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Cucina Italiana

Traditional Italian Dining in the Heart of Metuchen, NJ

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Our vision

At Civile Cucina Italiana, every dish is made to order with extreme care and pride.

Take in the casual atmosphere with friends and family; converse over a hot espresso paired with one of our renowned house made desserts.


we're B.Y.O.B.

We don't sell alcohol, so stop by the chateau on your way in!

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The Original Civile's in Kenilworth burned down years ago, but the ashes sewed new partnerships and a golden opportunity. In 2012, a new home was found in Metuchen, NJ, where owners Jason, Jimmy and Juan collaborated to pair traditional Italian cuisine with a casual atmosphere. Locals responded well to the cozy location, friendly staff and rich food, and have kept coming back since. Now, with deep ties to the community and an extended family of regulars, we're here to stay!


James Katims brings to this position over 30 years of experience to his role . Starting in 1984 as a salad man, he quickly worked his way up to become a chef. At only 26, he opened his first restaurant, Civile's, in Kenilworth, New Jersey. With a solid local following this five star establishment,  catered to many media personalties, including the cast of Goodfellas, local politicians, and sports personalities such as Phil Rizzuto and Bobby Thompson. The highlight was a meal prepared for President George H. W. Bush and his staff during his 1992 campaign. Unfortunately, a fire destroyed the building in 2004.  Since then James continued to work in the industry until reopening his own Civile È Tornato in Metuchen, which upon outgrowing its initial location, became Civile Cucina Italiana.

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Jason Penedos is currently part-owner and general manager of Civile Cucina Italiana in Metuchen, New Jersey. He brings twenty years of restaurant experience in both front and back-of-the-house operations. He started in the kitchen, but soon began serving and bartending. In 2007, he became general manager of The Metuchen Inn when it staged its highly successful relaunch. Upon bringing his talent and skill to Civile È Tornato, Jason’s abilities to advertise became prominent. Along with the advancement of social media and the internet as vital components of business today, Jason has proven himself to reach, through various marketing strategies, many different communities, attracting clientele from various parts of New Jersey, as well as New York.

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Juan Zaldivar is currently part-owner of Civile Cucina Italiana and has been in the restaurant business for his entire working life. His most recent success is the award winning Lola Latin Bistro in Metuchen, New Jersey, opened in 2001. Along with ownership, Juan acts as the front-manager, and sometimes as a chef. He is widely known as a brilliant dessert chef and his pastries are in great demand—especially his Mascarpone Cheesecake. In addition to his work at Lola and Civile Cucina Italiana, he also assisted in the opening and expansion of Lucy’s, a Mexican restaurant in New Brunswick, New Jersey. 

just around the corner...