For those who enjoy a peek inside the homes of rich and famous folk, the “Real Housewives” franchise is a televised goldmine that showcases the lavish and often insanely ostentatious homes of its attention-seeking stars. And, arguably, nowhere across the growing transnational franchise do the drama-fueled Bravolebrities live in such conspicuous, crystal-dripping in-your-face extravagance as in New Jersey.
Unfortunately, these palatial suburban Jersey mansions can be a tough sell unless ersatz opulence is a potential buyer’s residential real estate cup of tea. Case in point is Melissa Gorga and her muscle-strapped building contractor husband Joe. In 2007 the fit-as-fiddles pair plunked down $950,000 for an almost 2.25-acre parcel of land on a quiet, hook-shaped cul-de-sac in Montvale, about 30 miles northwest of Midtown Manhattan, where they custom built a 9,100-square-foot mansion.
The Gorgas first tried to sell the six-bedroom and 7.5-bathroom manse in 2012 and ’13 with a preposterously optimistic $3.8 million asking price. With no takers they settled in until the fall of 2017 when the property popped back up for sale with an in-hindsight still much too tumescent price of almost $3.5 million. Now, after more than three years, several price cuts that brought the final ask to just under $2.95 million, the Gorga mansion has finally been sold at a discounted price of $2.5 million.
According to Realtor.com, who first caught wind of the sale, the couple relocated to their house along the New Jersey coastline to quarantine during the pandemic and during that time the Montvale manse was given a cosmetic overhaul to tone down some of the glitzy garishness and amp up the sophistication with a more monochromatically neutral black, white and grey color scheme.
Marketing materials describe the house as a “center hall colonial situated in the exclusive Pond section of Montville.” However, while the estate may indeed be in the Pond section of Montville, it is definitely not a center hall colonial. It’s more of a chateau-aspiring stew of architectural styles that includes a stone-clad turret, several Tudor-inspired chimney caps and a variety of arched dormers over funky keyhole-shaped windows.
The conspicuously grand double-height foyer screams, “Look how rich I am!” with gilded wrought iron bannisters that festoon the twin curved staircases, while a mirrored table at the center of the unnecessarily cavernous space reflects the faux-gilt trim on the elaborately detailed arched ceiling some 20-plus feet overhead.
Polished and inlaid pale-grey marble floors extend into formal living and dining rooms, and the sprawling home’s main floor living and entertaining spaces also include a billiard room that sports paneled walls painted jet black and a circular library with nary a book on its towering shelves. With fancifully carved cabinets and high-end appliances, the spacious eat-in kitchen flows into an adjoining family room.
Upstairs, the primary suite is a warehouse-sized space swaddled in pale grey floral wallpaper. An off-center double-sided fireplace is shared with an aggressively opulent bathroom finished with golden marble floor tiles and fitted with a brass-footed soaking tub.
A circular staircase links all three floors as it winds down to a massive finished basement. In addition to a professional bar, a children’s TV lounge with three televisions and a plush screening room refreshed in a monochromatic pewter palette, there’s a poker room alongside a corridor lined with glass cabinets for displaying booze, a red-walled fitness room, a beauty salon, and, finally, a recording studio where the reality star and former wannabe pop star recorded a handful of club ditties including the heavily AutoTuned 2011 dance track “On Display.”
A porte-cochere cuts an arched passage right through an ancillary wing of the huge house to connect the cobblestone-paved circular motor court with a secondary motor court that provides garage access. Behind the house and set against an untamed wall of trees and foliage that screens the similarly showy neighboring mansions, a dining terrace with built-in grill overlooks a dark-bottom swimming pool.
The Gorgas shore home, a 3,300-square-foot Toms River waterfront home with six bedrooms, three bathrooms, a waterside swimming pool and a private boat dock, was purchased in the spring of 2019 for $975,000. It has since been extensively renovated.
Meanwhile, Joe’s older sister and Melissa’s RHONJ cast mate, Teresa Giudice, is looking for a change of scenery, too, and hoisted her even larger and more extravagant, freeway adjacent mansion in nearby Towaco up for sale a few months ago at a tad below $2.5 million.