Purchases Pennington's Avanti Ristorante Italiano
Princeton, June 2014--Michael Moriello, Executive Chef/Owner of La Mezzaluna in Princeton, brings his noted Mediterranean fare and flair to Pennington with the purchase of another legendary Italian dining room, Avanti Ristorante Italiano.Chef Michael Moriello of La Mezzaluna brings his taste of Italy to Avanti in Pennington. "La Mezzaluna is doing well," says Chef Moriello, who recently completed redesigning the interiors of the popular Witherspoon Street restaurant. "I was ready for a new challenge."
Avanti's intimate, family atmosphere, Southern Italian cuisine and devoted clientele complement the more sophisticated Northern menu and modernist décor of La Mezzaluna. Both restaurants are BYO and will remain so. While Chef Moriello does not plan major changes, the restaurant will now be known simply as Avanti and is now, for the first time, open seven days a week for lunch and dinner.
Avanti's rustic charm and Southern Italian menu is a perfect counterpoint to La Mezzaluna's sophisticated Northern cuisine and contemporary decor.
Founded 25 years ago by Chef Vincenzo Severino, Avanti is beloved by Pennington area residents who flock to the cozy cottage-like restaurant, set off Delaware Avenue. The largely Sicilian menu includes pastas, chicken, veal and seafood. The rustic décor of wood and vines lends more intimacy and charm. A spacious patio is open for outdoor dining.
The transition has been smooth. Moriello is retaining many of the kitchen and wait staff. "Avanti is a very important part of the Pennington community," he says. "Our clients don't want us to make drastic changes, and we won't," Moriello affirms. There will be some cosmetic changes and some gradual additions to the menu. "We're happy we are starting in Summer and can
use so much of the fresh produce and seafood available at this time of year," he says.
Avanti, with its two charming dining rooms and outdoor patio, is perfect for corporate luncheons and social events of all kinds. Chef Moriello is already busy creating several new hot and cold cocktail appetizers that include vegetarian items that are increasingly in demand.
A native of Naples, Chef Michael Moriello spent school vacations working in his uncle's restaurant in the heart of Rome. Moving on to kitchens in Naples and the Isle of Ischia, he learned much about cooking the fresh and flavorful cuisine of the Mediterranean.
Moriello came to the United States just nine years ago "with nothing" and soon established a family and La Mezzaluna, today one of Princeton's most popular restaurants. "Nowhere else would I have found such opportunity," he asserts.