We started a leisurely dinner at Bocconi Restaurant in Hackensack with Asparagus Gratinato ($9.95), above, and Caesar Salad ($6.50), below. The cooked asparagus, under a blanket of melted cheese, came with pitted olives in a crisp raddichio leaf.
By VICTOR E. SASSON
We love the food, service and moderate prices at our favorite restaurants, but we also love that they're close to home.
On Saturday, hunger pangs hit early, in late afternoon, so we grabbed a bottle of red wine and drove less than 2 miles to Boconni Restaurant in Hackensack.
Bocconi, which is across the street from a huge hospital complex, does a brisk lunch trade.
In late afternoon and in the evening, you don't need a reservation.
On Saturday, Frank, one of the owners, recognized us from previous visits and showed us to our favorite table, brought us menus and then a plate of extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar so I could dip bread crusts into it.
Portions at Bocconi are generous and prices are moderate.
So, we ordered two salads, and split an order of fresh pasta and an entree of fillet of sole with vegetables and potatoes.
We took our time, sipped a half bottle of wine and enjoyed our nicely prepared food, chatting with Frank between courses.
When we finished, we accepted Frank's offer of sambuca, an anise-flavored liqueur, a nice way to end the meal.
After our salads, we split a full order of Fettuccini Putanesca, made with fresh noodles and listed under Home Made Pasta on the regular menu ($12.95). This is a half-portion.
Bocconi also split our entree, Grey Sole Oreganata, which came with shrimp, vegetables and potatoes ($18.95), and is a fixture on the specials menu.
Bocconi is a 50-seat BYO with a simple but appealing red-and-white dining room, above and below.
Bocconi Restaurant, 363 Essex St., near Prospect Avenue, Hackensack; 201-342-3888. Open for lunch and dinner Mondays to Saturdays. Closed Sundays.
The BYO shares eight parking spaces with another restaurant, so you might want to take your chances in the large parking lot across the street, where you'll also find a Starbucks.