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Sep 12, 2011 02:09 PM

New restaurant coming to Freehold Raceway Mall

There's a gated area next to PF Changs.. the beginnings of construction.

We ate at PF Chang's last night (mother in law's birthday request.. it could have been worse). I inquired about the construction.

It's going to be.. wait for it...

An Italian restaurant. Always room for yet another Italian restaurant, right?

It's going to be this place, supposedly. It's supposed to be "really good."

I can think of a million restaurants, chains, even, that could go in that space.

So, anyone ever eat at Brio?

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  1. I've eaten at Brio several times and have enjoyed my meals. I had gone in with very low expectations since it is a chain (and i was at a location inthe midwest -- for an italian jersey girl, eating itlain chain food in the midwest seemed like a risk!), but was pleasantly surprised. There is a Brio in Cherry Hill and one in Marlton. Of all the italian chains out there, Brio is definitely one of the better ones (Olive Garden being the ABSOLUTE bottom of the barrel). They have a nice fra diavolo sauce and the sweet potato and chicken risotto is a favorite among my friends.

    12 Replies
    1. re: pm_fan

      I'm always going to support the local Italian restauranteur here in NJ. If I were in PA, or WV or TN, it would be another story, but really, why??? Their pricing isn't all that much different than the local eateries we have here (at the Shore.

      If you're at the mall, and your hungry, I could see succumbing to something nearby. The only time that I have ever eaten at OG or Johnny Carrera's (??) was because a client opted for it as it was quick (I guess).

      If one doesn't pay attention and patronize your local owner, they're going to go by the wayside - and to have to live in an area where the only options are chains is a horrible thought.

      1. re: JustJake

        I completely believe in going local. Local over a Chain any day. I was just responding to the question of whether or not anyone has ever tried Brio and gave my opinion of it as a italian chain.

        1. re: pm_fan

          I think it is opening maybe early spring. It will get the crowds because of the location. Cheesecake Factory still packs them in despite very mediocre food.

          1. re: shesallthat

            Tried Brio for lunch today.

            The good: GREAT lobster bisque. Possibly the best I've ever had. Super creamy and rich. A decent portion for $5.95.

            Caesar salad was delicious, but... see below.

            My lemon rosemary chicken skewers were charred on the outside (but in a good way). Loved this dish.

            Had some sort of chocolate lava cake for dessert. Very dense, not sickly sweet, inside was more like a gooey, caramel-y ganache. Outstanding.

            Ordered an iced tea with lime and mint (not on the menu). Graciously delivered, and I was not charged extra for the mint.

            The bad: My kid ordered the kid's lasagna. Sausage was quite spicy. This should have been stated on the menu, or don't use spicy sausage in a kid's entree! She ate my wife's pasta; wife ate the lasagna.

            Salads do not come with any of the entrees, and was an additional $3.95. Very skimpy portion, in my opinion. And a total of THREE croutons. Seriously?

            The Ugly: Seated at 1:30, left at 3:30. Abysmally slow service. It was like pulling teeth. Can't believe my 3 year old lasted that long.

            We'll try it again.. hopefully with better service next time. I still want to try the beef carpaccio appetizer.

            1. re: MarlboroMan

              I'm heading over to the mall today and I've got to tell you I LOVE lobster bisque your comments have given me reason to give it a try for lunch. It's up against the old Tavern on The Green for its top spot for the best lobster bisque I've ever had. Even to the end when the Tavern was nothing more than an ala carte banquet hall their lobster bisque remained outstanding.

              1. re: jrvedivici

                If you want the penultimate Lobster bisque, may I suggest Harry's in Sea Bright. It's a meal in of itself and it's priced that way as well. You'll also never forget it either.

                As for Brio, I recall dining at a terrific Italian storefront some years ago, but I thought it went by the name of Brioso's and it may have been further up the road from Freehold in Manalapan, or Marlboro (<<< those towns all look and feel the same anyway - at least to this writer).

                1. re: JustJake

                  Brioso's is in Marlboro. We used to go there many years ago until we had a problem with something we ordered, and the response by management to our complaint was totally unacceptable.


                  1. re: RGR

                    Didn't Rosie have a meal at Brioso a number of years ago?

              2. re: MarlboroMan

                I'd not heard of Brio. Just what we need around here -- another Italian restaurant! Yippee! Curious to see the menu, I Googled. It's a chain!


                ETA: Marlboro Man, I didn't notice that you included a link to the website in your original post.

                There is a family-owned Italian restaurant in Manhattan called Brio, which has been around for a long time. We've had lunch there. Very good pastas.


                1. re: MarlboroMan

                  Ok being a man of my word had lunch there today and here is my take on things. Although it is a chain it doesn't have a chain feel to it, no "hospitaliano" or olive garden type feel to it. Very well designed and decorated the only give away that it's a chain by sight is just the sheer size of it.

                  I had the lobster bisque and a cesare salad. While the bisque was very good I can't say it was the "best" I ever had. I prefer it slightly stronger in the sherry taste.....but I'm not complaining it was very good. Cesare salad was excellent cold crisp romain fresh tasting with a dressing more on the creamy side rather than oily. Only potential fault was the size......small to medium salad but I guess that's reflected in the $5.95 price.

                  Wife had the field greens salad.....again cold crisp fresh as a salad should be. Slightly larger portion than mine but with an abundance of goat cheese and pignoli nuts. Again a nice/good salad!

                  My son had a chipotle chicken panini with home made potato chips. This went a little to far with a mix of flavors and spice that combined just left you with a burning mouth but not a very impressed palate. The homemade chips were fine. Again sandwhich not bad just nothing great and completely non-Italian by its nature.

                  Service was good.......overall if I'm at the mall again and in the mood to grab something it would certainly be my choice above the Cheesecake Factory but not impressed enough to make this a destination restaraunt.

                  1. re: jrvedivici

                    I think a nice touch would be a small carafe of sherry so the customer could adjust the taste to their own preference. But I doubt that will happen anytime soon. :) I also prefer a stronger sherry taste.

                    I'd like to try the brunch on a weekend sometime... they serve brunch until 3 pm!

                2. re: shesallthat

                  Never underestimate the taste or lack thereof of the American public. To think that these upscale chains (excluding the M&S steakhouses, or Capitol Grills which are also not any better), digression aside, I shudder to think that this is the 'future' of restaurant dining in the vanilla suburbs.

          2. We went to the Freehold mall on Friday night. I got home from work around 7, from NYC. Not to sound like a chow hound snob, but I said, let's try that new Italian place. Figuring it was appropriately casual as I was in khaki shorts, t-shirt, amd sandals. I was shocked to see people all dressed up going to this place.Never got to eat there as there was a 90 minute wait. I don't wait for potentially mediocre food at a chain. Could not believe people were so dressed up to eat at a chain in the mall. Dressed up for Nicholas, of course, the mall, not me. I guess I am a CH snob, lol

            2 Replies
            1. re: angelo04

              That's Manalapan/Freehold for you; a lot of money, very little class.

              1. re: BeerWeezil

                Beer, Talked with a Benz salesmen recently, and they're selling em' to folks who have no business buying em. Gotta look while one is going down.......

                Can someone cue up R.E.M ??????

            2. Food wasn't bad. Pretty good, in fact. Service was lousy. Very amateurish for the price paid.

              1. We have been to BRIO twice. We think the food is good, but expensive, considering you do not get a salad with it. I ordered pasta with vodka sauce. It was 17.99, had no protein and the portion was so-so.

                A MUCH better deal is to sit by the bar M - F from 3pm - 7pm (They have booths and tables there). They offer many of their apps for $3.99 (which regularly sell for 12.99). They also have a full size burger with chips on the $3.99 menu. This is a steal.


                4 Replies
                1. re: joestein

                  joestein, you're my kind of CH! The bar rec is spot on for what should be kept in perspective by all of us going to BRIO on a whim. :)

                  1. re: HillJ

                    Joe/HillJ what is the bar crowd like during the happy hour? (BAR!! Now your talking my language).....the bar looked pretty impressive from what I saw of it from the dining room....I didnt' give it much thought because of the mall location I just assumed it would be a "kid" crowd and not one I would find condusive to relaxing or unwinding at the end of a work day.

                    1. re: jrvedivici

                      The two times I was there, it was mostly families (some with kids, some without) sitting at the tables. I did not notice who was sitting at the bar the first time I went, but the second time, there was a group of 10 twentysomethings, the rest of the bar was empty. It is a BIG bar.


                      1. re: joestein

                        And the difference in price for their standard menu items is as joestein stated, a huge savings (& the service is faster).

                2. Not Brio related, at the food court a place named Boc Boc chicken is opened next to Sbarros. It's essentially an Asian styled fried chicken place. They say they are using organic Bell and Evans chickens.
                  My kid was hungry and I ordered fries and a piece of thigh ($0.95 soy & garlic glaze) for him. I had a taste and it was pretty good. The skin is super crispy.
                  Definitely worth a try.

                  20 Replies
                  1. re: yCf

                    Everytime we are near the mall, my kids are asking to eat there. I just dont want to go to the mall, much less have a fast food diner. I have taken them to Bon Chon in the city and they love it.

                    Is there any Korean Fried Chicken places around the area?


                    1. re: joestein

                      I think the chicken this place in the food court (Boc Boc) is similar to Bon Chon (I never tried Bon Chon in NYC). The other Korean Fried Chicken that I know of is in Edison Hmart food court.

                    2. re: yCf

                      Boc Boc, bye bye. I guess Chik-Fil-A did you in. Wife and kids went to mall today, it's already been replaced by "Crepes Celeste."

                      1. re: MarlboroMan

                        Boc Boc is still there. It's next door to Sbarro.

                        1. re: wench31

                          You physically saw it recently? According to the Freehold Raceway Mall Dining Directory, it's no longer there:


                          1. re: MarlboroMan

                            That's a boring list even by mall standards.

                            1. re: ebchower

                              I remember East Brunswick Square was much worse... haven't been back lately though.

                              1. re: yCf

                                Brunswick "Square" Mall should get it's official mall card revoked. That place is pathetic.

                            2. re: MarlboroMan

                              Hmmmm.... I saw it there last week ....

                              1. re: wench31

                                i noticed it closed on Jan 2nd. but i thought it was just because they were on vacation or something since it looks like it is run by a family.
                                It would suck if they closed.

                                1. re: yCf

                                  According to my wife, the Crepes place is new and in the food court, but did not physically replace Boc Boc. She said Boc Boc IS gone, and is now just "a big gaping hole."

                                  1. re: MarlboroMan

                                    Yes, the crepes place has been there for a while. I tried it once; it is okay for a mall crepe place.

                                    1. re: MarlboroMan

                                      You're right, MarlboroMan. Boc Boc is no more. Tell your wife the Crepes place is no more. Look what's replacing it:

                                      1. re: wench31

                                        Wow....within just two weeks of us "normalizing" our relationship with Cuba, we now have Cuban food in our food courts!! Viva de' revolution!

                                        1. re: wench31

                                          crepe place is gone ?! that was quick....they just opened.

                                          1. re: yCf

                                            I know. I'm pretty bummed that it opened and closed so quick. Hopefully, the Cuban place will be around for a while. But, I doubt it because people are very boring!

                                            1. re: yCf

                                              The crepe place took over the Korean place (Boc Boc).

                                              1. re: wench31

                                                The Cuban place is now also operating. Super nice people. I had a Lucy - Cuban sandwich with grilled chicken breast, some plaintains (a gift from the girl behind the counter), and a soda called Ironbeer which was a mix between root beer and birch beer, and quite tasty. It's a really nice addition to the food court (not that I find myself in the mall too often) and there are many offerings.

                                                1. re: jsfein

                                                  I tried a couple Empanadas and a Cafe con Leche. Good stuff. Definitely a great addition to the food court.

                                    2. re: MarlboroMan

                                      I find the gyro place particularly good for gyros and platters. A little pricey, but everything is made fresh.