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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? WAWA’D YA THINK?

110516wawa5Wawa’s Italian hoagie. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

Long before a video espousing a similar message (albeit with coarser language) went viral this week,
several PieHole fans strongly urged us to include Wawa in our eternal quest for superior subs.

One eyebrow raised in deep skepticism, we decided to bite, and paid a visit to the ubiquitous convenience chain’s store on Bridge Avenue in Red Bank.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? A SUPER SUB AT ELSIE’S

The #15 Italian sub from the 58-year-old Elsie’s Sub Shop in Red Bank.  (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

On a visit to Elsie’s Sub Shop in Red Bank back in September, PieHole met Michael Mullins, a retiree from Middletown now living in Arizona. Whenever he returns to his Monmouth County roots, he told us, he makes a point of stopping at Elsie’s.

“In 1959, I’d take the bus down to the Carlton Theater [now the Count Basie Theatre] from Middletown. Back then the bus was ten cents,” he said. “Before I caught the bus to go home, I’d stop at Elsie’s for a number five,” or a turkey-and-cranberry-sauce sub.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? PAZZO SANDWICHES

Grilled chicken pesto panini, served with a side salad. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

Keeping track of how many years it’s been in Red Bank is easy at Pazzo MMX. Architecturally defined by its red brick facade and bound between an office building and a parking garage on West Front Street, the start date is in the name, which translates from Italian to “crazy 2010.”

PieHole stopped in at lunchtime this week to find a bustling dining room and the aroma of garlic wafting from the open kitchen, where you can keep an eye on every dish delivered.
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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? A BITE AT BUBBAKOO’S

Customize your meal by mixing and matching ingredients in a bowl, burrito or taco at Bubbakoo’s Burritos. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

For this week’s What’s For Lunch, PieHole takes a a lighthearted romp through a menu of fun ingredients at the new Bubbakoo’s Burritos on Ocean Avenue in Sea Bright.

Taking some of the best features from other fast food joints on the Greater Red Bank Green — such as the ordering system at Jersey Mike’s Subs, where you watch as your plate gets prepared conveyer-belt fashion— and Surf Taco, where light menu options offset the heavier ones, Bubbakoo’s creates quick meals prepared from fresh, made-in-house ingredients.
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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? HOWLING GOOD PIZZA

012417lupo1A “Grandma” pie fresh from the oven at Lupo Pizzeria. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

WFL what's for lunch?A sign cut out in the shape of howling wolf hangs at the corner of the building that’s home to the brand-new Lupo Pizzeria in Fair Haven, named in honor of a great-grandmother whose last name means “wolf” in Italian.

So of course, feeling a bit like Red Riding Hood, PieHole had to try the “Grandma” pie.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? A BELLYFUL OF SHAPIRO’S

011717shapiros1Pastrami on seeded rye with a side of coleslaw and a traditional pickle bowl at Shapiro’s New York Style Delicatessen. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

WFL what's for lunch?In a carnivorous mood, PieHole headed over to the newly opened Shapiro’s New York Style Delicatessen in Red Bank, where we found plenty of Jewish-style sandwiches to choose from.

Corned beef and chicken noodle soup are staples at most of the delis on the Greater Red Bank Green, so what sets this place apart from the others? For a transplanted New Yorker, it’s the nostalgic Yiddish menu choices, such as blintzes (sweet stuffed crepes), latkes (potato pancakes), tongue (braised cow tongue) and kishke (stuffed derma), that we haven’t seen or tasted in years.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? LINGERING AT ANJELICA’S

011017anjelicas4Baked eggplant parmigiano served with casarecce arrabbiata at Anjelica’s Restaurant. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

WFL what's for lunch?Whatever the season, reservations may be needed to secure a dinner table at the family-owned Anjelica’s Restaurant on Ocean Avenue in Sea Bright.

But in the off-season, the Ocean Avenue restaurant serves lunch, too, and on a recent visit, PieHole found it a delightfully relaxing spot to saunter into and while away part of an afternoon.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? DRINKING TO OUR HEALTH

010417freshicasrb6An eye-catching peppermint-and-spinach-based Grinch Bowl topped with granola at Freshica’s. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

WFL what's for lunch?It’s the first week of a new year, which means PieHole is trying to stick to its annual get-fit resolutions. So we headed over to Freshica’s in the Red Bank’s West Side Lofts building on West Front Street for a convenient, quick, and healthy lunch.

Open just six months, Jessica Dalmedo’s second store is already busier at lunchtime than her original spot inside Fairwinds Deli in Fair Haven, opened more than four years ago, she tells us. She and her experienced employee, Lee Ann Caporicci, patiently explained the benefits of some of the new-to-us ingredients in their recipes.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? BEST OF 2016

091316redrock3Duck confit tater tots from Red Rock Tap + Grill. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

WFL what's for lunch?Soul-satisfying soups, beefy burgers, crusty pizzas…

From a year’s worth of lunches good, bad and inedible, PieHole‘s What’s For Lunch? feature picks the Top 10 of 2016.

Click to restaurant names to see complete individual reviews.
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CRAVINGS: CELEBRATORY PROFITEROLES

110116o-bistro-profiterole-2An iconic French dessert, a profiterole at O Bistro is what we crave. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

piehole_cravingsRinging in 2017 in Paris with a view of the Eiffel Tower sounds romantic, if not so practical.

But Francophiles on the Greater  Green can hoist a glass of (BYOB) Champagne at O Bistro Francaise in Red Bank while dipping a spoon into the best chocolate sauce in New Jersey.
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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? GOOD GRAVY AND FRIES

121916taylorsams5The Prime “samwich” of sliced Angus beef, with fries and a memorable gravy, at Taylor Sam’s. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

WFL what's for lunch?When a reader tells us about a new favorite eatery in Red Bank, PieHole pays attention. And at a recent party, an enthusiastic fan suggested that we hustle over to the two-week-old Taylor Sam’s at 20 Broad Street. So we did.

The interior looks little changed from that of its predecessors at the address, The Spot and Mac Attack Cheesery, but the menu at the newest addition to the downtown restaurant scene is distinctive, owner Scott Spivak tells us.

“Everything is 100-percent from scratch,” he said. The dishes we tried lead to instant fandom as well.
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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? SALADS AND PIZZA

120616urbancoal4Personal-size pizzas from the oven at Urban Coalhouse in the Galleria. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

WFL what's for lunch?PieHole stopped in for lunch last week at Urban Coalhouse Pizza and Bar, the former Tommy’s Coal-Fired Pizza in the Galleria of Red Bank, one of four restaurants that owners Andrew Cameron, Chris and Matt Lombardi and Mike Centaro have up and running around New Jersey.

We were happy to find few if any changes to what we enjoyed about Tommy’s, including the fact that the menu still centers around an enormous, coal-fired, 900-degree oven used to producing the signature pizzas and wings.
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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? AN ORCA OF A BURRITO

120516queso7Queso Grill’s steak burrito: you’ll need a fork and knife to eat this “wet” behemoth.  (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

WFL what's for lunch?On Newman Springs Road in Lincroft, fast-food joints Luigi’s Famous Pizza, Stamna Taverna and Subway share a parking lot. It’s a bit like a food court, but in a strip mall.

A south-of-the-border lunch hankering nudged PieHole through the door of another of the center’s tenants: Queso Grill, where we were stopped short by the number of decisions that would need to be made before we could order lunch.
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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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