trattoria 1One of our favorite plates of green around the Green: the chicken, broccoli and caramelized walnut salad at Front St. Trattoria. (Photo by Jim Willis. Click to enlarge)


morsels mediumIt takes more than a wedge of iceberg lettuce and some ranch dressing to get PieHole excited about a salad.

Sure, anyone can pile on a few slices of grilled rib-eye to make a salad that’s worth eating. But that’s taking the easy way out.

Around the Green, we’ve had a couple of memorable salads that didn’t need to bring steak into the equation. The winter root vegetable salad that we once had at Dish Restaurant in Red Bank stands out because it’s a plate full of vegetables that you don’t often come across – paper thin celeriac and shaved fennel, anyone? – paired with a great citrus dressing.

The other is the excellent chicken, broccoli and caramelized walnut salad from Red Bank’s Front St. Trattoria.

trattoria 2The “Val’s Favorite” pizza of eggplant and ricotta. (Photo by Jim Willis. Click to enlarge)

When Mrs. PieHole called to say she would be available for a late lunch, we took the opportunity to check out the $8.95 lunch special at Trattoria. For just north of ten bucks, with tip, you can pick a pair from the menu of soups, salads, pizzas or focaccia sandwiches and a beverage.

Our waitress told us the day’s soup selection were lentil, lima bean or chicken chowder.  The chicken chowder seemed like a safe bet and turned out to be a solid pick:  filling, tasty, and a good precursor to the chicken, broccoli and walnut salad.

Mrs. PieHole got a tossed salad to accompany her usual pizza order: the Val’s Favorite with eggplant and ricotta, named for Valerie Aufiero, who owns the restaurant with her husband, Michael Aufiero.

A great (and cheap) lunch date.