Not driven by advertising.  Not influenced by a free meal.  The only review of its kind within 50 miles.  The “Closet Eater” – serves up a real-life restaurant review every once in a while and quickly answer the ultimate question “Is it worth the calories?”

After a seven-year hiatus, and a lifelong livelihood in the restaurant industry, the talented Pagano Family is back with Uva in Bradley Beach (formerly Piancone’s). 

Mom Pagaono lovingly reigns over the restaurant with pretty much the same look and feel as Piancone’s but with a more homey-energy.  Son Pagano rules the kitchen – with an OCD energy according to the staff – and his own twist on generations-old family recipes.

But they maybe should have stuck with the family “sweet spot” of casual Italian fare (“Pagano” meant pizza for decades at the shore), instead of energetic versions of Mediterranean Italian “upscale” and beautiful selection of fish.

Uva is very good and has even more potential.  Owners should cut their menu options in half – do 15 items impeccably, instead of now, doing (guessing) 30 items that our party rated comfortably 7.5 on a scale of 1 to 10.  Uva is better than average but it is tough to compete with one of the most fantastic Italian restaurants in our area, Citrico’s, literally a few feet away in Bradley Beach.

Huge surprise – the desserts!  Cakes made by Daughter Melissa Pagano from scratch.  Ask for the Nutella frosted Banana Cake or take home the Chocolate Easter Cake for your Easter party.  Both more than worth the calories for you and your pastel-wearing friends.  Melissa is soon to open a bakery in Brick, called Mee Wee Bakery, too.

This closet eater believes Uva is not worth the calories right now.  But Mom Pagano is smart and will work hard to make every morsel worth every second on the treadmill.

Go there for some impressive cocktails while you are waiting an insanely long time for a table at noisy, cramped Citricos, which is two storefronts north (the rice balls are a must).   Order dessert from Uva and take it home.  You won’t be disappointed!!!

Pagano’s Uva, 800 Main Street, Bradley Beach. and 732.775.0906 have more info.