WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? MOJO IN A SANDWICH

111815chikyboomwfl1ChikyBoom’s Cuban sandwich comes on a platter loaded with fries, potato salad and mojo sauce. Belly up to the bar in the front of the restaurant.  (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

111815chikyboom3Grabbing a stool in the bar area of ChikyBoom on Broad Street in Red Bank, PieHole was eager to try its Cubano, or Cuban sandwich given a boost in popularity by ‘Chef,’ the movie starring Jon Favreau released last year.

Was chef Eduardo Bover up to making one?

“If you’re a Cuban and you don’t know how to make a Cuban sandwich, get out of the business,” says Bover, himself an import from the Caribbean isle, as noted in a PieHole profile.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? A FRESH TAKE ON TAPAS

110815belmonte2An unusual adaptation of taquitos, above, and a glass of made-to-order sangria, below.  (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

110815belmonte4Gone are the heavy velvet drapes and dark, brooding atmosphere that once decorated Red in Red Bank. Renovated and re-dubbed the Belmonte, the Broad Street restaurant and bar with the panoramic front window is now lighter, brighter and much more inviting.

A cool, marble-topped bar elicits a bit of Old World charm. Banquettes lining the walls promise comfort, while high-top tables arranged down the center aisle of the room offer a variety of seating or standing options: playing off the primarily tapas menu, it’s a mixture of this and that.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? A PIG AND FIG

092415cheesecave2The Pig and Fig sandwich from the Cheese Cave. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

092415cheesecave4Four and a half years after opening on Monmouth Street in Red Bank, the Cheese Cave, a boutique cheese shop, is often swamped for takeout at lunch time. Whether you call ahead or order when you get there, you may have to wait in line.

If you have the time though, you should consider eating inside. The atmosphere is woodsy and calm. Sandwiches are served on bread boards instead of plates, adding an old-world rustic touch.

But it’s the sandwich combinations — or “sanwicheeses,” as they say here — that pack ’em in.
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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? AUTHENTIC MEXICAN

091515chaparrita3Enchiladas in salsa verde at La Chaparrita, below. (Photos by Susan Ericson and John T Ward. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON
la chaparrita 091515

Authentic Mexican food that brings serious heat, if that’s what you want, can be found at La Chaparrita, a grocery store and restaurant on Red Bank’s West Side with an affectionate slang Spanish name meaning “shorty.”

Lunch at one of the three cozy tables in the Shrewsbury Avenue gem is probably not so different from your mom’s — that is, if your mom has music blaring while she prepares hundreds of tamales just steps away.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? A KISSUI FOR LUCK

091015kissui5What’s for Lunch? PieHole gets beef negimaki takeout from Kissui — and a lesson in that salt pile by the front door. Read about it here (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

 

WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? A KISSUI FOR GOOD LUCK

091015kissui5A beef negimaki lunch box from Kissui, filled with fresh vegetables and rice. Below, the entrance with its traditional salt pile.  (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

091015kissui2In the vestibule of Kissui Sushi, a Japanese restaurant in the Markham Place shopping center in Little Silver, a little shelf filled with salt is the first thing that you notice.

Called morijio, meaning salt pile, the displays outside Japanese businesses are part of an old custom with various interpretations, but Kissui owner Jenny Nguyen tells us that it is “over the shoulder for good luck.”

Having eaten the sushi at Kissui many times, PieHole was looking for a little luck in the form of a hot lunch.

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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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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? HOT DOGS IN SEA BRIGHT

rooney hot dogs 082715Hot dogs from the cart of Frances Rooney, below. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

mrs rooney 082715It’s noontime on a gorgeous, late-summer day in beautiful downtown Sea Bright, and PieHole is hungry.

What’s for Lunch? Plenty, and more to choose from every month, it seems, on this back-from-the-brink spit of sand. You’ve got pizza, seafood, Japanese and more, at places ranging from beachware casual to near elegance, all within a one-mile stretch of Ocean Avenue.

But it’s not just food we’re craving. We’re nursing a palpable, please-don’t-ever-end yearning to make this day of blue skies and soft breezes just keep going and going. Sitting down indoors just seems… criminal.

So, hello, Mrs. Rooney.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? CALZONE AT OLIVIA’S

081915olivias3Prima calzone from Olivia’s Trattoria in Little Silver, with alfresco seating, below. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

081915olivias1The phone is buzzing, a waitress is taking orders, and the door opens and closes more times than we can count while we wait for our lunch at Olivia’s Trattoria.

A tiny gem of a restaurant tucked into the corner of the A&P shopping center on Prospect Avenue, it’s the best kept secret in Little Silver, a customer tells us, while another eating an enormous sub asks us not to write about it.

Sorry folks, PieHole is spilling the beans. Owners Giovanni and Dawn Sommers have a good thing going here.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? EVERYTHING ON A BAGEL

081215bagelmaster5A two-fisted corned-beef Reuben on an everything bagel from Bagel Masters. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

081215bagelmaster3A few clues indicated to PieHole that Bagel Masters, nestled in a strip mall on Broad Street in Shrewsbury, was a good bet for lunch.

The parking lot was full. There was a line of people from various walks of life waiting to place an order. Every table in the deli was taken.

This is just the type of place that makes you wonder, “what’re they giving away?”

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? GAETANO’S MAKES IT EASY

073015gaetanos2A sizable eggplant parmigiana sandwich on foccacia bread served in the open-kitchen dining room at Gaetano’s. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

073015gaetanos1When your day is filled with decisions and you get to that point where all you’re craving is a simple, easy, and effortless lunch, Gaetano’s on Wallace Street in Red Bank is a breath of stress-free fresh air.

Owner Tom Capello’s style of cuisine is what he calls regional Italian, offering familiar dishes and large portions. Oilcloth-covered tables, tile floors, and a kitchen open to the dining room in customary trattoria fashion keep the restaurant casual and comfortable. That homey sense of eating in someones kitchen comes to mind —if that kitchen happened to have an enormous pizza oven dominating the room.

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SHREWSBURY: LUNCH IN A BENTO BOX

072815fuji4The Bento Box lunch special at Fuji in Shrewsbury. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

072815fuji2Our hearts skipped a beat five years ago when Trader Joe’s announced it would open a store in what was then called the Treasure Island Mall in Shrewsbury: we thought we’d never again see the inviting teak interior of Fuji.

This was before the Greater Red Bank Green caught up to the public appetite for sushi and became fairly saturated with Japanese, Asian and fusion-style restaurants. Fuji was one one of the few, and among the better. Fortunately, Trader Joe’s simply bumped the restaurant out of its spot  in the Route 35 shopping center – and into one with a lighter, more organic decor. And the restaurant is as busy as ever, owner Jenny Chen-Ng tells PieHole.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? A TASTE OF GREECE

071415melodycafe3The grilled-shrimp souvlaki platter from Melody’s Café, formerly Santorini Greek Cuisine.  (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

071415melodycafe1Stepping into the foyer of Melody’s Café in Lincroft, we immediately felt the pull of the Adriatic. Murals, glass partitions and up-lights in shades of blue suggest a mood of clear skies and pristine seas.

First though, you need to find the place, tucked away as it is in a Newman Springs Road strip mall containing three restaurants and an Acme supermarket.

Reopened since May after broken pipes caused extensive water damage to the building, the name and hours of the former Santorini Greek Cuisine have changed, but the food is most definitely still Greek-inspired.

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RED BANK: TALKIN’ TURKEY DOWNTOWN

downtown turkey burger 061915A turkey burger, with a view, at the Downtown in Red Bank. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

morsels smallLet’s talk turkey: when it comes to the piquant aromas of summer, ground turkey on the grill is not the first thing that comes to mind. Has a turkey burger ever kicked anyone’s salivary system into high drool as surely as an onion-studded patty of juicy, red beef?

Still, even in summer, variety and health consciousness occasionally nudge PieHole in the direction of the turkey burger when we crave a hot, meaty sandwich, even if we’re a bit dubious it can come close to a real burger on flavor.

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FAIR HAVEN: A LUNCH LODGED IN MEMORY

nauvoo sandwich 052915The blackened chicken sandwich at Nauvoo Grill Club in Fair Haven. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

nauvoo 052915In the mood for something southwestern-but-not-quite Mexican, PieHole was drawn to the lodge-like Nauvoo Grill Club in Fair Haven on a lovely Friday afternoon in late spring.

At the height of the lunch hour, we found the place strangely empty. But what we ate satisfied our craving, even if it left our fingers sticky.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? SURF TACO’S SALSA ROCKS

052715surftacosTwo beef tacos and a Hawaiian salad hit the spot at Surf Taco on Broad Street in Red Bank. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

morsels mediumFast food joints came and went quickly for years in Red Bank, but none of them seemed to connect until four years ago, when the Point Pleasant-based chain Surf Taco opened on Broad Street, offering “coastal style” fast-food.

A regular customer in the early years, PieHole hadn’t stopped into the Baja style eatery in quite a while. Why? Lots of other restaurants opened in town, and this former fave was somewhat forgotten. But, needing a quick lunch, we decided to pay the simple, brickwalled tacqueria  a visit.

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RED BANK: WTF? UPS ITS OWN CHALLENGE

unterman orderingJason Unterman keeping the lunch tab low at Jr’s Burgers in Red Bank. (Photo by Jim Willis. Click to enlarge)

By JIM WILLIS

morsels mediumWhether it’s sticking to locally-sourced produce or trying to avoid gluten, it’s not uncommon for people to set food-related goals.

As previously reported by PieHole, Jason Unterman has imposed another kind of limit on himself: eating at a different lunch spot somewhere on the Greater Red Bank Green every week, and trying to keep the tab under $10. But the developer at Red Bank-based Defined Logic has managed to lead his colleagues on more than 200 such outings, and has the blog to prove it.

Now, with some changes to the endeavor he calls WTF? –  for Where’s the Food? – Unterman met with PieHole at Jr’s Burgers on West Front Street recently to share some of the wisdom he’s gleaned after all those restaurant meals.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? A HEARTY BREAKFAST

tavoloThe bacon, sausage, ham and fresh mozzarella omelette at Tavolo Pronto. (Photo by Jim Willis. Click to enlarge)

By JIM WILLIS

morsels mediumSome mornings are so chaotic that we’re too busy to fry up a few slices of real bacon. It goes without saying that a breakfast without bacon is hardly worth eating, and so some mornings, we skip breakfast.

Then noon will roll around, and we’ll want to claw back that missed meal at a place that serves breakfast all day, but we also want a proper lunch that is savory and hearty. The omelette is one of those dishes that can confidently wear its morning bathrobe and slippers to the lunch table, and we’ve found one of our favorite and most reliable omelettes at Tavolo Pronto in Fair Haven.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? POUR HOUSE REUBEN

pour_houseJust one of a huge selection of daily specials at the Pour House, the Hot Pastrami Reuben is affordable and satisfying. (Photo by Jim Willis. Click to enlarge)

By JIM WILLIS

morsels mediumAs downtown Red Bank becomes more and more a shopping destination for one-percenters and a food court for homesick Staten Islanders on the jones for steaming piles of red sauce and garlic, the 99 percent who actually live here occasionally need to get creative and cross into neighboring towns for a good lunchtime fix.

And so it was that PieHole headed across the border to Tinton Falls for lunch at our current favorite oasis of reasonably priced eats and lack of pretension: the Pour House.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? A TASTY STAPLE

040815 valstavern4 A lunch order of a Classic Parm Sandwich from the menu at Val’s Tavern. Below, General Manager Kevin Feehan. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

040815 valstavern5Val’s Tavern, on East River Road in Rumson, has been a staple since 1942. So, what does it take to keep a bar and restaurant going for all those years? Consistency, a family-friendly atmosphere, and a terrific red sauce.

Named for Valentine Ciambrone, an immigrant from Calabria, Italy, and bought by commodity traders Chris and James Smith five years ago, Val’s is anchored by a menu that, aside from daily specials, hasn’t changed. It draws clientele of devoted locals, several generations of whom grew up eating here and still find the neighborhood tavern a go-to for a quick beer or a pizza with the kids.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? BILLION-DOLLAR GRUB

RiverviewCafeteriaNot many cafeterias  offer a view as pleasing as Riverview Medical Center’s. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

red-bank-riverviewAfter popping by the maternity ward at Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank to welcome a new member to the family Thursday, PieHole found itself in need of both sustenance and What’s For Lunch fodder.

Emerging from the elevator on the way way out, we saw the sign: “Cafeteria.”

Bingo.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? A SALAD MIGHT WORK

031115 saladworks1Nuevo Nicoise salad from Saladworks on Broad Street in Red Bank, below. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

031115 saladworks3If you’re seeing red-breasted robins in the garden and shirt sleeves on the street, can spring be far behind?

It’s time to put away the bulky sweaters, and that means those extra pounds you added to your waistline this winter need to be shed, too.

Saladworks on Broad Street in Red Bank is one answer to the question, “where can we have a quick inexpensive and nonfattening lunch this week?”

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? ‘BIG EASY’ EGGS BENEDICT

030315 turning point3The Big Easy Benedict at the Turning Point. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

030315 turning point2Appetite and easy parking were all the motivation PieHole needed to stop in for a quick breakfast-for-lunch at the Turning Point on Prospect Avenue in Little Silver.

Grabbing a stool at the sturdy oak coffee bar next to a woman who had just ordered a big bowl of oatmeal for lunch, we weren’t the only ones seduced by the smell of fresh coffee, the breakfast-all-day options and the clever menu selections.

“I don’t know why,” she said, “but the oatmeal here always comes out creamier than at home.”

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