Birravino’s proposal for a 1,500-square-foot beer garden, as shown to the left of the existing restaurant in renderings below. (Photo by John T. Ward. Renderings by Michael James Monroe. Click to enlarge)
By JOHN T. WARD
Two Red Bank restaurants won approvals for expansion plans Monday night.
• The borough planning board gave unanimous a OK to Good Karma Café, the only vegan restaurant downtown, to triple in size by leasing vacant retail space next door. More →
Restaurateur Victor Rallo has transformed the former Molly Maguire’s Gastropub into a barbecue joint. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)
By JOHN T. WARD
With two Italian restaurants and a television show about the food and wine of Italy in his portfolio, Victor Rallo‘s latest venture might strike some as a sharp departure from his obsession with his ancestral homeland.
But Surf BBQ, which opened last week in Rumson, is simply the latest turn in a continuing quest for culinary “authenticity,” Rallo told redbankgreen in a recent interview.
“This is about the only true, historical American cuisine,” he said. “I wanted to open something great, but I wanted it to be true to its origins.”
Local Smoke BBQ plans to fire up its smoker in a building last rented by Delfini. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)
By JOHN T. WARD
Nearly two years after deciding that downtown Red Bank wasn’t for him, a highly regarded barbecue master plans to open a restaurant on the edge of town.
Local Smoke BBQ, which bailed from a possible Broad Street deal in 2014, will now set up its smoker in the former Delfini Gourmet Catering space at the corner of West Front Street and Rector Place/Shrewsbury Avenue, owner Steve Raab tells redbankgreen’sRetail Churn.
Celeb chef Jacques Pépin, above, gets things cooking at the Basie this afternoon. (Photo by Christian Ceppas)
Continuing with the ever-eclectic menu of entertainments that has distinguished and defined its audience-pleasing mission, the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank serves up a new slate of offerings under the “Appetite Chefs” series banner in coming hours and days, starting with a matinee appearance Saturday by the Original Iron Chef himself and continuing next Wednesday by a beloved master of Italian cuisine.
Victor Rallo in the bicycle-decorated atrium of Birravino. Below, one of the long communal, or feste, tables in the dining room. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)
By SUSAN ERICSON
The Old World charm of Basil T’s Brew Pub is gone, along with its popular mug club, where members had personalized mugs hanging at the bar. Remodeled and repositioned as Birravino, however, the Red Bank trattoria is just as welcoming, warm and suds-friendly as its predecessor.
Nursing a broken leg from a running accident, Victor Rallo showed up earlier this week to make sure everything was running smoothly after a makoever that included completely restructuring and redecorating his Riverside Avenue institution in about a month. Before some customers even realized the restaurant was temporarily off-line, a new name was on the building and the changes were well underway, he said.
The result? “I wanted an industrial, rustic look like you see in the trattorias or osterias of Italy,” he told PieHole, amid the exposed brick walls, honed wooden tabletops, galvanized metal seats and an open kitchen. “Definitely something more casual” than Basil’s, he said.
The exterior’s already gotten a facelift and one is underway inside at Basil T’s, soon to reopen as Birravino, says owner Vic Rallo Jr., below. (Click to enlarge)
By JOHN T. WARD
After 27 years in business, Red Bank’s Basil T’s brewpub will close this Saturday to undergo a makeover that will transform it into Birravino.
Basil’s owner Vic Rallo Jr. tells redbankgreen he’s repurposing his Riverview Avenue eatery he founded in 1987 with his brother and late father to mirror a dining style he’s come to appreciate on repeated trips to his ancestral home for his television show, “Eat, Drink, Italy.”
Overhauling a successful restaurant, and taking a flyer on a concept that affects everything from the menu to the awnings? Is Rallo nuts? Apparently, we’re not the first to ask.
“I’ve heard it all,” Rallo said. “My friends are saying, ‘You’re out of your mind.’ Or ‘did you go bankrupt?’ ‘Are you a heroin addict? Getting a divorce?'”
They came for the wine with local restaurateur Vic Rallo and stayed for the food trucks, beer and make-your-own bloody Mary’s Saturday at Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre, hosting its second annual ‘Appetite‘ food festival.
The action continues Sunday under the theme of ‘Blues and Brews,’ spotlighting craft beers, artisanal cheeses, butcher Stew Goldstein – offering a demo on preparing a pork loin Marco roast – and more. According to the National Weather Service, it’s not going to be a beach day, so why not come out? More details here. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)
Victor Rallo & Mayor Pasquale Menna at their pasta throwdown at the Count Basie Theatre, September 7, 2013.
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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.)
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 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.
A promo video for ‘Eat! Drink! Italy!,’ Red Bank restaurateur Victor Rallo’s new TV show, which gets a launch at the Basie Saturday night. Below, a rousing night of patriotic songs fills the First Presbyterian Church at Tower Hill Sunday. (Click to enlarge)
SHREWSBURY: Monmouth County Eastern Branch Library hosts a discussion on Treasures of the Monmouth County Parks, including an update on the status of the park system post-Hurricane Sandy for this edition of First Friday for Seniors. The discussion begins at 11 a.m. 1001 Route 35 North.
“Yeah, and parle Italiano perfecto,” Victor Rallo jokes.
The owner of Basil T’s and Undici Taverna Rustica in Rumson, Rallo travels to Italy up to eight times a year, surfs in Puerto Rico, skis in the west, enjoys what he calls “absent-minded photography,” and now, has written his first book.
Basil T’s sommelier Bryant Rallo talks wine at Basil T’s Wednesday night. (Photo courtesy of Preston Porter; click to enlarge)
By DUSTIN RACIOPPI
Dan Levine came for the red, but left with the white.
It was worth the trip from Manalapan for Levine, an admitted fan of Victor Rallo’s wines.
“I love his wine,” Levine said.
Showing up to Basil T’s expecting to be wowed by Rallo’s latest vintage, a valpolicella the Red Bank restaurateur and ever-traveling vintner produced from Italy, Levine unexpectedly decided against the “silky, smooth” red and went with the “faint, light and apple-y” white, Rallo Soave.