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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? GUILT-FREE SWEETNESS

A “Stupid Cupid” from Playa Bowls. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

From the day it opened last month, Playa Bowls in Red Bank has drawn long lines of teens and tweens waiting to get inside, and the after-school and weekend mania hasn’t let up. This might give the impressions that one, it’s a place for kids, and two, that it’s a fad.

Time will tell if the craze lasts, but on the coldest day of the year so far, What’s For Lunch paid its first visit to the West Front Street business and found a full house of mixed-age customers at midday. Manager Robin Krieger tells us that many are employees of Riverview Medical Center, just two blocks east.

 

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? A WHOLE MEZZE FLAVORS

070516bayroot5Appetizers, or “mezze,”from Bayroot include falafel, stuffed grape leaves, spinach pies, mouhammara, baba ghanouj and hummus.  (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

WFL what's for lunch?The sleepy little shopping center called Shrewsbury Village in the borough of Shrewsbury has seen a great deal of turnover lately. Rosina’s Ristorante, once an anchor there, is gone, as are the Cypress Café and the short-lived Doco Donuts.

“Looking for the right place at the right price,” Shrewsbury resident Maher Dougan says that he and his wife, Lara, took a leap of faith and decided to open Bayroot Lebanese Restaurant there a few months back.
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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? A HEADFUL OF ACAI

062816melonhead8A jam-packed Island Bowl from Melonhead in Sea Bright. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

WFL what's for lunch?Ravenous after a recent walk on the beach, PieHole headed to downtown Sea Bright in search of the newest kid on the block: Melonhead, whose menu basis is the acai (pronounced ah-SAH-ee) berry, a super fruit native to the Amazon.

How did partners and Monmouth County natives Nick Frangipane and Steve Barnett come to be acai acolytes on Ocean Avenue? Theirs is a story that begins on a surfing trip in Costa Rica and continues through Brazil, Puerto Rico and other stops on the planet.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? A SALAD FROM DEAN’S

041316deansmkt1Dean’s Market grab n’ go harvest salad with a cheerful raspberry vinaigrette. Jenna Rae Alexy, manager, seen below, has lost 100 pounds while working at the store… just saying. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

041316deansmkt4Popping into Dean’s Natural Food Market on Broad Street in Shrewsbury, PieHole finds the place swamped with hungry customers and a young but experienced staff hustling to fill juice orders and answer questions.

Attentive to her customers as well as the surfer-dude-healthy guys working the juice counter, manager Jenna Rae Alexy seems to know many of her customers by name. She also knows what they will order.  Read More »

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? A DIP IN THE OCEAN CAFÉ

090215oceancafe4Seared tuna in a rice-paper wrap and a mixed fruit smoothie for lunch, with a picture-window view of Monmouth Street thrown in, below. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

090215oceancafe5It’s the first week of September, but still hot as blazes outside. So the fun, beach-themed mural seen through the floor-to-ceiling front window of the Ocean Café in Red Bank beckoned us to chill out and take a little extra time for lunch.

Overindulging during the month of August, PieHole was looking for some dietary balance, and the menu here skews to healthier fare such as salads, wrap sandwiches, soups and sandwiches on reliably good French bread. Deciding to go all-in with a lighter, cooler, less-fattening lunch, we found a myriad of options at this Monmouth Street getaway.

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FARMERS MARKETS: WHERE TO GET FRESH

061815sbmkt1At the Sea Bright farmers market, Meg Paska sells locally grown produce and flowers from Seven Arrows Farm, while the Holly Hill Farm table, below, offers Rumson-grown seedlings and produce.  (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

061815sbmkt2Options for finding locally grown produce on the Greater Red Bank Green doubled with the addition last year of a farmers’ market in the Sea Bright municipal parking lot on Thursdays.

For local shoppers, that means more variety. While both Sea Bright and the Red Bank Farmers’ Market at the Galleria on summer and autumn Sundays are dependable for farm-grown veggies, there are some characteristics that differentiate the two.

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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.
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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? GOOD KARMA LOVE BOWL

Good KarmaThe Love Bowl with coconut sauce and tempeh at Red Bank’s Good Karma Cafe. (Photo by Jim Willis. Click to enlarge)

By JIM WILLIS

morsels mediumI have eaten the face off a pig.

Rubbed with herbs and lemon zest, rolled up tightly around the pig’s tongue and cooked sous-vide, it was a delicious combination of porky flavors and textures.

I mention this by way of disclaimer: I am not, probably, the target demographic for a vegan joint like Red Bank’s beloved Good Karma Café.

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WHATS FOR LUNCH? PANINI AT PATRIZIA’S

080814 patrizias vegThe grilled vegetable panini hero shown above is vegetarian friendly. Below, the burrata. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

patrizia's 073014“It’s like going to your grandmother’s house on Sunday,” manager Santo Saitta said of the food and ambience at the week-old Patrizia’s on Broad Street in Red Bank.

If your grandmother has a dining room in a former bank building with a sky-high vaulted ceiling, a raging hot copper-clad pizza oven and remarkably good food, well then yes, it would be like that.

After a lunch here, you might want to visit nonna more often.

The suggested Burrata All’ Amalfitana appetizer ($13.95) – silky, salty, creamy and lightly seasoned with a smidge of olive oil – was terrific on its own, but the piquant caponata accompaniment made it a sexy, delicious starter.
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RED BANK: HEALTH FOOD RETAILER RETURNS

khalid channa 060914Khalid Channa at Healthy Habits on Monday. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Rcsm2_010508The paper came off the windows and a six-year vacancy in downtown Red Bank ended with the opening of the Kahalid Channa’s long-awaited Healthy Habits Natural Foods store Monday.

Channa has been here before.

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RED BANK: KALE, SEITAN… AND PORK ROLL?

johhny's pork roll truckThe Johnny Pork Roll truck is a new addition at the Red Bank Farmer’s Market in the Galleria parking lot. (Photo by Jim Willis. Click to enlarge)

By JIM WILLIS

morsels mediumAfter a long winter, Mother Nature is taking her sweet time this spring, making us wait for the vast array of produce we’re accustom to seeing on Sundays at the Red Bank Farmer’s Market.

We will wait an extra week or two for the bounty of beans and other spring crops to make it to the Galleria parking lot. In the meantime, though, a new food truck – Johnny Pork Roll – means that PieHole followers can nosh on nature’s most perfect food: the pork roll, egg and cheese sandwich.

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RED BANK: GOOD KARMA AND ELEVATED SOCCA

Good Karma Cafe Gail DohertyGood Karma Cafe’s Gail Doherty walks PieHole through a recipe that will transport you and your tastebuds to the south of France. (Photo by Jim Willis. Click to enlarge)

By JIM WILLIS

Red Bank’s vegan stronghold, Good Karma Café, ran a dinner special recently that caught PieHole’s eye.

A post on Facebook read: Chickpea Socca, layers of golden chickpea crepes filled with a garlic white bean puree and sautéed dark greens. Topped with caramelized leeks and a zesty marinara sauce.

Socca, for the uninitiated, is a crispy pancake made from a chickpea batter. A common street food hailing from southern France, it’s humble and incredibly easy to make.

In Italy it’s called farinita or cecina. In India you’ll find pudla. Each culture has its own unique spin, and PieHole has tried a lot of them. But never before had we seen it presented in layers, like a lasagna. So we hopped over to East Front Street to sit down with Good Karma owner/chef Gail Doherty to learn a bit more about her unique spin on this dish.

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RED BANK: CINNAMON SNAIL PLAN SQUASHED

cinnamon snail 2 051213Red Bank has seen the last of the Cinnamon Snail, at least until next year’s Farmers’ Market at the Galleria, says mobile chef Adam Sobel. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Plans for a mobile food truck to set up in downtown Red Bank on Sundays through December have fallen apart as quickly as they came together.

Vegan chef and Cinnamon Snail owner Adam Sobel tells redbankgreen‘s PieHole that town officials threw up bureaucratic requirements Friday that would be impossible to satisfy in time for the truck to operate in the Monmouth Street parking lot of Teak restaurant, as planned.

An unidentified borough employee told a Snail employee that the truck would need a peddler’s permit, the type of license issued to roving ice-cream trucks, Sobel said Saturday afternoon.

“It seems bizarre that we would have to do that just to operate on a different piece of property,” Sobel said. “It’s silliness.”

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RED BANK: LET THERE BE TRUCK FOOD!

cin-snail1The vegan magnet Cinnamon Snail will have a temporary home beside Teak, thanks to a little help from PieHole. (Photo by Peter Lindner. Click to enlarge)

By JIM WILLIS

PIEHOLE logoAs the final Sunday of this year’s Red Bank Farmers’ Market wrapped up in November, Cinnamon Snail food truck entreprenuer Adam Sobel was confident  he’d be able to continue serving his vegan truck food to loyal followers, telling PieHole that he’d remain at the Galleria parking lot every Sunday through the month of December.

But earlier this week, Sobel put out this urgent message on Twitter:

tweet_cinnamon_500_213.PNG

Now, thanks to the intervention of PieHole, the Snail appears to have found a temporary Sunday home – in downtown Red Bank, a place not seen as friendly to four-wheeled purveyors of fine cuisine.

Is this the breakthrough truck food fans on the Green have been yearning for?

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RED BANK: CINNAMON SNAIL ON VEGAN ROLL

Adam Sobel, in striped bandana, says, “I want to get people excited about vegan. It’s not all brown rice and steamed vegetables.” (Photos by Jim Willis.)

By JIM WILLIS

Bites1_SmallAdam Sobel, owner of the popular vegan food truck the Cinnamon Snail, doesn’t get all preachy about being a vegan. Instead of sermons about the evils of the standard American diet or the darker side of factory-farmed animals, the 30-year-old Red Bank resident lets his food speak for itself, and hopes his cooking will get non-vegan customers to connect the dots on their own.

Since hitting the road  three years ago, the Cinnamon Snail has become a Red Bank Farmers Market staple while amassing a considerable following in Manhattan, where it has won multiple awards. Mobile Cuisine Magazine, for example, named the Snail “America’s Favorite Vegan Food Truck” in 2012.

redbankgreen sat down with Sobel on the front porch of his home over a cup of chai and some yerba mate to discuss the trials and tribulations of a kitchen on wheels and what’s next for the Cinnamon Snail.

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RED BANK: GOOD OLD VEGAN ‘COMFORT FOOD’

Gail Doherty with a hot tray of “magic cookies,” made with pecans, chocolate chips, carrot and coconut. Below, she and employee Allison Kennedy work quickly to fill orders during the lunch rush. (Photos by Danielle Tepper. Click to enlarge)

By DANIELLE TEPPER

Nearly three years after opening, Red Bank’s Good Karma Café has put to rest many misconceptions about vegan dining, including that it’s unsatisfying “rabbit food.”

Smaller than many suburban living rooms at just 900 square feet, the cozy East Front Street restaurant caters to a mix of regulars, pilgrims and the just-curious, serving up hearty dishes along with answers to some burning questions:

Is it more expensive to eat vegan? How is protein supplemented? What does tofu taste like?

“We’re not bringing you in with any kind of dogma,” said co-owner Gail Doherty. “There’s no agenda other than serving you some yummy food while maybe squashing some stereotypes.”

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A WAGGING, PLANTING, ROCKING WEEKEND

Is veganism “like being a nun at an orgy”? “Vegucated,” a documentary screening in Lincroft Sunday, explores that question and others. The Wag, below, is at the Red Bank Public Library Saturday. (Click to enlarge)

Friday, January 25

RED BANK: Aaron Lewis, formerly of Staind, is on tour solo for the first time and will stop at Count Basie for a set of new tunes and old favorites. Show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $29.50, $39.50, or $55. 99 Monmouth Street.

RED BANK: Bob Burger, New Jersey singer-songwriter, returns to the Walt Street Pub for an 8 p.m. set. 180 Monmouth Street. 

RUMSON: Pat Roddy, singer-songwriter from Belmar, will be performing a free set at Molly Maguire’s Black Point Inn at 10 p.m. 132 East River Road.

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PARK IT HERE FOR VEGAN FOOD & A FILM

The trailer for ‘Forks Over Knives,’ which will get two screenings in Red Bank Thursday night.

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

While Adam Sobel waits to learn if he’ll be permitted to operate his four-wheeled business in Red Bank on a regular basis, he’ll have his Cinammon Snail mobile food truck downtown for at least a couple of hours Thursday night for a down-to-earth dinner and a movie.

Along with vegan-friendly comrades Patti Siciliano of Funk & Standard, Gail Doherty and Tiffany Betts of Good Karma Café and others, Sobel is taking part in an evening focused on the health benefits of eating the un-American way: organically.

The night revolves around the indie documentary Forks Over Knives, which features T. Colin Campbell, a nutrition researcher at Cornell University who believes degenerative diseases can be prevented, and in some cases reversed, by adopting a “whole foods, plant-based diet.”

Or, as Siciliano, a converted vegan who recently opened an organic juice bar in her Broad Street business, says, “just don’t eat garbage.”

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MOBILE FOOD MAY FIND A SPOT IN TOWN

adam-sobelCinnamon Snail owner Adam Sobel appears to have persuaded Red Bank officials to carve out a spot he and other mobile vendors can compete for. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi: click to enlarge)

Adam Sobel’s push for mobile food vending on the streets of Red Bank inched forward this week.

The owner/chef/driver of the popular Cinnamon Snail vegetarian and organic food truck came away from Wednesday night’s borough council meeting with a pledge that the governing body would look into creating a dedicated spot near the train station that mobile food vendors could compete for.

But the location under discussion isn’t one that Sobel, the presumptive lead candidate for the license, is sold on.

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NOW OPEN: GOOD, SAFE KARMA

good-karma1-072810Tiffany Betts, left, and Gail Doherty preparing meals for customers who showed up minutes after Wednesday’s opening. (Click to enlarge)

good-karma2-072810

The much-anticipated return to Red Bank of vegan restaurateurs Gail Doherty and Tiffany Betts is complete.

Months later than they’d hoped, the pair quietly opened the doors to their new eatery, Good Karma Café, at 4p Wednesday, and quickly found themselves hustling up orders for a half-dozen hungry customers.

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PLANNERS OK VEGAN EATERY, DESSERT BIZ

frozsurt-monmouthHome to a newsstand for more than half a century, 6 Broad Street may next see duty as a frozen yogurt shop.

Call it dinner and dessert lite.

The latest additions to the growing roster of businesses planning to open in Red Bank now includes a vegan restaurant focused on the ‘grab and go’ trade and a frozen yogurt shop.

The borough planning board last night quickly approved variances that would allow each to operate in downtown spaces not previously used as food business.
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