WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? EUROPA GRILL TAPAS

111916europa3A hot sampler for two from the appetizer/tapas menu at Europa Grill. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

WFL what's for lunch?New to the Shrewsbury Village strip mall in Shrewsbury, Europa Grill fills in the storefront left empty by Rosina’s Ristorante. Like its predecessor, it serves Italian food, but that’s where the similarity ends.

Mediterranean-themed frescoes, including an attention-grabbing celestially painted ceiling, brighten the decor. Tables set with linens, comfortable seating, and friendly, helpful service add up to a more formal but lively atmosphere.
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CRAVINGS: EXPECTING AN OMELET

111916pallonettis1Kristin and John Pallonetti at the Inbetween Café for breakfast. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

piehole_cravingsWith a due date of Christmas Eve, parents-to-be Kristin and John Pallonetti have a lot more to look forward to than their next meal.

Still, when those cravings kick in, the Fair Haven couple respond, often heading into Red Bank for custom omelets at the Inbetween Café.
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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? HAPPY HOUR RIBS

111516saltcreek2A plate of baby back ribs from Salt Creek Grille’s happy hour menu.  (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

WFL what's for lunch?Timing is everything, especially when it comes to grabbing a good meal. Sometimes, the afternoon just gets away from us and before we know it, lunch is an unfulfilled yearning. What to do?

Salt Creek Grille, the craftsman-style restaurant at the foot of the Oceanic Bridge in Rumson, shows a 5 p.m. opening on its website. But happy hour is served from 4 p.m. to 6:30, and it’s a terrific bargain.
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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? A SLOW-PACED GRAZE

110816graze3Vegetarian choices on the lunch menu at Graze include bourbon-glazed carrot soup and a mac-and-cheese casserole.  (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

WFL what's for lunch?This past summer, Laercio “Chef Junior” Chamon finally fulfilled his goal of turning Zoe Bistro, which he acquired a year earlier, into Graze.

Now once again open for lunch, the Little Silver restaurant is luxuriously relaxed in pace, aesthetic and culinary concept, even as kitchen staffers thrive on challenging themselves to come up with dishes with a surprising twist.

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CRAVINGS: A LITTLE DANISH WILL DO

110216danishcafe3August Culbert stops by the Danish Café for lunch, coffee and a danish for dessert. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

piehole_cravings“It wouldn’t be the Danish Café without danish,” says August Culbert, a 25-year-old Fair Haven resident and owner of Apogee Technology Services, a Red Bank information technology business.

“The coffee is the best here, and they offer free refills,” says Culbert, who’s been a regular since about 2013 and has “tried everything on the menu.” But it’s the “soft, flaky European-style pastry” of the Danish’s danish that Culbert says he finds particularly appealing.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? DREAMY O BISTRO CREPE

110116o-bistro4Shrimp, scallops and chopped clams swimming in a creamy herb-flecked sauce are folded into a tender crepe and served with a side salad at O Bistro Francais. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

WFL what's for lunch?A big old barn of a building on Bridge Avenue in Red Bank is now home to the much anticipated French restaurant, O Bistro Francais.

Following the arrows along the side of the building to a door crowned by a French flag, PieHole finds a new entrance, an interior whipped up in cloud-like shades of white and dove-gray, and familiar faces. Traditional French fare from the kitchen of chef Marc Fontaine is all the enticement we need to slide into a booth and indulge.
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RED BANK: RESTAURANT SAFETY ASSESSED

Get queasy at the very thought of restaurant inspection records? You might want to avoid this report by NJ.com, which looked at the most recent Monmouth County Regional Health Commission violation reports on all 194 Red Bank restaurants and food stores.

The good news?

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CRAVINGS: SCAMPI PIE NOT A TRIVIAL MATTER

101816rubinoPieHole catches Jen Rubino pre-bite at Jamian’s Food and Drink. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

piehole_cravingsJamian’s Food and Drink gets testy on Tuesday nights as brainiacs and know-it-alls vie for points at a trivia contest that fills the Red Bank bar to capacity.

Jen Rubino, a 43-year-old borough resident and Italian teacher, has been showing up with her team from the beginning of the weekly showdown two years ago. Is it the camaraderie, the challenge — or maybe a craving for her favorite pizza that brings her out every week?
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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? LOBSTER CORN DOGS

101516b2bistro5A Lobster Corn Dog, served on a stick at B2 Bistro and Bar. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

WFL what's for lunch?PieHole doesn’t always plan in advance, so on more than one occasion, our desire for a bite and a drink at B2 Bistro and Bar on Shrewsbury Avenue didn’t work out.

The question of whether we had a reservation surprised us on one evening. We told the hostess that we were there for a cocktail and quick bite, but our lack of a reservation meant that even the empty high-top tables were not offered to us. Her blank stare told us we were expected to move on.
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CRAVINGS: MOM’S IRISH SODA BREAD SCONES

100816alices-sodabreadscones3Irish soda bread scones from Alice’s Kitchen in Sea Bright. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

piehole_cravingsWhen 23-year-old Shauna Harten gets a craving, it’s likely to be for Irish soda bread scones. And not just scones like those her mother used to make, but the genuine article.

When the Sea Bright resident was studying hospitality at Florida International University, she’d have her mom ship them down to her, she tells PieHole.

“My roommates really liked them, too,” she said. “They looked forward to the delivery almost as much as I did.”
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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? HOT DOGS AND BLISS

100816gandg-hotdogs1Chili dog with onions and one with sauerkraut from the G&G Hot Dog Truck. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

WFL what's for lunch? It’s a dreary day, our errand list is overloaded, and PieHole is looking for a quick, on-the-go lunch. So we pull into the tiny parcel of land on Shrewsbury Avenue in Red Bank that’s home to the G&G Hot Dog Truck.

The triangular lot sees a lot of action all week long, but even on a wet Saturday, the line is three deep, and two more cars arrive while we’re waiting on line, eavesdropping on conversations about topics ranging from the weather to politics and football.
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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? A MOSTLY-NEW HARRY’S

100116harrys5The open-face steak sandwich at Harry’s is served on slices of garlic bread. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

WFL what's for lunch?Dowdy decor was just one of the telling factors in the demise of Harry’s Lobster House in Sea Bright, and when it closed last January, and many thought that was the end of the institution that began 83 years earlier. And it was, sort of.

In its current, soft-opening phase, the restaurant now called simply “Harry’s” has been “reinvented” under new ownership, general manager Chris Christiano tells PieHole. But there are aspects here that haven’t changed at all.
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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? NACHOS AND BEAN SOUP

092416carlosoconnor2Carlos O’Connor’s Tijuana nacho platter is served on a funky, tie-dye clothed table. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

WFL what's for lunch?A mainstay on Monmouth Street in Red Bank, Carlos O’Connor’s Mexican Restaurant seems to be standing the test of time due in part to the vibrant, celebratory, mismatched decor that delivers an instant party atmosphere.

PieHole stopped in and found that the newest owner, Hugo Parades, has made a few changes to the dining room by opening a wall that divided the restaurant into two closed off rooms, giving the space a brighter, less claustrophobic feel.

Another change: it’s now open for lunch on weekends.

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CRAVINGS: SUNDAY PORK ROLL

092516porkroll5Natalie Cozzati takes a bite of the breakfast sandwich she craves. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

piehole_cravings“Do I like pork roll?” Red Bank graphic designer and owner of NMC Design Studio Natalie Cozzati rhetorically asks PieHole. “Am I from Jersey? I’ve got to have my pork roll fix. Gotta satisfy that craving.”

Cozzati is not alone in her uniquely Jersey desire. At the Red Bank Farmers’ Market every Sunday this time of year, you’ll find plenty of customers queuing up at Johnny’s Pork Roll truck, patiently waiting to grab their sandwiches.

And don’t call it Taylor Ham, say Cozzati and others in line in the Galleria parking lot.
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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? GREEK FARE IN LINCROFT

091816stamna3The two-souvlaki-sticks lunch at Stamna Greek Taverna. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

WFL what's for lunch?Originally Santorini Greek Cuisine, then replaced last summer by Melody’s Café, another Greek restaurant has taken over the same spot in a strip mall on Newman Springs Road in Lincroft.

Stamna Greek Taverna opened about three weeks ago, and PieHole has a feeling that this one might be here to stay. Maybe the third time will be the charm.
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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? RED ROCK STANDS OUT

091316redrock2Ahi tuna salad served in a stainless steel pan at Red Rock Tap + Grill. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

WFL what's for lunch?Step into the new Red Rock Tap + Grill  in Red Bank and the effect is instant: this isn’t the Brannigan’s we all knew and, ahem, shared a fondness for.

The single-story Wharf Avenue bar has been replaced by a rustic-contemporary structure offering stellar views of downtown Red Bank and the Navesink River from its multiple open-air decks. But PieHole was equally blown away by the menu. Could the food possibly be as tasty as the architectural eyecandy here?

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LINCROFT: HISTORIC INN CLOSES

032115 lincroftinn1lincroft-innThe Lincroft Inn, a watering hole for travelers for more than three centuries, served its final meal Monday. No reason for the closing was given on the Facebook page of the Newman Springs Road establishment, where chef and owner Terry Daverio announced the end, and where dozens of patrons are sharing memories. 

Known as the Leedsville Hotel in the 1800s, the inn was in continuous operation since 1697, according to a 1953 article in the Red Bank Register. It’s been owned and operated by the Daverio family since 1927. Terry Daverio could not be reached for immediate comment. (Photo above by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge).

 

CRAVINGS: A BUSHEL IN A BURRITO

90516calientecantina1A fried sweet apple burrito covered in two sauces and ice cream. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

piehole_cravingsSeasonal changes can induce all sorts of fresh cravings, and with September screaming “apple season,” PieHole stumbles on a dessert so tasty, and in such an unlikely place, that sharing our bonanza is all we can do.

Read on to see where you can feast on this crave-able cinnamon-scented apple burrito.
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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? BRUNCH, AT GAETANO’S

090316gaetanos6French toast garnished with fresh berries from the brunch menu at Gaetano’s. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

WFL what's for lunch?Taking a metaphorical broom to the cobwebs left behind in Tom Capello’s old restaurant, Louis Andrianos, the new owner of Gaetano’s on Wallace Street in Red Bank, leaves PieHole gobsmacked by the refreshing updates he’s instituting.

Gone are the stale Sinatra-era infused soundtrack and the granny-style oilcloth-covered tables, replaced with more contemporary stylings. The menu’s also been altered to include a daily brunch.
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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? A TABLEFUL AT TEMPLE

082616temple1Chicken with broccoli and Kung Pao chicken, two dishes on the lunch menu at Temple Gourmet Chinese. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

WFL what's for lunch?Lunchtime seems to be a tough draw for Red Bank’s dine-in restaurants. While customers might find it difficult to get a table in the evening, some eateries do what they can in the form of specials to attract afternoon clients.

So when a member of the Red Bank Lunch Meet group suggested a meeting at Temple Gourmet Chinese on Broad Street, throwing in the incentive of an $11 price point, PieHole was intrigued.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? BOLI KNOTS AND PASTA

082216mangia6‘Boli knots,’ or bite-sized strombolis, served with a side of marinara sauce at Mangia. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

WFL what's for lunch?Open just two weeks in the Shrewsbury shopping mall that’s home to Trader Joe’s, Mangia Brick Oven Pizza at first appears to be a tiny pizza joint squeezed into a small store front. In this case, looks are deceiving.

After scanning cases filled with several varieties of pizza, our eyes settle on a large, open kitchen with a massive brick oven before taking in the rustic barn wood-style tables and crafty decor. Not immediately apparent is a dining room with a lovely upscale vibe tucked to the right of the kitchen.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? BURGERS, FRIES & A VIEW

081216barnacles5Attentive diners can keep a watchful eye on the burgers as they’re grilled at the end of the bar. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

WFL what's for lunch?In the shadow of Rumson’s 75-year-old Navesink-River-spanning Oceanic Bridge, Barnacle Bill’s is packed on a Friday afternoon.

“You know it used to be on the pier?” an octogenarian customer who’s been coming to the Rumson perennial asks PieHole.

We do, and locals know also that the waterfront restaurant is the place to go when you’re craving a burger — and that it’s open for lunch from Friday through Sunday only.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? SHRIMP, WITH BIG VIEWS

080916rumrunner5The roofed deck at McLoone’s Rum Runner. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

WFL what's for lunch?On a clear day, Tim McLoone‘s newly rebuilt Rum Runner restaurant in Sea Bright offers bird’s-eye views south along the Shrewsbury River past the Rumson-Sea Bright Bridge, north toward Sandy Hook Bay, and to the east, beach clubs, interspersed with peeks of the Atlantic Ocean.

Stunning eye-candy aside, PieHole finds another reason to appreciate this back-from-the dead Sandy survivor.
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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? SUSHI DELIGHTS

072616sakura3A specialty at Sakura Sushi is the Floating Island appetizer. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

WFL what's for lunch?In what might be the tiniest sushi bar on the Greater Red Bank Green, PieHole finds a lively, amusing, and loyal customer base.

And at Sakura Sushi, located in in the Acme shopping center on Newman Springs Road in Lincroft, it’s easy to strike up conversation with fellow diners, with just four sushi bar seats and four small tables occupying the diminutive space.
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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? TACOS ON THE RIVER

071216beachwalk3On a clear day, views from the deck of  BeachWalk Tiki Bar include the Highlands-Sea Bright bridge.  (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

WFL what's for lunch?A neighbor’s recommendation sent PieHole in search of a well-hidden oasis in Sea Bright.

“You have to try the crabby patty and crabby fries,” Fair Haven native Jeanettje McManus insisted, and the views are spectacular.

You wouldn’t know it looking at the place from Ocean Avenue: you see a modernized motel and parking lot. But tucked behind the BeachWalk Motel is an eatery dubbed the Tiki Bar. And what you get here are jaw-dropping views of both the Navesink and Shrewsbury rivers that can go on for miles.
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