THE “SECRET SAUCE” THAT FUELS THIS BERGEN COUNTY DINING INSTITUTION IS IN THE FOOD, TO BE SURE, BUT ALSO IN THE ART OF ITS BARTENDER… AND ALL IN THE FAMILY
BY GILDA ROGERS • PHOTOS BY CHRIS LOUPOS
One of this borough’s favorite dining spots began as a bar in 1988, then evolved into an expansive full service restaurant. Now, 31 years later, even as the kitchen continues to shine, a spotlight is back on the bar, where pizza, wings, fries, and craft beers are served until 2:00 a.m., and doors stay open until 3:00 a.m. A staple in the community, Biagio’s, as one might expect, attracts a loyal late night following.
“We’re known as ‘B’s’ among that crowd,” said Executive Chef Jimmy Perides, son of founder/owner Teddy, who added that some of those most loyal guests belong to a local men’s softball team that Biagio’s sponsors.
A recent remodel and upgrade placed emphasis on the bar area, which now features a marble topped L shaped design, high top tables, and additional banquette seating.
The business is very much a family aair; Chef Jimmy’s brother, Tommy, is the nighttime front of house manager, while Aunt Helen works the day shift, and cousin George manages the bar.
Whichever of the dining spaces customers choose (including the adjacent Terrace Banquet Hall, which accommodates up to 600), rooms are filled with the aromas of made in house pasta dishes penne, rigatoni, linguine, fettuccini, pappardelle, and gnocchi (the mozzarella is also made on site) that pair deliciously with the international wine list. A stone replace provides additional warmth as temps fall.
Lead bartender Lindsey Bocik began honing her craft at just 19 years old at the Under Path in Elmwood Park, followed by a stint at a busy steakhouse. She brought that expertise to Biagio’s in 2001, following the legendary “Lucille,” who helmed the bar for 30 years. Bocik’s customers, she said, favor the establishment’s seasonal as well as traditional specialty cocktails.
“Craft beers and martinis have taken off,” she reported. “Customers are having a martini with their lunch, like back in the 1970s.” The cocktail menu offers an intriguing variety, including a refreshing Greek Mojito made with fresh mint, lime juice, and Mastiha, a liqueur seasoned with resin from the mastic tree native to the Mediterranean (said to also have medicinal properties). As the season transitions, Bocik’s Old Fashion Bourbon Smash will debut, made with Filibuster Bourbon, simple syrup, and fresh mint.
For Biagio’s Oktoberfest celebration, local supplier Hoboken Brewing’s beers will be on the suds list, along with a craft variety from Cooperstown, New York, Bambino Amber. Happy Hour is 4:00 to 7:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.
“We’re a family friendly place with authentic Italian food at a good price simple and made the way it should be,” said Chef Perides, who graduated from Johnson & Wales University and has studied and worked abroad. “We have kids, now adults, who have been coming here for over 20 years, so it has evolved into a family of customers who enjoy the vibe of the place. Some come in four to five times per week!”