By SUSAN ERICSON
A deja vu feeling came over us as we checked out the new Fresh Bowl, on Broad Street in downtown Red Bank. It resembles its predecessor, Salad Works, in layout, but owner Giuseppe Amato, has made some interesting and tasty additions to what was an all-salad menu.
A Wednesday special of two pasta bowls for the price of one caught our eye. A bargain such as this is hard to pass up: we can always bring home the leftovers for dinner.
Paninis — Italian for “sandwiches” — pasta bowls, warm bowls (grain and veggie combinations) and wraps populate the menu, in addition to nine salad choices. An option to custom-craft a salad seems to be a popular choice.
For our pasta bowl order, customers select either whole wheat, gluten-free or regular pasta for the base. We went with the Genoa pesto over whole wheat pasta, and were rewarded with a bowlful of basil-flecked rotini. Slivers of tangy sun-dried tomato added pep to the dish, while tender roasted chicken strips delivered flavor and protein. At $8.99, it’s a big portion and a bargain.
Our second pasta selection, of primavera ($8.99), made with “regular” or semolina flour pasta, was also rotini-style, featuring the same salad fixings in the case. Cold pasta, shredded raw carrot, slices of mushroom and crunchy broccoli were heated in a pan with Alfredo sauce.
This bowlful was a little too weird for us. The raw texture of vegetables didn’t meld well with the cloying mushy sauce.
Fresh Bowl’s rendition of a Cobb salad ($8.99) made with romaine, crispy chicken (fried and sliced cutlet) hardboiled egg, avocado, grape tomatoes and crumbled blue cheese comes served tossed-salad-style with a balsamic dressing. While a Cobb salad usually keeps the components separate, this riff works too.
A crusty fresh roll, choice of whole wheat or white, is served with every salad and pasta bowl. We noticed a few customers requesting a bag for the roll. Maybe they’re bringing it back to the office for an afternoon snack?
Large portions, budget-friendly prices, fresh ingredients and friendly service make this place an appealing lunchtime option.
Fresh Bowl, at 130 Broad Street, is open Monday through Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., with slightly shorter hours on the weekend.