Bloomfield, NJ – Yes, if you think we have more than enough Italian restaurants in Baristaville, you would be right. If you think we have a lot of great Italian restaurants to brag about in our area, you would also be right! So when a new Italian restaurant opens, you’ve got to wonder – what will make this one stand out among the others? Enter Popolari.

Let’s start with the space. A red Vespa greets you at the entrance. Vespa – Rome – Roman Holiday – ok, we’re in for some breezy fun. There are red banquettes on one side, vintage Italian movie posters featuring Sophia Loren line the walls and a retro La Dolce Vita theme emerges, suggesting sexy decadence.

Popolari is a cozy BYOB neighborhood trattoria with a twist. All of the fresh and zesty Italian American classics are here, but Chef Floyd Montiel wants to mix it up a bit. Sure, there are handmade pastas, saucy meatballs and delicious wood fired oven pizzas, but you can also order a tasty sauce on the side to dip in your pizza crust.

There are delectable grilled lamb chop pops you can pick up with your fingers and dunk into tahini sauce. Sometimes, cheese fondue with all of the fixings will be on the menu. Or there will be raclette cheese in the house, available to broil and pour over your medium rare burger. On other nights, if the chef is in a French mood, you might be tempted by Beef Bourguignon or Steak Au Poivre specials. Or how about Egyptian night, complete with belly dancers!

One night, sit at a table so you can chat with your date. On another night, park yourself at the bar facing the kitchen so you can chat with the chef. You can choose your own adventure at Popolari. Enter hungry with a sense of fun and an open mind and you will not be disappointed.

Popolari, 1047 Broad St, Bloomfield; (973) 338-0616; – Reservations highly recommended.

Mary Connolly is also known as “Marie Fromage”. Follow her in Instagram @MarieFromage