Essex Junction’s The Food Bar inspired by owner’s Italian roots in NJ

ESSEX JUNCTION – A bit of Italy by way of New Jersey has found its way to a food-centric building near Five Corners.

What is the place?

Open since April 2, The Food Bar is in the Park Street building that also houses Mark BBQ and the adjacent restaurant Heart n Soul. It’s near the busy Five Corners intersection that includes eateries such as Firebird Café and McGillicuddy’s Five Corners.

“They started calling this place ‘Food Corners,’” The Food Bar owner Alex Morano said.

Chicken parmesan with spaghetti at The Food Bar in Essex Junction on April 21, 2021.

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Her eatery offers Italian-American fare including chicken parmesan, eggplant rollatini, cheese ravioli pomodoro, rigatoni Bolognese and meat or cheese lasagna. Open more than 12 hours most days, The Food Bar also serves breakfast items such as omelets and egg platters.

As the name suggests, the business is part-food, part-bar, so The Food Bar has a fully-stocked bar. The Food Bar will hold about 50 patrons in normal times but only 20 or so during the COVID-19 pandemic. Morano said she will have a few tables on the porch out front that The Food Bar shares with Heart n Soul.

Alex Morano, owner of The Food Bar, stands April 21, 2021 in the dining room of the restaurant in Essex Junction.

What’s the story behind it?

Morano is from Monmouth County, New Jersey, and The Food Bar reflects her family heritage in that region. She said her family is involved in catering, and the “FAT” sandwiches and Bolognese sauce she features at The Food Bar are common in her home state’s Italian-American communities.

“I don’t reinvent the wheel, I just bring the wheel to Vermont,” Morano said. “It’s all about the stuff you could get at an Italian deli in New Jersey or New York.”