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.
090316gaetanos5 A veggie omelet filled with fresh vegetables and served with whole grain toast and potatoes. Below, a recently installed beverage station with a La Marzocco espresso machine. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

090316gaetanos1That’s right: daily brunch.

“I wanted to bring daytime traffic to the place,” Andrianos tells PieHole. “I’m a diner guy. Brunch is in my blood.”

“We still do pre-sets for larger parties, but now we have the choice of an 11 a.m. brunch in addition to the lunch and dinner parties,”  he said.

Brunch is on the menu seven days a week, with a variety of three-egg omelets, gourmet grilled cheese options, pancakes and french toast.

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A fluffy, veggie omelet (8.95) we ordered came loaded with fresh spinach, broccoli, mushrooms, bits of tomato and stringy melted mozzarella cheese. Big chunks of roasted potatoes took the place of home fries or hash browns. Multi-grain toast rounded out the meal.

An order of french toast ($6.25) with the requested addition of fresh berries ($2.50 each) was a sight to behold. Thick slices of brioche bread were dipped in an egg mixture, then grilled to a precise finish. Creamy inside and lightly crisped outside, the toast was embellished with house-made whipped cream that melted among the berries, forming its own sauce and rendering the side dish of maple syrup unnecessary.

Another addition to the menu is the Gaetano’s burger, a half-pound mixture of ground chuck and brisket topped with applewood-smoked bacon and provolone cheese.

Brick oven pizzas are still available, as is the fresh made-in-house pasta that Gaetano’s supplies to local markets. And the classic Italian recipes that originally put the restaurant on the map are still offered. Beloved dinner options such as rigatoni bolognese, penne ala vodka, and lamb osso buco will continue to be staples here, Andrianos said.

But the emphasis will be on lighter fare.  Looking to a younger demographic, Andrianos is adding a healthier, hipper vibe to the restaurant, starting with an all new beverage station.

A state-of-the-art La Marzocco espresso machine is front and center. Specialties such as espresso, cappuccino, shakes and smoothies made with yogurt and fresh fruit give the place a less formal, more relaxed café feel.

“I want to get away from the heavier, carb-centric foods. Fresh ingredients such as kale, avocados, and berries are now being used in our recipes,” Andrianos said, “I literally just came from a farm in Colts Neck. Farm-to-table is what we’re doing now.”

Andrianos says that he has plans to cut the wall dividing the two sides to the restaurant to a half wall, as soon as he gets his approvals from the town.

Gaetano’s serves brunch and lunch seven days a week from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. 

SUSAN-ERICSON