WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? A SUB WITH A SIDE OF JOY

012716butlers6The honey maple turkey sandwich on a roll from Butlers. Below, owner Paul Stout. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

012716butlersmkt1It doesn’t matter if your mood is not so bright when you walk through the doors of Butler’s Market in Rumson. Owner Paul Stout has a warm and friendly smile to greet you and make you feel better.

Reopened last June after two-plus years of unsatisfying retirement for its proprietor, the deli’s food is in some ways as good as it used to be, and in many ways, much better.
Read More »

WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? SOBA SALAD IN THE GROVE

010916d'jeet1A pretty, noodle-based salad from the jam-packed D’jeet in The Grove.  (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

010916d'jeet6The apres-holiday crowd at the Grove in Shrewsbury must have been putting their gift cards to use, because the parking lot was crazy-busy.

It’s nice to treat yourself to a relaxing, sit-down lunch every now and then, especially on the weekend. And apparently, many other people in the area had the same idea shortly after New Year’s, because D’jeet was packed with diners fueling up for an afternoon of serious shopping.

Our hostess handed us a buzzer and suggested we do a little shopping while we wait for the next available table.
Read More »

SEA BRIGHT: HARRY’S ENDS ERA ON HIGH NOTE

011016harrys4Lynne Perry-Szwede, behind the bar, reminisced with Mary Orr, above, while Feli Donato and Mike Sakowski took a last turn at the pool table at Harry’s Lobster House. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

011016harrys2In the end, it was more about the sounds than the food as musicians and music lovers jammed Harry’s Lobster House in Sea Bright Sunday night.

With no specific plans in the near future, longtime owner Lou Jacoubs said he’d decided to retire and close the Ocean Avenue restaurant, which had been in operation for 83 years.

“I’m 65 years old,” he said. “It’s been good, but it’s time to go.”
Read More »

RED BANK: SMALL KITCHEN YIELDS BIG FLAVOR

112415jamians1Mixed green salad on the specials menu at Jamian’s Food and Drink is available for lunch or dinner. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

112415jamians3PieHole dipped a spoon into a bowl of black bean soup at Jamian’s Food and Drink in Red Bank while waiting for a recent weekly trivia game to begin, and swooned. Jalapeno heat and cumin-infused flavor told us that someone new was working in the kitchen.

Owner Jamian LaViola hired 46-year-old chef Andy Doelger to run the three-person kitchen two months ago, and customers are starting to notice the difference. We’ve been asked by more than one satisfied diner if we’ve tasted the braised short rib grilled cheese yet. Yes, we have and it’s seriously good.

Read More »

WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? MOJO IN A SANDWICH

111815chikyboomwfl1ChikyBoom’s Cuban sandwich comes on a platter loaded with fries, potato salad and mojo sauce. Belly up to the bar in the front of the restaurant.  (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

111815chikyboom3Grabbing a stool in the bar area of ChikyBoom on Broad Street in Red Bank, PieHole was eager to try its Cubano, or Cuban sandwich given a boost in popularity by ‘Chef,’ the movie starring Jon Favreau released last year.

Was chef Eduardo Bover up to making one?

“If you’re a Cuban and you don’t know how to make a Cuban sandwich, get out of the business,” says Bover, himself an import from the Caribbean isle, as noted in a PieHole profile.

Read More »

FAIR HAVEN: SCHOOLED ON MEATBALLS

102115aurichio3Meatballs and gnocchi in San Marzano tomato sauce with parmesan-ricotta crema made by chef Julie Aurichio, below.  (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

102115 aurichio1It takes courage to stand in front of a class full of gourmet-minded students and declare that your recipe for meatballs will be the best they’ve ever tasted.

Lifelong Fair Haven resident Julie Aurichio did just that. Chef, personal assistant and owner of Just Julie — a luncheonette that occupied the space now rented to Seed to Sprout in the Acme Shopping Center in Fair Haven from 2002 to 2004 — she’s now adding culinary instructor to her résumé.

PieHole caught up with Aurichio and her fiancé, Rob Candiotti, a chef at the Raven and the Peach, while they taught a cooking class at Taste and Technique Cooking Studio on River Road in Fair Haven recently. Read on to learn about “Meatballs and More,” their unique twists on the Italian mainstay.

Read More »

RED BANK: FLAVOR’S ORGANIC FOR KITCH CHEF

110515kichorganic6Kitch Organic chef Jennifer Freeman stirs a mixture of ground turkey and vegetables while Liam Splane cuts down a flat of wheat grass.  (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

110515kitchorganic8In the exquisite, state-of-the-art kitchen at Kitch Organic on Leighton Avenue in Red Bank, the cooks are busy preparing some extraordinary recipes.

All the food here is gluten-free and certified-organic, but that isn’t what makes it exceptional. Health benefits aside, chef Jenny Freeman is producing meals chock-full of flavor — and she’s doing it with home-grown and carefully sourced ingredients.

The 42-year-old chef went to the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York “to learn how to help heal people through food,” she tells PieHole. “I wanted to learn good nutrition and use it in my cooking.”  Read More »

RED BANK: A WANDERING CHEF SETTLES DOWN

100615covas7Lauren Van Liew in the kitchen of her new catering business. Dishes include a classic fresh spinach salad, below.  (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

100615covas5In the warehouse that formerly housed Adam Sobel’s Cinnamon Snail kitchen on River Street in Red Bank, chef Lauren Van Liew, a 32-year-old Middletown native has opened Chef Covas Catering.

Cooking in kitchens from Boston to Vegas to Boca Raton, Van Liew has been around the culinary butcher’s block more times than many of her much older contemporaries.

With her history and experience, she says “I want to bring families together at the dinner table.” She also says, “I want to conquer the central Jersey catering world.”

Read More »

WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? A SUGGESTION IN FRENCH

101415frenchmktwfl1Perhaps lured by the aroma of baked pastries, below, customers took advantage of a crisp autumn day for lunch at the French Market this week. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON
101415frenchmktwfl4

Open the door to the French Market on East River Road in Rumson, and the aroma of fresh baked pastry overwhelms your senses. PieHole tells you this as a favor. It’s easy to lose control and forget that you are there for a reason.

Since July, chef Laurent Chavenet has been filling the shelves of this market with his butter-enhanced flaky creations. But it’s not just pastries: a six-page takeout menu offers French specialties such as quiche, crepes and croissant sandwiches, as well as salads and a charcuterie plate.
Read More »

CHIKYBOOM: COOKING WITH CUBAN ROOTS

eduardo bover 092415Though the signage still reads No Joe’s, chef Eduardo Bover is cooking authentic Cuban food in the kitchen of ChikyBoom, where the dining room features a Caribbean feel. (Photo above by John T. Ward; below by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON
092215chickyboom6

If you remember the song “Cuban Pete,” made famous by Desi Arnaz, you know the bongos and maracas playing to the rhumba beat: chick-chicka-boom.

The same might be said about ChikyBoom, the former No Joe’s coffee shop-and-luncheonette on Broad Street in Red Bank that’s now a Cuban-and-Spanish restaurant — when it’s not serving coffee and breakfast.

Read More »

RUMSON: FROMAGERIE SAYS ‘ADIEU’

fromagerie 100615Customers found the restaurant closed without notice Monday night. Below right, chef David Burke with chef Pat Trama during post-Sandy relief efforts in Sea Bright. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

AmaPatTramaBurkeSB2012Star chef David Burke has closed his Rumson restaurant, Fromagerie.

Callers and visitors to the fine-dining establishment, which Burke acquired nine years ago, were given no reason for the closing in a message posted on the restaurant website Monday.

Read More »

RED BANK: FARMERS AND CHEFS ON PUMPKINS

092015farmersmktrb2Michelle O’Connor at the Red Bank Farmers’ Market with pumpkins grown at Brookville Farms.  (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

morsels mediumAutumn has arrived on the Greater Red Bank Green, and that means we’re in for a plethora of pumpkin-flavored options in coffee shops, bakeries and restaurants.

But home cooks use them too, of course. And with that in mind, PieHole popped in at the Red Bank Farmers’ Market and a couple of local eateries to get some insights on choosing and using pumpkins.

Read More »

LITTLE SILVER: NEW OWNER TRANSFORMS ZOE

081315zoe2Laercio Chamon at the chef’s table at Zoe, where a large window offers a view of the kitchen. Below, an octopus and a watermelon salad.  (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

081315zoe4With new owner Laercio Chamon at the helm, the once Greek-centric menu Zoe Bistro in Little Silver has a jazzy bossa nova rhythm now.

At 33 years old, Chamon says he’s been working in kitchens for more than half his life, starting as a dishwasher at Doris and Ed’s in Highlands when he was 14.

“I always wanted to be a part of the line,” he tells PieHole. It’s like being behind the scenes of something you see in a movie. There’s something about the adrenaline, the rush.”

Read More »

RUMSON: FRENCH MARKET AGAIN? OUI!

071015frnchmkt1The charming facade of the newly opened French Market on East River Road in Rumson. Below,  a variety of tarts and pastries.  (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

071015frnchmkt4What happens when three gourmet-food-loving friends get together for a meal? In the case of Carli Windsor, Pamela Best and Robert Smith, they decide to open a store in Rumson.

And if the resulting French Market feels a little like deja vu to locals, it’s because the new owners were fans of Le Bon Panier, the French-inspired food market that previously occupied the same building at 114 East River Road.

Read More »

SEA BRIGHT: BRUNCH MAKES A BEACHHEAD

061415amaviewThe dining deck at Ama, with panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean. Below, a brunchtime bloody Mary. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

061415ama1For many years, options for Sunday brunch, the 10-to-2 repast that invites an eat-whatever-you’re-in-the-mood-for approach to breakfast and lunch, were limited on the Greater Red Bank Green.

Our only choices were expensive buffets at Red Bank’s Molly Pitcher Inn and Rumson’s Salt Creek Grille, both of which required reservations and adherence to dress codes.

But the boom of new restaurants in Red Bank and Sea Bright has brought more a la carte options for brunch-seekers.

Read More »

RED BANK: PLAIN DECOR BUT GOURMET GRITS

053015inbetweengritsSouthern style shrimp and grits from the specials menu at the Inbetween Café. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

What magnetic pull does the Inbetween Café in Red Bank have that keeps loyal customers waiting to share a table with others for breakfast or lunch?

Achieving almost a cult-like status, in part because of  the gourmet fare his kitchen churns out seven days a week, owner and chef Bob Koehler may sling hash a little more slowly than some others, but that’s because he makes sure every plate comes out just right. Showing off his experienced chops, he’s not afraid to try a new recipe on his hungry legion of devoted connoisseurs.

Read More »

SEA BRIGHT: INSPIRATION AMONG THE WEEDS

holly hindin 051715Holly Hindin, owner of Holly Jolly Jams. Below, her dandelion jelly being readied for sale. (Photo above by John T. Ward; others by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

dandelion jelly-001Next time you find yourself lamenting a dandelion-dotted lawn, consider the culinary inspiration a jelly chef found in those annoying perennials.

Kyle Goedde sells seasonal vegetables grown at Harvest Moon Farm in Hillsborough at the Sea Bright Farmers Market every Thursday in summer. Next to his booth, Fair Havenite Holly Hindin, of Holly Jolly Jams, sells jams and jellies. Getting off to a chilly and slow start, they had plenty of down time to chat.

Read More »

RED BANK: CINNAMON SNAIL, IN GLOSSY COLOR

062214 cinnamonsnaildonuts A sample of pastries from Adam Sobel’s Cinnamon Snail food truck and copies of his new cookbook, ‘Street Vegan,’ below. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

051215 sobelstreetveganGet out your aprons, Cinnamon Snail fans: Adam Sobel, four-time winner of the Vendy award for food trucks has penned a collection of recipes and stories that will keep you chained to your stoves.

While awaiting the truck’s expected return to the Red Bank Farmers Market, Snail-starved disciples wondering what just goes into the making of “Mexican Hot Chocolate Glazed Twists” can now take a shot at it themselves.

Sobel shares his secrets in an often-funny, non-preachy way, with chapter after delectable chapter of addictive recipes in “Street Vegan,” all while eschewing animal products.

Read More »

RED BANK: HEAPS OF AUTHENTICITY

060414 trattoria3The Mediterranean Platter, a dependable classic on the Front Street Trattoria menu. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

042115 trattorianWhat key elements are crucial to keeping a restaurant current for 30 years? If we’re referring to the Front Street Trattoria in Red Bank, it would have to be the consistently prepared fresh ingredients.

With an exposed brick wall on one side and floor-to-ceiling windows framing an ever moving backdrop of foot-traffic outside, the often busy main dining room is unpretentious and cozy. An open kitchen area lines another wall, giving the diner plenty to peer at.  Alternatively, there is another more private dining room and a wide open back patio for seating. But the decor isn’t why this restaurant is packed with regulars on any given evening: it’s the food.

Read More »

RED BANK: INTERNATIONAL FLAVOR RETURNS

RBIFF 042714 27Last year’s International Flavor Festival in Red Bank’s White Street parking lot served a variety of choice tidbits. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

RBIFF 042714 22With sunshine and temperatures in the 60’s in the forecast, the Red Bank International Flavour Festival should pack the White Street parking lot once again this Sunday.

The first food festival of the year in a restaurant-crazy town is like opening day for revelers and foodies alike. Seventeen or so of the borough’s finest eateries will be on hand to dispense culinary treats – savory, sweet, and exotic, including:

Read More »

WHATS FOR LUNCH? TOKI HAS THE ROLL

040415 tokis rollA fresh platter of sushi from Toki in Red Bank features uni, yellowtail hamachi, tuna and a Toki Roll. Below, three chefs work Toki’s sushi bar. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

042115 toki2An area of Red Bank that was once a desert for those craving the cuisine of the Far East is fast becoming what we might call Little Asia.

For several years, following the departure of the Jade Garden takeout place on Broad Street, the only choices were Sogo Sushi and Teak Asian Fusion on facing corners of Monmouth Street. But since the opening of  Temple Gourmet Chinese on Broad Street in 2011, the downtown has seen the addition of Pho Le across the street and Oriental Empire just one block over on English Plaza.

Now, there’s another Asian place in the burgeoning mix of restaurants: Toki, at the corner of Monmouth and Broad is a light-filled, upscale Japanese restaurant dressed in a tranquil aesthetic of celadon green and natural wood adornments.

Read More »

RED BANK: COFFEE, CARS AND CLUCK U

no joe 040615Dan Salazar and his wife, Grisel, at right, with Grisel’s sister, Adela Carrazana, the new owners of No Joe’s Coffee House.  (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

retail churn smallThis edition of redbankgreen‘s Retail Churn has news about two businesses on Red Bank’s West Side: Cluck U Chicken and Green’s Auto Performance.

But we start downtown with No Joe’s Coffee House, where Churn was surprised to find itself sharing a sidewalk table earlier this week with new owners, who have some pretty ambitious plans.

Read More »

LITTLE SILVER: A BETTER SALAD BAR

033115 healthfair2Chef Silvio Guzzo talks about the many cold and hot options available at Healthfair Natural and Organic Food Market, including the grab-and-go sandwiches below. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

033115 heathfair5If bean sprouts and granola are all that comes to mind when you think about health food, then perhaps you haven’t been to Healthfair Natural and Organic Food Market in Little Silver lately.

A bigger-than-expected market on Branch Avenue near the Little Silver train station, Healthfair also offers a daily hot food bar, a cold salad bar, a juice bar and an organic coffee station.

On a recent weekday, right before lunch hour, the considerable parking lot was packed. Inside, customers were grabbing groceries as well as house-made meals to go.
Read More »

RED BANK: ROBINSON HITS ALL MARKS

032015 robinson ale house burgerThe Chi-Town burger and fries at Robinson Ale House. Below, chef Michael Dolan.  (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

032015 robinson ale house dolanIn a town known for a sluggish turnaround time when it comes to opening a new eatery, Robinson Ale House in Red Bank is one of the few that stayed close to its schedule for opening an elegant, up-scale tavern decor.

Now, with three-plus months under its belt, a busy bar scene, and suggestions by locals to try the burger, it was time to for PieHole check in with chef Michael Dolan to see if the minor kinks of opening a new kitchen have been ironed out.

Read More »

SHREWSBURY: NAME THAT HOME-STYLE MEAL

031715 sisterskitchen6A dish known as “Carl’s Hankerin’ Meatloaf with Mashed Potatoes and Peas and Carrots” from My Sister’s Kitchen, where Michelle Paone, below, is co-owner and baker. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

031715 sisterskitchen4When Michelle Paone rented the space next door to her New Outlook Salon in Shrewsbury some months back, the idea was that it would house a catering business, with her sister working as the chef.

Family obligations on her sister’s side led to the deal falling through at the last minute, however, leaving Paone partner-less. But then Rich Lopazanski, a “fabulous cook” and Paone’s husband’s best friend since elementary school, stepped into the role of chef, clearing the way for the opening of My Sister’s Kitchen about two months ago.

The sister may not have stuck, but the name did – just like the old-school, stick-to-your-ribs meals the kitchen now produces six days a week.

Read More »