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RED BANK: SICKLES ENTERING LIQUOR BIZ

With a ’boutique’ liquor store now part of the plan, Sickles Market Provisions will take the entire first floor of the former Anderson Storage building on Monmouth Street. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

After a century-plus of operation, Little Silver-based Sickles Market will get into the liquor business when opens its new store in Red Bank, redbankgreen has learned.

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RED BANK: MIDSUMMER NIGHTS AT TEMPLE BAR

The Temple Bar at the Dublin House is a lively spot for music lovers on a warm Sunday evening. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

[Correction: The original version of this post incorrectly reported that Dead Bank was scheduled to play at the Dublin House on Saturday, August 5. They’ll be at Jamian’s Food and Drink that night.]

By SUSAN ERICSON

It’s twilight on a warm summer evening when PieHole strolls over to the Dublin House in Red Bank, taking in the sight of customers finishing their meals in the courtyard out front.

But we’re not here for dinner. Making our way through the side alley from Monmouth Street to the rear of the restaurant, we hear the deep, raspy strain of rock music and the low chatter of customers surrounding the bar named for a famous street in Dublin, Ireland: Temple Bar.

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RED BANK: BEER AND MORE AT BIRRAVINO

Customers enjoy pizza, salads, wine and beer on a breezy Sunday evening at Birravino’s new beer garden.  (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

Basil T’s Brew Pub was ahead of it’s time when it came to brewing beer in-house in New Jersey. Three years ago, Vic Rallo and partners rebranded the Red Bank restaurant and bar, naming it Birravino and giving it an updated industrial look. But they continued to brew their own beer.

The recent addition of an outdoor beer garden, built off to one side of the original structure, allows customers to wet their whistles under star-studded skies while chilling to the cool breezes coming off the Navesink River. PieHole stepped up to the window for one of the 10 local brews on tap before settling into a cherry-red Adirondack-style chair on the patio.
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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? SALADS AND PIZZA

120616urbancoal4Personal-size pizzas from the oven at Urban Coalhouse in the Galleria. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

WFL what's for lunch?PieHole stopped in for lunch last week at Urban Coalhouse Pizza and Bar, the former Tommy’s Coal-Fired Pizza in the Galleria of Red Bank, one of four restaurants that owners Andrew Cameron, Chris and Matt Lombardi and Mike Centaro have up and running around New Jersey.

We were happy to find few if any changes to what we enjoyed about Tommy’s, including the fact that the menu still centers around an enormous, coal-fired, 900-degree oven used to producing the signature pizzas and wings.
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RED BANK: A FEW HAPPY HOURS

062915birravino2Happy hour choices at Birravino included organic house wine, beer and an appetizer, while at Robinson’s Ale House, below, a martini starred.  (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

063015robinsonsThough it’s ubiquitous in Red Bank, happy hour – that late-afternoon, discounted bar-tab menu option – should not be taken for granted. Many states, according to the National Center for State Courts, prohibit or limit what has become a traditional time of day to meet with friends and acquaintances in New Jersey.

Although most bars and restaurants offer special deals to lure customers, you might be surprised at how differently those two or three hours are interpreted. PieHole breaks down what can be considered an early bird special for the economically minded while others might call it a snack before dinner.

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RED BANK: INTERNATIONAL FLAVOR RETURNS

RBIFF 042714 27Last year’s International Flavor Festival in Red Bank’s White Street parking lot served a variety of choice tidbits. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

RBIFF 042714 22With sunshine and temperatures in the 60’s in the forecast, the Red Bank International Flavour Festival should pack the White Street parking lot once again this Sunday.

The first food festival of the year in a restaurant-crazy town is like opening day for revelers and foodies alike. Seventeen or so of the borough’s finest eateries will be on hand to dispense culinary treats – savory, sweet, and exotic, including:

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ON THE GREEN: NEVER MIND BREAD. BUY WINE.

While other residents of the Greater Red Bank Green were in panic mode in the bread aisles of supermarkets, some were preparing for the looming blizzard by stocking up on their favorite beverages. NJ.com’s Brian Donohue caught up with some of them at Spirits Unlimited in Middletown, home of the famous “evil clown” sign.

WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? PICK A # @ BRENNAN’S

110514 brennans1The smoked-salmon on sesame-seed bagel from Brennan’s. Below, the menu board behind the deli counter. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

Brennan’s Deli in Rumson is all about the numbers.110514 brennans3 The board hanging above the deli counter lists 26 sandwich options – and those are just the regular suggestions; a daily special that can also be found on the website.

Having no time for a leisurely lunch this week, the takeout option brought PieHole to this old West River Road favorite. And while we ordered a number 17, a quick chat with owners Caryn McCann and John Yurish brought some of these numbers into perspective.

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GETTING FRIED ON THE GREEN

062714 zucchini barnacle billsBarnacle Bill’s fried zucchini with tangy dipping sauce is a perennial favorite, while deep fried pickle spears (below) from the Globe are a newer menu addition. (Photos By Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

DSCN2037

Eat your vegetables, you were told as a child. They’re good for you. But your mama probably didn’t mean the deep-fried veggies that have been popping up on tavern menus all around the Green.

Belly up to the bar, boys and girls, to try a less healthy but way more fun way to fill your pie hole with roughage. PieHole leads the tour…

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CIAO, BASIL’S. IT’S ‘BIRRAVINO’ NOW.

091014 birravino ralloVictor 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

091014 birravino5The 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.

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SEA BRIGHT: FRESH-PLATED BY YOUNG CHEF

080714 Chuck lesbirelChef Chuck Lesbirel in the dining room of Ama. Below: a seasonal salad of Jersey peaches, Jersey tomatoes and lobster.  (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

080714 ama lobster2How does a 26-year-old become an executive chef?

For Chuck Lesbirel, now presiding over the kitchen of Ama Ristorante in Sea Bright, it starts with an impressive résumé that goes back to a 14-year-old kid washing dishes at Palate Pleasers in Keyport.

Working in restaurant kitchens, Lesbirel watched and learned the chef business with stints at a kosher restaurant, a few small places, an educational rounding-out at the Culinary Education Center at Brookdale, and then a big jump to sous chef at David Burke Fromagerie in Rumson.

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RED BANK: ‘APPETITE’ SATISFIES HUNDREDS

At this weekend’s three-day ‘Appetite‘ extravaganza at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, hundreds of visitors feasted on food, wine, beer and culinary wisdom.

Susan Ericson’s food blog, Flavor Chronicles/Chefs in Motion has additional coverage.  (Photos by Susan Ericson. Mouse-over to pause.)

RED BANK: MORE ON THE MENU AT ‘APPETITE’

080214 appetite8080214 appetite16They 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)    080214 appetite27

RED BANK: BEACHY GIFT IDEA AT CANDY’S

candy's cottage 052314 2Glassware at Candy’s Cottage.  (Photo by John T Ward. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

morsels mediumNew to Monmouth Street in Red Bank, Candy’s Cottage carries a selection of beach-themed, etched glassware.

Store owner – and seashell artisan – Candy Galekovic will personalize any of the elegant wine glasses with an array of seashells, which she glues to the base.

“A lot of people come in and purchase the champagne flutes for the bride and groom as toasting glasses,” she said, adding that the store also now offers gift registry on its website.

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PIEHOLE: WHAT’S ON YOUR SUPER BOWL MENU?

Red-Hot-Chili-Peppers-join-Bruno-Mars-at-Super-Bowl-XLVIII-650x406PieHole wants to hear what kind of Super Bowl menu our readers can put together featuring surf, turf and a side of chili peppers.

By JIM WILLIS

morsels mediumFor some of us East Coast football fans, the most exciting bit of this weekend’s Super Bowl matchup between Seattle and Denver will be the halftime pairing of Bruno Mars with the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

But with Washington’s famed salmon and oysters and Colorado’s beef and lamb, a Super Bowl menu pairing of surf and turf could make for yet another interesting matchup.

Moreover, you’ve got Washington State’s great wines to go up against Colorado’s long beer brewing history.

Combine the offerings from these two states with New Jersey’s hosting of the game – which, of course, gives you license to put pork roll on whatever you make – and you’ve got the makings for a historic Super Bowl menu here.

What about you PieHole readers: What will you be serving up for this Sunday’s game?

 

 

 

RED BANK: TASTING ROOM’S WINE HARDWARE

tastingroomA gift box of wine hardware, including an in-bottle decanter and a preserver vacuum, from The Tasting Room in Red Bank. (Photo by Jim Willis. Click to enlarge)

PieHole knows that local foraging is the best foraging. For the food lovers on your gift list, we have assembled PieHole’s First Annual Shop Local Holiday Food & Drink Gift Guide. This is the 10th in the series.

PIEHOLE-GIFT_MED

Decanting wine ostensibly serves two purposes: it keeps any sediment that may have developed in the wine bottle during aging from ending up in your glass, and it aerates the wine, letting it breathe a bit.

For $49.95, the Soiree Signature Series kit from Faustini Winery’s Tasting Room in Red Bank has an in-bottle decanter that you can bring along with you when heading out on the town to your favorite BYOB restaurant.

It fits in the neck of the bottle and decants as it pours. Handy. The kit also has a few other wine-related goodies, such as a preserver vacuum and a drying rack for the decanter.

RED BANK: A NOT-TOO-ECCENTRIC CAB

duckhorn_wine

PIEHOLE-GIFT_MEDPieHole knows that local foraging is the best foraging. So for the food lovers on your gift lis,t we have assembled 12 Days of PieHole’s First Annual Shop Local Holiday Food & Drink Gift Guide. This is the 5th in the series.

Wine preferences are notoriously subjective and personal. It can be difficult to give someone a really nice wine if you don’t know much about the drinker’s preferences.

The Wine Cellar on Monmouth Street in Red Bank carries Duckhorn Cabernet from California. PieHole‘s opinion is that this wine has a bit of the personality and complexity you’d expect in a pricier red without being too eccentric. A very tasty safe bet if you’re looking to gift a bottle of wine. $66.99.

RED BANK: LUCKY BREAK BILLIARDS TO REOPEN

lucky break 102113Lucky Break was closed for more than two months as the owner struggled to find a way out of red tape over BYOB rules.  (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Lucky Break Billiards, the Red Bank pool hall that shut itself down after becoming entangled in bureaucratic red tape over beer and wine consumption, will reopen Thursday.

Hall owner James Hertler tells redbankgreen he got the green light to reopen Wednesday from Mayor Pasquale Menna.

“The gist of it was that there was no complaint” by anyone that Hertler could challenge in court, Hertler said Menna told him. “My takeaway was that we’re good to go.”

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RED BANK: LUCKY BREAK’S SHATTERED DREAM

lucky break 102913James Hertler, below, shut down Lucky Break Billiards in September, a month after police cracked down over BYOB issues. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

james hertler 101813How’s this for an auspicious start for a business?

• In early 2011, in an effort to spice up nightlife, Red Bank Mayor Pasquale Menna spearheads a zoning law change to allow billiards parlors and other entertainment-based businesses to operate downtown.

• Several months later, former Mayor Ed McKenna, as lawyer on a lease for a planned billiards parlor, calls now-deceased police Chief Steve McCarthy to confirm that it could operate as a bring-your-own-beer and wine establishment. McKenna gets an OK, he tells his client, James Hertler, who was in McKenna’s office during the call.

• That October, Hertler goes before the zoning board and wins quick, unanimous approval of his plan for Lucky Break Billiards. Throughout its lengthy resolution of approval, the board notes that Lucky Break will be a BYOB that serves coffee and microwavable snacks and will allow its customers to bring in food from nearby restaurants.

• The following March, Hertler and partner Jeff Regen open Lucky Break at 14 West Front Street, in a space that had been vacant for four years.

• Lucky Break toughs it out for the next 18 months, building a repeat clientele largely based on private parties and edging toward profitability.

• Though it’s located amid a busy cluster of bars, there’s not a single incident requiring a police response at Lucky Break. “We worked hard to be a good neighbor,” said Hertler, a borough resident.

Yet without any change in the pattern described above, guess who abruptly finds himself accused of violating liquor laws – and out of business?

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RED BANK: CHEESE, THAT’S A GREAT IDEA…

thanksgivingcheeseCaitlin O’Neill of Sickles Market suggests some alternatives to the usual Thanksgiving Day pre-eats. (Photo by Jim Willis. Click to enlarge)

By JIM WILLIS

For the Thanksgiving host, there’s always the question of what snacks to put out for the guests while they wait to sit down to the big meal – something that won’t spoil the appetite but will keep the crowd conscious enough to feign interest in a Lions or Cowboys game.

PieHole checked in with some Red Bank-area cheesemongers to see if they could come up with an alternative to the ubiquitous Chex Mix or chips and veggies with sour cream and onion dip. And cheese, they sure did.

“There are a range of cheeses that would allow you to offset the richness of the Thanksgiving dinner plate,” says Caitlin O’Neill, cheesemonger at Sickles Market, in Little Silver.

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RED BANK: FIRST SIP OF SUMMER

Red Bank unveiled a new, two-day summer event called Sippin’ on the River over the weekend. redbankgreen was there the first night to capture the sights as thousands flocked to Marine Park for great food, a little beer or wine, and good company beside our beautiful Navesink River. Were you there? See who you might know in our 50 photos.

HOLIDAY CHEER IN THE GREENHOUSE

With another spirited (and sold-out) gathering in the greenhouse, Sickles Market in Little Silver hosted its annual wine and cheese fundraiser for Holiday Express Friday night.

The event featured auctions of wines and wine-cellar tours, plus a performance by Holiday Express, Tim McLoone’s nonprofit good-cheer band of merrymakers.

As is its custom, Holiday Express will kick of the holiday season Red Bank style with an outdoor concert and town lighting on Friday, November 25 and will make its annual stop at the Count Basie Theatre on December 15.