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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? CHINA MOON SHINES

051616chinamoon3From the lunch special menu: beef with black bean sauce. The artwork, below, is by the delivery guy. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

051616chinamoon5If it’s not already on your radar, you might never notice China Moon, squished into a corner of a Red Bank strip mall between the Windmill hot dog stand and Crate’s Beverages.

But PieHole is putting the North Bridge Avenue eatery front and center, because when it comes to lunch, China Moon offers an affordable, extensive menu — and the food is delicious.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? BODEGA TACOS

051616towncountry2Bistek tacos chosen from the “Spanish” lunch menu at Town and Country Deli, a convenience store selling more than food, seen below. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

051616towncountrypatelInternational cuisine has become ubiquitous in Red Bank, adding to a plentitude of lunch options. But there are still some gems hidden away, and so when PieHole readers tell us about flavors unknown, we listen.

That’s how we wound up at Town and Country Deli in Red Bank.

Tucked away next to a laundromat in a Shrewsbury Avenue strip mall at the corner of Bank Street, this place is more bodega or convenience store than delicatessen, but looks can be deceiving.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? CREATIVE BAGELRY

051016hotbagel7A bacon cheeseburger deluxe on an everything bagel, above, and a chocolate chip bagel with a schmear of Nutella cream cheese, below, at Hot Bagels Brooklyn’s Finest.  (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

051016hotbagels1James Beard, “the dean of American cookery” according to the New York Times, once said that “too few people understand a really good sandwich.”

Nikos Zaires and Mike Gambale, owners of Hot Bagels Brooklyn’s Finest in Red Bank, understand, and they’re turning that humble sandwich into a higher art, making creative use of quality ingredients layered on fresh baked bagels and other bread varieties in their month-old deli.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? MR. PIZZA’S SLICE & DOG

050416mrpizza7An original-recipe pie fresh from the oven. Carlos Rosas tosses dough for a pizza, below. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

050416mrpizza10Self-styled devotees of Mr. Pizza Slice raised quite an uproar when redbankgreen reported the Red Bank stalwart was under new ownership and — heaven forbid — would be updating both the decor and menu.

The beloved Monmouth Street hole-in-the-wall on has now been refurbished with, among other touches, exposed brick walls that replace cheap paneling, giving the room a cozier feel than the laundromat vibe of its predecessor.

More importantly, new owners Nick Napoletano and Tom Cappello had a fantastic idea when they decided to keep a favorite menu item while bringing in plenty of new ones, including impressive sandwiches and gourmet, New York-style pies.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? GLOBAL CONCEPTS

042616globaleatery5Global Eatery’s mix-and-match international choices include Mexican enchiladas, Korean beef in a cabbage wrap and Italian meatballs. Below, a customer fixes a salad to go.  (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

042616globaleatery4With a focus on office workers and schoolkids in downtown Red Bank, Mark Arabadjis has gone global.

Araabadjis closed the Sicilia Café on Broad Street late last year, less than six months after he bought it, and has now opened Global Eatery in its place.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? BELLYING UP AT SURF BBQ

041616surfbbqsandwichesAbove, a smoked-brisket sandwich, left, and a pulled pork sandwich. Below, smoked maraschino cherries at the bar. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

041616surfbbqcherriesPieHole had been itching to try Surf BBQ in Rumson for lunch, but the newly opened East River Road restaurant and bar hasn’t yet expanded its hours and is only serving lunch on weekends.

Last Saturday, we finally made it there, and found the place not too busy at mid-afternoon, with no wait at the counter and plenty of available seating at the bar and picnic tables. Maybe everyone was attending their kids’ T-Ball games or working on landscaping, but we think we’ve found a sweet-spot in this smokin’ hot restaurant’s schedule.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? A SALAD FROM DEAN’S

041316deansmkt1Dean’s Market grab n’ go harvest salad with a cheerful raspberry vinaigrette. Jenna Rae Alexy, manager, seen below, has lost 100 pounds while working at the store… just saying. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

041316deansmkt4Popping into Dean’s Natural Food Market on Broad Street in Shrewsbury, PieHole finds the place swamped with hungry customers and a young but experienced staff hustling to fill juice orders and answer questions.

Attentive to her customers as well as the surfer-dude-healthy guys working the juice counter, manager Jenna Rae Alexy seems to know many of her customers by name. She also knows what they will order.  Read More »

WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? ITALIAN BRILLIANCE

040516lapastaria3Pumpkin-filled ravioli is one of the lunchtime specials at La Pastaria, seen below.  (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

040516pastariainteriorGo to Red Bank’s La Pastaria on Linden Place in the evening, and you’ll probably be waiting a while, even if you have a reservation.

As a humanitarian gesture, PieHole feeds you this little pearl of wisdom: hit this restaurant for lunch. The afternoon is a more laid-back affair, with attentive service and a menu full of familiar Italian fare that includes some enticing daily specials.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? SIAM GARDEN PHAD THAI

032916siamgdn5The phad Thai lunch special at Siam Garden, seen below. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

032915siamgdn1With the Thai New Year celebration (Songkran) just around the corner on April 13, PieHole thought it was a good time to visit Siam Garden. Located in the Galleria at West Front Street and Bridge Avenue in Red Bank, the restaurant has been serving traditional Thai dishes for 16 years.

Framed by architecture that includes concrete ceilings and pillars, vestiges of the building’s original incarnation as a turn-of-the-century uniform factory, the space is decorated with artifacts imbuing a peaceful Asian ambience. Light streaming in from surrounding windows, silken textiles and wooden tables and chairs bring warmth to what would otherwise be a cold interior.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? A TASTE OF NEW ENGLAND

032216navesinkfishery5A fried shrimp platter with coleslaw and crispy french fries. The corn chowder, below, was filled with bits of crab. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

032216navesinkfishery1Casting its net a bit beyond the usual limits of the Greater Red Bank Green, PieHole finds lots of fresh fish choices at the Navesink Fishery in Navesink.

With 40-plus years of fishmongering and cooking, 20 of which have been spent at this restaurant, owner Ruddy Field is serious about bringing his customers simple cuisine from briny depths and fresh water lakes. Landlubbers need not apply.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? HEALTHY, EARTHY PIZZA

031516earthpizza2The vegan, one of the many selections on the menu at Earth Pizza, below. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

031615earthpizza1When Paul and Lisa Finkler opened a Pizza Fusion franchise in Red Bank in 2010, they may not have foreseen the niche their restaurant would fill. But the Broad Street restaurant was an immediate draw, and soon customers were asking for more gluten-free and vegan dishes.

Three years ago, tired of the parent company’s rules on menu changes, the Finklers bought out their contract, redubbed the restaurant Earth Pizza and did as asked.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? A SALVADORAN FEAST

030816fredyjeremy2Pollo Azado  with casamiento at Fredy Jeremy’s, seen below. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

030816fredyjeremyTucked into a nondescript, partly vacant strip mall next door to a car wash on Newman Springs Road in Red Bank, Fredy Jeremy’s is a delightful surprise.

Retaining the pizza and subs offered by the previous tenant, Red Bank resident Fredy Menjivar livens up his six-month-old restaurant with his scrumptious take on traditional  Salvadoran fare.

With plenty of Mexican food options in Red Bank, “there was no place to get Salvadoran food,” says the longtime former deli worker, who yearned to showcase the tastes and flavors of his culture.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? TASTES OF IRELAND

030216dublinhouse2Bangers and mash, one of the Irish menu options at the Dublin House. The dining room dedicated to T.J. McMahon, seen below. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

030216dublinhouse4A midweek lunch meeting at the Dublin House Pub on Monmouth Street in Red Bank presented PieHole with an all-but-empty first-floor dining room — but lots of company in the form of Irish ghosts.

Bits of local and Gaelic history prevail in the renovated 19th-century Victorian house-turned-pub. The T.J. McMahon dining room exudes literary warmth, in the form of antiqued headshots of Yeats, Shaw and more on its brick-red papered walls, as well as  literal warmth from a mantled fireplace.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? GRAB ‘N GO VARIETY

022416foodtownwfl1While another customer ladled hot soup into a container, below, PieHole opted for a rainbow roll all packed up and ready to go at SuperFoodtown. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

022416foodtownwfl2You need a cheap lunch, and time is limited. For many residents and worker bees on the Greater Green, Red Bank’s Foodtown supermarket is a veritable oasis of grab n’ go options.

Open since 1977, the store, at Broad Street and Maple Avenue, added a new-to-the-area salad bar as part of a renovation in 1996. Several other quick-lunch features have been added over the years, expanding the range of choices.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? MEDITERRANEAN FUSION

021716greekamole1A Mediterranean chicken salad platter from Greekamolé, which is owned by Jimmy Elenis, below. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

021716greekamoleElenisThree months after the debut of Greek Eats, a fast-food restaurant modeled on Chipotle Mexican Grill, Shrewsbury has a second entry in the market for quick Greek eats.

But the latest addition, Greekamolé at 1130 Broad Street, takes a broader international view, commingling Greek, Moroccan, Israeli and Latino flavors.

“I wanted to do something that wasn’t done,” owner Dimitrios ‘Jimmy’ Elenis tells PieHole. “I wanted to do greens and grains. That’s what you find people eating in the Mediterranean countries.”

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