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Where to Eat in Monmouth County, NJ

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  • John Tracey Sep 16, 2000 08:31 AM
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My wife and I are having a heck of a time finding good places to eat in and around Red Bank, NJ. We have had no problem finding bad places -- uninspired German restaurants with splendid ocean views and very ordinary food; dime-a-dozen Italian places serving ice-cold mozzarella; etc.

I wonder if anyone can recommend some real find in this area -- Red Bank, Long Branch, Rumson, Middletown, Atlantic Highlands, etc. Almost anywhere in Monmouth County will do; we're getting desperate.

We have a few that we like.

We know about Fromagerie in Rumson, of course -- and go there about once a year or so, or whenever the bank makes an error in our favor.

In Red Bank, the Bistro seemed very good on the first visit but now seems perhaps only good. There is some great stuff there but a lot of what I call "hyperambitious" food and combinations. They have a "crispy" spinach that seemed a marvel at first but soon seemed only greasy. Still, a decent place.

Joe and Maggie's, in Long Branch, has been very good to us. It's a great little place, our favorite in the area. Menu changes all the time. Everyone always likes what they get there.

Siam Garden (Thai) in Red Bank is good, but the 8-pound wooden menus have got to go. Service can be awful.

Topps in Red Bank is a good place for German food. The shared platters of red cabbage and potato salad are a bit much for the summer though.

I liked Crown Palace (Chinese) in Middletown two years ago; lately, it seems more and more like your everyday mediocre Chinese place. Service is starting to get bad, too.

I'd love to hear suggestions from others.

John Tracey
Rumson, NJ

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  1. I live in Middletown and I read your recommendations with interest. I really enjoy Joe & Maggies. I'm going to try Topps. Please see the URL below for some recent recommendations I posted here on Chowhound. (I recommended Barnacle Bills, but was disappointed on my last visit.)

    Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

    14 Replies
    1. re: Val G

      I have to say it. The food that best meets its culinary objective is to be found at Max's in Long Branch. Most every time I have dinner somewhere in Monmouth County I wish that I were having a few of Max's hot dogs with a beer instead of where I find myself eating. But maybe I am being to critical trying to make a point.

      1. re: Peter

        Where is Max's? Is it a hot dog stand? Anything for non-meat-eaters?

        1. re: Val G

          Max's is close to the southern border of Long Branch and is about a block or so in from the ocean. It is quite well known in the area, just ask anyone for its whereabouts. It used to be a stand many years ago when it was on the boardwalk in Long Branch. Now it is a fairly large place that sells a whole lot of hot dogs.

          1. re: Peter

            So, Peter, would you place Max's ahead of or behind Windmill in the battle for the best hot dog in Jersey -- or at least on Ocean Avenue?

            1. re: John Tracey

              I've been to both Windmill's and to Max's. Honestly, I used to love Max's years ago, but now (after 20 years later) Windmill's hot dogs nowadays tastes just like the old days of Max's. I've stopped going to Max's because of their overpriced meals, and I like Windmill's much better.

              1. re: John Tracey

                For past 45 years have enjoyed Max's hot dogs on yearly trips Florida to NJ. It's the first place we stop. I understand that Max's uses Schickhaus hot dogs. Can anyone confirm and suggest places that ship down South?

                Windmill is great, too, but for real crunchy dogs and cold bear, it's Max's.

                1. re: Jim

                  Agree fully about Shickhaus franks. Have been enjoying them for over 50 yrs. Max's used to be a small stand on the boardwalk in Long Branch. The franks used to be able to be purchased from a distributer in Long Branch, uptown. Forget the name of the place now but a little snooping should be able to turn it up.
                  Still stop at the new Max's when we hit the area and even "Mrs Max's" obnoxious arrogance can't take away the flavor. She claims they are made only for her but good sources say otherwise and they are Shickhaus.

                  1. re: gary

                    True they are not made for her...My father owned stands in Belmar, His friend owned Juniors on th epier in Long Branch.. Both sold Shickhaus.. Though We used to go to Max's on the Boardwalk.. The little old one.. Not the newer one on the boardwalk, and then not the one off the boardwalk..
                    I now live in Dallas.. Damn no shickhaus.. Though when I travel to the Shore (mostly for bluefishing in the summer) I buy them a pathmark on 35 in Belmar..And bring home about 10 packs..then the next problems is sauerkraut..damn.. My first time Max's was about 1964 I think I was 6..

                    1. re: gary

                      long branch - hot dog distributor - Wennigs

                  2. re: John Tracey

                    I've been eating at Max's & Windmill for over 25 years now, & I've always thought that Windmill served the better dog. I have lunch at Windmill at least once a week. It's definitely a subjective thing, try both if you can. In the past, Max's was always a little more expensive, but there is waitress service & a more varied menu to choose from. By this past summer, though, I realized that the price of a dog, fries, & a drink at Max's was almost double the price of a comparable meal at Windmill. I made the conscious decision not to eat there anymore, because it's just not worth it. I'll miss Mrs. Max.

                    Other reasons I like Windmill better:

                    1) Cheese Fries! The best on earth! (Mrs. Max only recently started selling cheese fries, which can not compare to Windmill's.)

                    2) Chili Cheese Dogs- Can't get that at Max's. Use a knife & fork, 'cause you aint pickin' it up! (Note- Mrs. Max does serve an interesting take on the cheese dog- real cheese stuffed into a split dog.)

                    3) The fries- I know a lot of people who are kosher & will never know the yummy taste of a Shickhauss frank, but they go to Windmill special for the fries. The secret is that they're fried twice, so they're extra crispy good! Go to Max's if you like big ol' steak fries.

                    4) Coupons- Windmill constantly publishes coupons in the local Ad Mags (TV Shopper Guide?!) for $1.00 off, or BOGOF, and they're not too particular about expired ones, so keep a few in your wallet.

                    5) Open year round, with a choice of locations. Two in long branch, & others in Red Bank, Belmar, & Freehold, that I know of. All locations offer good, consistent, "Windmill" food, the same from one to the other, kind of like Mc Donalds. First timers must go to the original, windmill shaped store, at the corner of Ocean Blvd. & Brighton Ave. in the West End section of Long Branch. It's a cool place, very unique, & open all night, I think. The newer Windmill in North LB offers inside seating, that's where I usually go. Jonesin' for Max's in February? Find Mrs. Max in Florida, and maybe she'll make you one.

                    No disrespect to Max's- It's an institution around here in the summer, and I've enjoyed many dogs & beers there, I just like Windmill better.

                    Other area restaurants I like:

                    Vic's, Pete & Elda's, Il Picolo Forno, Il Giancone's, Mom's Kitchen, Charlie's, Mr. C's, Tuzzio's, Joe & Maggie's, Richard's Deli in West End, Illianos (little), Americana Diner, & Pearl of the Sea (Portuguese, LB).
                    This list is by no means complete, just my favorites.

                    JAD

                    1. re: JAD

                      I stand corrected. Windmill dogs are Sabrett, Max's dogs are Shickhaus.

                      Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                      1. re: JAD

                        Max's WAS great before the Long Branch boardwalk fire, when Max himself used to grill up dogs. It was a tiny place w/ great dogs. Max's now is simply overpriced and not so great. Oh, and the service (good luck getting the "waitress's" attention) simply sucks. Stick to the Windmill for dogs or hit Jersey Joe's in Port Monmouth for great Italian hot dogs and/or sausages.

                        1. re: cozmikchuck

                          Hi cozmikchuck!

                          I see a Jersey Joes at the corner of Wilson Ave and Port Monmouth Rd. Would that be the place?

                          I recently enjoyed the Newark-style Italian hot dog at Ricci D's in Keyport (124 W Front St). The pizza-bread roll is really great. Pepper/onion/potato toppings are good -- greasy in a good way. They slather the roll with brown mustard. Next time I will ask for less mustard. I'd recommend ordering a double as the hot dogs they use are small.

              2. re: Val G

                I know a great place to eat in Red Bank. We moved to Pennsylvania, but we come back to red bank just to go to the walt Street Pub. They have the best buffalo wings around, cheeseburgers that are out of this world and butterfly fries that i can't get enough of. They have daily homemade specials and some new additions to their menu. They also have steamed old bay shrimp that rock!!! We always eat here whenever we are in town...a deffinate must. check out their menu...www.waltstreetpub.com

              3. "In Red Bank, the Bistro seemed very good on the first visit but now seems perhaps only good. There is some great stuff there but a lot of what I call "hyperambitious" food and combinations. "

                Hyperambitious is an apt description for The Bistro. I ate there two years ago and have no desire to return. The food was showy but not delicious. (But I keep hearing that it's very good.)

                "Siam Garden (Thai) in Red Bank is good, but the 8-pound wooden menus have got to go. Service can be awful. "
                Try Far East Taste on Rt 35 in Eatontown. It's not elegant, but the food is delicious. Order from the chalkboard.

                "I liked Crown Palace (Chinese) in Middletown two years ago; lately, it seems more and more like your everyday mediocre Chinese place. Service is starting to get bad, too."
                Agreed! I haven't found any Asian that I like, other than Far East Taste.

                Italian restaurants. I wish I knew a really good one. Buena Serra (Maple St, Red Bank) is really popular. It's a lovely festive place. The food is fresh and good, but way too salty for me.
                Piero's is my current local favorite. (1411 State Route 36, Keyport, 732-264-5222) The food is very good, but not inspired. It's fresh, competently prepared northern Italian. Very comfortable place with excellent service. Caveat: specials are double the price of regular entrees.

                10 Replies
                1. re: Val G

                  Thanks for the recommendations. I'm going to try both of them.

                  There's a place in Red Bank that seems to get a lot of hype because of its beer -- Basil Ts -- but I found the place dreadful when I went (once). I usually give restaurants a second chance but it was so bad (sour food, even!) I just couldn't.

                  I've been to Juanita's in Red Bank, too, which I think is probably the best Mexican food in the area -- and Lord help Red Bank in that case. Do not order the hideous glop of greasy melted cheese they call a chorizo cheese dip or whatever -- it's truly horrifying. Once in a while you will find something good on the specials menu -- if you can stomach $17 crab cakes at such an ordinary place.

                  Perhaps it's just me, but I have a real dislike for the two Italian places in the heart of town -- La Pastaria and Mamma Mia (I think it's called). La Pastaria especially, which is packed every night, serves dreadful bread and (my opinion, of course) uneven meals pretty consistently. They set up a "tapas" bar a while back that bothered me too -- seemed very touristy, and what they chose to serve there was so ordinary -- basically salads and bad antipasto. I had read Saveur's amazing article on tapas recently and expected lots of good stuff. I may just be in a cranky mood, but -- is there a good Italian place in Red Bank? I don't think so.

                  My wife and I had found an ugly little Greek place in Shrewsbury -- the restaurant capital of America, with both a Perkins-type family place and a Boston Market in one square mile -- and went their religiously for a month every week, getting delicious grilled meats and a fabulously tangy lemon chicken soup. Then one Friday they were gone. (sigh)

                  1. re: John Tracey

                    Let me know how you like Far East Taste. Please don't expect too much from Piero's. It's one of the best Italian restaurants I've found in the area -- but that's not saying much.

                    More on Red Bank:

                    The food at Juanitos is passable, and yes, the best in the area. My husband and I were both sick after eating there once. Maybe just an off night. ***But!!! I saw a little Mexican luncheonette in Long Branch -- on Broadway, on a corner near Joe & Maggies. Haven't tried it yet. But my radar says it may be good.***

                    I found La Pastaria to be ordinary. I didn't know about the tapas bar. Maybe they're trying to grab some of The Bistro's trendy-minded clientele.

                    I think Red Bank is cursed for restaurants. The only food I really like in Red Bank is the salad bar at the Second Nature health food store and the pancakes at the Broadway Diner. Red Bank calls itself "the hippest town in NJ". I think their restaurants try to be cool or cute or retro. They care more about the look than the cook. They are blessed with hordes of people who come in to town on the weekends to hang out.

                    Middletown is another sad story. 40 square miles and only 1 good place to eat - Navesink Fishery.

                    1. re: Val G

                      The Bistro in Red Bank is pretentious and just no fun; Far East Taste is awesome, but try to ask for one of Richard's special fish dishes. He catches much of the fish fresh and it tastes amazing. Good Mexican in Red Bank can be found at a place called La Chalupa's right near the train station. It's not fancy, and rumor has it the chef came from Juanito's. As for Juanito's, it ok but too heavy/greasy and the portions are too large.

                      That sad story about the Greek restaurant is an ongoing obsession for my husband. It was called Mykonos (in the Marshall's shopping center in Shrewsbury) and he swears he sees signs for it every once in a while when the craving for chicken souvlaki overtakes him. Despite having many diners in the area, there is no good Greek restaurant around here (aside from It's Greek To Me--which is a chain). We usually end up at the Americana diner (good chicken souvlaki and matzoh ball soup).

                      I like San Remo's for Italian, but I was only there once. Rosina's is ok for Italian take out. Mirasol (for Portuguese) is TOOO salty and the shrimp was a bit nasty; I'd head to South Amboy or Newark or experiment with some of the places in Long Branch. Pearl of the Sea is ok, but not great.

                      On the higher end:
                      Doris and Ed's--huge disappointment; La Frommagerie--worth every cent; Joe & Maggie's--B+. Does anyone know about Nicholas in Middletown? Top rated in Zagat's, but I don't know anyone who has been there.

                      Best Burgers: Barnacle's in Rumson, Java Moon in Shrewsbury (but the service absolutely stinks and I won't go back); the Globe in Red Bank (awesome wings and sweet potato fries); and all of the restaurants in the Pour House/Sitting Duck/Main Street chain (but don't order anything other than a burger or maybe the French dip--anything with seafood stuffing is horrid).

                      Fish & Chips are ok at Stewart's and Thompsons, but you're probably better off making them at home. Do NOT get them at the Dublin House in Red Bank or you will be disappointed.

                      1. re: Heidi61

                        Heidi61, There are many fans of Nicholas on this board, including me, who consider it one of the best restaurants in the state.

                        When you say Joe & Maggie's, do you mean their original restaurant? They sold it, and the new owners re-named it Cask 571. Joe & Maggie now own Bay Av. Trattoria.

                        1. re: Heidi61

                          Heidi, Welcome to Chowhound. You probably didn't notice, but the post you replied to was dated September 2000 :-).

                          Since I wrote that post I've been to Nicholas several times and I love it. Despite the high prices, I consider it a good value for the quality and service.

                          best regards
                          Val Ann C (formerly Val G)

                          1. re: val ann c

                            hmmmm...Fromagerie...where was that overrated restaurant thread again? :)

                          2. re: Heidi61

                            I think La Chalupa is one of Red Bank's best-kept secrets. When we lived in Monmouth County my wife and I went there all the time and experimented with many different dishes. We loved every single thing that place made. I miss it so. :(

                          3. re: Val G

                            Val G, Though their p.o. address is Red Bank, Nicholas is actually in Middletown. So, that makes two!

                        2. re: Val G

                          I always liked the Murphy style grill, in downtown red bank. great prime rib and sizzling steaks served "murhpy style". and reasonable , too.

                          1. re: ellen

                            Murphy's actually changed alot since 2000 - we go there frequently however have calmed down on them - there portions have lessened as the prices increased - also things like "would you like to add lettuce and tomato to your burger for $2.00) are you kidding me?? Things like this turned us off big time - however - 2 lobsters for $22 can't be beat!

                        3. If you like Portugese food try Mirasol in Sea Bright.
                          Cousin's in Highlands is good too but not consistently
                          so. Great Szechuan in Aberdeen is an excellent
                          Chinese restaurant with absolutely no ambiance
                          (in the Grand Union strip mall). It's tough to find good eateries in the area.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: christina z

                            Haven't been to Mirasol in over 5 years - however when we went it was fantasic -the sausage, seafood paella and the sangria were all amazing - anything change? Is it still the same after all these years etc...?

                          2. what about the irish bar across from the train station and the german place right by there, are they still open? I used to hang out around there and really liked the food at both places. the irish bar was a bar, but with good sandwiches and corned beef and cabbage if you were in the mood.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: lee

                              The german place is the Little Kraut. Still decent though it has slipped a bit over the last 10 or so years. Outdoor dining in the summer and a decent beer list and some good german wines

                            2. Another "on someone else's dime" or special occasion place is 2 Senza, in Red Bank. It's in that big converted warehouse place just off the main business district (The Galleria?). Very expensive but very good. Smallish kind of place and BYOB, though I seem to recall them starting to sell wine that you could buy and then bring. Outdoor eating in season. I have fond memories of the bread and tapenade they brought out, a seared tuna appetizer that was yummy, but my brain refuses to recall the entrees I had. The only time I recall being disappointed is when I threw caution to the wind and ordered a salad with quail and then rabbit for the main course - the meats were yummy, it was just too much work to eat them!

                              I agree with you on the Bistro - I'd heard good things about them, but once was enough for me. Crowded *and* smoky. Ick.

                              I work in Middletown, and on the occasions where I'm eating in the area by myself, I usually end up at the Macaroni Grill. Yeah, it's a chain, but I enjoy them, and I'm usually fussy about Italian. It's the place Olive Garden would like to be and never will.

                              Link: http://www.gooddeed.net/vacation/

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Jen Kitchen

                                I love the murphy style grill in downtown red bank.
                                great steaks and prime rib, reasonable too. I find it espescially frustrating finding a good, (unique) restaurant in my sister's suburban world of Manalapan/ North Freehold. who wants to go to fridays and olive garden? I like the independant / ma&pa places, and I'm sure all of you chowhounds do , too. Or else we would'nt be here!!

                                I'm beginning to think the diners along rt. 9 and rt. 18 may be the best bets. I had an excellent hamburger (and I am very particular about my burgers!) at the PeterPank diner on rt. 9 in Old Bridge, just today.
                                Enjoy, everyone!!

                              2. There are some unbelievable restaurants around here!! In Atlantic Highlands, Copper Canyon and Indigo Moon.
                                In Long Branch, Uptown and Dino's. In Ocean Grove, Moonstruck. In Freehold, Marielle's, Metropolitan Cafe and 75 South. I could go on and on....

                                1. In red bank,no joes on broad street has very good sandwiches and soups,also salads.The menu is limited,but very good.They have different coffee drinks and deserts.If you like portugese food Costa Verde on route 36 going toward woodbridge is good.Also the portugese manor in perth amboy.

                                  1. i love the raven and the peach in fair haven. i have had nemerous good meals and i love the atmosphere. the piano bar really makes it seem like a night out not just dinner. also, in spring lake is whispers at the hewlett wellington. excellent. the best foie gra appetizer i have ever had with wonderful chilen sea bass. great selection of desserts. the only thing less than perfect. the lobster bisque was salty. small place need reservation. byob. also across from the lake an is nice for a walk after dinner

                                    1. Doris & Ed's, Highlands.
                                      Bobby D's, Highlands.
                                      Navesink Fishery, Navesink.
                                      What's Your Beef, Rumson.
                                      The Brothers, Red Bank.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: craig

                                        Doris & Ed's served me the best Chilean sea bass I've ever had, but the service was absolutely awful and the ambiance is like eating dinner in your great-great-grandmother's tea room. I took my wife there for Valentine's Day about four years ago and we haven't felt the need to go back.

                                      2. A little place in wall twp. serves great food, it's causual with a fine taste... Attilios Pizza in K-mart Plaza on Route 35.... great pizza good, and cheap! Around 12.50 for chicken parm, a salad and GREAT bread. Nice services, fresh food, and better food then some upscale trendy places. It's def. worth a try, only complaint... in the winter the food seems to be a lower quality (maybe due to drop of customer volume, but 9 out of 10 times it's awesome!)

                                        1. How did this post get brought back! :)

                                          I enjoy reading it!

                                          1. Best fried shrimp and scallops (not to mention superb tartar sauce) in my book for over 30 years of my patronage -- Keyport Fishery, at the bottom of Front Street in Keyport, across from (yuk) Ye Cottage Inn and the municipal parking lot overlooking the marina, the bay, and on a clear day, downtown manhattan. The view from the parking lot is important because the Fishery is pure take out.

                                            11 Replies
                                            1. re: fpatrick

                                              Closed by a fire last weekend, sadly. The good news is no one was hurt and the owners promise to rebuild.

                                              http://independent.gmnews.com/news/20...

                                              1. re: squid kun

                                                Sadly, indeed. After 32 years of going to the place, where will we eat after our trips to Delicious Orchards? Looking forward to the rebuild and reopening, although I wonder what'll happen to the quality of the fried fish with new fryers (and new oil?).

                                                1. re: fpatrick

                                                  Should I presume you were joking with your "(and new oil?) comment? If not, you are dead wrong to think that "old" oil makes for top quality fried fish. Quite the opposite. The best fried fish depends on frequent changes to fresh oil. Thompson's of Kearny, in Belmar, changes their oil with great frequency, which is one of the reasons their fried fish is so delish!

                                                  Re: Where to eat after your trips to Delicious Orchards. You could go just across the road to I Cavallini or Christopher's Cafe.

                                                  http://www.icavallini.com
                                                  http://www.christopherscafe.homestead...

                                                  If you want an alternative in Keyport, you can't do better than the delicious Creole/Cajun-inspired food at Drew's Bayshore Bistro.

                                                  http://www.bayshorebistro.com

                                                  And if it's excellent fried fish you're craving, then head on down to Thompson's.

                                                  http://www.thompsonsfishnchipsofkearn...

                                                  1. re: RGR

                                                    It was a (lame) joke.

                                                    We're getting a bit out of Monmounth County, but how does Thompson's compare with Argyle?

                                                    1. re: RGR

                                                      Been to Icavallini and was not impressed. Very expensive. it took three calls to get a reservation, need to call a week ahead. all the wait and dinner was just so so. Disappointeed. Will not return.

                                                      1. re: Barbarella

                                                        Barbarella, When exactly did you go to I Cavallini? Was it before Chef Toni Froio left toward to the end of '06? We haven't been since then. However, we've never had any difficulty getting a reservation even for the same day though we've only dined there mid-week, never on a Friday or Saturday.

                                                        1. re: RGR

                                                          I was there sometime last year, not sure when, may have been in June. was not impresssed at all. I was there on a Saturday night. When were you there last?

                                                          1. re: Barbarella

                                                            I often keep food tickets, so I checked, and I found that the last time we we were there was Dec. 1, '05, a Thursday. I remember that we decided to go at the last minute. We shared an eggplant rollitini special, I had branzino, my husband had a steak, and we had cream puffs and gelato for dessert. My husband had a glass of merlot. The food was excellent. One thing I have to say, though, is that while we've had good service most times we've been there, occasionally, we've been stuck with a server who left something to be desire.

                                                2. re: fpatrick

                                                  Tried it more than a few times a couple of years back ,but stopped going as they never have any malt vinegar.I asked for it every time I went,but they never got the hint? I liked the coastal bare bones ambience of this place,and had accepted that I was being served small cubes of fish as opposed to a fillet which is standard for Fish & Chips.I now go to Dino's on 35 in Hazlet.The Kearny places mentioned are O.K. but not worth a detour.If you want authentic English Fish & Chips the closest i've come across in 20 years is A Salt & Battery on Greenwich ave in Manhattan ( Worth the trip ).As a side note,wholefoods fish in middletown is very expensive IMO, but they will cut you a great piece of cod as requested.it is also worth noting that i've seen Hake there at less than $5.00 / lb.which is an absolute steal and IMO much better for Fish & Chips.Many of the Chip shops in England don't carry it any more as it's too hard to get or too expensive now.

                                                  1. re: xny556cip

                                                    Thanks for these good tips. I live near Keyport Fishery and also lament the lack of malt vinegar. I buy get a small bottle to take with me next time. (bring the mountain to Mohammed :-)

                                                    What do you like at Dinos? I went many years ago and was not impressed. Willing to give it another try.

                                                    1. re: val ann c

                                                      I only have the cod sandwich. Again, nothing special but it will satisfy quick fish craving as I hit the 34 / 35 junction and is superior to any fast food joint.I've always wondered why ther isn't a decent seafood 'shack' in the area that served lobster rolls and GREAT seafood coctails etc. ( I'm thinking of a place like Pearl in Greenwich Village - housed in a New England style clapboard hut in a location like Sugar Shack / Petes on the Bay / Keyport Fishery ) ? I'm sure Navesink fishery could pull it off ,if they were so inclined?

                                                3. I really like the food at the Molly Pitcher Inn. I'm a fan of salads, and they make one of the best cobb salads that I've ever had, including a homemade champagne vinagrette that really makes it. I've also heard that they have a wonderful brunch. Plus, they really do have a wonderful view in the dining room of the Navesink. The pub is really fun and feels more like a room in someone's home rather than a room in a hotel.

                                                  1. I know this is further south than you are talking about, but still Monmouth county.... the Porch in Spring Lake. I always liked their food and now that there isn't any smoking (the bar is kind of close to the tables) you can enjoy a smoke free dinner!

                                                    -Lisa
                                                    http://currentsmedia.com

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: currents

                                                      hamburgers are pretty good at the Porch. My favorite burger place is Main Street USA on 35 in Ocean. Best ever, huge bar and burgers, and friendly staff. My home away from home.

                                                    2. Hey, fpatrick, For some reason, there's no "reply" button on your response to my post above, so I'm replying here.

                                                      I sort of figured you were joking. :-)

                                                      I've never heard of Argyle. Where is it located?

                                                      14 Replies
                                                      1. re: RGR

                                                        212 Kearny Ave, Kearny, NJ
                                                        (Like I said, not Monmouth)

                                                        1. re: fpatrick

                                                          As I understand it, Kearny was, at one time, fish 'n' chips central. Both Thompson's and Stewart's (which I've not been to) moved some years ago to points south. Besides Argyle, are there other fish 'n' chips spots in Kearny?

                                                          1. re: RGR

                                                            Hi everyone -- I've been an occasional visitor to this site and have found it enormously helpful -- thanks for all your input! This is my first post, so please excuse me if this question has been asked before, or if I am posting incorrectly. Could anyone suggest some restaurants in Monmouth County that have round tables, appropriate for a party of up to 8 or 9 people? I have a circle (no pun intended) of friends who like to go out for birthday celebrations, and we find conversation much easier at round tables, but we've only stumbled upon that once, at Juanitos in Red Bank. We are open to various cuisines. Thanks very much for your help!

                                                            1. re: josienj

                                                              Try westlake on rte 34 in matawan. All Chinese restaurants have round tables.

                                                              1. re: wench31

                                                                2nd Westlake - round tables for as many as you like from four to sixteen? I believe. Call ahead to reserve the big one.

                                                                http://www.westlakeseafood.com

                                                              2. re: josienj

                                                                Hey, josienj, Welcome! Glad you've found our discussions helpful. I hope you will now chime in regularly with your views and reports.

                                                                I know of several restaurants that have at least one round table. You'll have to call to check on how many those tables can accommodate.

                                                                Drew's Bayshore Bistro - http://www.bayshorebistro.com

                                                                Thai Thai - http://www.thaithaicuisine.com

                                                                SamVera - http://www.samvera.com

                                                                Lorena's - http://www.restaurantlorena.com

                                                                El Meson - on their outdoor patio

                                                                Edited to add: I just realized that this thread relates to Monmouth County. Thai Thai is just over the border in Old Bridge (Middlesex). Lorena's is further away, in Maplewood (Essex), but definitely worth the trip!

                                                                1. re: josienj

                                                                  Molly Pitcher Inn in Red Bank has round tables but I can only vouch for their decadent brunch.

                                                                  Buona Sera in Red Bank has round tables and may be fun for you but most chowhounds would agree that it's overrated.

                                                                  Charley's Ocean Grill in north Long Branch has two round tables that they save for large parties. We love Charley's because of the friendly staff and reliable kitchen (not cuisine, mind you, but great steaks, scallops, seared tuna, salads, soups, comfort menu).

                                                                  www.charleysoceangrill.com

                                                                  When Neil's was in Allenhurst, it had round tables. I don't know whether the knew owner, Mr. C, kept them (we ate outside) but I know the food rocks.

                                                                  www.mistercsbeachbistro.com

                                                                  Sallee Tee's in Monmouth Beach has round tables in the main dining room.

                                                                  http://www.salleeteesgrille.com/index...

                                                                  Hmm...I know more will come to me...

                                                                  1. re: fershore

                                                                    I just found chowhound and this thread. I recently moved from DC(food mecca) to Shrewsbury, NJ(someone else pointed out earlier-the polar opposite foodwise from DC) and miss lots of things. We have discovered El Meson in Freehold to be quite good and we go to Siam Garden in Red Bank quite often. For a good lunch, we love The Turning Point and It's Greek to Me in Pier Village. For Indian, we have been heading into the city, although I hear I need to try Iselin(not Monmouth).

                                                                    We just got a gift certificate from a silent auction for Ashes, any good?

                                                                    Also, the one good restaurant we have found in Shrewsbury is Rosina's on Shrewsbury Ave, now I haven't eaten inside the place, but we have gotten take-out a couple times and the food is quite and one of the only places around that didn't give me a salt hang-over. Mind you, it's not high end cuisine, but it's good family Italian. Ridiculous portions and good prices.

                                                                    1. re: heathergt

                                                                      Welcome to the neighborhood and welcome to chowhound. I'm not familiar w/DC dining, but I often say you could dine at a different place every night of the year 'round these parts and have a decent meal and never find yourself at a chain. Keep reading this board and you'll see.

                                                                      What exactly do you miss? Maybe we can help.

                                                                      I haven't dined at Ashes. I hear they're overpriced. Please report on your meal here.

                                                                      I've heard nice things about Rosina's. I'm going to give it a try.

                                                                      Go to San Remo on Newman Springs Rd. (520) across from the large Spirits. It's a BYO that I've been to a few times and loved. Nobody talks about it here. I'd like to hear what you think. Get a burger or seafood at Barnacle Bill's in Rumson. Also close by is Two if By Sea in on Shrewsbury Ave in Red Bank. When you don't feel like driving to Freehold, give Asporto Cafe, also Shrewsbury Ave in RB, a try for Mexican delivery. Good mole and pozole. Shockingly good food from this place.

                                                                      1. re: fershore

                                                                        I've been meaning to try Asporto Cafe. when I drove by today, the Asporto sign was gone. It's a place with no sign, serving Italian sandwiches. I didn't stop.
                                                                        Does anyone know the deal?

                                                                        1. re: val ann c

                                                                          I'm only visiting from Oregon but Brother Restaurant on Morford Place in Red Bank makes a nice thin crust pizza. Great Little bar full of locals talking about trying the adkins diet. Great pizza at a great price.

                                                                          1. re: val ann c

                                                                            Panicked by your post, I quickly called them (732-530-9772). No one answered, but it's only 10:40 a.m.

                                                                            Asporto is (was?) owned by the folks who own New Corner Pizza in RB so they serve(d) Italian and Mexican. I usually resist places that combine like this, assuming they can't really excel at either; but when I learned it was owned by New Corner, I was reassured. It's also convenient when we have a guest who doesn't like Mexican food or if you need pizza for the kiddies.

                                                                            I'll call again later.

                                                                            1. re: val ann c

                                                                              Just called again. Was enthusiastically assured that Asporto Cafe is open 7 days a week. Whew!

                                                                        2. re: fershore

                                                                          Thanks so much to all who replied about my "round table" question! I hope to post more often and have already told many friends about this terrific site and forum. Enjoy your weekend and bon appetit! :-)

                                                                2. Just wanted to let people know, we recently tried a new Mexican place with an all you can eat bufffet for only $6.50. It's awesome! Very fresh and authentic,and well worth it. It's self serve and you can order separately from the menu if you wish.The place is spotless and the manager is a real people person, very friendly and welcoming-ask for Doug!. They don't take credit, just cash for now. iIm going back today!
                                                                  Mojito's
                                                                  111 State Highway No 35, Matawan, NJ 07747
                                                                  (732) 566-5488

                                                                  7 Replies
                                                                  1. re: nynjchick

                                                                    Where is this this near?

                                                                    1. re: wench31

                                                                      It's in the same shopping center, as Fun Time America, actually in Cliffwood.. It's actually $6.99 all u can eat buffet.

                                                                      1. re: nynjchick

                                                                        Thanks!

                                                                        1. re: nynjchick

                                                                          thank you! What do they serve in the buffet? Also, is that fish restaurant open across the street? I remember it being called Tom's Restaurant and then it closed.

                                                                      2. re: nynjchick

                                                                        nynjchick
                                                                        Sounds great! Is it in one of the shopping centers?

                                                                        1. re: Tay

                                                                          The only area I can think of that might be considered Matawan on RT. 35 is near the old Tom's Fishery. I don't think that it is considered Matawan though......

                                                                        2. re: nynjchick

                                                                          I second the rave for Mojito's. My husband and I went a few weeks ago on opening day and had a delicious meal. He had the buffet, and I had a burrito with ground beef that was around $5 and was large enough for two meals. I usually don't order ground beef at Mexican restaurants, but theirs is delish.
                                                                          Just south of Tom's on the southbound side of 35....one light after the 7-11.

                                                                        3. My favorites

                                                                          Copper Canyon...Atlantic Highlands
                                                                          The Inlet- Atlantic Highlands
                                                                          Trinity- Keyport
                                                                          Bistro Ole- Asbury Park

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: charmel

                                                                            The Inlet Cafe is actually in Highlands not Atlantic Highlands.

                                                                          2. It is eight years since you posted your blog and I would like to suggest some places that I like.

                                                                            In Red Bank, Osteria Dante is very good. A bit pricey, but worth it. Very nice atmosphere, consistently delicious food and good service. We usually go for special occasions.

                                                                            I also love Siam Garden in Red Bank. The food is always good. We love to go with my family, because it is the only place where everyone, even the picky eaters, sing praises and are happy with everything!

                                                                            There is a new place called Dish, in Red Bank, that we tried and liked very much.

                                                                            In Lincroft Saigon II has yummy and reasonably priced Vietnamese food. The portions are generous. Lots of vegetarian choices.

                                                                            In Middletown Sono Sushi has exceptional Japanese food. The Maki and Sushi are tastier than any other place. Always fresh. Always good.

                                                                            Also in Middletown, Pasquale III has wonderful pizza and delicious sauces. It is equal to or, to some of us, better than Brooklyn Pizza.

                                                                            Neelam in Middletown has very good Indian Food. There are lunch buffets weekdays and dinner buffets on Thursday & Sunday.

                                                                            In Holmdel, Piazza Italia has great food and friendly service. They will make things any way you request. Be sure to ask about the home made cakes.

                                                                            In Hazlet Dino's Fishery has fresh seafood with large portions and very reasonable prices. It has a small diner atmosphere.

                                                                            The only really good Mexican food I've found in Monmouth County is at El Meson in Freehold.

                                                                            For Breakfast my favorite places are: Turning Point (Holmdel), My Kitchen Witch (Monmouth Beach), In Between Cafe (Red Bank), Red Oak Diner (Hazlet).

                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                            1. re: hungry bear

                                                                              I wouldn't exactly call Dish 'new', It's been there for at least three years. As far as Dino's Fishery, last time I went, I had the fried combination platter. Clam strips were too salty, the filet wasn't flounder, or fluke, it was tilapia, and it smelled bad to boot. The four shrimp were very small and the four scallops were literally the diameter of a nickle. It was basically a large portion of fries and clam strips, garnished with very small shrimp, and scallops. The fries were actually good for a deep fried frozen product. Too bad really, as the folks there used to care about what they served. Red Oak? I know has changed back to the Red Oak name, in name only. The food part has gone downhill faster than a ski slope.

                                                                              1. re: hungry bear

                                                                                We tried Osteria Dante once shortly after it opened. The food was mediocre.

                                                                                As for Saigon II, while I know others have had fairly good experiences there, the food we had the one time we were there was horrible.

                                                                                I do agree with you about El Meson.

                                                                                1. re: hungry bear

                                                                                  Hello hungry bear! Welcome to the board. Judging from your list, I think we live in the same area.
                                                                                  I like Sono Sushi. I like Kyoto in Atlantic Highlands even better -- for sushi only, not so much for cooked food.

                                                                                2. Have been compiling an online listing of Monmouth County dining establishments:

                                                                                  http://www.exit109.com/~mstevens/menu...

                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: equal_Mark

                                                                                    WOW!! Bookmaked Thank you.

                                                                                    1. re: Eric in NJ

                                                                                      Just keep in mind that inclusion on this listing is in no way an endorsement or recommendation. I mean, C'mon, Murphy Style Grill is listed!

                                                                                      If an establishment has a web presence, they get included. If you know of any places that I've missed please let me know...

                                                                                      1. re: equal_Mark

                                                                                        Well a quick scan did show some that are not there any more Indigo Moon, and Bobo's in Atlantic Highlands. I could go through it more in the next few days. Good work though.

                                                                                    2. re: equal_Mark

                                                                                      Mark, thanks for posting your link. I once had it bookmarked, lost it and couldn't find it again. Now that I see that this is your site, I've put two and two together and realize that "equal" and "=" are one and the same in your screen names. I've enjoyed your posts on other foodie sites and hope to read more of your contributions on Chowhound where there is a pretty active group of Monmouth/Ocean County posters.

                                                                                      1. re: jsfein

                                                                                        Yeah, the software here wouldn't accept the "="

                                                                                    3. For excellent Italian, it's San Remos on Newman Springs Road in Red Bank. It's byob, beautifully decorated, but not pretentious or overpriced like Portofino's. The wait staff is always knowledgable and helpful in making tough choices. The staff is always courteous, even on Christmas Eve when the ppl are lined up at the door hoping to get in b/c it is so popular. The antipasto for 2 is always to start, but from there anything is possible. I try to get as much fish as possible in a fra diablo sauce, which is a great marriage of hot & sweet- always superb. They will make anything to your desire & are eager to please. Reasonable prices and casual attire.
                                                                                      American is the Grist Mill on Sycamore in Tinton Falls. That is our go to place. Kids love the scenery and we love the selection & prices. It's under new owners, so the menu is updated w/ new fish dishes and the like. But they still have their old stand by's like ribs & sandwiches. We never leave feeling hungry or dissatisfied. Always a winner. Kids menu.
                                                                                      Seafood & on the water- The Salt Creek Grill in Rumson right by the bridge. Higher prices but well worth it. This is my birthday night out place- never disappointed. Wasabi ahi tuna, sea bass, and swordfish are all faves! It's right on the water and very popular. Nice bar and great atmosphere. It's popular w/out that closed in crowded feeling of some pricier places, and we don't feel awkward bringing little ones. They feel right at home sitting by the water eating from the kids menu. Great wine list. Must have reservations!

                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: sharonf

                                                                                        God, is the Grist Mill still open!! I agree with your assessment of Salt Creek. Great ambiance, fantastic service and very solid food (although it tends to get panned here). My go-to place as well.

                                                                                        1. re: sharonf

                                                                                          Does anyone know if Regina's in Atlantic Highlands is still open?

                                                                                          1. re: equal_Mark

                                                                                            Regina's is gone and replaced by I believe Focacitoria (sp).

                                                                                          2. re: sharonf

                                                                                            Never been to San Remos so I cannot comment on that one - however - I totally agree with your comment about Portofino's - not to say that our meals weren't fantasic...but the fact that the waiters overcrowded us the entire night (think: taking a sip of a full water glass and having it topped off like 10 times) and not to mention it yes being very overpriced - esp the "house" wine...

                                                                                          3. I don't believe I saw any comments on Angelicas in Sea Bright. This is our favorite in the two rivers area. I've never had anything less than a very good meal, and all those we've brought have raved..BYOB..............Off the Cuff: Used to frequent Salt Creek till a couple years ago, returned last week and was disappointed in the entire meal....much smaller portions (pan seared snapper, lobster bow-tie, and nondescript sauce) and what happened to the old fries? Wine was great, Ghost Pines merlot.........Brothers still makes great pizza, but the entres are somewhat lackluster these days (used to love the veal parm).......San Remo is very good and BYOB.

                                                                                            1. I recently moved down to the shore area. My hands down favorite restaurant is Shipwreck. It's not easy to see if your coming down rt35 south, so make sure you have directions. I believe they are only open for dinners, that may have changed. They have exceptional food and on some days they have great live jazz music or other live music. They are a bit on the pricey side and you definitely have to make reservations sometimes days or weeks in advance. Hint, in the summer time find out what days Point Pleasant has their fireworks because this restaurant has a great view of them (it's usually on Thursdays).

                                                                                              Also, in Manalapan, you'll find the best chinese food at peking pavilion. Get the shrimp gran monyay ( I have no idea how to spell it so i spelled it phonetically). If you like duck, I heard they have great duck. When dungeonous crabs are in season they are also very good here.

                                                                                              Also, some great Japanese restaurants: Shogun on Rt 34 (I think it's in Wall/Manasquan), which has really nice atmosphere, huge fish tanks, wonderful food. I would not get Hibachi here until their Hibachi chefs learn a few more tricks, still the food is great.
                                                                                              Sawa in Eatontown (they also have a restaurant in Pier Village in Long Branch), and Asahi in Manasquan, their salmon teryiaki is very good.

                                                                                              McCloon's in Long Branch has great food, but when I went their service wasn't up to par with the price and it was extremely loud, you could barely hear the people you were sitting with.

                                                                                              You can find great family style Italian food at Nonna's on Rt 9 in Marlboro I think it is. There is another really good Italian restaurant right near there on Rt 9 that is excellent, I'll have to get back to you on that.

                                                                                              After all that chat, I think I'm going to try to go to Peking Pavilion tonight!

                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. re: jennr

                                                                                                jennr,

                                                                                                In my view, Peking Pavilion's food is some of the worst Chinese I've ever tasted.

                                                                                                With regard to Nonna's, just another of the non-stop Italians we have to put up with in this area that serve mediocre food. The only difference is that in this case, the mediocre food is served family-style.

                                                                                              2. Oh, I left out a couple...
                                                                                                If you make your way down to the shore.
                                                                                                Sunday brunches are exceptional at The Lobster Shanty. They have the usual breakfast brunch type items, but then they also have a lot of seafood specialties. I would say skip all the omlettes, waffles, and french toast, and try some of the unique seafood breakfast things. Also, they have a chocolate fountain with fresh fruits so save room because there is a whole table of deserts! - Point pleasant

                                                                                                Another great Sunday brunch spot is The Mill in Spring Lake Heights. I'm sure every meal is wonderful there, but I have only been there for brunch and it was sooo good. Looks like a great place to have wedding or baby showers. There appeared to be several parties going on the day we went. Valet service is also available there.

                                                                                                9 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: jennr

                                                                                                  I don't think The Mill is doing service other than weddings and banquets any more.

                                                                                                  1. re: Deb Van D

                                                                                                    Deb,

                                                                                                    While it's true that The Mill is now mainly doing private functions, acc. to their website, they're still open to the public for Sunday brunch.

                                                                                                    http://www.themillatslh.com/

                                                                                                    1. re: RGR

                                                                                                      Sorry Jennr, I also disagree about Nonna's. Nonna's should never be on "any best list". Went once never again. I don't know what it is around here, but most Italian restaurants that I have been to in Jersey are always a let down.

                                                                                                      1. re: shesallthat

                                                                                                        Thats b/c most "italian" restaurants around here are more concerned with churning out food and turning over tables than the actual quality or creativity of their food. 98% of every italian menu around here is exactly the same.Chicken/Veal/Shrimp. . . Parm/Francaise/Marsala/Alfredo blah blah blah

                                                                                                        1. re: FoodDude2

                                                                                                          Agreed, it is painfully difficult to find good Italian in Central NJ.

                                                                                                          Two that I really like and turn to are:

                                                                                                          Gaetano's, Red Bank
                                                                                                          Perrone's, East Brunswick

                                                                                                          Perrone's has taken a bit of a turn for the worse, a bit hit or miss but Gaetano's to me is top notch.

                                                                                                          1. re: yankeefan

                                                                                                            I totally agree with your comment regarding Gaetano's being "top notch" - it's one of my favorite places - the best is eating outside on the sidewalk at sunset enjoying a great meal and a bottle of wine...

                                                                                                          2. re: FoodDude2

                                                                                                            Who could disagree with your description of the ubiquitous menus in local Italian restaurants, FoodDude2? But the fact is when "traditional" Italian fare is well-executed, it is delicious. The real problem in our area is that in most instances, the quality sucks!

                                                                                                          3. re: shesallthat

                                                                                                            I would have to agree with the disagreement about Nonna's. :) We live very close to Nonna's.. tried it once. Hated it. I had eggplant parm. It tasted like dog food. (As a child, I ate dog food occasionally when dared.) I don't think I took the rest home. A friend of mine loves the place, but he's got 4 kids so it's probably a good value for him. Also, they have very little in the way of vegetarian options.

                                                                                                          4. re: RGR

                                                                                                            Ah, thanks for the clar, RGR.

                                                                                                      2. Crown Palace still rocks for Sunday morning dim sum! How about Restaurant Plan B in Asbury Park? The chef changes up his New American style menu every month, and if you can get past the annoying owner- (he's the guy who won't shut up as your food gets cold) you'll have a ball! I told him to scram and it worked... happy dinner!

                                                                                                        1. Several places. La Pastaria in Red Bank is excellent. Dublin House is good for bar food, burgers, etc. The Shrimp Box in Point Pleasant and Kleins in Blemar are good seafood. There is a place called 10th Avenue Burritto in Belmar that was featured on diners Drive Ins and Dives. The food is great. Charlie's in Long Branch always features innovative entrees, Juanito's in Red Bank has great Mexican, not just Taco's and Burritos,

                                                                                                          -----
                                                                                                          La Pastaria Restaurant
                                                                                                          30 Linden Pl, Red Bank, NJ 07701

                                                                                                          Shrimp Box
                                                                                                          Inlet Dr, Point Pleasant Beach, NJ 08742

                                                                                                          1. BRAND NEW -ULTRA EXCELLENT HAMBURGER!!!!
                                                                                                            Hi,
                                                                                                            Everyone, I felt after never getting accurate feedback from seemingly almost everyone who writes reviews on hamburgers
                                                                                                            to speak out about Bobby's Burger in the Freehold Mall, next to the Cheesecake Factory! I HATE INACCURATE DESCRIPTIONS of a great Hamburger! Bobbys Hamburger was E xCEPTIONAL in every way, as was the fries and shakes,
                                                                                                            and I LOVE FOOD, and pride myself on extreme accuracy!! MY new and only place for a real Hamburger!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: cali42

                                                                                                              I tried BBP in Eatontown a couple days after it opened. I gave it a second try a few weeks later. There won't be a third try.

                                                                                                              Unless he's changed things up significantly in the last couple years, they are ok, nicely presented, but undersized and of relatively poor value. Plenty of better ones around.

                                                                                                              But the crunchifying is a big plus. :)

                                                                                                              1. re: cali42

                                                                                                                Well I, personally, thought Bobby's Burger sucked.

                                                                                                                Just like all of Bobby Flay's food sux, including his effing Mesa (Irish) Grill.

                                                                                                                Don't like his recipes either, everything stolen from somewhere more authentic and then all messt up.

                                                                                                                Crappy food and an obnoxious personality, not a winning combination in my book.

                                                                                                                1. re: vikingkaj

                                                                                                                  I originally really liked Mesa Grill, but that was before there was a Food Network and his energy was more focused on running a restaurant than a media empire. At the time he was one of the few chefs east of the Mississippi that understood and appreciated the robust use of Southwestern seasoning. Since then? Meh...