Rt 33 (Exit 8 east off NJT)?
Business takes me along the subject route toward Tinton Falls every once in a while. Anything along the way worth stopping for? For example, along the way I pass something called the Lobster Shanty, and a little further along there's some sort of "Country Italian" place, both on the north side of the road. Just from the outside, either one looks like it could be either a "destination" type place, or a disappointing dive. I'd rather not find out the hard way.
Any comments on these or other places?
The Lobster Shanty (or, more specifically, Jack Baker's LS) is pretty typical "chain" seafood (albeit a rather small chain). OK prices, unusually, one or two interesting bottled beers IIRC. It's near a number of large retirement "villages" in Monroe, so is often crowded at dinner time/early bird special time. They've been advertising a few specials on banners outside ("All you can eat shrimp on Thursdays" kinda thing, but I can't recall the specifics even tho' I drive by everyday ).
Lucento's (the "country Italian" place) IS pretty interesting- it's BYOB (with a nearby liquor store with an "OK" selection). As noted elsewhere, it also features Cajun specialties, but we usually get Italian. I like the White Clam sauce and everyone else has usually been very happy with their entrees. Get EXTREMELY crowded on weekends, long lines, etc. For the area (which, amazingly, for NJ, is still quite rural----for now---) it's the best you're gonna do once you leave Freehold back towards Hightstown and the Turnpike (especially now that the Chinese place at the junction of Rt. 33 and Business 33 burnt down).
There's also a hotel restaurant on RT 33 East, just after the Exit 8 that gotten good reviews for it's Greek food (tho' ambience is lacking). Never tried it, tho'. You may have seen the marquee about "World Famous Lambchops" or something like that...
Neither Luchento's nor The Lobster Shanty is a dive, but....
No Cajun cuisine at Luchento's that I've heard of. Just Italian food. It's been around for a long time. We had dinner there a couple of times many years ago but concluded that the food was just so-so. Italian restaurants of this mediocre ilk over-populate the landscape in this general area of NJ. Fortunately for us, there is one which we have found to be superior. That would be SamVera, in Marlboro. Unfortunately for you, it's not located near Route 33.
The Lobster Shanty has also been around for a long time. It's been probably 15+ years since we last ate there. Again, we stopped going because we felt we could eat better seafood elsewhere. As was mentioned, they tend to get an older crowd.
Presuming that you always pass via 33 through Freehold Boro, you should make a left onto Main St. and head a couple of minutes ride into the center of town.
El Meson is at 44 West Main St., at the corner of Main & Throckmorton (just past the not-in-use railroad tracks). Delicious Mexican food. Excellent service. Pleasant interior + a large outdoor patio for warm weather dining.
Citrus, at 32 West Main St., is a relatively new, upscale restaurant serving fusion cuisine in a beautiful space. We had dinner there and, though not perfect, it showed a lot of promise. We haven't had a chance to get back, but I definitely plan on doing so.
Federici's, at 14 E. Main, is famous for their very good thin-crust pizza.
New owners have taken over the lovely Victorian house at 75 South St. (formerly named after the address) and have re-christened it South Street Victorian Restaurant. It just happened, so I haven't tried it yet. Acc. to the ad in our local paper, they are offering fresh seafood, organic chicken, hand-cut free range steaks, homemade pasta and homemade desserts.
In another direction....
For very good Indian food, go to Aangan. Take 33 to Route 9 South, and the restaurant is just a hop and a skip away. You will have to jughandle around because it's on the north side of the road, in the Chester Lighting strip.
If you're willing to drive about 10 minutes further south on 9, just past W. Farms Road, there is Fritzy's, an absolutely terrific German restaurant.
I second the recommendation for Aangan. The chef has a wonderful hand with spices and seasonings. Really delicious. However, the dishes are not very spicey. If you like spicey, you might tell them when you order.
It's convenient to RT 33. Aangan Restaurant, (732) 761-2900
[not chow related: If you have pets or livestock, the Hungry Puppy Pet and Feed Supply store on Rt 33 is really good - great selection and service. ]
Phil wrote: > "Mom's is maybe the worst food I'd ever had."
Yeah, well, he didn't say the food was good, he only said the place "rocks". (I figured he was referring to the restaurant's close proximity to the New Jersey Turnpike and the possibility that the traffic rattles the foundation. After all, he couldn't even get the name right.)
I've only had the breakfast at Mom's (with one expection*) and it was just...OK... on the low side of "typical diner". I would normally continue to Rt. 130 and go to the Americana or, after a long re-due-, the USA Diner. Even the in-town Hightstown Diner is a better breakfast, but service was the type of "friendly" that means if you're a stranger, you're gonna get poor service while the help talks and serves friendly to the locals.
* Mom's does have Cuban Sandwiches altho' I didn't care for the taste of the pickle on mine (I bought one to go...), and it kinda ruined it.
Always wondered why they sorta dropped, or at least downplay, the "Pepper Mill" part of their name- that's a pretty neat peppermill-shaped sign they have and is a semi=famous landmark as seen from the Tpk...
My husband loves the Americana Diner on Route 130 their open-faced Turkey Sandwich. For breakfast down just a bit south on Route 130 is the USA Diner for a great breakfast special. Diners in the area are a good bet and also the Hunan House across from The Americana has very nice chinese fare and lovely atmosphere.
Lucento's was a terrific place to eat, until recently, when they came under new ownership. My family had eaten there for
many years on and off but had not visited for a number of years. Recently, (this past weekend) my wife and I decided to
1) The prices have been increased a great deal. At this point we were thinking, let's hope we get more for our money.
2) Strike 1: The salad was SOAKED in dressing as the leaves were literally floating in vinegar and oil. Greens quality was
average. The black olives were out of a can. Trust me, we know olives and they were not so great. As a plus, the bread was
tasty, and came with some delicious herbs & olive oil on the side.
3) I ordered Veal Saltimboca. It was good, but, not the best I have ever had. The sauce was very good, and the veal was very
high quality, however, the Proscioutto lacked flavour and was 'overcooked'. It was very tasty, credit is due where it's due.
Strike 2: The sides of pasta came out nearly cold and had zero flavour. My wife ordered tilapia francaise. The first time
it came out, they put a piece of fish on top of linguine. The linguine had NO TASTE. ZERO. There was no 'crunchy' crust on
the outside of the tilapia and it also had zero flavour. We sent it back, the waitress said "let me take it back to the
kitchen and see if they can fix it". We knew right away they weren't willing to offer her anything else. Her meal came back
very quickly, with a HUGE piece of tilapia mixed in with crab. NOTE: Crab was not asked for, though their effort was
appreciated. However, this time the tilapia was even worse. THe outside of the tilapia, was coated in egg. It was like a
tipapia omlet. Again, not what we were looking for.It was not golden brown. In fact it was barely cooked. Again the linguine
came out very plain AND it seemed that the crab was, well, not so tasty either. My wife called the server back, and she said
"take it away" and the server asked "I can wrap that for you' and my wife said "no, it's not good, I don't want it please
take it away". Again, they did not offer her anything else. We had to ASK for a dessert menu, which they brought. I
figured, at least my wife can have dessert and be happy.
4) Foul Tip: We ordered tiamisu which was very good according to my wife. At $7.50 it had better be. They made a special
effort according to the waitress by including some extra fruit and chocolate on top, but everyone else's dessert looked the
same to me at the surrounding tables, so did the waitress THINK WE ARE STUPID? At this point, I was becoming insulted.
5) Strike 3:(the insult continues) When we finally got the bill, they had charged for my wife's meal (as she had predicted).
Now my wife and I are not the kind of people to be rude in public generally, and my wife asked me NOT to start a
confrontation with the owner. So we decided to pay the entire bill including the $18.99 for her meal and leave and vow NEVER
The servers were loud. At the service station behind OUR table, the waitresses were very mouthy and loud and this bothered
me a great deal. one of the other waitresses greeted people "HI!" so loud that the entire place could hear. In fact we
could hear their entire conversation, and most of it we did not need to hear. This happened several times. All in all, skip this place for now. I hope they do better but it is likely with the discriminating pallettes in Millstone that they will not last for long.
You're welcome. Perhaps after their renovation, things will turn around. Also we did not bother to confront the management, since, the manager & chef were clearly made aware of our situation and did not even bother to ask us (themselves) what was wrong. The manager did make an appearance at the beginning of our meal, and after that we did not see him.
Did not realize that Tom Luchento had sold the restaurant until mentioned here. While not perfect by any means, Tom and the restaurant had a very loyal following and could be counted on to remedy any problems brought to his attention.
I even remember his "messenger service" who would run out and buy a bottle of wine for you and deliver it to the table. Until someone reported it to the ABC.
I guess 17 years is certainly long enough to be in the restaurant business.
It's been ages since we've been to Luchento's. Though I never thought the food was anythin more than so-so. But the one thing going for them, at least for us, was that at a time when smoke-free dining was nearly impossible to find in this area, the side room was smoke-free. But after a few meals, even that was not enough to keep us coming back.
Re: the situation you mentioned about the wine. Dish, in Red Bank, is a BYO. However, iirc from our one dinner there, for diners who neglected to bring wine, the restaurant had an arrangement with the wine shop in town. There was a list of bottles from which the diner could choose, and the bottle was delivered. Is that illegal acc. to BYO rules? (Note: I don't know if Dish is still doing this?)
NJ's "BYOB" laws are rather liberal in one respect (mostly because there are so few licensed restaurants) but are strict in other ways. And many of the rules are often violated, like "No advertising" "No corkage fee" and "beer and wine only- no liquor".
I would imagine the problem Lucento's ran into was having THEIR employee buy and/or deliver the wine. In the case of the liquor store delivering to a restaurant, that *could* fall under this rule (again, somewhat strict in that the wine would have to be paid by credit card over the phone and it might be a stretch since it clearly says "residence"):
"A licensee may deliver alcoholic beverages (with or without a fee) to the residence of a customer who has purchased the beverages at the licensed premises. Such purchase may take the form of either the customer actually being in the licensed premises and paying for the beverage so that they actually become the customer's property at that point, or it may be by a telephone order, placed during the permitted hours of sale, where the cost is immediately charged to the customer's credit card or pre-established credit account so that the ordered beverage actually becomes the ordering customer's property at that point. It is not permitted to receive an order by telephone and then take the alcoholic beverage to the ordering customer's home with payment to be collected there. This would be a sale at the home of the customer, which is off the licensed premises, and therefore, beyond the scope of the license."
Also, I'd guess most establishments which have been reported to the ABC were turned in by competitors who have spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on their on-premise liquor licenses.
Two in this area worth stopping for -
Albivi Millstone NJ off Rt 33 - Amazing Salads and very good pizza. Nice restaurant fancier than just a pizza place.
Cafe Calore - Freehold NJ Rt 9 Off Rt 33 (It is open for lunch even though the signs on the door says otherwise) I had a wonderful appetizer, Tuscan Rolls, sausage, escarole. white beans, and ricotta, deep fried in a crispy pasta wrap with a balsamic fig sauce - Yummy Ying Yang. Also had a fresh grilled shrimp and arugula salad with provolone, red peppers and artichokes. Very happy lunch. Large Dining Room, Good background Music, Nice staff.