As the kids start enjoying those school lunches, excited eaters are about to get a whole new class of dining options. Many eateries are offering distinctly ethnic flavors, all worth a try — so whether it’s the school bell or dinner bell you hear, it’s time to eat.
Leading the line-up is the only French Moroccan Restaurant anywhere in the area, La Vie, coming to Main Street in Bradley Beach. Moroccan food is a fusion of the Moors, Spaniards and the French, all who have been conquerors over thousands of years. French is actually Morocco’s second language, so it’s a natural mix. Chef Tom Pauly, of New York City and seen in “Kitchen Wars,” and Sue Azizi, under the watchful eye of Gil Benjamin, have created a menu that is affordable and unmatchable. (See recipe on page XX.) Try Lamb Tagine with prunes, onions, and almonds; or Margaz Casino, a dish of beef sausage, mashed potatoes topped with mixed vegetables, and argon oil. Pair it with the homemade tea with fresh mint. There will be live belly dancing on Friday and Saturday nights and belly dancing classes on Saturday afternoon. Outdoor dining and hookah too. Open for dinner only. La Vie is at 714 Main Street, Bradley Beach. Call 732-455-3597; or visit lavienj.com.
Oakhurst welcomes the much anticipated Nuova Luna II, opening mid September in the former Mike and Nellie’s on route 35 North. Thoroughly re-designed after a Chef Gordon Ramsey makeover, this bubbly, friendly restaurant features a must-see original mural and the Italian with a twist original dishes of Chef Umberto Turelli. Chef Turelli is planning many exciting surprises including live music on the weekends, cooking classes, Italian heritage events and a weekly culinary tour of the eight regions of Italy (see recipe on page XX) as well as fundraiser dinner programs, and is taking reservations for private parties. Nothing on the menu is priced over $20. BYOB. Visit nouvaluna.com.
Philomena’s restaurant on Ocean Avenue in Sea Bright has decided to keep the summer going. The Diamond Deck Tiki Bar, with its pool and riverside views, will remain open as long as the weather permits. Thier new Tiki Touchdown Sundays are perfect for mixed marriages, i.e., couples with just one football fan. Sports fans can watch the game in the hut and music lovers and dance and swim outdoors. They will also be hosting several open houses to promote their elegant upstairs party room with both ocean and river views. Visit philomenasrestaurant.com.
Also in Sea Bright is oceanfront AMA Ristorante at Driftwood, newly opened. Chef Pat Trama delivers traditional and newly imagined Tuscan classics and has selected the wine list to complement the menu. Visit amaristorante.com.
Further north, Red Sky Restaurant opens at the former Ray’s Restaurant and Palate Pleasers in Keyport. This is the first restaurant for Matawan native Chef James DeSilvestri, who got his inspiration from the maritime adage, “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight.” The contemporary menu showcases Chef James’ passion for coastal flavors and seasonal ingredients, served with a charming decorative touch and unforgettable waterfront views. Red Sky Restaurant is now open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Call 732-497-0606 or visit RedSkyKeyport.com.
Red Bank has its share of new faces. The most notable is resurrection of the three-story Ashes restaurant. It will soon be open as Char, a New York Style steakhouse. The original Char in North Raritan offers top quality and affordable steaks in a chic setting and the owners are planning on the same in Red Bank. Beef lovers will certainly wish Char a Phoenix-like rise from the ashes.
Red Bank’s Zebu Forno has closed and Red Bank also says goodbye to a 26-year veteran as the groundbreaking Eurasion Eatery has closed its doors. Taking its place is the first of its kind Peruvian restaurant, RUNA which means “people” in the Quechua language of the Andes. Built around aji chili peppers and “4,000 varieties of potatoes,” Peruvian food incorporates ingredients of Andean, Italian, African, French, Japanese and Chinese dishes, reflecting the melting pot that is Peru.
Also in Red Bank, Readie’s Café celebrates it first anniversary in its new location at 39 Broad Street. Established in 1957, this busy shop known for its menu of big, “sloppy” sandwiches, each named after a different Red Bank business, is enjoying the bigger space. Visit readiesfinefoods.com.
Freehold welcomes Mona Lisa to 11 W. Main Street and says farewell to Anima e Core at 24 South Street, but look for a quick re-open on this one.
Congrats to Kimmee Masi and her newly opened Confections of a Rock Star cupcake shop, in Asbury Park. Her pre-opening jitters were just featured on Bobby Flay’s Food Network show ”3 Days to Open.” Kimmee is very grateful for Chef Flay’s help but wants everyone to know that she’s much sweeter in real life. The rock and roll theme is authentic as Kimmee is a drummer when she’s not whipping buttercream.
Festival fans, there’s plenty coming your way. On Sunday September 23rd, the Guinness Oysterfest rocks the in the White Street parking lot in Red bank from noon to 7:00 pm, with an after party at the Dublin House. Saturday, September 29, from noon to 10:00 pm it’s the 2nd annual Marlboro Blues & BBQ Festival. Hot blues, BBQ restaurants and proceeds go towards The Special Operations Warrior Foundation which supports wounded and fallen military personnel and their families. Free admission. Highlands celebrates Oktoberfest on Saturday October 6th at Veteran’s Park with German beers, food, music and fireworks. Free admission. Sunday October 7th, Belmar hosts its Fall Festival on Main Street, between 8th and 10th Avenue. In addition to all the festival fun there will be a chili contest and apple pie baking contest. Free admission. Click belmar.com for more info.
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