Just when you thought Jersey City couldn’t be full of any more surprises, 15 Fox Place tops the cake for the quirkiest things to reside in ‘America's Golden Door.’
When you first approach this hidden gem you wouldn’t think it to be anything other than a regular house. Except, it’s a restaurant that can serve up to 24 guests in a single sitting.
Owners Rich and Katherine Budinich first owned a catering business 33 years ago have catered to current Saint Peter's University president, Dr. Eugene J. Cornacchia, when he was first appointed.
While mainly doing upscale parties and weddings, they have catered for the previous president of SPU, U.S Senator Cory Booker and even the white house press during presidential visits in Jersey City.
But how did this become an in-home restaurant?
A customer of Budinich came in for a consultation about their wedding meals when the customer said, “I would love to eat here” and got her gears going.
As she began to have everyone crackdown on the recipes and the overall restaurant, she paved the way for her son, who would follow her legacy.
“Oh yeah she had us well versed in the recipes. We’re well-trained after 20 years,” says husband and owner Budinich.
Marc, their son, became a certified chef, receiving his degree from Hudson County Culinary School and interning in places like New York City.
They began the business by serving food in the dining room of their very own home.
Soon enough, they couldn’t fit the amount of customers that were reserving tables in the restaurant. This was the final piece of the puzzle that ended up pushing them out of their home, and more tables in.
From serving up to 24 people, this business was now thriving and visitors from all over the country were dying to visit this now 20-year-old business according to Mr. Budinich.
From places as far as Texas, guests have shown up to the restaurant dying to get a look inside of the Italian fortress.
With its loud traditional wallpaper patterns and tasteful tableware, each room has a personality of its own. From peonies on the walls of their garden room -- once an office and gym, to a practically Great Gatsby themed dining room.
Every single step of the way is lined with beautiful intricate details on the architecture of the home and restaurant.
Walking the halls and seeing the place it's only natural to wonder, why in-home? Why not relocate to a commercial location?
“No this is it. All of this is what was here before the restaurant was a restaurant. All the bookshelves and pictures; It gives it the character. It’s like going to nanny's house,” said Mr. Budinich.
There is no doubt that tradition is oozing out of the walls around you and family is what you feel like as you walk through those doors.
In fact, it even brings some to tears.
“About a month ago a big -- I mean big guy -- was walking around and he was upstairs in the 12-seater dining room. He’s upstairs walkin’ around and I turn around and he’s got tears running down his eyes,” he said. “He turns to me and says, ‘I feel my grandmother here. I feel like she’s here’ I said ‘oh my god you’re killin’ me.’”
This goes to show just how at home everyone is here and in hopes of keeping the legacy in the family name, Rick plans to hand over the business over to Marc and hopefully one day his granddaughter.
With business booming year-round, it’s no wonder they wouldn’t give it up. To score a table in December customers would have to reserve it a month in advance, according to Mr. Budinich.
This stellar five-star restaurant showcases nothing but elegance, love and breathtaking dishes. Offering family size portions and a six course meals, it’s recommended you show up hungry.
Currently listed #1 in The 14 Best Hidden New Jersey Restaurants , a visit there is one you will not forget.