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Brick: where's the 'good' stuff??

Due to a family emergency, I have been staying with my parents in Manasquan. They live close to Brick, and my dad is in the hospital there and will be in rehab. I've been driving around trying to find decent food. Seems like Brick is full of chain restaurants, tatoo parlors and pizza joints. Is there anything else? Tried Mattinas bakery; it's just OK. Really like Villa Vittoria, but am tired of Italian. Was driving around looking for Vietnamese the other day, and it's not to be had in that area is it? What about Greek? How is the Brick 'Farmers Market'? The entire area seems void of anything ethnic other than Italian. Help; need suggestions.

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  1. Sadly, Brick is the land of pizza and big portions - a true culinary wasteland. For us, it's simply the series of strip malls and congested roads that must be crossed to make it to Toms River. I'm sorry I can't offer any suggestions, but it's a rotten place to be if you're a 'hound.

    1 Reply
    1. re: MGZ

      Oh....I was sooooo afraid of that. What is up with those roads that go nowhere? Several times I tried to make u turns, by following the signs....and ending up in a shopping center parking lot where the signs ended. Mishmash of roads, and half empty ugly shopping centers. It's like being sent to hell. ugh.

    2. mschow, there is not much in Brick but going back a couple years we had some very good food at Super Pollo on Hooper Ave. Went a couple times with our friends from Brick.
      Other reports from hounds have also been positive.

      Just keep in mind that its been a few years and a lot can happen in that time :)
      Here is a link to the thread at that time. If you go, let us know what you think.

      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/583967

      1. Brick is pretty much a collection of retirement villages and the retail spaces that cater to them. It's where the old folks go that could not afford Florida.

        1. There is a nice little Mongolian Grill in one of the shopping center strip malls
          http://brick.patch.com/listings/p-j-l...
          No vietnamese at all, Way, way too many red sauce I talian places for sure. Surf Taco is somewhat decent
          http://www.surftaco.com/locations/
          Also on Hooper as you leave Brick toward TR there is a Scottish market, which is fun for packaged snack and candies from the UK. There is a great Polish deli in TR (strip mall is on Rt 166, (Stella Towne Ctr. 1246 Rte. 166 (Hilltop Rd.) Toms River, ) from discussion http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/824426

          I also always hit up White Castle on RT 37, since they are so rare to find now. By all means DO NOT try the Japanese At Nobi in TR. In all my 59 years of being alive, my meal there is still the worst I ever had.
          The Windmill on RT 70 in brick has "rippers" if you are a fan of that style of Hot dogs, I do and this is often a stop. There is a diner on the same side of Rt 70 as the Windmill, but on the other side of Rt88 that is decent, but the diner across from Windmill on Rt 70 is awful.

          You will survive but will be glad to get back to land of better food.
          Best to you, your family and Dad, hope he gets well soon!

          26 Replies
          1. re: Quine

            On Fisher Blvd just off Hooper ave there is Siam Spice great Thai, Brasas Portuguese BBQ both excellent. Also NOBI Japanese is on Hopper in Tjmax plaza. All right next to Brick..in Toms river.

            1. re: Tapas52

              I agree that Siam Spice is worth going into Toms River. It shouldn't be more than a 15 minute ride from the hospital.

            2. re: Quine

              I'm surprised, Quine, at your experience with Nobi. Although I have not been there in a while, I have really found it to be the best sushi place at the Shore. I will admit that I don't think I have eaten anything but sashimi and nigiri, and perhaps a piece or two of maki.

              As to Surf Taco, I find their food, and particularly their "salsas," horrible. It seems to be one of those places where locals have widely divergent views. Your mention, however, reminded me that there is a Fins location in Brick (by the K-Mart, I believe). I find their Cali-Mex to be decent and given its proximity to the hospital, not a bad option for the OP to try for a quick bite.

              1. re: MGZ

                My mom LOOVES Surf Taco, and I have been picking up tacos for her there regularly. I find it kind of expensive !for what it is. I got a fish taco the other night and it was very 'fishy'! I do like their chips, though. I will check out the Fins restaurant since my mother likes Mexican. I have to say; I've not been having fun in this neck of the woods. My mom was in the hospital over a week in Jan, now my dad is in the hospital and I have to stay with mom so she doesn't fall. I've been dealing with no Wegmans, or Whole Food, no Vietnamese or other ethnic nearby to their house. Can't wait to get home!

                1. re: mschow

                  I'll add ........http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/719537

                  This place right off Rt88 in Lakewood very close to Brick.. had the best Tacos I have tasted anywhere in a long time.....we go there all the time..

                  Taqueria Madrigal‎ Restaurant
                  105 Cedar Bridge Avenue,
                  Lakewood, NJ‎ - (732) 534-7155‎

                  1. re: mschow

                    mschow - If you are in need of a Wegmans, the closest one to you would be the location on Rt. 35 in Ocean which is about a 20 minute drive. Good luck.

                    1. re: mschow

                      The grocery shopping situation in the southern end of Monmouth County is pretty bad - and it's even worse on the other side of the river. The Shop Rite on 34 is probably the best around. I guess that should tell you something.

                      I'm not sure of how much time you have available to devote to food shopping, but I find it necessary to go to various specialty shops for different items. For example, Point Lobster in Point Pleasant is for fish. Mossuto's market on 35 in Wall has prime beef and very good bread. Tom Bailey's Market on 3rd Ave. in Spring Lake sells Neiman Ranch pork. It's taken me years to figure out where to go for what, so I can imagine how miserable it might be to a visitor. If you have questions concerning specific items, please don't hesitate to ask.

                      1. re: MGZ

                        I'm a huge fan of Point Lobster and have been going there for years. I'll be the first to say that PL beats our fish store in Haddonfield, or anything Wegmans or WF has to offer. I haven't been to Mossutos, but have driven by it often on the way to one of my parents doctors appts:-(

                        1. re: mschow

                          Pt lobster is a winner- you cannot beat the two pound lobster cooked and cracked- on the deck - looking at the water.

                    2. re: MGZ

                      I was greatly suprised myself about Nobi. I truely enjoy Japanese food and sushi and in fact converted my Mom to it. So after hearing so much good said about the place here on CH, we decided to try it last Year. I noted that the Sushi special board listed Ebi, I was all for that. So I ordered some sushi and I believe since it was lunch, we also ordered Bentos. While we were waiting, with only a few tables occupied in the whole place, I noticed the table cati-across from me was served some maki. The first warning bell went off. It was tiny and even from where I sat I could see the rice was so mushy and compacted that it looked lie wallpaper paste. We waited quite a while for the sushi to arrive, why so long I have no idea. But the Ebi was mushy and the head arrived *burnt* and fried in rancid oil to boot. It tasted SO bad. If the sushi rice tasted like it looed (wallpaper paste) that would have been an improvement. The rancid burnt taste ws still strong in my mouth. No comments from the waiter as he picked up the rejected and largely uneaten plates. Next the soup arrived. To say I now know how they recycle their dishwater would be too high a praise, dishwater at least has some taste. Finally we left. My Mom looked at me and said, "people really recommended this place?" Worst meal ever, which my Mom also concluded and she didn't have any of that Ebi.

                      While we haven't been for a few months, we really do like Pan Asia in Forked River (it's tucked in the back of a plaza (Lakeside) right on Rt 9. It is always fresh, served correctly and the hospitality is high. They even serve various styles of tea. But Nobi, never ever again!

                      1. re: Quine

                        I could see how that experience would sour one. I certainly hope your meal is not evidence of the restaurant's pending demise. After your recitation, I have no interest in heading down there to find out for myself.

                        1. re: MGZ

                          After reviewing many of the posts here, it's amazing that a place as large as Brick is so sadly devoid of much anything to 'gravitate to' dining wise. As Horace Greely the schizophrenic once said. "Go East, young man" - to Point Pleasant lol

                          1. re: JustJake

                            One of the things I find so facinating about this area is that with the proliferation of senior housing and residents, services geared toward them are non existent. My parents live in a gated over 55 community across from the aforementioned Shop Rite. Can you believe that Shop Rite does not deliver groceries? Neither does the one in Brick. And the Shop Rite is the most crowded grocery store I have ever seen; with a parking lot that is beyond scary with senior drivers.
                            Where I live, I can get delivery from Shop Rite, Acme, Genardis, etc. You would think a light bulb would go off saying 'hmmmm; captive audience here, lets deliver'. I've only found a few restaurants that deliver; like two. I can get pretty much anything delivered to my house if I so choose. Why not here? I did order from Pea Pod (Stop and Shop) for grocery delivery this weekend; which worked out fine for my parents. There's a business opportunity here for the right people and services.

                            1. re: JustJake

                              What's even more amazing is that if you look back even a mere 5 or so years, the options in Point Pleasant and Toms River didn't even exist. Given the economic climate over that time it's almost unbelievable that any decent new restaurants came into being. Frankly, I think given Brick's demographics the likelihood of any significant change in the culinary landscape will be minimal for some time to come.

                              1. re: MGZ

                                MGZ, with all due respect, PP can fit in the back pocket of Brick. There are and have been far more restaurant and casual spot offerings than Brick well beyond 5 years, imho.

                                Europa, F&J, Reds, Lobster Shanty are all better than anything in Brick and Pt Beach is barely a mile square. Include Brielle (and it still fits in the backpocket of Brick) by including Simkos and Shipwreck, and it's easy to make the point that not only have these places (and others that I do not know of) are 'in place' for longer than 5 years and are far superior to that which can be found in Brick. It's a tough tough economy for these restauranteurs, with anything opening being terribly risky, but Point because of it's ocean siting has always had a number of dining opportunities available. Make it a great day.

                                1. re: JustJake

                                  My point was simply that for the vast majority of my lifetime, the dining options in the entire Ocean/southern Monmouth county area were quite lousy. The increased wealth and year round populations that came into towns like Manasquan, Point, Brielle, and even Toms River, changed the restaurant scene drastically in less than a decade - especially over the latter half of it.

                                  Although the population of Brick certainly increased during the same timeframe, there was really no change in the type or quality of the eateries that opened. Moreover, given that much of the population were the folks particularly hurt by the economic demise the nation is enduring, it is unlikely to see positive developments in the foreseeable future.

                                  1. re: MGZ

                                    Mr. Bean and I were discussing this. We could only come up with two places we've ever had dinner in Brick. Several times at Sentosa, on Route 88, for their Malaysian and Asian vegetarian options. And once at a generic Italian restaurant who's name escapes me - obviously not memorable.

                                    We did go to Super Pollo, on Hooper, for lunch once and keep meaning to go back for dinner. However, we so rarely think of going to Brick to eat, we tend to forget until we are somewhere else.

                                    I agree with you that Brick has not kept pace with the improving restaurant scenes. We've been in Manasquan for 18 years now, and there are so many more options in the area. We are especially pleased about the new Mexican options in the neighborhood.

                                    Missy

                                      1. re: missybean

                                        Sentosa, eh? It's close to the hard-to-discern Brick/Point border? If it's the place I'm thinking of, it looked closed a couple months ago when I happened to pass by.

                                        Thanks for the heads up. I'd like to try it. Seems like a good tip for the OP as well.

                                        1. re: MGZ

                                          Sentosa is on the eastbound side of 88, a little east of Shore Restaurant Supply. It is nothing much from the outside, or the inside for that matter, but they have some interesting things on the menu. We especially like the Sunshine Ribs (which are vegetarian), the Indian Mee Goreng, and the Sesame Medallions. We've never had their Chinese food.

                                          Our new favorite obsession is Cielito Lindo on 71, next to Asahi. "Real" Mexican food. Excellent Mole, Tacos de Lengua or al Pastor, Barbacoa de Chivo con Rajas (goat) and Sopes. It's the kind of place where most of the patrons are working men, with soccer on TV and Spanish music playing.

                                          Missy

                                        2. re: missybean

                                          I did drive by and wonder about Sentosa. It looks pretty beat, but then I am always one to try the out of the way place at least once. My parents, not so much! My mom does not like seafood, so we have to try places that also offer non seafood options. We're regulars at Simkos, VV, St Stephens Green, Forte, Rods, Had one of the worst meals of my life at Lobster Shanty, so won;t be visiting that hellhole again. I'm curious about the mexican places you mention. There are a few places on 71 that I wanted to try, but my parents think they look 'scary'!

                                          I guess my point was, that since Brick is such a big town, I expected to see more of a variety of mom and pop options there. My parents have been in Manasquan for 11 years now, and things have improved as far as the food sceen goes, but there is still a long way to go. Do consider yourselves fortunate to have such good fresh seafood stores and options right in your backyard.

                                          1. re: mschow

                                            I like Harrigans on 71 in Sea Girt (across from the school) much more than any of the bars you've listed. Quite trad pub food, but good quality. Also, imho, the meat at the A&P on 35 (near Mossutos) is the best of any local supermarket. It is also generally not as busy as the awful Shop rite. The liquor store by the Shop rite is pretty good. I live in London and almost had a breakdown when I returned to Manasquan to look after my mom. Good luck.

                                            1. re: seddon

                                              seddon you gave me a laugh!! Been to Harrigans and my parents do like it. Also, was forced:-)) to make numerous trips to the liquor store by the Shop Rite in Manasquan to restore my sanity. Decent selection. Tried Mossutos for some rather expensive salads that were tasty, but overpriced. Also has some excellent bread sticks that I purchased there. In addition, their cookies were delicious,. Service is rather slow and a bit disorganized, but I'd still go back for the cookies.

                                              1. re: mschow

                                                Glad I made you laugh, mschow - I'm guessing you can use that right now.

                                                Joe Leone's in Point has some good deli stuff, only use Mossutos for meat.

                                                Try the Shipwreck in Brielle for the best food around. The bar there is a bit of a 'scene' (good for a laugh), but the drinks are good (wine list is meh) and the free food at happy hour is surprisingly good. Bottle Shop in Spring Lake has a good wine selection, and they actually know about their stock., Jon Ron liquor store in Brielle has a decent selection, but not kept well.

                                                You can see my priority for drinking.

                                            2. re: mschow

                                              mschow - I apologize for not responding to your post earlier. I somehow missed it until now.

                                              As I mentioned, we've been to Cielito Lindo several times. In fact we have a regular table. We also like Azteca, which is in Belmar on the corner of 71 and I think 17th. It has a more limited menu than Cielito Lindo but Mr. Bean prefers it. It is a bit "rustic".

                                              I agree that Brick is big, I think there aren't more mom and pop type places as most of the moms and pops in Brick are retired. I know it is a gross generalization but it seems retirees are not all that adventurous in their eating.

                                              We consider ourselves very fortunate to have access to excellent fish and seafood. Between Pt Lobster and Mr. Bean's fishing expeditions, our back deck is our favorite waterfront dining spot.

                                              I hope your father is on the mend. Best wishes to you and your family.

                                              Missy

                                  2. re: MGZ

                                    Thanks, but if you do have the chance try Pan Asia, we never had a bad item there. The Ahi tuna appetizer is very good. And we also almost always get the beef Chow fun.
                                    The website is:
                                    http://www.panasiaonline.com/Home.html

                            2. As I scroll thru the various answers you recieved I was suprised not to see one place that I thought was still good although I have not been there personally in several years. What about Villa Vittoria on Hooper Ave? I'm 99% sure that is still in Brick and it use to be one of the best Italian places in town? Has that changed since nobody else gave it any thought or consideration in the responses?

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: jrvedivici

                                The OP states " Really like Villa Vittoria, but am tired of Italian" So it was not mentioned by anyone, since the OP already stated, she was tired of Italian.

                                1. re: Quine

                                  Wow......not sure how I missed that but you are correct.....sorry. Well at least I know it's still there and good I guess. lol

                                  1. re: jrvedivici

                                    De nada. We all do stuff like that, proves that we are still there and human. :-)