In 1917 The Perona family bought a 300 acre farm in Andover, New Jersey. They began taking boarders and feeding them each night at the boarding house table. This evolved into a small restaurant operation and was the beginning of Perona Farms as it is known today. Now the Farm is owned and operated by the Perona grandchildren, a group who started out picking up cigarette butts in the parking lots as kids. This year marks 100 years of the family business, a stretch of time that has seen the farm become the premier wedding and event destination in New Jersey and beyond. The business is especially buzzing in Manhattan and Staten Island, where brides and party planners seek a unique experience the city cannot provide.
Perona Farms is a large catering facility sitting on more than fifty acres that catered to 300 weddings and 100 corporate parties this past year. The catering operation is on site and off site. Perona Farms has catered Governor’s Balls in New York City, store openings and a multitude of other events. They also serve brunch every Sunday, a meal that the Ivaldi family believes is bar none the best in the state. “Everybody laughed and said it was a silly idea but now we serve 250 or 300 people every Sunday,” said Wade Ivaldi who runs the kitchen at Perona Farms. The brunch is open to the public but can also accommodate private parties and serves a fresh seafood bar, a carving station, crepes and an assortment of other fresh made breads and pastries.
The two venues range in style, with the farm itself being Spanish Hacienda, Italian villa style architecture. It can accommodate 275 guests while the more intimate barn fits around 185 guests. The “sprawling estate” includes two ballrooms, a bevy of gardens and patios, Perona Lake and even an orchard. By putting money back into the business “every day of the year”, the Ivaldi family is constantly maintaining and upgrading the venues to provide their customers with the highest degree of service and accommodation.
That accommodation includes a customized catering menu where the Ivaldis work with the party to design a custom menu that includes produce and meats that are grown or smoked in house. Perona Farms has its own green house to source seasonal greens and vegetables along with a smoker for salmon and a meat curing operation to serve home made salami and sausages. Changing the menu options seasonally keeps the venue current but also allows them to do seasonally themes that support local businesses. “We change our cocktail menu seasonally,” Wade added. “Right now we are doing a Jersey Fresh theme for food by getting tomatoes and peaches from local farms and scallops from the Jersey Shore. By keeping everything within the family and on site including linens, Perona Farms is a self sustaining operation.”
Local sourcing, especially from the fruitful area of New Jersey that Perona Farms is nestled into is critical to the Ivaldi family. “We’ve been focused on local sourcing and supporting Jersey business since the 1930s,” says Wade. That local sourcing includes picking morels and ramps and other hard to find ingredients in Sussex County, a big advantage that Perona Farms has a way to attract business from the city, where local produce is much more limited.
Speaking to the Ivaldi family makes it clear that they would stake their reputation any day on the services they provide, the menu they put forth and the experience they offer. They have been doing this a long time and are consistently excellent in every endeavor they have taken on. With 100 years under their belt no one should doubt that Perona Farms will be in the same spot in another 100 years.
For more information on Perona Farms, visit their website.