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Help! Mom wants to take me to Olive Garden in E. Brunswick, Need Alternative!

Talking with aged mom last weekend and she went w/ a Russian church group to the Olive Garden on Rt. 18 and she loved it. Now she wants to take us when we visit, from Maine, on the 21st. Middlesex County has soooo much good dining that we don't have up here in the icy far north, that I don't want to waste a meal at Olive Garden (I suffer from chainophobia,). We used to eat a lot at Covello's, in Sayreville a lot, but have not been satisfied the last few times. I need some recs. for good, moderately priced, southern Italian, restaurants in the Sayreville-South River area. Help me please! Isn't there a good Italian place around Ryder's Ln.? Thanks!

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    1. re: njeggy1

      Looks great. The first thing this wonderful 92 year old wants me to do is drive her to the Menlo Mall. Despite, the Olive Garden, she is an awesome hound.

      1. re: Passadumkeg

        Menlo Mall - LoCas is just around the corner - about half mile !

    2. Perrone's Italian Kitchen (BYOB) seems to have some favor.

      Alfonso's Pizzeria & Restaurant
      647 State Route 18 # A
      East Brunswick, NJ 08816 (732) 257-7111‎-small restaurant serving Italian and pizza.

      BYOBs: Briosos and Luchentos for Italian. Briosos for a more refined Italian, and Luchentos for more hearty fare, but both wonderful!

      There's this: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/45775..., but I can't come up with anything on Google. Perhaps this place is what they were referring to? http://www.chowhound.com/topics/49144... (also a BYOB)
      I'm like a fish outa wata here. Just trying to be helpful...

      3 Replies
        1. re: Passadumkeg

          Hey, Passa,

          I would avoid Brioso's like the proverbial plague. While the food may be good, service is horrible (unless you're a "friend of the house"). Management is in need of a severe attitude adjustment especially when dealing with customer complaints. We stopped going there years ago.

          Imo, the food at Luchento's is mediocre.

          My pick would be SamVera, on Route 520, in Marlboro. Traditional Italian fare. Good service. Attractive ambiance.

          1. re: RGR

            I'm sorry Pass. I should have stated that these were opinions of other chowhounders and that I'm totally clueless about these places.
            So the late in coming caveat: I'm just collecting data and have no f-n opinion. They are not mine, other than they were one's that looked interesting and there were some positive comments.

      1. Heck! the Brunswick Grove on milltown road would be my choice! even carrabas, although a chain, is better than olive garden!

        Can speak to perrones but yep, thats the place on ryders lane.

        11 Replies
        1. re: RPMcMurphy

          rpmcmurphy -- love the hound name from OFOTCN... ! anyway off Ryder's lane in E B there is a placed called The Tomato Factory. Food is good, prices are good and enjoyable for all ages. They have a website too:
          www.tomatofactoryitalianrestaurant.com

          1. re: nyebaby37

            Ha, not too many people "get it"

            also...right next door is Al Fresco? ( think...) that is a BYOB steak and seafood place that is pretty good.

            1. re: RPMcMurphy

              Do you know who many times I have taught the book??
              Thanks for all the help, I feel better. My uncles go to the place on Ryders Ln.
              The Chief
              How's Caffero's pizza? I haven't had it in 30 yrs.

              1. re: Passadumkeg

                I had it last night actually!! It's GREAT if you love that style (thicker doughy)....but once you have delorenzos......haha. Although I wouldn't order anything else from coffaros but pizza.

                And you must have thought the book way before I was in school....these days your not even allowed to READ books like that haha. I think I was just born in the wrong generation.....

                1. re: RPMcMurphy

                  Coffaro's here we come! Sounds just like the old days except they used to have BOTH Drew Pierson & Joe Theisman posters!
                  I also taught a social studies class on food migration called 1000 Tables and in a Latin American Lit class, when we read Like Water for Chocolate we cooked the food! Lit should be fun, not the boring classics that I was given at SWMHS!
                  PS I enjoyed your egg flipping.

                  1. re: Passadumkeg

                    I graduated from SWMHS as well....

                    Great Gatsby. and some shakespear and maybe great expectations...ugh.

                    If you are going to get anything OTHER than pizza, I'd recommend Franks by shoprite (where BEST and newberrys used to be ;))

                    Also, give the brazillian BBQ place on Ferry street a try.

                    1. re: RPMcMurphy

                      I've eaten at the place on Ferry St. (walked around the corner to Otto's to get some Brazilian beer. Which Shoprite? The one on Washington Rd. near SWMHS? BEST? Newberrys? Not ringin any bells. Ate at a place near Shoprite, pizza and subs, not bad. The renowned pizza place on Main in S. Amboy (Scarlotti's?) was a disappointment. So little time, so much to eat. But I'll be back in July when my eldest son and his Korean wife fly into Newark. His favorite plase is The Seven Hill of Istanbul in Highland Pk.
                      I was the one responsible for erecting the old bil boar at SWMHS when I was there. I probably went to church w/ your aunt. Such a small world.

                      1. re: Passadumkeg

                        Franks, the shoprite in east brunswick (aka one of the best supermarkets, but the worst, all in one with the parking and crowds)

                        glad you had a good time.

                        1. re: RPMcMurphy

                          Ain't gone yet, this next Sunday. I was remembering pizza past and projecting unmet goals. Get down the 21st.

                          1. re: Passadumkeg

                            Passa. It's not Italian, but the wife and I ate at this little Korean place where the fare was almost as good as K town restaurants in the city.
                            Chung Sol Bat
                            558 Old Post road
                            Edison 08817
                            732 287 1234
                            The ban chan was fresh, tasty,and plentiful.We had the seafood, scallion pancake, which was good but a bit on the thicker side, A little hard to manage on the plate. The casseroles were really tasty, I had the Kimchi,Tofu, and pork, and the wife, The Beef in light broth.They also grill with charcoal which I haven't seen for a while.
                            The service was friendly and efficient, the dining room is very well ventilated and spotlessly clean. All in all quite a bit better than Woo Jeon or Maru.

                            1. re: currymouth

                              I'll keep that in mind when I return to pick up Jr. and Korean wife at Newark Airport, in case she goes in withdrawl. The Korean restaurant, in Sayreville is gone, mom liked it and developed a yen for So Ju.

        2. For the love of God, please dont go wait in those ridiculous lines for that s$$$.

          In East Brunswick, Tomato Factory is okay, Perrones is very good for Italian. Both are on Ryders Lane.

          1. If you want to get away from chains, I'd travel about 2 miles south of the EB border to Monroe/Jamesburg. Basile's on Rt 522 (Monroe - Buckelew Ave) is really good, so is Fiddleheads in Jamesburg (not Italian, though! Small, but really great food) There are also several small Italian restaurants - two in the WaWa strip mall on Applegarth (one on each side of Prospect Plains), and two others in strip malls on Spotswood-Englishtown Rd by Bakers Nursery. All four have good food and are reasonable. We go to Garvey's a lot - it looks like a dive from the outside, but is very family friendly and has a cozy atmosphere. The food is okay, and I like giving business to non-chains that are family businesses! Also...not usually crowded - except St. Patrick's Day! It's tucked away, and the outside probably scares some people off. We've been going there for 20 years...good pub fare. The food is not as good as Olde Silver Tavern, but it's quieter and closer.
            I grew up in EB (and remember popping balloons at the soda fountain in Newberrys to find out the price of a banana split!), but have been in Monroe for 25 years. It's not that far - I used to take my kids to visit grandmom in EB by bike!