A Reputation Earned with Hard Work and Dedication to the Art of Fine Dining
Arben “Alberto” Dautaj loves the fresh air of Warwick. The location of his restaurant, the Warwick Inn, set on a wooded lot on quaint Oakland Avenue, near the hear of the Village of Warwick, delights him. Dautaj has been on the road to success for a long time. He left his native homeland of Albania for Italy and became involved in the restaurant business. From there he and his family moved to Quebec, Canada and he became a sous chef of French and Italian cuisine.
Next stop was New York City, where he sharpened his craft at upscale restaurants. Currently, he and his wife Arta own several other eateries besides The Warwick Inn. “I started and the success never stopped. I never stop working, it keeps me going,” said Dautaj. He and his wife have fulfilled the American dream of being successful restaurant proprietors, he said.
Looking for a sizzling New York strip steak in a hip, happening village? How about some tender lobster ravioli or delicately sautéed veal saltimbocca? The Warwick Inn’s most popular signature dishes are back at the redone Village of Warwick restaurant, which reopened in May 2017. The new management, Arben “Alberto” and Arta Dautaj, have incorporated more Italian and Mediterranean fare, but the native Albanians kept several of the downtown fixture’s favorites.
Dautaj, who also owns Momento, a fine-dining Italian and seafood bistro in West Milford, N.J., first opened The Dautaj restaurant at The Warwick Inn in April 2006. But he was just a renter, and he sold the restaurant business in 2008. However, he loved the village so much he decided to buy the Warwick Inn building in 2011.
His tenants ran the Dautaj restaurant until January 2017, when it closed. Then, Dautaj reopened The Warwick Inn restaurant with its original name in May 2017. Now, he’s eager to keep improving the restaurant, and he’s resurrecting the inn. He converted four upstairs rooms into quaint rentals with king-sized beds.
The Warwick Inn’s building, which dates to 1855, has long housed a restaurant, but it wasn’t converted to an inn until the early 1900s. The Wilson family took control of it, and opened The Warwick Inn in the 1960s. “I’m so lucky,” Dautaj said. “Warwick is the place everyone wants to be. And (The Warwick Inn) has been very popular since we reopened.”
Source: Daniel Axelrod, Times Herald-Record