RED BANK: SAN REMO CLOSES IN ON MOVE

The transformation of the former Little Kraut restaurant has been underway for three years. Chef and ower Giovanni Boudour, below, in his new kitchen. (Photo by Robert Kern. Click to enlarge)

By ROBERT KERN

After nearly three years of planning and construction, Abdellah “Giovanni” Boudour says he looks forward to swapping a hard hat for his chef’s toque when San Remo restaurant finally opens next month in Red Bank.

Since buying the building at the corner of Oakland Street and Bridge Avenue in 2010, Boudour has split his time between overseeing the renovations and running the kitchen at the San Remo’s current location, on Newman Springs Road in Shrewsbury.

During that time he dealt with zoning processes and building permits to renovate the site from what was the Oakbridge Tavern – and, for decades before that, the Little Kraut – into his dream of a casual restaurant offering “fine dining at decent prices.”

Boudour tells redbankgreen he was not expecting to do such an extensive renovation. But turning the upstairs residence, where former owner Dieter Bornemann lived, into a banquet room required far more changes than he planned at first.

Plus, to give the building the Italianate feel he wanted meant extensive changes to the entryways and the first floor.
The latest delay, though, was Superstorm Sandy.

“My workers were called to other jobs, emergency jobs,” Boudour explained. “It was understandable, but it set the opening back again.”

Now, though, with inspections done, Boudour sees the end in site for a “big splash” of a grand opening on July 3.

“If the work is finished before that, I will open,” he said, “but July 3 will be really special.”

Boudour, who trained in kitchens in France and Italy before coming to the United States, will continue to offer the same style of food that he called “Mediterranean, but creative, not traditional.” He explained that the menu depends on what he finds fresh that day.

“All meals are made fresh to order,” he said. “What’s on the menu can depend on what’s in the market and purchased that day.”

Or something new that comes across his prep table, like a jalapeño gelato. It’s too strong for a dessert, according to Boudour, but it could work in an arugula salad with some fresh fruit.

Boudour said his clientele have come to expect that kind of creativity and variety, and they can expect it to continue when “I welcome them to my new home.”

With the Italianate décor and exterior, Mediterranean cuisine and creative menu choices, Boudour said it will be like experiencing a restaurant like Rome or Venice in Red Bank.

“All that’s missing is the canal,” he said.