The decor at Villa Barone contributes to an atmosphere that attracts newcomers and frequent customers alike. A newly enhanced but consistent menu has dishes featuring pasta, chicken, veal, beef and seafood, as well as appetizers, soups, salads and pizza. (Photo by Stacey Pastorella.)

Good cooking is all about finding the right combinations. An exceptional dining experience is no different. Like a well-seasoned dish, a restaurant’s success often relies on achieving a perfect blend of various ingredients.

Since Villa Barone opened its doors nine years ago, it has offered guests a combination of variety, quality and consistency.

The restaurant is owned by Giovanni Barone, who is also the owner of two other local establishments, Barone’s Tuscany Grill in Pennington and Santino’s Bar One.

“We only use the highest quality foods, and we just don’t mass produce it,” said John Stevens, manager of Villa Barone. “Everything is sautéed to order, so we can give attention, in detail, to every dish.”

Stevens, who has served as the restaurant’s manager for five years, said that although the menu has evolved, it has remained largely consistent.

“They just enhanced the menu,” Stevens said. “The menu’s very popular, and they just added some dishes and tweaked it just to make it better.”

The menu offers a variety of entrees featuring pasta, chicken, veal, beef and seafood, as well as appetizers, soups, salads and pizza. Take out service is also available.

Stevens said that the seafood dishes rank among the restaurant’s most popular. One such dish is cappelini with fresh spinach and jumbo lump crab in garlic and olive oil.

The specials are prepared with fresh meat or fish and produce that the restaurant brings in on the same day for that specific purpose, Stevens said.

Whether they are preparing the daily specials, or steady menu items, Stevens said that the experience of Villa Barone’s kitchen staff ensures that the food will have a consistent taste.

Each member of the staff has worked at the restaurant for at least four years, and the head chef, Juan Leon, has been preparing food at the restaurant since 2001, Stevens said.

“That’s one of our hallmarks. That’s one of our trademarks, that our dishes are consistent,” he said.

Another hallmark is the atmosphere. The restaurant’s interior design underwent a transformation four years ago. The dining area, which previously featured a burgundy color scheme, was redecorated to reflect the vivid shades of blue and gold that adorn large vases purchased by the owners.

Each of the room’s walls also features a different finish, creating textured effects of bricks, wood and stucco throughout the restaurant, Stevens said.

Music enhances the atmosphere, as do the linen napkins used every evening and the tablecloths used during weekends. Villa Barone also caters gatherings both in-house and on site for many occasions including christenings, rehearsal dinners and communions, he said.

For the upcoming holiday season, Stevens suggests Villa Barone’s catering trays featuring the restaurant’s signature dishes. For those guests wishing to dine at the restaurant, Stevens said reservations can be placed in advance. Stevens said that Villa Barone is most busy on Friday and Saturday evenings, and reservations are available for parties of four or more people.

Despite the variety of faces he sees each day, Stevens said his favorite part of his job remains the same.

“The best part about this job is seeing the customers come in hungry and seeing them leaving completely satisfied,” he said. “That’s the most rewarding part of this job.”

Villa Barone is located on Robbinsville-Allentown Road, Route 130 & 526. Its hours of operation are Monday – Thursday, 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.; and Sunday, 12 p.m. – 9 p.m.

For more information, go online at villabaronerestaurant.com or call (609) 259-0000.