Limoncello Ristorante opened earlier this spring in Washington Township, describing the menu as “authentic Italian cuisine meets the refreshing taste of lemons”
During my recent dinner visit I was able to try several amazing entrees and appetizers, and clearly Limoncello is a standout new addition to the South Jersey food arena.
Owner Eric Rakaj and his team have seen great success with several restaurants located at the Jersey Shore (Sea Isle and Avalon). For his latest restaurant inspiration, Limoncello Ristorante… he wanted to position it further away from the summertime-boom beach towns, to help balance out the dining seasons for his Modo Mio restaurant company.
And he chose Washington Township… well in big part because Eric and his family are “Township” residents! But also because Washington Township and the surrounding area is a key South Jersey restaurant destination area.
Limoncello Ristorante is a BYOB restaurant located across the street from Washington Township High School, in a unit which previously operated as Pelican Restaurant.
Eric took over the space and transformed it into his own signature style Italian restaurant. He has a lot of experience in this, as his growing restaurant empire includes several restaurants; A Modo Mio and La Finestra in Sea isle and Il Posto in Avalon.
It’s an amazing success story for Eric… who arrived in the U.S. just 15 years ago! He started out working for Philadelphia restaurants and hotels, quickly became a talented chef.. and 10 years ago started out with his first restaurant, now has 4… and he is always looking for more opportunities.
Limoncello Ristorante Washington Township
For Limoncello Ristorante in Washington Township he is serving authentic Italian cuisine with the refreshing taste of lemons mixed throughout many of the dishes.
Their goal is to give you a dining experience which transports you straight to the streets of Italy!
The pasta is homemade in the restaurant and they use only the freshest ingredients.
They do accept walk-ins but it is recommended to make reservations, with most people using OpenTable.com
“Reservations, I live and die by them:Eric Rakaj – Limoncello Ristorante
Eric went as far to say “Reservations, I live and die by them”… partly because he wants to make sure he has enough seating available for you when you arrive, but also he really strives to have the freshest food available… and every day the team adjusts their fresh food deliveries based on the number of reservations queued up at each location.
And speaking of OpenTable.com, as an indication of the popularity of his restaurants, the reviews at his restaurant all average 4 1/2 or 5 stars!
Plus consider as an example that La Finestra has 1700 reviews and maintains a 5 star average… that really is amazing!
And it’s all the more reason for Eric to choose to open Limoncello in his home town.. to bring the delicious tastes and experiences that he and the team have been offering at the Jersey shore, back home to Washington Township.
And as I said it’s a smart move to balance the summer and winter seasons. While his beach town restaurants are open all year round they will likely slow down somewhat in the off-season, and the new Limoncello in Washington Township will become an even bigger hot-spot come the fall and winter (even more than it’s already very busy reservation calendar!)
Limoncello Ristorante Experience
My visit to Limoncello had me arriving a few minutes before their 4:30pm opening, which was perfectly timed for me to enjoy a delicious meal while providing Eric some time to sit with me a bit before the dinner rush started.
Currently they are only serving dinner, but Eric has plans to start a lunch service also… but likely not until the fall when the summer shore season winds down.
“If I’m not going to eat it, I’m not gonna serve it”Eric Rakaj – Limoncello Ristorante
The Limoncello space is designed as a soothing and tranquil space, styled with a lighter beige walls on the upper section, and darker wainscot and flooring. With the white tablecloths it creates a really nice style contrast.
It’s a medium sized dining space seating maybe 80-100 persons. From what I’ve seen online, simply from early word of mouth they’ve already become very popular. Did I mention you should make reservations?
I started with an appetizer of Calamari Limoncello which offered fried calamari, portobello, shaved parmigiano, siracha and a balsamic reduction.
The calamari was cooked perfectly with a light crispy outer coating, very tender calamari, and the flavors of the parmesan, siracha and balsamic reduction really tied everything together amazingly. The perfect hint of vinegar and heat.
For entrees we went with a variety of experiences to really give the menu a true workout, which included items for the pasta, beef, and seafood sections.
Pappardelle e Capesante featured perfectly cooked scallops in a fresh homemade pappardelle pasta, covered in a sun-dried tomato pesto with asparagus tips.
Incredible flavors swirling around the amazing fresh pasta and scallops.
Another entrée featured a light Filet Bronzino which was served with crab meat on top, along with cherry tomatoes and a lemon white wine sauce. Complementing the dish on the plate where roasted potatoes and mixed vegetables.
Tender and flaky fish with amazing crab meat on top… and the lemon wine sauce really helped bring out all of the flavors.
In our conversation Eric shared his love for Washington Township, as well as being excited for the successes of other area restaurants.
I mean, the family lives in Washington Township and being a food-lover he obviously is dining out in the area somewhat regularly!
So as an example, it was nice and to hear him speak complimentary on the success of Cinder Bar on Cross-Keys Road, and that Luna Rossa in Washington Township is a favorite restaurant for him to dine with his family and friends.
But I share that conversation mainly to show he really is just a genuine nice guy, who is fully confident in what he and his staff put on their plates. He is truly happy for everyone’s success and feels the better dining experiences like his and others he mentioned, will always find success.
We chatted a long while… one of those conversations where you just don’t run out of things to talk about.
So back to the Limoncello food! For beef we went with the Braised Short Ribs on a parmigiano risotto.
It’s a dish I could eat every time I visited. Perfectly cooked short ribs which are just super tender and incredibly delicious. The parmigiano risotto was a tasty foundation for the short ribs.
And Limoncello is definitely a restaurant where you save room for dessert.
I went with a slice of delicious lemon cake which had the perfect balance of sweetness and lemony taste.
While it’s not like I am eating fancy Bronzino dishes every week, I will say that my food and dining experience at Limoncello has been one of the top highlights of 2023 for me.
Links and Location
508 Hurffville – Cross Keys Road
Sewell, NJ 08080
Open Daily: 4:30pm to 9:30pm
Gift Cards Available