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What is your favorite new Monmouth County Discovery?

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  1. Hi Bernie. I'll have to ponder this question. Can you start us off by telling us your own favorite Monmouth County discovery??

    1. Well, the other night we went to That's Amore on Rt. 9 in Marlboro. I must say, my meal was quite good compared to the usual sea of Italina restaurants in this area.

      I had a pasta dish with jumbo shrimp, brocolli rabe, and lots of garlic. My husband had the steak and it was a nice cut. The meat was very tender and the potatoes were tasty.

      Not that I am going to rush their again, but I was very happy with the service as well as our meals. The menu is much like everyone elses, but we figured we would try the "new place" in town.

      --------

      This is not new, but we really love Marmara on Rt. 9!! Love the Turkish cuisine!!

      20 Replies
      1. re: Angelina

        Hey, Angie,

        You should find this interesting. A problem I'm having is requiring me to have p.t. I got into a discussion with my physical therapist about restaurants around here, specifically Italian. I told him that, in my view, with the exception of SamVera, all the Italian restos around here suck! He asked if I'd been to That's Amore. I said I had not because I thought the same owners of Attilio's had just refurbished and changed the name. No, he said, the owners are new and -- here's the kicker -- they are his sister and brother-in-law, who is the chef. lol

        1. re: RGR

          Too funny!!! Like I said, I am not about to run back, but considering all the crap we have by us, this place was a better than the others.

          So sorry to hear about physical therapy! I hope you get well soon!

          1. re: RGR

            Haven't been there but my 2 cents is it is always crowded, which either means it's good or people just want something new and "different", (That's if you can call another Italian place different)

            1. re: RGR

              I went to the same physical therapist. I remember mentioning chowhound, and I remember Brian telling me about you. :)

              1. re: MarlboroMan

                Small world! :-) The irony is that Brian can't eat at That's Amore because he's an observant Jew. I felt badly having to tell him that our one dinner there was mediocre.

            2. re: Angelina

              My fiance's Aunt went to That's Amore and said it's really good, too. Hearing another good review certainly will entice us to go try it. I did a Google search but can't find a website for them. I guess they are too new to have one. I'd love to see their menu, though.

                1. re: Barbarella

                  It's in the small stand-alone building that was Attilio's, on the north side of Route 9, in Marlboro.

                  1. re: Barbarella

                    Confused, two locations which are you referring to as Marlboro?

                    That's Amore
                    3352 Us Highway 9
                    Freehold, NJ 07728
                    (732) 431-2002

                    or ??

                    That's Amore
                    430 Us Highway 9
                    Englishtown, NJ 07726
                    (732) 536-0886

                    1. re: HillJ

                      I didn't know there's a That's Amore in Freehold. The one I'm referring to is the other one. Given the address you show, that means it's on the Manalapan strip of Route 9, not Marlboro. (Englishtown is the post office address.)

                      1. re: RGR

                        Since someone has brought this thread up again, I might as well report on our experience a few months ago at That's Amore. (Discussed in the posts above.) Sorry to have to disagree with my pal Angelina but, sadly, I found the food to be not any better than the usual banal stuff that is dished out in just about every other Italian restaurant in the area.

                        We decided to keep things simple. Main courses come with a house salad, so we didn't order any apps. At this point, I don't remember what Mr. R. had, but I ordered one of the things I usually do when trying an Italian restaurant for the first time: veal piccata, which came with the ubiquitous side of pasta. As noted, it was all very pedestrian. We passed on dessert.

                        One thing's for sure, though. Nobody who eats at That's Amore is going to go away hungry since the portions are gargantuan! The server practically needed a forklift to carry the two gigantic main course plates to our table, and when they were set down in front of us, they could barely fit on the table. It was a 4-top, so how that would would work with the additional two diners and two more plates of that size is a mystery.

                        No return visits for me to That's Amore. But, no doubt I am holding a minoirty view because the parking lot continues to be jammed regularly.

                        Interesting observation. That's Amore has always been open for business 7 days a week, and I noticed that ever since it opened, Pino's, which is right nearby, and which used to be closed on Mondays, is now open every day.

                        1. re: RGR

                          I agree with you RGR. I may have given this a great review on my first visit, but the last time I was there (maybe Oct..I want to say? Can't really remember.) the group of us really did not care for anything. I see why people love it in the area. Like you said, RGR, the gargantuan sized plates. (I personally hate that!) We had huge plates in front of us. If my husband was there, we would have felt like Fred and Wilma Flinstone.

                          I have no desire to go back, nor to Pino's again either. Oh well, better luck somewhere else!!!

                          1. re: Angelina

                            I find such humongous, over-stuffed plates truly off-putting. Almost enough to make me lose my appetite! lol I know we can doggie bag it. But if the food's not great to begin with, I have no desire to do that. Thus, there ends up being a lot of wasted food. Ugh!

                            As for Pino's, I believe your experience there was not too long after they opened? I thought I read somewhere that there was a change in chefs at some poing, so maybe that accounts for the very positive posts about it lately, including from shorebilly, who is a fan. Right now, I'm still inclined to pass on it.

                            1. re: RGR

                              I am with you, RGR. I have no desire to go to Pino's again..for now. Even with that huge sign "LIVE ENTERTAINMENT" posted outside.

                              1. re: Angelina

                                I vauglulely remember ordering a square pie with Fress Mozz, possible a grandmas for lunch and it was pretty good, But I think the pizza place is separte from the nicer dining area.

                                1. re: Angelina

                                  Live entertainment is a total turn-off for me! I even prefer not to have any background music when I'm dining out.

                            2. re: RGR

                              Although the food was somewhat decent, I agree that the servings were oversized, but the plates were also oversized. As they could have suggested that we share, that would have been impossible as the table wasn't big enough to accommodate the serving dish and two other dishes!!

                    2. re: Angelina

                      That's Amore is one of the worst restaurants I have ever been to. First off the special appetizer was cajun calamari with a balsamic demi glaze. The portion was huge, but the calamari were obviously frozen (so chewy and all the same shape and size). The calamari itself was soaking in a bowl of balasamic soup. It was disgusting.

                      Then my pasta dinner came out. The portion was so big I thought I was going to barf just looking at it. It was supposed to be pasta with sausage in a pink sauce. Too bad the pink sauce was made with half grease. My girlfriend had the fish special which came out cold and was also soaking it a lemon sauce. The only reason this place gets people in is because all the good restaurants are about a 30 minute drive away.

                      I recommend to stay away from this place. If you want a really good Italian restaurant not too far away try http://www.piccolaitalianj.com/. This place is as close too Italy as you are going to get in Monmouth County. They even get Zucchini Flowers in here sometimes.

                      Just my two cents!

                      1. re: Jetfan

                        You don' t like being served dinner on a large oval serving platter? haa haa..I know..this place is pretty bad. I only went 2 times. I may have posted it was "good", but thet certainly changed a LONG time ago.

                        I was very disgusted with Piccola on my last trip. I used to love the place, but my last visit was sooo OFF!

                        1. re: Jetfan

                          Can't believe I am going to agree with a Jets Fan but I have to. Piccola Italia is the way to go.

                      2. Two new places i've been going to:

                        Jr's Burgers: It's official: Jr's has fantastic burgers. Best part, they're open til 4am..

                        Manna's: Delicious brick oven pizza.

                        13 Replies
                        1. re: joonjoon

                          I've heard good things about Jr's Burgers. Need to get there. Where's Manna's?

                          1. re: jsfein

                            Manna's is right in between the Mix and Jrs.... adn yes I agree they do have awesome brick oven pizza!

                            1. re: stack_c

                              Sounds like a visit to West End is in order for pizza and burgers.

                              1. re: jsfein

                                Pizza + Burgers + Beers = good time. :)

                          2. re: joonjoon

                            and I might find Jr's burgers where?

                            1. re: joonjoon

                              I just went in and grabbed takeout menus for JRs and Manna's. I would have tried one of them but I was in the mood for ribs and picked up a bucket at Jack's.

                              Also got menus for Tandoor India and Scala's.

                              1. re: tom porc

                                is tandoor open now? do you know if they're related in any way to the tandoor on rt 35?

                                1. re: joonjoon

                                  Yes, it is open.

                                  Yes, it is related to the Ocean Twp location.

                                  1. re: tom porc

                                    Thanks tom, I'll have to check it out for lunch one of these days.

                              2. re: joonjoon

                                I tried Manna's during the first few months they were open and was extremely dissapointed.I've driven bye a few times some months ago (thinking i'ld give it another shot ) and the place has always been closed.Is it still in business?
                                Also I noticed you favor Broadway joonjoon?I would love to see this stretch of LB/Lwr B'way take off,but I suspect it will go the way of Asbury Park with speculative property developers buying up everything and making it financially prohibitive and even more risky to open up there?The only places I frequent there is the Portuguese Cafe on the corner for breakfast and buy dried chorizo and the BBQ further up opposite the City admin buildings.

                                1. re: xny556cip

                                  It was still open yesterday but very few ppl inside. I passed it on my way to Jr's. Scala's across the street was busy with take-out orders. Albert's and Emy looked dark. The only places doing good business was Piccolo Forno and the various pezaos.

                                2. re: joonjoon

                                  We stumbled upon Manna's last night. We were there to find the Mix and have a martini. As we were walking up and down Brighton Ave trying to find it, some women who was driving by sensed we were lost and looking for something. She actually stopped her car in traffc, rolled down her window, and asked if we were looking for a good place to eat. She then whole heartedly recoommend Manna's. It was not our intent to dine there, we were actually enroute to Kelly's for reubans. Having been lead in the right direction by divine intervention on other occasions, we took a chance. We were not disappointed. Started with warm semolina bread and butter. The we had a small personal pie as an appetizer. It was one of the best I have tasted around here. I had Rigatoni ala vodka. I enjoyed the sauce. It did not have the bite that you sometimes find with vodka sauces. It was gentle with good flavor. My DH had Chicken Fra Diablo. He raved about it. He said that so often he gets Fra Diablo that is so hot you lose the flavor. This was not that way at all. It was full of flavor with just a hint of spiceness. We mentioned this to our server and she said it was the owner's Grandmother's recipe and everyone that cooks there is of Italian descent and uses family recipes. The menu is small. They don't have the usual pizza parlor choices (such as ravioli, or lasagna). The prices are very reasonable. Our dinner came to under $45.00. We would definatley go back.

                                  1. re: sunsetterdottie

                                    Definitey sounds like devine intervention!

                                3. The Flakey Tart in Atlantic Highlands. I tried it today for the first time, and I am going to post about it, it was unbelievably good.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Herm

                                    What a great name! Looking forward to your review Herm.

                                  2. Mama Chuch in Allenhurst. Ok, not really new since it's the former owners of Don Chucho's on Rt. 35 in Ocean. The food is well-prepared and reasonable, the staff is friendly as all get out, and the place itself is cute and cozy.

                                    7 Replies
                                    1. re: joslyn

                                      joslyn - You you be so kind to provide a little more info on Mama Chuch. I assume it serves Mexican food since you reference that its owned by the same people who ran Don Chucho's. Also, do you know what happened with Don Chucho's? It's still open right?

                                      1. re: bgut1

                                        We ate at Don Chucho's a few months ago and found it to be just so so. food was bland and not very tasty. Would not go back. Was not at all busy.Probably would not try Mama Chuch.

                                        1. re: Barbarella

                                          It would have to be Valentino's. We've been more than happy every time and our visits are getting more frequent.
                                          http://www.valentinosfreehold.com/ind...

                                          1. re: Pink Pepper

                                            We tried Valentino's on a quiet Tuesday night, there was nobody in there but us. We were all very disappointed; the lobster bisque was very soupy and had no lobster in it and the plate it came in was like a trough only it was half full. The size of the plates was ridiculous, there was barely room on the table, the gnocci was horrible. When the owner knew we weren't getting dessert, he shut off the fireplace.

                                            1. re: shesallthat

                                              Everytime I drive by that place, especailly at night, there are no cars!! I have never been to the place, nor do I have any desire. That place is "doomed". Any restaurant that has been there never makes it. Oh well

                                              1. re: Angelina

                                                I totally disagree with you on Valentino's. I was there tonite and my family and I had an amazingly delicious dinner. The three of us all had three different dishes, (Veal Parm, Chicken Marsala and Veal Francaise), and I have to tell you that each one of them was out of this world. Maybe you should go back and try it again since it has been almost a year. The service was excellent all around and I will totally be back there with friends and family. You can't judge a book by its cover.

                                            2. re: Pink Pepper

                                              I absolutely LOVE Valentino's. We have gone there for dinner 3 times in the last few months and it was great every time. We know a few of the staff from when they were in Casanova and they always greet us warmly. The Pork Chop Scillian and the Chicken Savoy are AMAZING!

                                              If you didn't like it in the past I do think that maybe you should give it another try. During the week it was pretty quiet, but on Friday and Saturday nights almost all the tables are filled.

                                              I really do hope it sticks around for a LONG TIME!

                                      2. We just had dinner at Trinity Restaurant in Keyport last night. It will be open one year in June. The food was excellent. My hunny had the Catalan Style clams with Chorizo as an appetizer. I had the Foie gras. You can check out their full menu at www.trinitykeyport.com. The atmosphere is like no other around. Trinity is located in an old church. The owners built a second floor that overlooks the first floor and has all custom Iron work for the railings and chairs. It is the perfect venue for dancing, which they will start hosting this Saturday with a Latin night. Unfortunately, I'll be away on business, but they are planning a Swing Night in the very near future. I plan to do a blog post with pictures on the restaurant this week. They change their menu with the seasons, which I really appreciate. Trust me, its really worth a visit.

                                        1. I have to say my recent favorite is Manow Asian Bistro in Lincroft. It is not the best Thai I have had, but for like 20 years I have lamented the lack of even a passably good Thai place in Monmouth County. Siam Garden in Red Bank is OK, but they seem reluctant to season their food to true Thai levels. Given that they seem to want to set prices to that of Vong in NYC, I just don't see the attraction.

                                          Of course there is also Boom on the burger front...

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: equal_Mark

                                            I agree with you about Manow. We had dinner there a few weeks ago and thought the quality of the food was quite high. So, in addition to Thai Chili and Thai Thai, we are adding it to the list of good Thai restaurants within easy proximity to our house.

                                            Note: Before it was sold, we really liked Cafe du Thai. We concentrated more on the delicious French side of the menu but had the curry puffs several times, which were superb. The new owners changed the name (which escapes me) and, I gather, have made it strictly Thai. We have not tried it.

                                          2. I've been living in Monmouth County for 8yrs now and I must say, it's culinarily challenged. Places that we go to because they are good are:
                                            Sea Bright Pizzeria, very good "grandma" slice
                                            Zaitonni (spelling) in Red Bank, good falafel sandwich, hummus is just okay
                                            Flaky Tart in Atlantic Highlands makes a great almond croissant
                                            Gaetano's in Red Bank is pretty good too, though they should be tortured for that awful olive oil they put on the table for dipping your bread. Have they even heard of extra virgin olive oil?
                                            Bellas in Atlantic Highlands has some good appetizers and a decent atmosphere
                                            Zoe's Vintage Ktichen also in AH, has a good breakfast.
                                            Still looking for really good indian, we go to Neelam in Middletown which is not bad as well, but not great.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: col8118

                                              You're not looking very hard; head towards the shore.

                                              1. re: col8118

                                                Gas is cheap again. Hop in the car and take a ride to Aamantran in Toms River. Very good Indian food. Buffet Mon-Thursday, I think.

                                                1. re: col8118

                                                  For amazing indian food try Aangan on Route 9 northbound side in Freehold. For middle eastern, oasis on 537 west just past Freehold Mall.

                                                2. New discovery: new pizza place called Bruno's on Main Street in downtown Farmingdale (which is a tiny town in the middle of Howell) for excellent, huge slices, great variety and killer subs and gourmet salads. Also: Oasis middle eastern food on 537 west in Freehold, heading west past the Freehold Mall, on the corner of Wemrock Road. All food made on premise and absolutely fantastic, he catered for me in a pinch in ten minutes with amazing dips and secret family recipe seasonings on the flatbread.