Wine/Specialty Shops - Monmouth County
I am moving to Monmouth County in a few weeks and am curious to know what the hounds find to be the best/most interesting specialty shops.....most interested in a quality wine shop with fair prices and knowledgable staff but also curious about cheese/charcuterie, bread, etc.
Thank you in advance.
First off - Welcome (in advance). Next, where in Monmouth County may be relevant, as if you are toward the southern end of the area, there are some good spots in the OC as well (Ocean Co.). For example, the German Butcher (D.A. Barsch) in Toms River is the best I know of for lots of stuff. On the other hand, if you are in the northern half, there's a place like European Provisions in South River which may be equally as special for certain things meat.
For wine, I agree that the Bottle Shop does have pretty knowledgable service, but their prices seem to reflect their address. My favorite spot for wine (and spirits) is Jonathan Ron in Brielle.
Cheese on Main in Ocean Grove is the best place I know of for one's fine dairy fix. Excellent selection, owner-operated, and owner knowledgable.
I like DO for produce once the Farmers' Markets season has passed. You can find the slightly obscure stuff like ramps, chanterelles, golden beets, etc. Other than eggs and butter, I rarely buy anything but fruits and vegetables there.
Sickles is like DO in that it's an all-under-one-roof type market. I've never much been impressed. It's better than the National chain supermarkets, but that's about the best I can say. I suppose I'd get produce there if I lived nearby, but I don't. For example, there's a little "deli" in the strip mall by the A&P in Little Silver that has much more interesting charcuterie. (The name of the place, however, escapes me.)
There are no longer a lot of bakeries around. I am a fan of Italian breads from Del Ponte's in Bradley Beach and the corn rye loaf from Freedman's in Belmar. I prefer Mueller's in Bay Head for most baked goods, but that's on the other side of the bridge.
Thanks to everyone. I am moving to the Locust section of Middletown, but am from the area (Little Silver) originally. Have been spoiled living in NYC for the past 12 years but always believe there is quality to be found.
You mentioned farmers markets above....I have been to Red Bank and found it pretty good. Any others in the area? Any comments about the Atlantic Highlands farmers market? Thanks everyone.
Welcome to Monmouth County!!.
Wegmans Manalapan (on US 9 S) has a Wine store with a huge collection of quality wine at all prices. They also have a decent collection of cheese and bread.
Wine store staff are pretty helpful although unsure if they have a wine connoisseurs level of experience.
Spirit of '76 in Manasquan has a good selection of wines, an informed, helpful owner in Susan DiRenna, and just about the best prices around. Bottle Shop in Spuing Lake is too much about gouging to suit me.
Farmstands in season are the best places to buy produce - particularly Dorothy Turner's The Farm on Gully Road in Freehold Township and the Twin Pond Farm stand on Route 524 in Freehold Township (not so much the store on Route 9 in Howell). Also excellent: Clayton's Farm Stand on 537, just west of CentraState Medical Center. Out of season, the best produce is at Delicious Orchards, I agree; Sickles' produce is often old, always overpriced and not as well cared for as DO's. Thank DO producer manager Ron Gasway for excellent sourcing too - lots of local farmers' produce. Worth a look, if you're in way northern Monmouth is Dearborn Farms on 35 in Holmdel.
The best bakery is Flaky Tart in Atlantic Highlands, where pastry chef Marie Jackson presides. Sometimes the manager is cranky, but Marie's pastries are superb and technically correct. Also fine is Ye Olde Pie Shoppe in Little Silver, great for cupcakes, traditional cakes to order for birthdays and such. Nice, nice people. Mueller's in Bay Head is a truly fine traditional bakery that's worth a trip if you're looking for crumb buns and breakfast sweets.
For Asian shopping, check out the Asian Market next to the Crown Palace restaurant on 35 in Middletown. If you're looking to stock up on Asian pantry ingredients or frozen dumplings, it's great. Also go to the meat counter, the prepared-meats end, for good old Chinese roast pork for fried rice. I think the ground pork sold there is terrific and use it to make stuffing for lettuce wraps - it's usually about $1.99/pound.
if you're looking for a good natural foods market, with a solid prepared-foods section, check out Nature's Corner in Spring Lake Heights. Its produce section is small, but choice - as is its salad bar. Much, much better than either Dean's location, where you're always pressured to buy nutritional supplements and the produce sometimes is on the wane.
It's also well worth poking into the many Mexican groceries, particuarly in the southern Monmouth coastal (beach) towns, such as Bradley Beach. Abuelita in Bradley is modest, for sure, but has good queso, crema, mole and sauces.
Where are you moving to in Monmouth County?
145 1st Ave, Atlantic Highlands, NJ
1285 State Route 35, Middletown, NJ 07748
Cheese is right on with the NE Monmouth recommendations, which are all convenient to Locust. There's also a Whole Foods on 35 nearby. For produce, I slightly prefer Delicious Orchards, but since Dearborn Farms is much more convenient, I happily go there usually. Reportedly, so does David Burke.
For wine, there is a shop in Holmdel next to A&P that seems to have a good selection, but I'm no expert on that. Spirits on 35 has a large selection, but they're more of a large discount liquor store, so they might not be what you want.
Funny, Cheese, although we seem to agree about several things here in Southern Monmouth, I couldn’t disagree more about Spirit of ’76. I actually compared their prices on a couple bottles, the Jaboulet Parallele 45 Cote du Rhone and the Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc, and found ’76 to be from $1 to $4 more per bottle than Egan’s in Sea Girt, Jonathan Ron in Brielle, or the Wine King on 34 in Wall. Similarly, their prices on high end spirits are generally a few dollars more than other spots. (That location has always permitted a bit of premium pricing – Remember “Goodlow’s” – the old, local drunks would routinely gripe “There’s nothin’ good or low ‘bout it.”)
I do appreciate Nature’s Corner though. There are certain things I can only find there - Pasture butter, Apple cider vinegar, Goat’s milk, etc. (As to Health Food store clerks pushing supplements, we’ll need a new thread – it drives me insane. I overhear things that infuriate me, especially claims may to new mom’s or the elderly.)