Since 1996, Anjelica’s Restaurant has been one of New Jersey’s premier Italian restaurant destinations. Family owned and operated, Anjelica’s maintains a credo of excellence in its quality of food, warm service and gracious hospitality. The menu draws inspiration from the deep culinary traditions of family heritage- which has roots in both southern and northern Italy; more specifically Avellino, Sicily and Lombardy- while also giving appreciative nods to beloved Italian American cuisine.
Owner Ray Lena’s passion for cooking has its roots in his Italian family. Growing up in a seashore home in Long Branch, NJ, he was surrounded by his mother, Julia as well as his grandmother, aunts and great aunts. “They were wonderful cooks with a deep love for the process of cooking and their ingredients,” says Lena. The kitchen was the heart of the home. Outside a large garden was ripe with tomatoes, varieties of peppers, eggplant, zucchini and herbs. Everyday dough was rolled out for pasta, sauce simmered in large pots and fish, bought from local fisherman, was grilled, poached or fried. “I never left the kitchen. I learned by looking, listening and smelling…kind of by osmosis. Everything we do at Anjelica’s has its genesis in those days when I was a child.”
The passion for the industry was natural for Anjelica, Raymond’s daughter and the namesake, who was 10 years old when the restaurant opened its doors. She grew up in the midst of restaurant life among her family who played a major role in its evolving success. “My mom was a 2nd grade teacher but was here on weekends hosting, bookkeeping, dish washing, whatever needed tending to. My aunt made salads, my uncle was the maître d, my grandparents were here nightly- taste testing, critiquing and socializing, as Italian’s do. And my dad, well, he did it all. All but my father have passed on now, but their spirit undeniably influences all that we do. The happenings of a restaurant are pure magic to me. A lot of hard work, and magic. And us, we are lucky enough to have the added blessing of endless stories, recipes and years of family memories that have transpired here and, in turn, have extended to our cherished guests and community. Anjelica’s is considered a home away from home to many- this is truly our most cherished accolade.”
Anjelica and her fiancé, Matias now manage the restaurant alongside Matias’ brother, Oscar Orjuela, host Kevin Lara, Chef’s Caritino Olivera and Andres Mendoza, as well as a long-time passionate crew.
We look forward to sharing it with you!
Anjelica’s is a BYOB Restaurant!