.
Mike DiSarro – GM/Owner, Neroli: “So you have your Veal Parm, your Eggplant Parm, your Chicken Parm. These are the dishes that everyone’s gonna judge you on. You have to do them right. You have to have the perfectly thin chicken cutlet. You have to melt all the cheese perfectly and have the perfect amount of spaghetti on the side of it. The veal, it can’t be tough. The eggplant, it’s got to be cut with a fork, not a knife. It’s got to be the perfect thing that everyone’s gonna judge you on. And here, you’re gonna be very impressed when they come by. It’s a classic.”
The classics continue through dessert, from fluffy Tiramisu, to a rich Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut Torte, to a Cannoli Trio with an old-world addition.
Mario Lepori – Executive Chef/Owner, Neroli: “Our cannolis I’m very proud of. I make the cannoli cream here so I found a lemon Citron and orange Citron, and I chop that up fine and that goes into my cannoli cream. So real simple but that Citron makes it.”
Neroli Ristorante is open for dinner six nights a week, but if you’re looking for lunch, just head right next door to Neroli Mercato, a traditional Italian Salumeria featuring Italian imports, beer and wine, a huge deli case filled with homemade Grab and Go meals, and outstanding made to order sandwiches like a Chicken Caprese with housemade cutlets, ripe tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella, or a carefully crafted Italian.
Mario Lepori – Executive Chef/Owner, Neroli: “The key to making a great Italian sandwich is the bread and the meat. I found a nice crusty Italian roll. It’s soft, but it doesn’t have too hard of a chew. The meats are all imported. Which makes a big difference I feel. We take a little bit of the bread out of the roll so it’s not all bread and we stuff it with meat. And then it’s just pretty much the ratio of the lettuce, tomato, and everything else, and it’s a great combination.”
And whether it’s a quick trip to the Mercato, or a night out at the Ristorante, Neroli is a deliciously welcome addition to Westwood.
Mario Lepori – Executive Chef/Owner, Neroli: “I think from the second you walk in the door, the environment is very open it’s very friendly. I think our service is above and beyond. And then just the food. I mean, the food is to die for. I’ll put it up against any other Italian food in this area, in this state. I’m really confident in what we do here at Neroli.”