By Abby Montanez and Victoria Keenan
We recently had the pleasure of visiting Blue Eyes Restaurant, a dining experience that extended way beyond just food. From the modern atmosphere to the friendly service, Blue Eyes far exceeded our expectations (the waterfront views didn’t hurt, either). The authentic Italian menu offers fresh seafood, speciality meats and cheeses, and traditional pizzas and pastas that would satisfy even the pickiest Italian grandmother. The restaurant itself pays homage to Frank Sinatra, (mainly in the name “Ol’ Blue Eyes”) by displaying artwork in his honor and playing some of his most notable tunes.
One of four owners, Alessandro Galioto explained that when it came to the naming of Blue Eyes Restaurant, Sinatra was a clear choice. “We choose the name because of the location being Hoboken, in Sinatra Park, on Frank Sinatra Drive, and the great Frank himself being a big part of both Italian and American culture. We have always had a strong passion for the food and hospitality industry, it was our plan to have a restaurant of our own. Our families all come from different industries but for all Italians, food is such a big part of our culture and family life, whether you are in the business or not.”
As far as what lead them to Hoboken, Galioto explained, “We love Hoboken, and the view of NYC, it was a great inspiration in thinking that not so long ago, many Italians and other immigrants traveled to the U.S. with a dream and hope for a better life for them and their families. Each of us [the owners] have immigrated to this great country, just like Frank Sinatra’s family. So the inspiration is that with hard work, determination, and a dream, you can do what you put your mind to – and for us, that was having a family friendly, authentic Italian restaurant in Hoboken.”
As we sat down in front of the massive windows facing the Manhattan skyline, we were instantly greeted with warm welcomes by the staff. “Hope you brought your appetites,” nudged our waitress, sensing our anticipation. We started out with the Blue Eyes cocktail, a mix of mango nectar and prosecco, served chilled and with just the right amount of sweetness. The Antipasto Freddo came out next, a beautifully displayed platter of prosciutto di parma, speck, italian ham, hot soppressata, mozzarella, and giardiniera. The meats and cheeses were paired perfectly, sliced thin and hard to resist.
For the pizza, our waitress recommended a few of her favorites, one which included the Parma, a pizza topped with mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, arugula, prosciutto crudo, and a ton of shaved Parmesan cheese. All of their pizza’s are made in a wood-fire oven and are “Napoletana style,” meaning they’re made with simple ingredients and you can choose either red or white pizza. The pizza is made in front of you, rolled out, and topped with fresh ingredients, and sometimes they even use out of the ordinary toppings like french fries and hot dogs. Closer to the size of a personal pizza, they’re perfect to share (or to eat yourself, which we easily could have done).
When it comes to the authentic ingredients, Blue Eyes takes inspiration from their roots, but still keeps it a little American too. “All our recipes, from the sauce, to the toppings on our pizza, to the way we don’t use certain ingredients in certain dishes just to ‘Americanize’ them, we like to keep things simple and let the fresh ingredients we buy speak for themselves, like they do in Italy. Yes, of course some dishes are really a play on a home cooked meal from our Nonna or Mama, which have now become favorites here in the U.S., this is what we consider to be Americanized, but the recipes remain from Italy,” said Galioto.
Just as we were beginning fill up, out came our entrée special, an artfully plated dish of paccheri pasta with clams and crab meat in a light tomato sauce. Though it was a special, which changes every two days or so, we strongly urge you to get this dish if you see it on the menu. The pasta was cooked al dente, the crabmeat and clams were both fresh, and the sauce was light and delicious. In fact, neither of us had ever eaten clams, and we ate these! We might have been full, but that didn’t stop us from finishing the plate.
And because how could we not get dessert when we heard the words “nutella” and “cannoli,” we split a dessert pizza topped with half cannoli cream and half nutella spread, finished with a light dusting of powdered sugar. Served on the same charred crust as their savory pies, it came warm to the table, a welcomed mess of melty goodness. They also offer cappuccinos, espresso, and a variety of gelato flavors.
With the one year anniversary of Blue Eyes just around the corner, Galioto explained that the restaurant has some new ideas in mind. “We are excited about opening our new patio, which will be great all year around (closed in for the winter and heated!)” From a prime spot right on the water, to mouthwatering food and exceptional service, Blue Eyes is truly an experience that is not to be missed. Looking forward to summer, we definitely plan to stop in again, to enjoy both the views and a scoop of gelato.