While many people claim there are "many" or "plenty" of "great Italian restaurants in Northern NJ, I think the subjective term of course is "great" and what that means. Like beauty, great is in the eye, or the taste buds and personal tastes, of the beholder, LOL. That said, in my opinion, and based upon my likes, tastes, etc. -- I think there are plenty of "red sauce" Italian restaurants, and plenty of "fair" and "decent" Italian restaurants, where one could go and have a "nice" meal. However, when it comes to very, very good, excellent, great Italian restaurants in Northern NJ, I think there are simply just a handful.
Be that as it may, Dimora, in Norwood, NJ, is one of them -- excellent. Dimora has been opened for about 15 years -- and they have a strong, loyal following of local people, and people who travel and view Dimora as a destination restaurant. I myself, while I meet friends there, travel about 30 minutes to get there. I think if you are talking Bergen County, and you ask foodies and others for their short list, I don't think many people would be surprised that Dimora makes it's way on to most people's lists -- at least that's my experience. Very nice ambiance, welcoming and very attentive staff and service, and then on to the food, LOL.
I've heard people say Dimora is "traditional" Italian, with the chef's personal and creative flair -- and I guess I would go along with that. For me, there's a lot of "fresh" ingredients, tremendous flavor and taste in all of the dishes, and many of the nuances of flavors just pop and you can't help but really like what you are eating. Last time I was there, we started with a few appetizers, including the mozzarella en carrozza, some oysters, and a couple of others. Service was excellent. For entrees, I had a "pasta special" -- and while I forgot the name -- I remember the lobster, shrimp, calamari, and clams, in a very flavorful tomato-based sauce, but it was laced with some other things, almost so that the sauce came out like a "vodka" sauce color and consistency. All of this perfectly well mixed in with a perfectly done linguine. My friend aha a seafood risotto, and I've always said, risotto can be a make or break dish. I've had this dish before here, and once again, executed perfectly. The seafood was an excellent balance to the density and substance of the risotto. Excellent sauce too. Another friend had a salmon dish, a special, and he raved about it -- he only eats fish and chicken due to dietary issues -- and he loved this dish. Our last friend had a chicken special, which also had an interesting sauce, along with seafood, and this dish too was excellent.
I couldn't find one flaw with this visit. I've heard some people say it's expensive, but that too is a relative term. Being in Norwood, attracting people from the "East Hill" and the "Gold Coast" and with others coming from afar, you have to expect "to pay" for fine dining, ambiance, excellent service, top ingredients, and so on. Someone asked me to compare it to Grissini's (Englewood Cliffs), which isn't really fair as I am not a big fan of Grissini's at all. Each time I've gone, I've been under-whelmed and tremendously so. Service was spotty, a lot of asks -- water, drinks, bread -- were necessary, and overall it was just so so. I once described Grissini's as "all horn and no drivetrain" so to speak. A lot of show, and no go. I have friends who love it, and that's great -- for their likes, tastes, preferences, etc. However, I just think it's "OK" in my book. Maybe I should try it again.
Dimora is an A-plus Italian restaurant for Northern NJ. Go, try it. I keep in on my list of many different types, styles, etc., of "excellent" Italian restaurants in Northern NJ -- Savini (Allendale), Rudy's (Cliffside Park), Aldo's (Wyckoff), Bottagra (Hawthorne), David's (Cliffside Park -- disclaimer -- I haven't been to David's in many years), Di Palma Brothers (North Bergen), LuNello (Cedar Grove), and maybe another couple I am forgetting. Thanks.