Front St Trattoria in Red Bank
I now live in Los Angeles, and have not had the chance recently to travel anywhere near Red Bank, but I grew up there and I fondly remember the sophisticated, creative scene that was Front St. Trattoria. Last time I was there must be summer, 1997.
Just today, I am on the Los Angeles chowhound board trying to find a place that is comparable. The recipe is that it's a casual and affordable place, black and white checkerboard flooring, "gourmet" individual pizzas (yes, we've all grown a lot since that concept arrived), grissini (individually wrapped skinny bread sticks), capuccino, gelato, cannoli...
My question now is why does this place not get a lot of chowhound love? I can tell, through the internet, that the place is still around. Is it still the way I remember it? Have there been any changes? From what I can tell, they are still operated by the same owners.
Monmouth county, fill me in please. Thanks.
I have lived in the area -- though not in Red Bank -- for many years and, while I may have heard someone sometime mention something about Front St. Trattoria, I've never tried it. Red Bank is choc-a-bloc with Italian restaurants -- no surprise since I think Italian is the unofficial state food of NJ :-)) -- but there hasn't been any discussion about FST that I can recall on any of the food boards I participate in. You are correct that they are still in business. Although I did see it listed on the web, info there can sometimes be out-of-date. So, I checked my phone book and gave them a call.
Now that you've got me really curious, I'll have to try it to see how it compares with the Italian restaurant we favor in Red Bank, Gaetano's, which is a very pleasant, trattoria-style place that serves thin-crust pizzas, good pastas, etc. Unlike FST, however, it has only been open a few years.
I'm originally from Ocean Twp., and we used to eat at the Trattoria plenty when I was in my late teens/early 20s (15-20 years ago). It was very popular, and you usually had to wait for a table. I really liked it then, although I haven't been there in probably 10 years. They had an amazing tiramisu, and the pizzas were really excellent. If it's still the same, then it should get more CH attention!
Still there and IMO still good, albeit I only go there for the stuffed pizza with fresh tomatoes -- a personal favorite. Ate there a few months ago and had an enjoyable meal. I believe there was a sister restaurant in New Brunswick (Church St. Trattoria), but I believe that location closed some years ago.
I ate dinner with a few friends at the Front Street Trattoria a few weeks ago, and I was incredibly disappointed. The food was incredibly bland and tasted as though it was frozen and just warmed in the microwave. I would not recommend this restaurant to anyone. Maybe it was good back in the day...but clearly times have changed.
I used to go there all the time in the late 80's and early 90's - and it was great then. The only time I will go there now is if I can eat outside because the inside is just WAY too crowded. And, yes, it just sees as though the pizza is not as special as it was years ago - but still good. The pesto with ricotta and black olive is still my favorite.
My wife and I have been going to Tratt since the day it opened (don't remember exactly when but it was a long time ago). Those were the days when if you didn't see it on the menu, Michael or Val (the original and still owners), would have it prepared for you. Tratt was the original pioneer restaurant during the transformation from Dead Bank to the "Hippest Town in NJ" (don't like the term but.....).
Anyway, I think the Tratt has slipped a tad over the years, however we still enjoy it. The five cheese pizza is excellent as are the various focaccias. They make a great pesto. It is BYOB which is always a plus. It does tend to be crowded and noisy, but isn't that what a trattoria should be?
The Tratt in NB as well as one in Freehold used to be associated with the FST but no longer. I wasn't aware of one in Westfield, however fairly sure it is not related today.
In the warm weather they have a outside dining area, albeit overlooking the parking lot. Don't remember if indoor expansion took place before you left. The expansion is a room to the right after you go down the few steps from the door. The black and white sqaure tiled floor still exists as does the same chairs and tables. they now have alot of art on the brick walls for sale. The individually wrapped skinny bread sticks are still on the table.
I am sorry to hear about the bad experiences some folks have had, but as I said I have always been pleased. Good food, fair prices, nice ambience and BYOB.