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Party Planning? Think Local


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A buffet from Mardi Gras

With First Holy Communion and graduation season approaching as quickly as the warm weather, it is time to get planning–party planning.

I love to cook and host a party, but even I know my limitations. There are only so many hours in a day and until I grow that third arm I’ve been needing since having kids, I would look for help. Luckily, we’ve got plenty of party resources in Verona, from restaurants for a celebration out to caterers for a party at home to florists.

If you’re not the yard party type, Miele’s (973-239-3363), Sonny’s on the Avenue (with both indoor dining and an outdoor patio), Avenue Bistro (973-239-7444), and Trattoria Bella Gente, offer the benefit of great food and location. Not all Verona restaurants are open on Sundays and some restaurants already have bookings, so it’s a good idea to call ahead if  you are considering this option.

If you plan to have a lot of guests and need a larger space than the restaurants hold, the Verona Community Center (973-857-4830), or the Richfield Regency, celebrating its 45th anniversary, may be the place for your party. The VCC has two different sized rooms available that range from $50 to $65 an hour for residents, but it does get booked months in advance, so be sure to call if you are considering this space.

Pauline Davey rented the community center in May 2007 for her daughter’s Communion.  “The location is perfect for a family event,” she says. “The kitchen is large, all the chairs and tables are included and set up for you.  An added bonus is the playground outside, so if you have an extended family with a lot of kids, having an area that the kids can play makes the party very enjoyable. We would definitely consider the Verona Community Center again.”

If  you are looking for an outdoor setting, nothing can beat the Verona Park Boathouse, which has a modern, rentable room at the south end of the boathouse. Call the Essex County Parks Department at 973-268-3500 x 254 and ask for Frank Gesumaria. Either way, having the party at a local venue offers the multiple benefits of no set up, no clean up and no lingerers.

If you are a party in the yard type, but don’t want to do all (or most, or some) of the cooking, you may want to consider some of our local caterers. With a wide variety of food styles, flavors and origins, Verona has much to offer. Typically, I like the one-from-me, one-from-you approach and any of these caterers can compliment whatever  you are preparing on your own. Some I have used, others I’d gladly try. Choices range from Eight Hills Caterers, Frank Anthony’s and Tortilla Sunrise, to Mardi Gras and Kings. In the event you only need a cake, Mardi Gras offers just cakes, created by Laning mom, Amy Dunphy. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention catering options owned by Verona residents that aren’t based here, including Frungillo Caterers, The Fruited Plain and CulinAriane.

Finally, to make things especially pretty, we have two florists in town. Professional florists always do a better job than I do, so that’s a no-brainer. Amy’s Florist and Lily of the Valley (973-239-1444) are both great options. Even if you just want to send yourself some flowers for pulling off a great party. 

Verona Community Center Rental Information

Ballroom Fireman’s Room Gym
$65 per hour for town resident, $100 per hour for non residents, with a 4-hour minimum and $50 maintenance fee. Beer & wine only, you can bring in your own caterer. Well equipped kitchen with fridge, freezer and commercial stove. Tables and chairs included. $50 per hour for town resident, $65 per hour for non residents, with a 4-hour minimum and $50 maintenance fee. Beer & wine only, you can bring in your own caterer. Well equipped kitchen with fridge, freezer and commercial stove. Tables and chairs included. $200 for 2-hour use of gym and Fireman’s Room.

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  1. Lily in the Valley does beautiful arrangements. Make sure you speak with Caroline, that’s who I deal with. They are also very generous when donating to the VHS Cheerleaders Tricky Tray. They donated beautiful, tall potted tulips as our centerpieces. Their arrangements are unique and beautiful.


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