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RED BANK: CHOWING DOWN AT THE COUNT

Bloody Marys, ribs, wine, doughnuts, bourbon, coffee: Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre had all that and more for hundreds of eaters and drinkers this weekend. Its four-day Appetite festival included a live pasta throwdown between restaurateur Victor Rallo and Mayor Pasquale Menna on Saturday night. Rallo won the cooking contest to see who could make the better dish in 30 minutes, but it was close, requiring a tiebreaking vote. (Photos by Peter Lindner, except for Rallo-Menna.)

FOODFEST TO SERVE UP A PASTA SMACKDOWN

Red Bank Mayor Pasquale Menna, seen above at a 2007 primary school function featuring his cooking, faces restaurateur Victor Rallo, below, in a stovetop showdown at the Basie next Saturday.  (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

One’s a municipal chief executive with a “total amateur’s” love of cooking – though he does have a chef’s smock with his name embroidered on the breast.

The other’s a serial restaurateur and wine expert who hosts a TV food show set in lush Italian locales.

The premise: a pasta smackdown cooking event pitting Red Bank Mayor Pasquale Menna against Victor Rallo, owner of Basil T’s in Red Bank, Undici Taverna Rustica in Rumson – and newsboy-cap wearing star of ‘Eat! Drink! Italy‘ on public TV.

The Saturday-night faceoff, on the stage of the venerable Count Basie Theatre, is one of the highlights of a four-day food smorgasbord – dubbed Appetite – that also features wine tastings, Scotch and bourbon swilling, a bevy of food trucks, screenings of food-themed movies and more.

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