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red bank, nj area

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nyc friends just relocated to red bank, nj area...wife and i are visiting their spacious digs this coming weekend. looking for great sat nite dinner idea - all cuisines/$$ welcomed - great wine list a +! thanks!

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  1. The absolutely best in the area -- and one of the best in the state -- is Nicholas, in Middletown, on the border of Red Bank, where you will find superb New American cuisine, an excellent wine list, and exceptional service. Expensive but worth it! My guess is you'll probably have difficulty getting a table for this Saturday. Certainly worth a try. However, Nicholas now has a terrific alternative. They recently completed a major expansion and are offering bar dining in their new, spacious and very attractive bar room. You can assemble your own tasting menu and will probably end up paying quite a bit less than what it would cost in the dining room.


    Dish is in Red Bank, on White St., just off Broad St. Very good food. The space, which has pleasant contemporary decor, is small, seating is very cramped, and the noise level when the room is full gets uncomfortably high. BYO. Caveat: There is no place inside to wait comfortably if your table is not ready.


    Le Fandy is on River Road, in Fair Haven. We haven't been there since new owners took over, but I've heard the food is still very good. BYO.

    Enjoy and Bon Appetit!

    3 Replies
    1. re: RGR

      rgr to the rescue! didn't know your expertise crossed state lines. just snagged nicholas on open table. did notice they say jacket preferred...how preferred so i know how to pack! thanks!

      1. re: harrison

        Hey, Harrison, You're too kind. :-) So happens I've got residences in NJ and NYC. Ergo, my "expertise" on both sides of the Hudson. lol

        Lucky you! Snagging a res at Nicholas for Saturday. You're in for a real treat!! As for the jacket question, I'm trying to think if I've ever seen a man without one. Mmmm... Maybe once? I say, pack the jacket.

        Btw, we ate at the bar for a second time a few days ago. Sublime! We love this new set-up because we can just go on the spur-of-the-moment without a res and dress very casually. Even though you will be dining more formally, be sure to stop into the bar for a pre- or post-dinner drink.

        Enjoy and Bon Appetit!

      2. re: RGR

        Ditto on Le Fandy; a friend who just went Saturday night said that the food is as good as ever under the new chef. Looking forward to trying it ourselves.

      3. Buona Serra, on Monmouth St., by the Count Basie Theatre, is one of the best Italian in all of the Metro NY/Area. Try the specials, they are always fantastic. Especially the Veal Chop! Seafood also great!

        1. TedyB - I have to respectfully disagree with you on Buona Sera. While I agree the Veal Chop is not bad (probably the best item on the menu), the food is generally quite poor. The place is a scene however on weekends. For the best Italian in NJ, my vote goes to Fascino in Montclair.

          1 Reply
          1. re: bgut1

            Never mind. I just realized I am reading the 4 year old part of this post.

          2. I like Scalini Fedeli (although I still cannot spell it ;o)
            for high end Italian and a few local spots for everyday.

            1. Seal - What are your favorite local spots? Mine used to be Sogno before the Espositos sold it. A sad day in my household indeed.

              1. I like Sam Vera, Picola Italia, Tuzzio's, Frankie Fed's, Pete & Elda's and a few others in the area.

                Having grown up here and now living here as an adult for many years, it's funny that when I am away the one type of food I rarely go out for is Italian. There is just too much good food here.

                10 Replies
                1. re: seal

                  seal, I have to respectfully disagree with you regarding the quality of Italian food in our area. Considering how many Italian restaurants there are (the number is quite astounding!), it's a shame how mediocre to bad most of them are. I've never been to Tuzzio's or Frankie Fed's, and it's been quite some time since we've eaten at Piccola Italia though the food was very good when we were there. I do agree SamVera and Pete & Elda's are excellent. And I would add I Cavallini to what is, for me, a *very* short list of quality Italians.

                  The one cuisine that is virtually non-existent in our area is French, which happens to be our favorite. Bienvenue (fka La Petite France) is literally the only French restaurant around here. I wasn't crazy about it when it was LPF and am hesitating about bothering with it now since reading a less than stellar review on this board. Truly a sad situation!

                  1. re: RGR

                    If I feared dissention I wouldn't post so much ;o) And I Cavallini is right in my backyard (almost) and we go there a lot.

                    As for French, even though it is not billed as such, I'd have to place Le Fandy in that category. Chef Luke is truly a master of the french technique.

                    By the way, if you get the chance RGR, please reply to my query on the Manhattan board about lunch in the city this Saturday. If anyone would have some good ideas ...

                    1. re: seal

                      After I posted, Le Fandy did occur to me. We've only been once, before the change in ownership. The previous owner billed it as a French restaurant, and both the menu and ambiance did fit that category. It's on my "go to" list.

                      As you requested, I've posted a few suggestions for your lunch.

                      1. re: seal

                        Speaking of Le Fandy, did the truffle tasting dinner ever proceed? I was on vacation when it was being planned and was bummed that I couldn't participate. I've not dined at Le Fandy, but that would have been one great first meal.

                        1. re: jsfein

                          I am the world's worst organizer. My wife and I ate at Le Fandy and we even got the inlaws there once in the past few weeks, but no luck on the truffles ;o(

                          On the positive side, I did manage to score some good quality white truffles and made a nice risotto at home.

                          1. re: seal

                            Does La Fandy have a website and/or is a copy of a menu available to review?

                      2. re: RGR

                        La Petite France was a big disappointment to us also. We won't be returning.

                        1. re: annabananas

                          Original owners and new..we didn't like our meals at La Petite and haven't returned.

                        2. re: RGR

                          sorry .. samvera's is so bad.....

                      3. Sorry, it posted too quickly. Definately try this place!!! It is wonderful!!! BYOB. Chef Ong is truely amazing and I have NEVER had a bad meal here. We go here as much as we can and we love it. Just look at the menu for yourself! Enjoy!!

                        1. Its between Le Fandy and Citrus tonight for dinner (my wife loves asian fusion and I got to pick Dish last weekend). A nice bottle of German riesling is chilling in fridge now. Thanks for the help.

                          12 Replies
                          1. re: bgut1

                            Although I haven't been to Le Fandy, I have been to Citrus twice. From what I surmise from others' posts, Le Fandy sounds to be far superior than Citrus.

                            1. re: bgut1

                              I have also been to Citrus and, while the space is terrific, I found the cuisine very disappointing. So, I hope you decided on Le Fandy. Although I've only been there prior to the current ownership, I really liked both the food and the ambiance and, I've gathered from posts on this board by Hounds seal and Angelina, that the current chef/owner's cuisine is excellent. It's on my "go to" list.

                              1. re: RGR

                                Well - not good for me. Both Citrus and Le Fandy are booked tonight. We may try Dish (again), Market in the Middle or Piccola Italia. Thanks for the help.

                                1. re: bgut1

                                  You're probably already out, but if you've never been to I Cavallini, in Colts Neck, you should add it to your "go to" list. Excellent New American/Modern Italian cuisine. Lovely atmospherics.


                                  1. re: RGR

                                    RGR thanks for the reply. We did leave before I had a chance to reveiw your post. We tried Dish again. Everything was great except for my entree. We tried two different apps: the fried spinach and the zuppa de clams. Both were fantastic. The most suprising being the spinach. Nice and greasless and salty. Addictive in an edamame kind of way. My wife tried the tuna again while I had a hard decision between the hanger steak and the rack of lamb. The waitress advised that the lamb was one of their top sellers so I went with it. Not very good. Instead of the coating being "crusty" it was soggy. I guess from the broth that it was in. Second the rack was quite fatty. I left half of the rack on the bone as a result thereof. As this "dish" was the only let down of the two visits, I decided not to say anything (even though it was $40) and moved on to dessert (every kitchen deserves a mulligan or two and I truly do love this place). Although interested by the banana cream pie on the menu, my wife and I again ordered the bread pudding and the coconut cake. As usually they were both boffo. While the bread pudding was delivered in a quite smaller portion then last week it was more than enough for my wife and quite fantastic. To make up for her smaller portion, my cake was double the size of last week and was phenomenal. I can't wait to have the other half in the fridge. BTW, the restaurant was unusually empty last night. We arrived at 9PM to find many empty tables. Quite pleasant as the place was wall to wall people last weekend and kind of loud. To sum up, the restaurant is top notch. I will shelf it a bit to try some other places however - you don't want to get sick of a place if you know what I mean.
                                    RGR - ICavalini has been on my radar, but, my wife and I are not usually fans of Italian food/restaurants. Probably the reason we didn't go to Piccola Italia last night. I will put it on the list however.

                                    1. re: bgut1

                                      bgut1, I liked Dish the one time we ate there though my meal was not perfect. I had the hanger steak, and the kitchen goofed. Instead of cooking it medium rare as I requested, it came to the table practically moo-ing. In addition, the menu described the accompaniment as a "root vegetable mash," but what turned up on the plate was essentially regular smashed potatoes with no hint of the taste of any other root vegetables, at least to my palate. I sent the plate back so the steak could be cooked more, and when it came back, it was medium rare and very tasty. Looking at the menu on the website, I see they've ditched the so-called root veggies in favor of polenta. Not sure that appeals to me with a steak. My husband had excellent fries with his superb strip steak au poivre (he raves about it to this day!), so if I order hanger steak again there, I'm going to request the "frites" -- which, of course, are the traditional accompaniment.

                                      Re: I Cavallini. While the menu does have Italian influences, there are many dishes on the menu that fall into the category of New American. For example, two dishes I've had there, the pan-roasted duck and the rack of lamb there, definitely fall into that category. Chef Toni Froio's Italian dishes are quite creative -- definitely not your run-of-the-mill, humdrum red sauce Italian.

                                      1. re: RGR

                                        RGR - per their online banquet menu, the root vegetable mash includes parsnips, celery root and potato. I agree with you it tastes mostly of potatoes. Interestingly, I was warned by the waitress that the chef doesn't recommend serving the hanger steak at anything more than medium rare as it gets quite tough. Thanks for the input on I Cavallini.

                                        1. re: bgut1

                                          Parsnips and celery root have very assertive flavors. The chef must have been very stingy with them; otherwise, I would certainly have been able to taste them.

                                        2. re: RGR

                                          I read somewhere recently (maybe The Artful Diner's blog) that Chef Toni has left I Cavallini.

                                          1. re: jsfein

                                            I just looked at his blog which goes back to late November and didn't see anything about that. But, if true, that's a real bummer! I Cavallini's website still has the original announcement about her taking over the kitchen on the homepage. Not that that means anything since websites are all too frequently *not* kept up-to-date. The restaurant's closed today, but I think I'll call them tomorrow and see if I can find out.

                                    2. re: bgut1

                                      Citrus was virtually empty on my two visits. For the sake of the owners, I'm pleased to hear that they were booked for the night (even though it didn't work out for you). I pass by the restaurant regularly and they never seem to have much activity.

                                      1. re: jsfein

                                        Citrus was booked for a private party. Somewhat surprising for a Saturday night.

                                2. Re: I Cavallini. I called the restaurant and jsfein's info (posted above) is correct: Chef Toni has left. They are in the process of hiring someone to take her place. I asked if they will post the announcement of the new chef on their website, and the answer was yes. When I suggested it would be a good idea to remove Chef Toni's name from the homepage, I was told they are working on that. (Interesting to see how fast it happens.) In any event, I'm not sure I'll be going back to I Cavallini at this point though I kind of curious about how well the kitchen staff can perform sans Chef Toni. I probably will wait until the new executive chef comes on board when there may very well be changes in cuisine style and menu.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: RGR

                                    I'm glad to see that I didn't dream this up.

                                    1. re: jsfein

                                      To complete the info on Chef Toni, she placed an announcement in the 12/16 Jersey Life section of the Asbury Park Press announcing her retirement from the restaurant business, thanking her customers, and advising that she is available for private catering and cooking classes.

                                      1. re: jsfein

                                        jsfein, Thanks for the follow-up. I'll miss Chef Toni's cooking, but it might be interesting to take a class with her. Did she include any particulars and/or a phone number?

                                        I also have a follow-up re: my call to the restaurant. Yesterday morning, I received a call from a gentleman at I Cavallini. (I can't remember if he said he was the owner or a manager.) Doug, the person I had spoken to, had told him I had mentioned ot would be a good idea to remove Chef Toni's name from their website's homepage so as not to mislead anyone into thinking she was still there. He said they never had any intention of misleading anyone, but that it sometimes takes time to get the people who take care of their website to make changes. They were, he said, in the process of removing her name and updating the menu as well. When I looked at their website later in day, the entire site had been taken down. So, it makes me wonder whether they would have done it this quickly if I had not made that call.

                                  2. We tried to eat at I Cavallini's tonight (Sat) but valet said reservations are required for Fridays and Saturdays. Since we were there early we thought we could squeeze in but alas, no.
                                    Instead we ate at Huddy's Inn across the street.

                                    9 Replies
                                    1. re: tom porc

                                      I don't understand why you would take the word of a valet about the possibility of being seated. Seems to me the thing to do is to go inside and ask at the front desk. Even if what he said were true, it's possible there could have been a last minute cancellation, and you might have gotten a table.

                                      I've only been to Huddy's once, and that was for lunch. The food was mediocre, and the decor was kind of seedy.

                                      1. re: RGR

                                        2 reasons ... first being that at 5:30 the parking lot was full and he was using the lot next door for overflow and also the sign at the door said "proper attire required" and we were not dressed appropriately. We were driving down from Matawan on 34 and thought we'd drop in on our way home. We didnt know it was a fancy and expensive place.
                                        Huddy's is you typical local family restaurant/bar. More children inside than adults. They serve the usual pub food. We had app, entree and dessert for less than $42. Left full and satisfied.

                                        1. re: tom porc

                                          Tom, where is Huddy's? Is it part of the Colts Neck Inn? Across from Delicious Orchards?

                                          Just curious, nice to hear you had a good time!

                                          1. re: Angelina

                                            Hi Angelina ... Huddy's is on Rt 34 south in the shopping center behind the Sun National Bank. You cant see the pub from the street and I didnt know it was there myself until the valet at I Cavallini directed me to it.

                                            1. re: tom porc

                                              Thanks, Tom! Can I ask you what did you order? Was it good?

                                              I just never have seen the place before. Thanks and Happy Holidays!!!

                                              1. re: Angelina

                                                We started off with the nachos chili supreme. They are baked in the oven. Not drizzled over the chips kind. I had the ribs and she had shrimp scampi with artichoke hearts. We both enjoyed them and took home doggie bags. For dessert we tried the "peanut butter bombs." I'm sure it's not 4-star food but we were satisfied. Plus, the whole place is laid back casual, friendly, and relaxed. Our server was helpful and efficient. The bar is in a different room and we didnt order drinks so I cant comment on the bartender's skill. Be warned that its all dark wood pub-like nothing frilly or lacy. There arent many restaurants in Colts Neck so its probably the local family hang-out. I saw one group come in so the parents can have a beer while their kids had cake and ice cream.

                                          2. re: tom porc

                                            Tom, Thanks for the explanation. What you did now makes more sense to me. Btw, while I Cavallini's decor is very attractive, I don't consider it a fancy place. I've seen that notice on the door; however, I have no clue what they mean by "proper attire" because they do not require jackets, and many diners dress casually, which includes my husband and me. As for the cost, people's opinions can differ about this, but it's not, in my view, an expensive restaurant. Rather, I would place it in the higher end of moderate category.

                                            1. re: RGR

                                              I dont know exactly what "proper attire" is for I Cavallini either. The valet wasnt happy about the shirt I was wearing. Probably, have to call ahead and ask.
                                              Also, and this is embarrassing, I had exactly $60 in my wallet. It's all the money I could scrimp and save from my last paycheck to treat ourselves to dinner. And I was doubtful we could have eaten for $60. Since I am not wealthy (or even middle-class) most good restaurants are out of my price range. I have had to walk out of many restaurants after viewing the menu. I wish more restaurants would post their menus at the door to avoid embarrassment.

                                              1. re: tom porc

                                                Posting menus at the door should be a restaurant standard. As much for checking out prices, as checking out menu selection. Good point!

                                      2. We tried Piccolo Italia last night. The night began inauspiciously when were told our table was being set and instead waited over 15 mins. at the bar. Also what's with bar tabs having to be paid at the bar instead of being added to our dining check? To be honest, nothing on the menu jumped out at me and I was somewhat regretting choosing the restaurant. I decided to place my faith in the hands of our very friendly wait person. She told me to choose the sirloin even though I wasn't in the mood for beef. She also suggested that I choose the fried calamari appetizer. Both were perfect. The calamari was greaseless while the tomato sauce tasted like it came right off the vine. The sirloin was exemplary. Perfectly cooked to order (medium rare) over mashed potatoes and a wine reduction sauce. The entrees for the rest of the table were also excellent; seared scallops and crab cakes. BTW, do yourself a favor an order a side of the truffle risotto. While no truffles are to be found on the risotto, a generous amount of truffle oil did the trick. It was creamy and delicious. I would be happy to eat a big bowl on its own next time. The truffle risotto was delivered late so the house comped the dish (a nice touch). Service issues aside (failure to clear the table timely & and no oil/butter with the bread) as well as the weak wine list didn't detract from the meal. The food was just fantastic and I would not hesitate to recommend or return.

                                        1. I know this is an old post but I had lunch in Red Bank today at Dish - It was very good.

                                          Crispy Spinach Appetizer AMAZING - Salt and Pepper Shrimp Salad - Radicchio Farro Spaghetti with Pancetta Pistachios and Cherry Tomatoes - Very Good.

                                          I did not have room for their signature dessert - Chocolate Crossaint Bread Pudding. Will have to return.

                                          In any case the reason for the post.

                                          There is still a few weeks left in the DINE DOWNTOWN 2009 Red Bank Program.

                                          Three Course Prix Fixe Dinners Every Tues and Wed in March. Here is a chance to try some old and new restaurants in Red Bank. (Call restaurants for prices and menus) I just thought this was happy and would share with all

                                          Ashes Steakhouse
                                          Buona Sera
                                          Melting Pot
                                          The Downtown
                                          The Bistro
                                          Sogno Ristorante
                                          Molly Pitcher Inn
                                          La Pastaria
                                          Eurasian Eatery
                                          2 Senza
                                          Zuleyka's Kitchen
                                          Broadway Grill

                                          Happy Eating!

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: shabbystorm

                                            Thinking about taking a drive to Red Bank with my lady. I have always been interested in checking it out (i currently live in Hoboken). Any ideas on what to do for half a day, and where to have a nice laid-back (inexpensive but really good) bite to eat, maybe watch the sun set?

                                            1. re: jdross19

                                              Yeah, cash your last paycheck for quarters to feed the parking meters or stay away from the recent reincarnation of Dead Bank. It features all the ambiance of any current shopping mall without the distraction of air conditioning. :-(

                                              If you don't want to break the bank (pun intended), take the train down and have a few tacos at North of the Border. Walk to Marine Park and watch the sunset between the parking meters.

                                              North of the Border
                                              176 Monmouth St, Red Bank, NJ 07701

                                              1. re: equal_Mark

                                                I love Red Bank. Fully agree with the esteemed =mark about North of the Border - the tacos and tamales are excellent. I sometimes park in the lot a few feet further up Monmouth St towards Water St on the same side of the road as NoTB, as you can leave your car there for free as long as you like.
                                                I start by having a few tacos (even for breakfast as they open early) and then walk up Monmouth St. There's a few cool stores on both sides of the street as you approach Broad St. There's a good coffee place on 51 Broad St called No Joe's Cafe that also has good sandwiches and things. Next I head towards Front St, stopping in a few more cool stores on the way. There is a liquor store also which is a good spot to buy some wine. I bring the wine across Front St and down the hill to Marine Park where you can have a simple and fresh dinner/lunch at The Boondocks Fishery sitting outside right on the water.
                                                After eating, walk back up to Front St. and make a right. When the road splits, bear right onto Riverside Ave and walk a few blocks to Bridge Ave. On the corner there is Lighthouse Italian Ice for a cool dessert. Follow Bridge Ave away from the bridge, cross Front St, and the next light by the train station is Monmouth St where you parked up on your left.

                                                North of the Border
                                                176 Monmouth St, Red Bank, NJ 07701

                                                No Joe's Cafe
                                                51 Broad St, Red Bank, NJ 07701

                                                1. re: seal

                                                  I can feel the RB love, seal! Excellent suggestions.

                                                  jdross, if you're staying past the sunset, head over to The Downtown for drinks, entertainment and a fun vibe. http://www.thedowntownnj.com/

                                                  Still craving a nibble, take a short drive out of RB towards Rumson for ice cream at Crazees. Crazees, 2 W River Rd Rumson

                                                  2 W River Rd, Rumson, NJ 07760

                                          2. Ate at Nemo tonight. Super friendly staff, and enjoyed my meal.

                                            Whili i tend to be a nigiri guy, other things caught my eye tonight. Had a sushi roll...crab and avocado topped with charred sea bass and then crispy sweet potato "strings". Good roll construction, good flavors. Followed by pan glazed ginger veggies w shrimp. Ordered spicy. Excellent flavors and well cooked veggies...though I would have preferred they use fresh ginger vs pickled in the wok.

                                            This place is byob for anyone who cares.

                                            Would easily go back.

                                            Miso soup wasn't best ever but not worst for sure. Restaurant did not have things like raw scallops, toro, or oysters, explained to me as not enough demand. So I guess the message is...more people need to go!