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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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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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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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? ALL THE WAY ON A BAGEL

102016bageloven3An everything bagel with the works at Bagel Oven.  (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

WFL what's for lunch?Occasionally, lunchtime decisions can be complicated, especially in Red Bank, where there are so many options.

Keeping it simple after a morning of too many decisions, PieHole heads to Bagel Oven on Monmouth Street, where the menu is so limited that lunch becomes a no-brainer.

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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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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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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).

 

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? A RED LIGHT SANDWICH

072616redlight3The Big Tuna, one of only four sandwiches offered at Red Light Coffee and Espresso Bar. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

WFL what's for lunch? Seeking out a caffeine fix, PieHole stopped in at the Red Light Coffee and Espresso Bar in Lincroft’s Acme shopping center on Newman Springs Road.

On a strip that also houses Aleo’s Italian Specialties, this 10-month-old java joint is turning out more than the expected demitasse and cappuccino. The jewel-box-sized, ruby-walled 650-square-foot space is also serving up gourmet sandwiches.
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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? A BODEGA SPECIAL

071916linares5Chuleta de puerco en salsa pasilla, or pork chops in a spicy gravy with cactus, is a daily special at Linares Grocery and Restaurant. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

WFL what's for lunch?PieHole‘s endless quest for reasonably priced lunches hit the jackpot this week at Linares Grocery and Restaurant on Monmouth Street opposite the Red Bank train station.

Don’t let the market facade and absence of restaurant signage fool you. Selling fruits and vegetables, fresh meat from a butcher’s case, Mexican grocery staples and a mindboggling array of household items, Linares also offers a takeout menu filled with traditional Mexican food prepared in-house.

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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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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? A WHOLE MEZZE FLAVORS

070516bayroot5Appetizers, or “mezze,”from Bayroot include falafel, stuffed grape leaves, spinach pies, mouhammara, baba ghanouj and hummus.  (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

WFL what's for lunch?The sleepy little shopping center called Shrewsbury Village in the borough of Shrewsbury has seen a great deal of turnover lately. Rosina’s Ristorante, once an anchor there, is gone, as are the Cypress Café and the short-lived Doco Donuts.

“Looking for the right place at the right price,” Shrewsbury resident Maher Dougan says that he and his wife, Lara, took a leap of faith and decided to open Bayroot Lebanese Restaurant there a few months back.
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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? A HEADFUL OF ACAI

062816melonhead8A jam-packed Island Bowl from Melonhead in Sea Bright. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

WFL what's for lunch?Ravenous after a recent walk on the beach, PieHole headed to downtown Sea Bright in search of the newest kid on the block: Melonhead, whose menu basis is the acai (pronounced ah-SAH-ee) berry, a super fruit native to the Amazon.

How did partners and Monmouth County natives Nick Frangipane and Steve Barnett come to be acai acolytes on Ocean Avenue? Theirs is a story that begins on a surfing trip in Costa Rica and continues through Brazil, Puerto Rico and other stops on the planet.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? CREPES WITH A TWIST

062116whippedbites5A savory French crepe served at the charming Whipped Creperie & Dessert Bar.  (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

WFL what's for lunch?Americanized crepes? “Why not?” thought Nick Napoletano, who owns Whipped Creperie and Dessert Bar in Red Bank with Erica Lieberman.

Traditional French crepes are served sweet, with sugar, Nutella, jam or a creamy cheese filling. But Napoletano envisioned “an Americanized, savory version,” he tells PieHole. “I wanted to take familiar foods like turkey and cheese and create a more hearty filling on a whole-wheat crepe.”
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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? WINDWARD DELI, HO!

061416windward4A seasonal grilled chicken salad and a cup of Rhode Island clam chowder from the Windward Deli.  (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

061416windward2It’s easy to pass by the Windward Deli, set back alongside the railroad tracks at Drs. James Parker Boulevard and Maple Avenue in Red Bank. So PieHole is doing you a favor by telling you to stop in.

Plenty of parking in front of and behind the building makes it easy to swing by for not-your-usual take out deli grub. A small courtyard with inviting picnic tables surrounded by verdant shrubbery offers an additional reason to grab lunch and eat al fresco.

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