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Help me pick out dinner Sat.

Looking for a moderately priced place for dinner this saturday night. Preferably Italian or American only. Sam Vera's and Brioso too expensive so something a bit cheaper but great food. Looking for something with entress under $18-19. We live in Freehold but are willing to travel in any direction 40 minutes. She has tried Theresa's in Westfield and liked in very much - is there anything else. We will be a party of 9. Thank you. ,

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  1. With those budgetary constraints, I think you are going to be really hard-pressed to find an Italian or American restaurant serving *really good* food unless, in the case of Italian, you all stick with pastas for your main course, which are generally priced in the teens.

    If you are open to Turkish cuisine, Marmara, in Manalapan, is a great place for groups. Mezzes are made to be shared, and prices for main courses exactly fit your budget. The food at Mamara is very good. On Saturday night, they have belly dancing.

    http://www.marmararestaurant.com

    1. Here are a few suggestions. At these places you will find several entrees below $19.00 - 20.00 but also several above that price point.

      http://www.restaurantpontevecchio.com/
      Old Bridge is less than 30 minutes from Freehold.

      http://www.albivi.com/
      Millstone is less than 30 minutes west of Freehold.

      http://www.cafecolorenj.com/
      This restaurant is in your backyard :)

      )

      Let us know where you go and if your party enjoyed it. All of the above restaurants are BYO which also keeps the cost down.

      10 Replies
      1. re: tom246

        Hey, tom246,

        As I said in my post above, pasta prices in the teens are readily available. Main courses, not so much.

        I thought of Cafe Colore but did not suggest it after I checked the prices for mains and found they are in the $20's.

        I just looked at the prices on the Ponte Vecchio website, and the same goes for their main courses.

        The prices at Albivi do fit shesallthat's budget. I've never heard of this place. Is the food really good?

        1. re: RGR

          Hi RGR, I also checked the Ponte Vecchio website and in addition to the pasta's every chicken entree is below $18.00 and every veal entree except for one is below $19,00. I think, in general, it fits the criteria.

          Albivi is a nice neighborhood Italian restaurant, great salads, excellent pizzas, good, not great entrees. The type of place you go to when you need a fix of Italian food :)

          1. re: tom246

            Hey, tom246,

            My apologies re: Ponte Vecchio's prices. I didn't look carefully enough at all of them, so you are right that, for the most part, the mains fit the budget parameters.

            As far as Albivi goes, they would have to be serving *stellar* Italian cuisine for us to shlep to Millstone. When I need an Italian fix, I'm sticking with SamVera, less than 5 minutes from our house.

            Hey, Angelina,

            Salt or no salt, Albivi is out!

          2. re: RGR

            RGR, I love you so PLEASE don't drive to Millstone (risk getting hit by a dear), and plus to eat salty, bad food. Sorry, tom246, but this place just seems to love to oversalt EVERYTHING!!! Pizza included. Why? Perhaps the crap is so old.

            I went too many times with friends (I think they love it because of the $$$, BYOB, and close to home.)...to me, I think I would enjoy something I could microwave more at WAWA than this place...:( YUCK!

            Steer clear, my friend! (Unless you like SALT!!! haaa haa!!!)

            1. re: Angelina

              Hi Angelina, I respect your opinion, can I ask you a question. Would your friends really continue to go to a restaurant, Albivi or any other restaurant, just because its a little less expensive.

              I love good value restaurants, report on them a lot but if I didn't like the food, I would never go back.
              Are you saying your friends don't like the food but keep going back. If you are I think thats pretty amazing.

              1. re: tom246

                Hey tom! Sorry, I will clarify. Just so you know, I think I am more of a food "snob" than ANY of my friends. Fortunately I get to dine at fabulous restaurants in Manhattan, even some shabby places, too!! and I certainly do LOVE to cook, but my friends, whom I love dearly, still cannot tell when pasta has been cooked days prior, and then just sits in the walk -in and goes to the steamer, and tastes like mush! :( YUCK!

                This is why I don't mean to sound "snobbish", but in this economy, if I am spedning money on dining out, it better be good!!

                My friends are not picky and they happen to think I am too crtical of the place. I know you probably think I am a big B right now, but I am sorry, I just do not care for Albivi. Friends also love it because it is so close for everyone. Not me. I rather schlep all the way over to Matawan/Aberdeen to Denino's for a chicken parm than this place!

                I hope this clears up any misunderstandings!!!

                I still love so many of your choices on restaurants you have made as well as your suggestions!!!

                Hope you and your family enjoy the weekend!!

                :)

                1. re: Angelina

                  Hi Angelina, thanks for the reply. It doesn't concern me that you don't like Albivi. People have all sorts of likes and dislikes and you clarified the point about your friends going there. Remember the old saying "one persons ceiling is anothers persons floor".

                  Lots of good restaurants out there in all price ranges for everyone to enjoy, we're looking forward to Drew's tonight.
                  Enjoy the weekend and keep posting, I like your enthusiasm!

                  1. re: tom246

                    Or, tom246, one *my* favorites expressions with regard to people's restaurant preferences, "Chacun à son goût."

                    I, too, love Angelina's enthusiasm.

                    We've been to Drew's twice during the past several weeks. Needless to say, everything was terrific! We left stuffed, happy, and with doggie boxes in hand.

                    Enjoy and Bon Appetit!

                    1. re: tom246

                      Thanks, tom!!! I hope you enjoyed Drew's! I have yet to go there. I always remember RGR's post praising that place. I just always seem to forget about it when I cannot decide where to eat!! I have to keep it written in my purse so I will remember!

                      Enjoy your day!! :)

                      1. re: Angelina

                        Angelina - You must do yourself a favor and head to Drew's ASAP. Trust me, you will not regret it. :)

          3. How about Under the Moon in Bordentown. many interesting very good entrees less than $20 includes a small salad. and is a byo! you won't be disappointed. the rest. is small, so you will need to call and make a rez.

            http://www.underthemooncafe.com

              1. If you blaze down Rt 33 into Asbury (less than 30 minutes), Moonstruck has some really good pasta dishes in the $15 to $20 range...

                http://www.moonstrucknj.com/menu.php

                5 Replies
                1. re: equal_Mark

                  www.mezzalunaonline.com - mezza luna (manalapan) or www.lambertis.com - lambertis cucina also in manalapan, both relatively inexpensive and not bad, but not great...typical neighborhood italian.

                  1. re: charmel

                    We tried Mezzaluna once not long after they opened quite some time ago. In a word: Awful! And Lamberti's, imo, isn't much better. I'm not sure what you mean by "typcial neighborhood Italian." If it's places that serve traditional Italian-American fare, when done right, it can be excellent. Unfortunately, that is not the case with nearly all the Italian restaurants in our area.

                    1. re: RGR

                      I agree, to me they are passable and not much more, but at the low price point there is not going to be too much "great" cuisine that is going to be found. Main courses in any decent restaurant are not usually under $20. This area in general has very little to offer in the way of good restaurants.

                      1. re: charmel

                        I think even calling some of them "passable" is being too kind. Otherwise, yes, as I said in my initial post, it's hard to find Italian restaurants with non-pasta main courses for under $20. For mains in the teens, you have to look towards what we generally call "ethnic" cuisines; for example, Chinese or Thai.

                        The number of good to excellent restaurants in this area is relatively paltry though, depending on which towns you want to include, it has gotten better in recent years.

                      2. re: RGR

                        FWIW, my wife and I like Mezzaluna.. their pesto cream sauce with tortellini is great. I also love the eggplant parmigiana. Also, their red sauce doesn't give me heartburn like so many other places.