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MIDDLETOWN: A RETRO CHINESE NEW YEAR

020216houseofchong6Shrimp lo mein, left, and shrimp in garlic sauce at House of  Chong. Edward Chong, below.  (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

020216houseofchong1Chinese new year begins Monday, and diners with a yen for a little time travel along with well-made Asian cuisine might set their GPS for House of Chong in Middletown.

The restaurant, located in the Union Square Mall, has been serving Cantonese and Szechuan-style Chinese delicacies since 1976, owner Edward Chong tells us. His parents first opened House of Chong in Brick in 1969, and though that restaurant is now closed, the Middletown eatery remains a family affair — and something of throwback.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? A SMOOTHIE IN A BOWL

020316freshica4The Acai PB&J bowl from Freshica’s Juice Bar, owned by Jessica Dalmedo, below. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

020316freshica3It might seem counter-intuitive to put a juice bar in the same building as a luncheonette known for its porkroll, egg, and cheese sandwiches, but Jessica Dalmedo, owner of Freshica’s Juice Bar says it works.

Sharing space with Fairwinds Deli on River Road in Fair Haven for almost four years, Freshica’s counter takes up a portion of the dining area. At lunchtime, you’re likely to see a construction worker downing a sub as you are a gray-flannel suit or someone coming from the gym. Less expected: the number of children from the preschool next door taking sippy-cup-sized swigs of kale- and spinach-infused juices.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? A SUB WITH A SIDE OF JOY

012716butlers6The honey maple turkey sandwich on a roll from Butlers. Below, owner Paul Stout. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

012716butlersmkt1It doesn’t matter if your mood is not so bright when you walk through the doors of Butler’s Market in Rumson. Owner Paul Stout has a warm and friendly smile to greet you and make you feel better.

Reopened last June after two-plus years of unsatisfying retirement for its proprietor, the deli’s food is in some ways as good as it used to be, and in many ways, much better.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? A SUMPTUOUS SOUP

011615kanji1Seafood soup served in a rustic bowl at Kanji. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

011616kanji3Shades of gray and black dominate the tables, slate flooring and walls of Kanji Steakhouse and Sushi Bar, a Japanese restaurant in the Tinton Falls strip mall that was once anchored by an A&P and is now an Acme at the intersection of Shrewsbury Avenue and Route 35.

In this cave-like setting, the well-lit sushi bar takes center stage. Maybe this was a tactical design, because we went in thinking of soup but wound up ordering sushi.

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RED BANK: FROM THE SOUTH TO YOUR MOUTH

011516charlestonshop3Clare Destoppelaire, manager of the Charleston Shops in Red Bank, shows off some of the Low Country food she sells.  (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

011516charlestonstonshop4Filling in the space on Monmouth Street recently vacated by Toad Hollow is Red Bank’s newest purveyor of epicurean delights: the Charleston Shops. And it’s got a Southern accent.

Owners Isa and Peter Hewitt, a couple who live in north Jersey, love visiting the coastal Low Country area of South Carolina, where they have a home. So much so that they now have three Charleston Shops in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, betting that other northerners will enjoy what Charleston has to offer as well.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? SOBA SALAD IN THE GROVE

010916d'jeet1A pretty, noodle-based salad from the jam-packed D’jeet in The Grove.  (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

010916d'jeet6The apres-holiday crowd at the Grove in Shrewsbury must have been putting their gift cards to use, because the parking lot was crazy-busy.

It’s nice to treat yourself to a relaxing, sit-down lunch every now and then, especially on the weekend. And apparently, many other people in the area had the same idea shortly after New Year’s, because D’jeet was packed with diners fueling up for an afternoon of serious shopping.

Our hostess handed us a buzzer and suggested we do a little shopping while we wait for the next available table.

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RED BANK: MR. PIZZA SLICE TO KEEP RECIPE

010916pizzaslice1Nick Napoletano shows one of the windows discovered beneath the paneling at Mr. Pizza Slice. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

HOT-TOPIC_03After getting pounded flat and spun in the air by commenters, the new owners of Mr. Pizza Slice in Red Bank have reversed course and decided to keep the old pizza recipe on the menu.

As the cheesy paneling came down inside the Monmouth Street slice-and-soda joint earlier this week, new co-owner Nick Napoletano told PieHole that longtime owner Steve Napolitani‘s pizza recipe would be preserved, along with his “signature” fries and hot dogs.

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SEA BRIGHT: HARRY’S LOBSTER CLOSING

082715harrys1082715harrys6After 82 years in business, Harry’s Lobster House in Sea Bright is closing Sunday, when owner/chef Lou Jacoubs and longtime manager Lynne Perry-Szwede will host a goodbye party.

Jacoubs declined immediate comment, except to say that he expects to lease the Ocean Avenue space to another restaurant under a new name. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

 

WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? WHITEFISH ON BIG BAGEL

121715bagestation4A sesame-seed bagel teeming with whitefish salad, lettuce and tomato from the Bagel Station, seen below. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

121715bagelstation2Red Bank has seen its fair share of restaurants come and go over the years. Loyal customers wax poetic about eateries long gone.

Bagel Station on Monmouth Street, across from the train station, has managed to keep its doors open for 28 years now. Rolling with the times, the breakfast and lunch spot is as relevant as any of the newcomers to town, and more affordable than many.

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NEW YEARS EVE: BARTENDERS HAVE YOUR BACK

110815ryanat the belmonteRyan Matthews, bartender at the Belmonte, has a non-alcoholic cocktail for you. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

morsels mediumSo, what’s the plan for New Years Eve? Will be ringing in 2016 at one or more bars and restaurants on the Greater Red Bank Green?

Your local bartender has some advice on how to stay safe while having an enjoyable celebration. It starts with a plan — and, possibly, a designated driver.

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LINCROFT: ALEO’S MOVEABLE FEAST

121215aleo3The helpful employees at Aleo Italian Specialties get customer orders out quickly. Below, some of the many gourmet takeout options.  (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

121215aleo4Stepping into Aleo Italian Specialties in the Acme shopping center on Newman Springs Road in Lincroft, PieHole was immediately hit with a feeling of deja vu.

The aroma of cheese and garlic surrounds you, calling to mind Arthur Avenue, the famous Little Italy shopping area in the Bronx. Then there’s the sight of food — everywhere. Hanging salami and cheese; shelves filled with rustic fresh breads from Brooklyn; imported dry pasta; and deli counters teeming with house-made delicacies. Your mouth waters and you forget what you came in for.

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ON THE GREEN: HOLIDAY WARMTH BY THE CUP

121715booskerdoo2Coffee beans in a Seinfeld-themed Festivus variety can be found at Booskerdoo. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

PIEHOLE-GIFT_MEDStill searching for the just-right Christmas gift? How about something that’s as quick a grab as a coffee-to-go for the coffee or tea drinker on your list?

Iconoclastic caffeine lovers might appreciate a jar of Festivus, a Columbian blend of coffee beans from Booskerdoo on River Road in Fair Haven ($12 for 12 ounces).

Named for the Seinfeld holiday parody, it’s both useful and whimsical. Pair it with a single-serve porcelain drip cone to make the gift extra special.

We’ve got suggestions for tea and cocoa lovers, too, just around the read more corner. Read More »

WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? CHICKEN FROM PAT’S

121215patsmkt2A  festive holiday display of stuffed breads at Pat’s Market, above, and the chicken parm, below. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

121215patsmkt3 Pat’s Market, a butcher shop and deli on Newman Springs Road in Lincroft, sells only Bell and Evans chickens.

Because they’re raised organically, and antibiotic-free, on farms in Pennsylvania, that was all the bait PieHole needed for a quick and, maybe, healthier lunch option.

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RED BANK: 10TH AVE. BARMAN SMOKES ‘EM

dudley delhagen 080515 2Dudley Delhagen, bar manager at 10th Ave. Burrito Company in Red Bank, was named the winner of a national contest to come up with a new cocktail using DeKuyper’s-brand cordials Monday.

Launched in September, the contest invited bartenders across America to craft a signature cocktail; fans were then asked to vote for their favorite creation online. Delhagen’s employed the company’s JDK & Son Fleur Elderflower Liqueur. A press release announcing Delhagen as DeKuyper’s first-ever “cocktail master” described his concoction as “the perfect balance of sweet and smoky.”

The recipe for Delhagen’s creation, called the Smoked Blossom, is below. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? OLD-SCHOOL SPOT-HITTER

120915thespot1The grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup combo at The Spot, seen below with a window looking out on Broad Street. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

120915thespot4Those who seek simplicity in all things are going to love The Spot in Red Bank.

Rustic brick walls and industrial-modern decor beckon in the Broad Street space that’s been home in recent succession to  Zebu Forno, Boardwalk Burgers and, most recently Mac Attack. But trendiness in decor doesn’t mean the menu follows suit. Dining options here are strictly old-school.

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