By JOHN T. WARD
The restaurantization of downtown Red Bank continues.
Mac Attack Cheesery, a five-month-old Montclair eatery specializing in “gourmet” grilled cheese sandwiches and macacroni-and-cheese entrees, plans to open a second store, on Red Bank’s Broad Street, a partner tells redbankgreen‘s Retail Churn.
Even amid closures of the high-profile Blue Water Seafood and Biagio’s just doors away, the northernmost blocks of Broad Street continue to be magnets for restaurateurs.
Just this week, Tim McLoone signed to take over the space and liquor license of the long-foundering and now-gone Murphy Style Grille at 26 Broad.
All that activity appeals to Mac Attack’s partners, said 23-year-old executive chef Abe Elkomey, who owns the business with his brother, Hasan, and a friend, John Castiglione.
“I like the fact that it’s turning into a restaurant row,” said Elkomey. “Even in Montclair, we have a new gelato place opening next door. Whatever marketing [the owner] does is going to attract people to the street.”
Elkomey’s menu offers “gourmet meets fast-food” cheese-based dishes, ranging from a “traditional” three-cheese grilled cheese sandwich for $5.50 to a lobster mac ‘n cheese entree featuring manchego and parmesan for $16.50.
Though the restaurant will retain the tablecloth-free atmosphere and furniture of Boardwalk Burgers, Mac Attack isn’t exactly fast food, said Elkomey.
“A lot of people think of us as fast food. I don’t,” said Elkomey. “I’m bringing gourmet dining to fast service.” Waits for orders are typically five to ten minutes, he said, and as for quality, “even the grilled cheese sandwich is to the extreme.”
Prepared on French bread with a garlic aioli, the sandwich features cheddar, parmesan and American cheeses, “and it’s massive, too,” said Elkomey. “It’s a meal.”
“I come from fine dining,” Elkomey tells Churn. At 19, he said, he was the executive sous chef at the Bayonne Golf Club, in his hometown, and has since done stints in the kitchens of some of Jersey City’s top bistros.
He said the restaurant will be open by Memorial Day.
By the way, Mayor Pasquale Menna vehemently disputes the allegation by Local Smoke BBQ owner Steve Raab that borough officials could not offer him clear guidance on how long it would take to get his permits and inspections.