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Mar 24, 2007 08:49 PM

Long Branch NJ restaurant driving tour

A previous topic mentioned the poor eating choices in Long Branch. So I used this Saturday night (on my way to grab a pizza) to do a drive tour of the West End area to see what's new and happening culinary wise to make sure we werent possibly missing a gem.

First thing I noticed is that Ranoosh is now Kam Zaman (sp?). It's sign still says its Lebanese but I dont know if its the same owner/chef or even if its still kosher. Place recently renovated and looks upscaled. Google search turns up nothing. Many cars in the area but I couldnt tell if they were for Kam Zaman or for Ron's West End Pub next door.

New place opened up last summer called Roselli's on Brighton Ave. The place looks like a museum from the outside. They dont seem to have a website but other sites says they serve New American have a liquor license and offer take out. I may stop during the day and check their menu posted by the door. Although it has that fancypants wannabe feel to it.

Another option is Jesse's Cafe also on Brighton. Sign out front says its (interestingly!) organic vegan and international cuisine. Place looked bright and cheery, clean and comfortable. Casual. With Down to Earth in RB closed this may be an option. Tofu, chickpeas, smoothies anyone? Unfortunately, there was no place to park to grab a menu and they looked like they were closing up for the night.

And this was due to Jack's Rib & Ale House. Very active there. People and cars coming and going.

The building where Al Mare used to be is still vacant.

The Inkwell, however, was not vacant. packed, packed .....PACKED. Is it still popular with the college students?

They seemed not be at Stingers unless they cater to a late crowd. Maybe they cant afford the cover charge. 656 Ocean (kosher) had just opened at 9pm couldnt tell if anyone was there. Not so with ...

IL Piccolo Forno on Ocean Ave was full. Not a single empty table at 9:30pm. Never tried it but with all the other Italian places in LB competing they may be on to something. Loyal following?

Sadly, Izu 's had only a few ppl inside. Unless the sushi crowd eats early to hit the bars afterwards? I know many ppl dont agree with Andrea Clurfeld but she did give it high marks. Thought the free publicity would help give it a boost. Being just a simple storefront prob doesnt help either esp on a Sat night.

First time I noticed Scala's Pizza. Always looking for a new pizza place. Hmmm....

The kosher deli is now a Quisno's. For some reason I find that funny.

Charley's and Tavolo's had their usual crowd. And Pier Village was well ... Pier Village.

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  1. Thanks for a useful report, and fun to read. I've been meaning to try Jessie's Cafe (139 Brighton Ave). Elaine, the Tasty Pantry lady at the Red Bank farmers market, sells of Jessie's soups and salsas. I was so dismayed when Down to Earth closed. I'm not a vegetarian, but I like a good vegan/organic meal now and then.

    Red Bank is really changing. Tiffany's plans to open a store on Broad St. Red Bank is turning into the Short Hills Mall. I'm telling you... if I want a Red Bank experience, I go to Keyport.

    2 Replies
    1. re: val ann c

      Much as I agree that we do need a good replacement for Down to Earth, Red Bank is far from a Mall town. With an arts cinema and two theatres, some quality veggie food is a must though.

      Once The Soup Man opens, that will be nice, but in the meanwhile there continues to be good and interesting food choices to complement the wide variety of stores and hardly any stores or restaurants that are chains.

      Perhaps a good choice for dining al fresco on the water would be nice as well...

      1. re: seal

        Seal, I was ranting. I really like Red Bank. I'm dismayed to see fewer independent businesses and more chain businesses. It's a loss of local character and unique charm. But that's the evolution of downtown improvement. And I suppose it's good for the town. And yes, there are still mostly independent businesses.

        In addition to the restaurants and theaters, RB has several good art galleries, including McKay, which is dedicated to fine arts photography. And I LOVE the farmers market. Red Bank's west side Mexican neighborhood is really interesting. I've had some really good tamales.

        RE al fresco dining. There's that little Japanese place at the dock in Marine Park. Ever been there? I think they serve breakfast by the water.

    2. For some reason, whenever I think about restaurants in Long Branch and environs, I always seem to forget about Ranoosh. We've had dinner there a couple of times, albeit not recently, and the food was very good. Not that it matters at this point. I think it's a pretty good bet that there are new owners. After all, why would the same owners change the name?

      Edited to add: I didn't recall Ranoosh being kosher. So, I did a little Googling and discovered that it was originally non-kosher but became kosher in 2004. Obviously, our last visit pre-dates that change.

      1. The building that was Al Mare is not vacant it is now Kan Zaman. One of the original partners of Ranoosh opened the restaurant in February and yes it is still kosher.

        1 Reply
        1. re: geelo

          Ok, thanks. Then it's Ranoosh's old bldg that's vacant.

        2. I recommend Pearl of Lisbon at Broadway and Branchport in Long Branch. This great Portuguese place used to be The Pearl of the Sea at the end of Broadway (off Ocean), and the food has not suffered from the move.

          3 Replies
          1. re: alielle

            If you liked Down to Earth and Jesse's Cafe you missed the best little gem in West End. Ocean Cafe. Right on Ocean Ave in the same block as Il Picolo Forno and the Sultan. Ocean Cafe is the best palce to go for fresh wraps, salads and homemade soups....its also very veggie friendly. Not much on the eyes and the presentation of the food is slim to none but the ingredients are FRESH FRESH FRESH and they are very reasonably priced. The tofu wraps, tuna wraps (rare of course) and avocado & port. mushroom wraps with the pesto mayo are to die for! And you can't beat their homeamde soups in the winter..the butternut squash is out of this world!! Try it! that's my little plug of my fav hometown place :)
            PS: the lobster mac & cheese at Xebastian's and the brick oven pizza at Manna's is pretty good too :)

            1. re: stack_c

              Thanks, stack for the recommendations. Xebastian's and Ocean Cafe werent open when I did my drive-by. Xebastian's menu is heavy on seafood which I dont eat so I never tried the place. I am interested in good pizza :o) so I'll put Manna's on my list. Its across the street from Scala's so I have 2 places to try unless you didnt like Scala's.

            2. re: alielle

              I can second that (Pearl of the Sea/Lisbon)! Excellent food for not a lot of money! I personally love their mackerel.

            3. For me the real action in Long branch is not at West End but along broadway. Tons of great mexican/latin joints everywhere!