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Restaurant Suggestions in Monmouth County, NJ

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Hello. I love hearing others restauarnt suggestions. I live in Monmouth County, and to get a feel for what we like.....Teak in Red Bank....Angelica's in Sea Bright......Brioso in Marlboro. I appreciate all suggestions and all cuisines. Thanks in advance for all of your posts!

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  1. Interesting that you mention Brioso. We used to go there but stopped when we ran into a major problem that was handled badly by the staff and management.

    Fortunately, we've found an excellent substitute -- SamVera, on Route 520, which is now our favorite Italian restaurant in this area. The food is consistenly well-prepared and delicious. Service is pleasant and efficient. The small main dining room has attractive decor and very comfortable seating. They have a liquor license.

    6 Replies
    1. re: RGR

      RGR, I was wondering if you'd care to tell us what you've ordered at Sam Vera. I have driven past many times, and have heard that it is very good, but have never heard anything about the food in particular. I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks!

      1. re: Drew

        Drew, SamVera's cuisine is not cutting edge; however, it's very solidly prepared, delicious traditional Italian. In line with the way Italians in Italy eat, pasta is a separate course, and main course accompaniments are vegetables.

        Our favorite appetizer is the cold antipasti platter -- a nice assortment of meats, cheeses, roasted vegetables, and olives. Mozzarella with tomatoes and roasted peppers is also very good, but we order it only during the summer when tomatoes are in season. And we stick with the domestic mozzarella, though they do offer the imported "bufalo" at a significantly higher cost.

        My favorite main course is veal or shrimp picatta. I also like the whole grilled branzino and the lamb chops. My husband often orders the veal chop and also likes the pappardelle Bolognese. An excellent lasagna was a special one evening though, if you ask in advance, they are very accommodating and the kitchen will prepare it or anything you would like to have that is not on the menu.

        For dessert, I like the cannoli, the Italian cheesecake, and the tiramisu. My husband's first choice is the tartuffo.

        If you go to SamVera, I have every confidence that no matter what you order, you will not be disappointed.

        1. re: RGR

          RGR...we have not been to Brioso in quite some time now due to the fact of the same dishes over & over. I know there is not that much to change in Italian cuisine, but last time we were there, the baked clams were bad, too fishy tasting, my black linguine with seafood tasted SO FISHY I had no choice but to send it back. My husband had a bland chicken dish that was swimming in white wine. So, although I did put down Brioso, I have not been there in 5 months.

          I agree with you on Sam Vera. I love the place! It is so beautiful outside and in! You should definately try Angelicas in Sea Bright...I think you would really like it. It is on Ocean Ave. The website is www.angelicas.com

          Thanks everyone! I love the posts! Have a great weekend!

          1. re: RGR

            Hm.. Well ... I can never find a decent italian restaurant around the manalapan/marlboro area. Briosos is the only one I think is worth going to. I grew up with neopolitan cooking and live in my house in italy every year for a month or so..

            briosos is more neopolitan style cooking. I like this the best since i am neopolitan

            Therfeore, I KNOW what is good and HOW neopolitan food SHOULD taste. I love briosos. But there are obviously others that are better. However, it is the closest italian place that I like.

            I never tried SamVera. They probably offer more of italian-american dishes which i cannot eat too much of.

            try the gnocchi at briosos.
            my zio makes it better, but it's up there.

            1. re: Sogno56

              Brioso had it's day many years ago. I have written that place off for quite some time now. Service is rude, unless you dine there 5 nights a week, then the staff will kiss your a**.

              You should definately try Piccola Italia in Ocean Township. WOW...is this place good!! If you do a search on this board, you will find so many people who enjoy it. I am SO HAPPY I found this place and I can thank the people who post here!


              It really stinks that in our area, there is zilch! I like Marmara, but everything else is blah!

          2. re: Drew

            Although Brioso has service that can be a bit rocky at times, I still prefer it to SamVera. I find SV overpriced for what you get, although the service and th eplace are always lovely. I do find Brioso's a bit better since they expanded. It seems to give a less hassled feel to the place.

        2. My current favorite is The Copper Canyon in Atlantic Highlands. Very good Southwestern food, as well being a wonderful Tequilla bar. Its a little hard to find as they have no sign, only a copper colored horseshoe on the front door. It is located in the Blue Bay Inn (I think thats the name) on First Ave. just off of Highway 36.

          Link: http://www.thecoppercanyon.com/index....

          1 Reply
          1. re: Drew
            Joseph linkler

            Copper canyon is way overrated. Food only so so and the staff not the Least bit friendly. Waste of time driving there

          2. I like Barnicle Bill's in Rumson for burgers. Dorris and Ed's in Highlands for seafood. Piccola Italia in Ocean Township for BYOB Italian. Copper Canyon in A. Highlands (tied with Nicholas for my fave). And of coarse Nicholas for fine dining (bring your checkbook). Basil T's and Fron St Trottoria in Red Bank have good pizza. We don't go out to Southern or Western Monmouth all that much. I just reviewed Joe and Maggies in Long Branch - check it out.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Pete Sucato

              Piccola Italia is no longer a BYOB - they serve alcohol now

            2. I'm from Northern VA, but visit my inlaws in Colts Neck a couple times a year w/the kids. Yeah no one knows anything about Colts Neck. The inlaws love their favorite sushi place in Eatontown (I believe) called Little Tokyo. I had sushi 3 X's during my week long visit -- it was that good. They serve what I call tasty and very fresh designer sushi with different fish combinations. Thought I was going to hate the eel entrees I selected, but I desired more. Can't say enough how fresh the sushi was. After eating 16 pieces I was pleasantly full and content without the heavy weigh down rice feeling I get from cheapo places. My father inlaw informed me the new management has turned the place around. Go check them out.

              1 Reply
              1. re: janyva

                Thank you for your comments. There are several good sushi places in the area and you found one you especially enjoyed.

              2. have you tried trinity in keyport? we have been there three times and the food is excellent. service is very friendly and the the atmoshpere is beautiful. love the potato pizza at solo in freehold as well as mahzu for sushi.

                1. I'm never sure what is near what in NJ but you mentioned Red Bank so I'll just mention that we have dined several times at an incredibly good continental style restaurant on Broad St in Red Bank called, Sogno. The food is so well prepared. I have never had anything that was less than outstanding. It's a small, intiimate place. Definitely not for the kids and not inexpensive. As of my last visit, they did not have a liquor license, which will mean you can save a lot by supplying your own wine. There is a Spirits store just down the block. I would love for some of you to experience the pleasure of this fine dining establishment and then let us know your experience.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Tay

                    Tay - You should do a search on Sogno on this board as there should be quite a few comments. As far as I'm concerned, after the Esposito's sold it some years back, the place went terribly down hill and I haven't looked back. Quite the shame as it was one of my favorite restaurants. I still dream of the zuppa de clams. I haven't been back since right after the transition so I can't speak from personal knowledge. However, friends have dined there and have not been impressed.

                    1. re: bgut1

                      I've written about this before, but our two experiences at Sogno under the original ownership were wildly different. The first time, not long after they opened, the food was excellent. But it was more than two years before we managed to get back there. Talk about night and day! The food was awful, and the noise level was hideously high. Regardless of its having new owners, I've never been inclined to try it again. And, now, if bgut says his friends have given it the thumb's down, that's good enough for me.

                      1. re: bgut1

                        I'm so sorry you had a bad experience there. We've dined there 4 times and had lovely, delicious food. and superlative service every time. I don't know who had ownership. I have also recc it to several friends and they have all called me to thank me for the recc. We had been advised to wait until the insanity of Summer passed and the noise level was very acceptable on all of our visits.
                        If I have a bad experience I will share it.

                        1. re: bgut1

                          I've only been there a couple times but I seem to remember their calamari salad rocked my socks. I wonder if they still have it.

                      2. Does anyone have a suggestion for a nice restaurant in the monmouth county area for Christmas Eve dinner? An italian place would be great and one that is nicely decorated for the holidays would be even better. Someone suggested Sam Vera.. any thoughts??
                        We are new to the area and appreciate your opinions!

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: Ablum

                          Many people love Sam Vera on this board...me...I hate the place. My husband ordered a pasta dish w/ shrimp, and it tatsed like they used 2 sticks of butter and 3 shrimp. My veal was in some kind of brown gravy...gross...anyway...we only went once, that was quite enough for us!!! Besides, I have had many friends tell me the same about their food as well. Oversauced, cooked too much, nothing special, etc....you get the picture. I am sure many people will boast about the place. Not me!!! I rather put my money into good food!!!

                          This area is tough!! Nothing but an ocean full of bad Italian restaurants!

                          If you want Italian, my FAVORITE, and worth the drive is Piccola Italia in Ocean Township!! Great food, service, and best overall for you money!! Follow the link and you will see!!! STEER CLEAR OF SAM VERA!!! :( :(


                          1. re: Angelina

                            This is one time that I totally disagree with Angelina. While it's been quite a while since we've been to SamVera, we have never had anything other than excellent meals there.

                            If you are looking for creative/contemporary cuisine, then you should look elsewhere. But if it's traditional Italian fare you are after, you can't do better than SamVera. They make a first-rate veal piccata; they have always been gracious about preparing another one of my favorites, shrimp francese, even though it's not on the regular menu; and my husand's favorite, the thick-cut veal chop, is always perfect. They do a great job with grilled branzino served just with some lemon, and I've even had delicious lamb chops there. I've never found over-saucing to be any problem.

                            They do not include a salad with the meal, which is fine with me because what you get in all the other Italian restaurants that do is something that is barely mediocre. A total waste! And instead of the ubiquitous side of pasta, which always manages to have a very poor sauce, main courses at SamVera are accompanied by very well-prepared vegetables.

                            I agree with Pink Pepper about freshness and high quality. I also agree that service is always on point.

                            Overall, I think SamVera is the best Italian restaurant in this area, and I highly recommend it.

                          2. re: Ablum

                            Oh Sam Vera...Angelina is right. They do oversauce their dishes. I don't know why. Everything is fresh and high quality. They don't need such a heavy hand. That being said, we still go there a lot in the winter months. It's so convenient for us and the service is the best. The water glasses are always filled. Steve, the owner, does the right thing. He sends over drinks and is always pleasant.
                            I would definitely keep them on the list for your Christmas Eve dinner, Ablum.

                            1. re: Ablum

                              Hello from a DC Hounder! I had to reply - just went to Nicholas in Middletown on Saturday. Wow! They are really pushy about the alcohol but if you can get past that, the food is fantastic - very expensive but actually worth every penny. We went there with my in-laws and no one got a dish that was not exquisite. Their Pumpkin Agnolotti was so melt in your mouth and I have never had better scallops than the Seared Day Boat Sea Scallops. My in-laws said this place has changed since they went there a year ago - much different and much better. So, if you don't mind expensive, you should check this place out! And if you like Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans, don't miss the Beignets with chickory coffee ice cream for dessert - almost as good as Cafe Du Monde!

                              1. re: annissam

                                annissam - How were they "pushy" with the alcohol? While I recognize that the wine prices maybe a bit high, I've never experienced any pressure to purchase alcohol in the the six years I've dined there.

                            2. Thank you so much for your input. What about Brioso in Englishtown? I have heard alot of good things about this place. My problem is that my Mother is very picky and will only eat at a place with good sauce and good italian bread. She is picky and very italian. Also, I forgot to mention that I have a 10 month old that I will bring so if you have any suggestions for a place that I can bring the little guy too without people staring at me if he makes a peep :) Thank you so much!!

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Ablum

                                I was just at Brioso on Saturday. We were there the week before, as well. It has delicious Italian food. The best we've found in the area. If your mother is picky, then this is the place for her. There are always children there, too. My husband had the crab sauce with the black linguine. They don't always have that in their NJ restaurant. The Staten Island Brioso makes it there more often.