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RED BANK: JJ’S ORGANIC, FUN AND FAMILIAR

Chalkboards list menu options at JJ’s Organic Grill ordering station. Below: waffle sticks. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

The Dugo family is betting that certified organic, non-GMO is the future of fast food, and so far, so good: their month-old Red Bank restaurant, JJ’s Organic Grill, is already becoming a popular choice for foodies.

Healthier alternatives for breakfast, lunch and dinner in a relaxed, no frills environment is what you’ll find here in the former Sicilia space, at the corner of Broad Street and Peters Place.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? AMELIA’S KITCHEN POPS

Vegetarian appetizers from Amelia’s Kitchen include grilled corn and sweet potato and black bean chili.  (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

In April, new signage marked a name-change for Pop’s Garage at the Grove West in Shrewsbury to Amelia’s Kitchen. Still part of the local restaurant-empire owned by the Schlossbach family, Marilyn and Richard take a back seat to brother Arthur’s management on this one, which is now named for his daughter, who’s been “been busting [his] tail to make things healthier,” he tells PieHole.

The garden and patio seating outside still segue into an eye-popping kaleidoscope of color inside, and the kid-friendly, party-like atmosphere still comes with a Mexican-themed menu. But Amelia’s tends more to lighter, Baja-inspired cuisine, and a new farm-to-table focus means tacos are out while fresh salads are in.
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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? HEALTHY DELECTABLES

Turkey meatballs in pomodoro sauce, shaved brussel sprout salad and sweet potato and asparagus quiche from the Healthy Palate.  (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

Let’s just say that several seasons of culinary indulgence have PieHole seeking healthier lunch alternatives. Fortunately, there are oodles of options on the Greater Red Bank Green to choose from.

This week, we made our way to the Healthy Palate in Little Silver, where everything is organic, dairy- and gluten-free. Owner, chef and “certified eating psychology coach” Jennifer Asfar filled us in on the details of eating clean. Read More »

WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? EARLY DINNER IN RUMSON

Vegetarian French onion soup with complimentary pimento cheese and crackers at the bar of Russell and Bette’s.  (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

Skipping lunch in lieu of a date for early happy hour at Rumson’s charming new Russell and Bette’s on West River Road proves to be smart thinking, as PieHole finds a superabundance of dining choices here.

Pansy-filled window boxes and white stucco give the outside of the restaurant a cheerful veneer. Inside, we find an engaging old-world mood, with dark wood paneling and brick interior walls. Vintage stained glass chandeliers add color, while the bar to the right of the entrance is original to its predecessor, What’s Your Beef.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? A READIE’S FISH FRY

The Buena Place fish fry combo platter, a recent addition to the menu at Readie’s Cafe. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

Restaurants come and go in Red Bank, maybe more often than we like. But there are a few that can brag of longevity and customer loyalty.

Opened in 1957, Readie’s Café is celebrating a big anniversary this year. Tom Fishkin, owner since 2001, tells PieHole that the deli had its launch on Monmouth Street as the Village Pork Store the same year that Elsie’s Subs, another lunchtime institution, opened its doors. It became Readie’s Fine Foods under owner Jack Readie in the 1980s.
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CRAVINGS: A LIBRARIAN’S WEEKLY BENTO

Red Bank library director Elizabeth McDermott indulges her craving at Sogo Sushi. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

World traveler-turned-Red Bank Public Library director Elizabeth McDermott has a weekly itch that she scratches at Sogo Sushi on Monmouth Street: a bento box.

“It’s like comfort food to me,” says McDermott, whose previous job as a software consultant for Oracle took her all over the globe.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? HOWLING GOOD PIZZA

012417lupo1A “Grandma” pie fresh from the oven at Lupo Pizzeria. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

WFL what's for lunch?A sign cut out in the shape of howling wolf hangs at the corner of the building that’s home to the brand-new Lupo Pizzeria in Fair Haven, named in honor of a great-grandmother whose last name means “wolf” in Italian.

So of course, feeling a bit like Red Riding Hood, PieHole had to try the “Grandma” pie.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? A BELLYFUL OF SHAPIRO’S

011717shapiros1Pastrami on seeded rye with a side of coleslaw and a traditional pickle bowl at Shapiro’s New York Style Delicatessen. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

WFL what's for lunch?In a carnivorous mood, PieHole headed over to the newly opened Shapiro’s New York Style Delicatessen in Red Bank, where we found plenty of Jewish-style sandwiches to choose from.

Corned beef and chicken noodle soup are staples at most of the delis on the Greater Red Bank Green, so what sets this place apart from the others? For a transplanted New Yorker, it’s the nostalgic Yiddish menu choices, such as blintzes (sweet stuffed crepes), latkes (potato pancakes), tongue (braised cow tongue) and kishke (stuffed derma), that we haven’t seen or tasted in years.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? LINGERING AT ANJELICA’S

011017anjelicas4Baked eggplant parmigiano served with casarecce arrabbiata at Anjelica’s Restaurant. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

WFL what's for lunch?Whatever the season, reservations may be needed to secure a dinner table at the family-owned Anjelica’s Restaurant on Ocean Avenue in Sea Bright.

But in the off-season, the Ocean Avenue restaurant serves lunch, too, and on a recent visit, PieHole found it a delightfully relaxing spot to saunter into and while away part of an afternoon.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? DRINKING TO OUR HEALTH

010417freshicasrb6An eye-catching peppermint-and-spinach-based Grinch Bowl topped with granola at Freshica’s. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

WFL what's for lunch?It’s the first week of a new year, which means PieHole is trying to stick to its annual get-fit resolutions. So we headed over to Freshica’s in the Red Bank’s West Side Lofts building on West Front Street for a convenient, quick, and healthy lunch.

Open just six months, Jessica Dalmedo’s second store is already busier at lunchtime than her original spot inside Fairwinds Deli in Fair Haven, opened more than four years ago, she tells us. She and her experienced employee, Lee Ann Caporicci, patiently explained the benefits of some of the new-to-us ingredients in their recipes.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? BEST OF 2016

091316redrock3Duck confit tater tots from Red Rock Tap + Grill. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

WFL what's for lunch?Soul-satisfying soups, beefy burgers, crusty pizzas…

From a year’s worth of lunches good, bad and inedible, PieHole‘s What’s For Lunch? feature picks the Top 10 of 2016.

Click to restaurant names to see complete individual reviews.
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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? GOOD GRAVY AND FRIES

121916taylorsams5The Prime “samwich” of sliced Angus beef, with fries and a memorable gravy, at Taylor Sam’s. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

WFL what's for lunch?When a reader tells us about a new favorite eatery in Red Bank, PieHole pays attention. And at a recent party, an enthusiastic fan suggested that we hustle over to the two-week-old Taylor Sam’s at 20 Broad Street. So we did.

The interior looks little changed from that of its predecessors at the address, The Spot and Mac Attack Cheesery, but the menu at the newest addition to the downtown restaurant scene is distinctive, owner Scott Spivak tells us.

“Everything is 100-percent from scratch,” he said. The dishes we tried lead to instant fandom as well.
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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? AN ORCA OF A BURRITO

120516queso7Queso Grill’s steak burrito: you’ll need a fork and knife to eat this “wet” behemoth.  (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

WFL what's for lunch?On Newman Springs Road in Lincroft, fast-food joints Luigi’s Famous Pizza, Stamna Taverna and Subway share a parking lot. It’s a bit like a food court, but in a strip mall.

A south-of-the-border lunch hankering nudged PieHole through the door of another of the center’s tenants: Queso Grill, where we were stopped short by the number of decisions that would need to be made before we could order lunch.
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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? A SLOW-PACED GRAZE

110816graze3Vegetarian choices on the lunch menu at Graze include bourbon-glazed carrot soup and a mac-and-cheese casserole.  (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

WFL what's for lunch?This past summer, Laercio “Chef Junior” Chamon finally fulfilled his goal of turning Zoe Bistro, which he acquired a year earlier, into Graze.

Now once again open for lunch, the Little Silver restaurant is luxuriously relaxed in pace, aesthetic and culinary concept, even as kitchen staffers thrive on challenging themselves to come up with dishes with a surprising twist.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? A MOSTLY-NEW HARRY’S

100116harrys5The open-face steak sandwich at Harry’s is served on slices of garlic bread. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

WFL what's for lunch?Dowdy decor was just one of the telling factors in the demise of Harry’s Lobster House in Sea Bright, and when it closed last January, and many thought that was the end of the institution that began 83 years earlier. And it was, sort of.

In its current, soft-opening phase, the restaurant now called simply “Harry’s” has been “reinvented” under new ownership, general manager Chris Christiano tells PieHole. But there are aspects here that haven’t changed at all.
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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? NACHOS AND BEAN SOUP

092416carlosoconnor2Carlos O’Connor’s Tijuana nacho platter is served on a funky, tie-dye clothed table. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

WFL what's for lunch?A mainstay on Monmouth Street in Red Bank, Carlos O’Connor’s Mexican Restaurant seems to be standing the test of time due in part to the vibrant, celebratory, mismatched decor that delivers an instant party atmosphere.

PieHole stopped in and found that the newest owner, Hugo Parades, has made a few changes to the dining room by opening a wall that divided the restaurant into two closed off rooms, giving the space a brighter, less claustrophobic feel.

Another change: it’s now open for lunch on weekends.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? A TABLEFUL AT TEMPLE

082616temple1Chicken with broccoli and Kung Pao chicken, two dishes on the lunch menu at Temple Gourmet Chinese. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

WFL what's for lunch?Lunchtime seems to be a tough draw for Red Bank’s dine-in restaurants. While customers might find it difficult to get a table in the evening, some eateries do what they can in the form of specials to attract afternoon clients.

So when a member of the Red Bank Lunch Meet group suggested a meeting at Temple Gourmet Chinese on Broad Street, throwing in the incentive of an $11 price point, PieHole was intrigued.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? SUSHI DELIGHTS

072616sakura3A specialty at Sakura Sushi is the Floating Island appetizer. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

WFL what's for lunch?In what might be the tiniest sushi bar on the Greater Red Bank Green, PieHole finds a lively, amusing, and loyal customer base.

And at Sakura Sushi, located in in the Acme shopping center on Newman Springs Road in Lincroft, it’s easy to strike up conversation with fellow diners, with just four sushi bar seats and four small tables occupying the diminutive space.
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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? WINDWARD DELI, HO!

061416windward4A seasonal grilled chicken salad and a cup of Rhode Island clam chowder from the Windward Deli.  (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

061416windward2It’s easy to pass by the Windward Deli, set back alongside the railroad tracks at Drs. James Parker Boulevard and Maple Avenue in Red Bank. So PieHole is doing you a favor by telling you to stop in.

Plenty of parking in front of and behind the building makes it easy to swing by for not-your-usual take out deli grub. A small courtyard with inviting picnic tables surrounded by verdant shrubbery offers an additional reason to grab lunch and eat al fresco.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? CHINA MOON SHINES

051616chinamoon3From the lunch special menu: beef with black bean sauce. The artwork, below, is by the delivery guy. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

051616chinamoon5If it’s not already on your radar, you might never notice China Moon, squished into a corner of a Red Bank strip mall between the Windmill hot dog stand and Crate’s Beverages.

But PieHole is putting the North Bridge Avenue eatery front and center, because when it comes to lunch, China Moon offers an affordable, extensive menu — and the food is delicious.
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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? ITALIAN BRILLIANCE

040516lapastaria3Pumpkin-filled ravioli is one of the lunchtime specials at La Pastaria, seen below.  (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

040516pastariainteriorGo to Red Bank’s La Pastaria on Linden Place in the evening, and you’ll probably be waiting a while, even if you have a reservation.

As a humanitarian gesture, PieHole feeds you this little pearl of wisdom: hit this restaurant for lunch. The afternoon is a more laid-back affair, with attentive service and a menu full of familiar Italian fare that includes some enticing daily specials.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? SIAM GARDEN PHAD THAI

032916siamgdn5The phad Thai lunch special at Siam Garden, seen below. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

032915siamgdn1With the Thai New Year celebration (Songkran) just around the corner on April 13, PieHole thought it was a good time to visit Siam Garden. Located in the Galleria at West Front Street and Bridge Avenue in Red Bank, the restaurant has been serving traditional Thai dishes for 16 years.

Framed by architecture that includes concrete ceilings and pillars, vestiges of the building’s original incarnation as a turn-of-the-century uniform factory, the space is decorated with artifacts imbuing a peaceful Asian ambience. Light streaming in from surrounding windows, silken textiles and wooden tables and chairs bring warmth to what would otherwise be a cold interior.
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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? A TASTE OF NEW ENGLAND

032216navesinkfishery5A fried shrimp platter with coleslaw and crispy french fries. The corn chowder, below, was filled with bits of crab. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

032216navesinkfishery1Casting its net a bit beyond the usual limits of the Greater Red Bank Green, PieHole finds lots of fresh fish choices at the Navesink Fishery in Navesink.

With 40-plus years of fishmongering and cooking, 20 of which have been spent at this restaurant, owner Ruddy Field is serious about bringing his customers simple cuisine from briny depths and fresh water lakes. Landlubbers need not apply.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? HEALTHY, EARTHY PIZZA

031516earthpizza2The vegan, one of the many selections on the menu at Earth Pizza, below. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

031615earthpizza1When Paul and Lisa Finkler opened a Pizza Fusion franchise in Red Bank in 2010, they may not have foreseen the niche their restaurant would fill. But the Broad Street restaurant was an immediate draw, and soon customers were asking for more gluten-free and vegan dishes.

Three years ago, tired of the parent company’s rules on menu changes, the Finklers bought out their contract, redubbed the restaurant Earth Pizza and did as asked.
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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? GRAB ‘N GO VARIETY

022416foodtownwfl1While another customer ladled hot soup into a container, below, PieHole opted for a rainbow roll all packed up and ready to go at SuperFoodtown. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

022416foodtownwfl2You need a cheap lunch, and time is limited. For many residents and worker bees on the Greater Green, Red Bank’s Foodtown supermarket is a veritable oasis of grab n’ go options.

Open since 1977, the store, at Broad Street and Maple Avenue, added a new-to-the-area salad bar as part of a renovation in 1996. Several other quick-lunch features have been added over the years, expanding the range of choices.
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