Ridgewood has a brand new Italian spot to add to its already thriving, bustling restaurant scene. Felina Restaurant and Bar occupies the space formerly home to seafood restaurant, Fish, as well as some additional real estate. Despite renovations, much of the old charm remains. Open since December, the eatery is headed by chef/partner Anthony Bucco.
“The word, Felina, to me, conjures up thoughts of beauty, femininity, confidence, intelligence and accessibility,” he says.
Bucco’s love of ingredients began in the modest kitchen and garden at his grandparents’ home in Matawan. He then went on to pursue a culinary education, always respecting the farmer and having a passion for building flavor. His experience includes working at the Ryland Inn in Whitehouse Station, Stage Left in New Brunswick and Uproot in Warren.
The restaurant’s gut renovations incorporate the venue’s historic vibe—it still boasts a bank vault—into the redesign. “Our model relies on the balance between a high-end restaurant and an impactful event space,” says Bucco. “We decided on opening Felina in Ridgewood for many reasons. Most notably, it’s for the layout of the space, demographics and vibrant downtown.”
Felina Restaurant Fuses Classic and Modern Italian Dishes
Felina’s quaint and intimate a la carte dining area seats about 120 diners. It features a large rectangular private room/event space – full of character and charm – that can host about 200 guests. Moreover, it also boasts a beautiful open kitchen. “The restaurant is attractive and well-appointed,” says Bucco. “Conceptually, it’s ‘fine casual.’”
Bucco wants Felina to be a place you can eat at seven nights a week. He aims for it to be an extension of your home. “The restaurant has a contemporary yet accessible feel, appropriate for that special occasion or just a simple night out,” he says.
Meanwhile, frequent guests will notice the menu change continuously. It will always offer fresh, flavorful, seasonal and contemporary Italian dishes made using Old World Italian cooking techniques. In fact, as farmers bring things in, they’ll introduce new offerings.
Starters include roasted beets with fennel pollen, ricotta, aged balsamic and mint; and romanesco cauliflower with buttermilk, pomegranate, crispy shallot and dill. Then, as an entree, they offer items like bucatini (egg yolk, herbed breadcrumbs and pecorino), mushroom lasagna or steamed halibut.
Felina also boasts a glamorous bar with a nod towards the classics. For example, they offer cocktails like the Low Hanging Fruit—Banhez Mezcal, Combier Apricot, Strega and lime. Likewise, there’s the Venetian Mai Tai which has Nardini Mandorla Liquer, Solerno Blood Orange Liquer, Giffard Orgeat Syrup and lime.