photo credit: Willa Moore

A spread of dishes at Joe's Restaurant.

Joe's Restaurant



$$$$Perfect For:Big GroupsKids
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Joe’s Restaurant doesn’t just do free bread and butter packets—they do free bread, butter packets, and a plate of house-made marinated peppers swimming in olive oil. It’s a triumphant start to the feast that’s bound to follow at this Italian spot in Ridgewood, where the $18.95 penne alla vodka is big enough to feed everyone at your table, and the table next to yours, too.

Joe’s opened in 1982, and while it’s still a good place for some satisfying Italian classics, it’s a great place for a group dinner. It's full of families who come here for every graduation celebration, wearing suits tailored specifically for martini-drinking. They also come here every Thursday night, their suits swapped for sweatshirts. Follow their lead and get the tangy chicken marsala served over mashed potatoes, and a bottle of red, which a server will extract from the wine rack next to the branded Coca Cola fridge.

If you end up at Joe’s in need of meatballs and general human kindness, you’re going to find those things here. But you’re also going to find the location of your next affordable birthday dinner, under a framed painting of garlic, next to a big family bickering affectionately in Italian. Call ahead for a reservation.

The interior of Joe's Restaurant.

photo credit: Willa Moore

Food Rundown

Chicken Marsala

We’re not sure when we last recommended chicken marsala to anyone. We’re not even sure when we last ate chicken marsala. But our server insisted on it, and an hour later, there we were, soaking up every last bit of thick, mushroomy sauce, and wondering how soon we might be able to order chicken marsala in the future.
The penne alla vodka at Joe's Italian.

photo credit: Willa Moore

Penne Alla Vodka

After the penne arrived, a server came over with a small metal bowl of grated parmesan and asked us if we wanted it. We said yes. One minute later, another server came by, with another small metal bowl of grated parmesan, and asked us if we wanted it. Again, we said yes. There is no such thing as too much cheese on a platter of penne alla vodka.

Side of Meatballs

An order that includes chicken marsala and penne alla vodka is perfect, but leaves out one very important thing: meatballs. Get a side order, which includes two meatballs, in a light, smooth tomato sauce, with a sprinkle of parm. Low commitment, high reward.

Caesar Salad

We hate to say this, but the caesar salad here is not our favorite. It’s big, which is a plus, but the dressing is gloopy, the amount of parmesan cheese borders on overload (which we didn’t even think was possible), and the big, underripe tomato wedges don’t add much flare. So maybe don’t eat vegetables here. As if you wanted to anyway.

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