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Mar 23, 2007 05:19 AM

dinner in long branch?

I'm looking for an upscale, not frou-frou, resto in Long Branch for dinner. My sister and bro-in-law are going to the spa there for their first no-kids overnight in 3 years...he is 6'7" and has an appetite to match, hence the "no frou-frou" request. But I'm looking for decent, romantic, friendly place.

Was thinking Biaggia or Cask 491 based on previous posts. Any addl advice greatly appreciated!

Thanks in advance--

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  1. i like to recommend pier village but other chows aren't as crazy about it. i find the atmosphere of the newly built area almost swank. there are conflicting reviews but ive heard sirena's is good. there's also a chain sushi place, a great gelati joint and other stuff.

    12 Replies
    1. re: nyebaby37

      When Sirena's first opened, there were many positive reports. However, lately, I've read far less glowing reviews on this and other boards. Here's a very recent negative review from a Hound:

      You're also correct that the consensus on this board is that the other Pier Village restaurants are best avoided.

      1. re: nyebaby37

        The sushi place in Pier Village is called Sawa and it's not a chain. They have one other location in Eatontown. The sushi in the Eatontown location is among the best in the area and is BYO. The Pier Village has a liquor license and the food is good, but not as good as the Eatontown location.

        1. re: fershore

          I'll never return to the Sawa at Pier Village. I will not comment on the food (as I didn't have much) but the service was atrocious. First, the place was freezing. Second, the server had no idea who ordered what - "Who ordered the (fill in the blank)?" Third, the server handed us our plates instead of placing them on a table. This is maybe okay for a diner but not a restaurant of this supposed caliber. Last, the server failed to deliver the courses to all diners at the same time with delays of as much as ten minutes before everyone at my table were served. This was completely ridiculous. I was obliged to complain to management who "thanked me" for my concerns. Never again folks. BTW, I have dined at the Eatontown location and I have never experienced such issues.

          1. re: bgut1

            I'm impressed you made it into Pier Village! Congrats!

            1. re: hotfoodhot

              Hey hot - I actually tried It's Greek To Me last week (a halfway decent Greek Salad with Chicken) and even have considered coming back to try Avenue during the off-season. What can I say, I must be a gluten for punishment.

              1. re: bgut1

                Hey, b.,

                Since this is a year-old thread, did you just go to the Pier Village Sawa? Not that I was planning to do so because, as you know, I don't eat sushi. Just curious.

                I'm surprised that you found the food at It's Greek to Me in Pier Village "halfway decent" since, as you know, our experience at the Holmdel location was horrible!

                With regard to Avenue, we must have that "great minds" thingy going here because after the discussion about it on that other thread, I, too, have been considering giving it an off-season try. Maybe we should take the "punishment" together? We could "splurge" on the cash only $24.95 prix-fixe. lol

                1. re: RGR

                  That ad for Avenue annoys me so much! The one for the prix fixe $24.95 cash only....what if you are with a group of people and eveveyone has cocktails, wines, etc. Maybe it is just me, but that ad drives me crazy!!

                  I also must admit, I would want to try it again, too, but I wait for one of you first to take the plunge!! haa haa..

                  I am afraid I am setting myself up for disaster!

                  1. re: Angelina

                    RGR - This was my first visit to Sawa at the Pier. As you know, I'm closer to the Eatontown location so I've never had the occasion to try that branch before Saturday evening. As for It's Greek To Me, I only did try a salad with grilled chicken (some thing that I eat a lot of) and it was fine. The greens were fresh, the feta was nice and the chicken wasn't dry. AFAIK, if those three items work then the salad is decent. Obviously, I can't speak to the other items on the menu and therefore my review is very limited. Although its far from the top of my "try list" as any could possibly be, I would probably try it again if in a "Greek" pinch. As to Avenue, I agree. Let's go together.

                    Angelina - The cash only thing bothers me as well. While I understand that credit cards cost money to the establishment, we are only talking $.75 ($24.99 x 3%) for every diner. I'd rather pay the extra dollar for the meal for the convenience of not having to bring cash. To me its kind of petty for a place that tries to sell itself as the hip luxury restaurant/club in Monmouth county.

                    1. re: bgut1

                      RE Greek to Me. In my too frequent experience at the Holmdel location, I've found the more conventional items to be OK. By "conventional" I mean items would would find on nearly any chain restaurant menu: garden salad, salad with grilled chicken, lentil soup.
                      I've found the greek-style food and pastry items to be mediocre. I have never been happy with any of their seafood.

                      1. re: val ann c


                        Based on your experiences, I guess it's foolish for us to expect a *Greek* restaurant to do a good job with the *Greek* items on the menu, which is what we ordered. I'd say the restaurant has the perfect name since well-executed *Greek* food is, as the expression goes, "Greek to them"! lol


                        I never did the math on that prix-fixe cost if they accepted credit cards. Just $.75? Sheesh! That is chintzy for such a supposedly chi chi place! In any event, I'm now looking forward to us "taking one for Angelina"! :-))

                        1. re: RGR

                          are you all joking about the "cash only" prix fixe ??????? i know i don't get out much but.......

                          1. re: chefMD

                            Hey, chefMD,

                            As a famous comedian used to say, "Why would I kid about a thing like that?!" Check it out for yourself:

      2. poho, I'm not familiar with Biaggia. As for Cask 591 (you were off by one digit), I've heard mostly negative reports about the food.

        There really is no place in Long Branch or the areas immediate around it that completely fits what your sister and her husband are looking for. They might want to consider Manhattan Steakhouse, not far from Long Branch, on Route 35 North, in Oakhurst. Definitely no frou frou food there. The steaks are very good, and the generous portions should adequately feed your b-i-l's appetite. While I wouldn't consider it romantic, the interior is quite handsome.

        Piccola Italia, in the same vicinity as Manhattan Steakhouse, serves very good Italian cuisine. We haven't been there in quite some time, but we've enjoyed a couple of meals there, and it gets uniformly good reviews from other Hounds. It's a friendly, pleasant place though, again, I wouldn't describe it as romantic.

        1. IMHO, Long Branch Chow is pretty lacking. That being said, and I know I'm in the minority, but I enjoyed Avenue when I last dined there over the summer. While the place was a tad expensive and a bit pretentious, I thought the food was pretty solid. As far as Cask 491 is concerned, while I've never been, I heard mixed reviews. You might inquire whether your sister in bro-in-law would be willing to drive a little bit out of town. Red Bank has a bit more to offer say Dish or Thyme Square to name a few. Otherwise Good Luck with whatever they choose.

          1 Reply
          1. re: bgut1

            I thought of Dish, but what stopped me was the comment that the brother-in-law is 6''7". Since the the tables are packed so closely together, I think that would make seating very uncomfortable for him.

          2. RGR's recommendation for Piccola Italia is good (I'm not a fan of Manhattan Steakhouse -- Manhattan prices, but I don't find the steak great), as is bgut1's suggestion to consider nearby Red Bank. If they want to stay in close proximity to the hotel, I'd suggest Pearl of Lisbon, a Portugese restaurant. The food, IMO, is better than decent, the waitstaff friendly, and the small, dimmed dining room can certainly be considered romantic. I never heard of Biaggia.

            1. I would head south to Asbury for Moonstruck or Mr. C's Beach Bistro in Allenhurst.


              Charley's in North Long Branch won't meet your "upscale" needs but you get a lot of bang for the buck and it's very friendly and close to the Ocean Place hotel, if that's where you're staying.


              8 Replies
              1. re: fershore

                I always forget about Charley's. My inlaws used to be regulars there, but I haven't returned in many years. If your brother-in-law is a meat and potatoes kind of guy, he'd do very well at Charley's. They make an excellent prime rib and loaded baked potato. The fish offerings are usually very good as well. Cash only as far as I remember. I'm overdo for a return visit. Thanks for reminding me, fershore.

                1. re: jsfein

                  Charley's now takes credit cards and there's an ATM in the foyer.

                  The comfort food menu (all under $10) offers several hearty choices: chicken pot pie (could feed 2), meatballs (huge) and pasta, beef stroganoff...

                  1. re: fershore

                    I agree with RGR and fershore about both Piccola Italia and Moonstruck. If you go to Asbury, I would add Market in the Middle to the list. I've never been to Charley's but I would trust the recommendations of the foodies from this board. Again - Good Luck.

                    1. re: bgut1

                      bgut1, I'm a bit confused by your response regarding Moonstruck. fershore seems to be recommending it while I would not. So, what has been your experience?

                      1. re: RGR

                        RGR - I meant to write I agreed with your recommendation of Piccola and fershore's of Moonstruck. I like both as a matter of fact. I've only been to Moonstruck a few times since they moved, but I found the food to be quite good. Nothing to go crazy about but good none the less. BTW, I also agree about Manhattan SH. Of the three steakhouses in the area (Manhattan, Danny's and Brennens - five if you count murphy's and what's your beef) it is far and away the best. Well made steaks, a great house salad, good drinks and a nice atmosphere. Also the owner Jaime is a great guy.

                        1. re: bgut1

                          Thanks for the clarification, bgut1. I thought that might have been the case but wanted to make sure.

                2. re: fershore

                  I haven't been to Moonstruck since they moved to Asbury from Ocean Grove. My one dinner there was a real disappointment. The food was fine but not anywhere near as terrific as all the raves I had read said it was. Definitely one of those exceedingly high expectations situations blown to bits. After the move, I read reports from some people, previously big fans, who said the food quality had deteriorated. Yet another good reason for me not to bother trying it again.

                  1. re: RGR

                    RGR - I do agree that Moonstruck was much better before it moved. In addition to the food, I think it lost a little of its intimacy and charm. I don't recall having a bad meal but I can tell you it is not one of the places that pops into my head when the DW lets me know we have a sitter for the night. Maybe that says alot. I still wouldn't hesitate recommending the place as it probably better than 90% of the places out there.