SEA BRIGHT: DIVING INTO A BLOODY HOOK

040215 dive3Ashlyn Schmidt pours a spicy bloody Mary at Dive in Sea Bright. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

040215 dive2A sweet cocktail filled with tropical fruit is nice on a hot summer day, but with the strong spring winds still blowing sharp and cold in Sea Bright, only a hearty, spicy cocktail could quench PieHole‘s thirst.

Dive, a “coastal bar and food joint” on Ocean Avenue, offers a Sunday brunch and bloody Mary menu featuring a quaff called the Bloody Hook that makes the lips tingle and the throat burn with enjoyment.

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RED BANK: NEW OWNER AT BRANNIGAN’S

paul marcotte 040615Paul Marcotte hopes to retain Brannigan’s charming dive character while making small improvements. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

retail churn smallPaul Marcotte is thinking about hitting the ladies’ room.

Well, both restrooms, actually. But the one that matters most to the new owner of Brannigan’s Bar & Grill in Red Bank is the one that, to put it delicately, the ladies don’t find all that welcoming. Hence, they tend to stay out of the bar, too.

So fixing the facilities is a top priority as Marcotte figures out just how much tweaking the Wharf Avenue watering hole needs and can stand without losing its dive charm.

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SEA BRIGHT FARMERS MARKET: DIVE DEMO

082814 sbfarmrs mkt1Dive chef Kyle Hopfensperger and sous chef Daniel Ciameroni at the Sea Bright Farmers’ Market. Their salsa, below. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

082814 sbfarmers mkt2Last week, the still-new Sea Bright Farmers’ Market added a weekly feature: local restaurant chefs’ demonstrations and tastings.

First up were Dive chef Kyle Hopfensperger and sous chef Daniel Ciameroni, both 29 years old, who brought youthful exuberance and a vat of salsa for shoppers to try.

Not so much a demonstration as a tasting, the event gave the pair a chance to offer suggestions on what to buy at the market and how to use it.

“The fresh white peaches and watermelon in the salsa came from two local farms,” Hopfensperger said. Jalapeno peppers – pickled in-house at Dive, across the street on Ocean Avenue – gave the salsa a spicy kick. Finely chopped white onion added additional bite, making the salsa less sweet than you’d think.

“We’re bringing  bar food to a new level,” Ciameroni said.

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SEA BRIGHT: DIVE RESURFACES

christine diiorio 070114Christina Di Iorio outside her Ocean Avenue bar and restaurant, which reopens Wednesday afternoon. Below, her husband, Steven Graniero. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

steven graniero 070114To be honest, Christina Di Iorio says, she got to the point where she didn’t want to reopen Dive, the Sea Bright restaurant and bar that she and then-fiancé Steven Graniero saw nearly wiped out by Hurricane Sandy.

Their insurance company hadn’t lived up to its obligations, she said. A vendor was suing them, and they weren’t able to get any traction with the government or private lenders to restart the Ocean Avenue business. And then there’s the hard reality of two bodies of water – the Atlantic Ocean and the Shrewsbury River – just yards away, all too ready to combine forces to once again smash the town as they did on October 29, 2012.

And yet there Di Iorio was on Tuesday, putting the final touches on a completely revamped Dive for a low-key opening at 4 p.m. Wednesday.

“I agree with you: I think we’re nuts,” she told redbankgreen. “But our clients, our families, our fan base – they all embraced us. I’m doing it for them.”

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TEACHER, LEAVE THEM KIDS ALONE TO JAM

The original Pink Floyd video for ‘Another Brick in the Wall.’

At the institution of higher-decibel education known as the School of Rock, there’s a tradition in which students at new outlets in the nationwide chain make their stage debuts by performing the entirety of a single LP, Pink Floyd‘s ‘The Wall.’

And they get to that point not solely by hours of diligent, lonesome practice, but also via hours of jamming together and learning from one another.

This weekend, the Klieg lights will cut the faux fog at two local bar/restaurants for students of the Red Bank branch of the school, which opened on Monmouth Street last July and is still considered a newborn, says general manager Janet Wheeler.

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