By DUSTIN RACIOPPI
Looks like a new restaurant is coming to Red Bank. And, no, it’s not a pizza place.
Still, by this time next year, foodies should be able to add My Italian Kitchen to the list of Italian joints saturating Red Bank.
To members of the planning board, which gladly approved the restaurant’s application Monday night, the transformation of one of the most prominent pieces of real estate in town at its southern gateway, at the corner of Broad Street and Maple Avenue is a positive move.
The restaurant will break a long chain of car-oriented venues at the location, which over the decades have included filling stations, a high-end used-car dealer and a scooter seller. A Cash For Gold business is essentially keeping the spot warm, representatives of the developer say.
“It’s been a problematic site, even since I was a kid. It’s always been affiliated with some sort of vehicle or another,” said Mayor Pasquale Menna, adding that a new direction at the corner should be something taken seriously. “It would set a new visage for the town and the entrance.”
One of the conditions of the board’s approval is the installation of a “Welcome To Red Bank” sign at the southern corner of the property where there’s now a patch of dying grass.
Other than that, not much is going to change at 368 Broad St.
In what are now garage bays will be a small dining room to accommodate about ten tables. The bay doors are staying, a la Jamian’s Food and Drink. Project architect Michael Monroe said the only other noticeable changes to the exterior will be charcoal-gray awnings over the remaining windows.
Everything else will involve outfitting the inside for a morning-’til-night specialty stop.
The prospective operator of My Italian Kitchen, Victor Battista, said the restaurant will offer a variety of Italian foods, many pre-made for people on the run. In the morning there’ll be coffee and bakery items, and from lunch until close customers can either sit down to eat, grab something to go or bring home an oven-ready dinner option.
The property will have nine parking spaces, though 13 are required. The board granted a variance for the difference and required a contribution to the borough parking fund. Under ordinance, deficiencies cost $2,500 per space.
Monroe said the targeted opening is set for spring 2011. The business is owned by
BROMDP BROMAP LLC, whose principals are Battista, Danny Lazzara, Ron Mas and Vincent Sciortino, according to a filing with the borough.
In more restaurant-related business, Zebu Forno got the board’s OK to expand in Red Bank.
Saying the coffee chain is an asset to the borough, Menna and the board quickly approved owner Andrew Gennusa‘s request for a parking variance to add about 600 square-feet to its existing Broad Street space by expanding into adjoining space to the rear of the restaurant.
Gennusa said the space, formerly occupied by Red Bank Red Hot magazine, has been dormant since publisher Claudia Ansorge pulled up stakes to a new home base on the opposite side of English Plaza. Gennusa will also have to pay into the borough’s parking fund for three spots.
With the addition of tables and chairs to the space, it’ll essentially be an extension of Zebu’s current lounge atmosphere, Menna said.
Menna pushed along the application, saying that Zebu is a place that everyone is familiar with and it’s “what makes Red Bank special.”