Branda’s Italian Grill Enters Its Third Decade 

Photos courtesy of Branda’s Italian Grill

 

By Steve Sears

As Branda’s Italian Grill enters its third decade in business, the reason for that longevity, and the reason for being open for business, is definitive for owner Claude Branda.

“It’s basically the families,” Branda says. “Not my family, particularly, but the families that enjoy coming here. That’s what this is about. It’s not about my background, my heritage, and anything like that.” Branda has seen couples dine at his restaurant when dating who eventually got engaged and are now married and have children, and now those children have grown. “It’s quite a feeling. And then in a few years, those kids will be coming here with dates of their own, and maybe after that we’ll be seeing them getting married and see their kids be born, and you’re into the third generation.”

“It’s about the families that come in here. It’s not about us.”

Prior to the Branda’s Italian Grill unveiling, Branda worked in food distribution. “My father had a food distribution company he started in 1946, and I worked there from when I was about 19,” he says. “Actually, I worked there even when I was a kid, every summer and holiday. I worked there my whole life.” That family business closed in 1989, and Branda then did food distribution for Long Island’s DiCarlo Foods until 2001, when Branda’s Italian Grill opened its doors.

Branda’s Italian Grill is a very comfortable, 40-seat, BYOB located right off of Route 46 East on Mount Olive Road, near Routes 10, 80, and 206, as well as within shouting distance of the International Trade Center. Branda says, “For the people that are regulars and people that have come here, it’s very easy to get to, and it’s very safe. That’s the good thing, and we have plenty of parking for our customers.” And if you choose not to dine on site, takeout and delivery are available. “That’s always been our backbone, and through COVID especially, that was enormous for us,” Branda adds. 

Branda’s Italian Grill is dedicated to two things, both which complement each other. “I just think we make a good product, and the people know we make a good product, and they come,” Branda says. “So, I think it’s all about the food, and we treat the people nice. We treat them with respect, and we enjoy having people come in and enjoy our food. A lot of our satisfaction is having the people satisfied with what we put out, so that’s very important. You have to develop a relationship with the customers.  We’re part of their day and they’re part of our day. It’s a mutual thing.”

Joe Branda, 43, is Claude’s son and Executive Chef. A Hyde Park, New York, Culinary Institute of America graduate, he has ironed his skills by cooking at many top spots. Branda’s Italian Grill menu highlights include eggplant rollatini ($18.95) and parmigiana ($17.50). “Those are big items,” Branda says, “and we make an eggplant lasagna ($18.95) that’s to die for. And pasta vodka ($17.95), that’s probably the most popular dish, and you can add chicken ($21.95) or shrimp ($25.45). And cavatelli and broccoli ($16.95) – these are staples, standards through the industry, but we make them well.” He then adds, “It’s all about the sauce, the marinara. That’s in 80% of our dishes. If you don’t have a good sauce, before you even start, you’re done.” Branda also mentions that Joe makes great chicken and veal saltimbocca ($21.95 and $24.95 respectively), chicken gouda, and chicken balsalmico (both $20.95).

“He’s done a good job,” Branda says proudly of his son. “He has two kids and he’s made me a grandpa twice. They’re getting seasoned; they’re 10 and 7. So, in another five or six years, I’m sure you’ll be seeing them spinning the pizzas with Joey.”

In addition to offering great cuisine and service, Branda’s Italian Grill donates to and supports the community as much and as often as they can.

Branda’s Italian Grill is located at 1 Mount Olive Road. For more information about the restaurant and to view their menu, visit www.brandasitaliangrill.com, or call (973) 448-0300.

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