ITA Italian Kitchen: McGinley Square’s Newest Italian Gastropub

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McGinley Square in Jersey City {located south of Journal Square} is quickly becoming a hot spot for new restaurants, ice cream shops, shopping, and outdoor dining {a true hidden gem in Jersey City}. Of course, with so many delicious restaurants to choose from, it can be hard to narrow down a single place to dine. Enter, ITA Italian Kitchen. Located at 682 Bergen Avenue, ITA is  the newest location to pop up, brought to you by the same owners as Carvao BBQ, located just next door. McGinley Square does not have a lot of options for Italian fare, and is the first of its kind in the area. ITA Italian Kitchen opened in February of this year, a few short weeks before the pandemic hit. This new locale pairs traditional Italian fare with a modern gastropub vibe with wooden floors and ceiling, and modern white tile throughout. This new eatery specializes in Neapolitan-style pizza and house-made pasta, all sourced from local ingredients {and offers a full bar as well for all those libation needs}. Keep reading to find out more about this new hot spot in McGinley Square.

The Backstory

ITA Italian Kitchen Jersey City

{Photo credit: @itajerseycity}

Max Rudenko {originally from Ukraine} is a Jersey City resident {who actually lives above ITA; it doesn’t get more local than that} and one of the visionaries behind this new Italian restaurant and bar. Max and his partners Stefanos Papathanasiou and Thomas Papas opened Carvao BBQ five years ago, located at 686 Bergen Avenue on the same block. Max immigrated to the United State from Ukraine when he was 18 years old and worked his way up in the restaurant industry, from a food runner, all the way to a manager {and everything in between}. 

Max is a self-proclaimed foodie who loves to travel and try different types of cuisine. Max’s longtime friend and business partner, Stefanos {originally from Greece}, grew up in Jersey City, a block away from ITA Italian Kitchen, and Max moved to the area about six years ago. Max told Hoboken Girl, “When my friend Stefanos and I wanted to go to lunch, there was nowhere to go. There were tons of amazing people and nowhere to eat, and I realized we lived in a total food desert.”

Read more: From Italy to Hoboken: Alessio’s, the Mile Square’s Newest Italian Cafe

“We wanted to bring food to our neighborhood and with the diversity of Jersey City, we wanted to bring food to our neighborhood that translates into every culture. Every culture knows the smell of grilled meat and smoke, and that’s where we got the idea for Carvao BBQ,” he continued. After great success with their first venture, Max and his business partners wanted to bring a different type of cuisine to the rapidly developing neighborhood.

Opening ITA Italian Kitchen 

ITA italian kitchen jersey city

After a great success with their first venture in McGinley Square with Carvao, Max and his business partners wanted to bring a different type of cuisine to the people of the neighborhood — Italian fare. When asked where the inspiration for Italian food came from, Max shared that “Italian is the most palatable cuisine in the world. If you give most people in the world Italian food, they’re going to like it —and it happens to be my favorite.”

Max teamed up with experienced Chef Dylan Golden {who also happens to be his brother-in-law} to come up with a simple menu with fresh ingredients and traditional Italian flavors. Dylan moved to NYC eight years ago and wanted to learn how to cook. He started his career at Wallsé, a Michelin- Rated Austrian restaurant in the West Village. Dylan told Hoboken Girl, “Wallsé gave me a shot, I told them I wanted to learn, and they brought me under their wing. I kept working and learning, worked at different restaurants around Manhattan, and then eventually went to Upland on Park Avenue.”

“I met a lot of talented chefs at Upland who helped me be the chef I am today. I love creating things with my hands {like dough} and that’s why I was excited to come on board at ITA,” he shared.  Dylan has enjoyed trying new ingredients and learning about Italian cooking inspired by the best Italian bistros around the world.

The Menu

ITA Italian Kitchen home made pasta

The menu at ITA Italian Kitchen honors old-world Italian roots with a modern touch. It specializes in Neapolitan-style pizza and house-made pasta, and uses local and seasonal ingredients. The dough and pasta are made in house, and gluten-free options for both are sourced from local vendors. 

“We believe in buying local and making ingredients from scratch. We like supporting local farms and businesses and believe it is good to boost the local economy as well,” Max shared. ITA Italian Kitchen is open for lunch and dinner and now offers brunch on the weekends. Starters on the menu include crispy potatoes in a salsa verde, meatballs, and Brussel sprouts made with grapes, stracciatella, and toasted pumpkin seeds to name a few. 

Besides the traditional Margherita pie, the pizzas at ITA include the prosciutto di Parma with fresh ricotta, hand-sliced local prosciutto, and arugula. Other diverse choices include is the fungi pie, made with fresh mozzarella, locally sourced mixed mushrooms, homemade bechamel, pickled peppers, scallions, and truffle oil, while the vegan pie features vegan pesto, delicata squash, and cashew cream {the menu has 12 gourmet pies in total}. 

We also recommend trying ITA’s fresh homemade pasta selection which includes a squid ink spaghetti with shrimp, spaghetti pomodoro, rigatoni bolognese, bucatini alfredo, and chicken parmigiana. ITA Italian kitchen also has a variety of fresh salads and traditional homemade desserts like tiramisu made with homemade cream and espresso and a chocolate chip cookie. 

See more: The Best Spots for Gnocci in Hoboken + Jersey City

We’d be remiss not to mention the drinks menu here, as ITA has a full bar at ITA that offers a selection of 20 draft beers, a thoughtfully selected traditional Italian wine list, and classic cocktails. 

Brunch

ITA Italian Kitchen brunch

Yes, you read that  right — ITA also offers brunch {aka the best meal of the day}. Some of the brunch items include eggs Benedict with smoked salmon or aged prosciutto and carbonara bucatini, which go well with specialty brunch cocktails such as the Michelada {think bloody mary with tequila}, or the French 75 made with prosecco, gin, and lemon juice. ITA Italian Kitchen has slimmed down its menu during the pandemic but has managed to keep a large selection of fresh traditional items for its customers. ITA Italian Kitchen is open Tuesday through Friday from 4:00PM-10:00PM  and Saturdays and Sundays from 1:00PM-10:00PM, and are offering outdoor dining and takeout.

Have you been to ITA Italian Kitchen yet? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!

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Evelyn is a born and raised Jersey Girl and is a local influencer {@thefoundrygirljc} in Jersey City. She has a degree in marketing and business from Syracuse University, and currently works freelancing in social media. She has lived in both Hoboken and Jersey City and is very committed to supporting local businesses and being a local resource to all her friends and neighbors. She is an animal {dog} lover and claims to know more animals in Jersey City than people {really}. When she is not freelancing, she can be found hanging out with friends at local spots in Bergen-Lafayette and attending social and networking events in Jersey City and Hoboken.