6 new restaurants at the Jersey Shore
Going out to eat is always an adventure, isn't it?
In our part of the great Garden State, the options are never ending and always expanding. Do we often end up at the same old spots, our tried-and-true favorites? Sure. But when we get a craving for something different, something exciting, we don't have to look far – especially because new restaurants are opening all the time.
From a new location for a New York-born brunch spot to a gelato cafe with Italian roots, here is a look at six new and upcoming additions:
Project Brunch, Manalapan
First came a restaurant on Staten Island. Then another, then one in Clinton, Hunterdon County.
Now, just three years after the first Project Brunch opened its doors, a fourth is in the works, this time in Monmouth County. The restaurant, which is projected to open in early summer, takes the place of Hunan Gourmet in Towne Point Plaza on Route 9.
"Once we opened the doors in Staten Island, we realized how many people were crossing the Outerbridge to get to us," said Jodi Guagliardo, founder of Project Brunch. "We were constantly being asked for a location in Manalapan, and when the right location presented itself, we jumped on the opportunity."
Expect fun takes on traditional breakfast and lunch, including bacon-filled pancakes with a side of caramelized grapefruit; veggie breakfast pizza; quinoa bowls; and avocado toast. Specialty items include frozen hot chocolate (brown sugar cinnamon, Rice Krispie, and s'mores, to name a few) and Waf Full sandwiches, which are made from breakfast fixings tucked between waffles (one variety is grilled pork roll, American cheese and eggs on an everything-flavored waffles, with house-made parmesan fries on the side).
Go: 41 Route 9; projectbrunch.com
La Mondina, Brielle
For more than a decade, the DeRosa family owned a restaurant and lounge on the corner of Webster Avenue and the Boulevard in Seaside Heights. First, it was Luna DeRosa, then Savor Lounge.
Since Savor closed in 2017, brothers Carmine and Nick have been searching for something new, and they found it on Union Avenue in Brielle. They are renovating, inside and out, the building that previously housed Rella's Italian Tavern and plan to open La Mondina at the end of March or in early April.
The menu is not yet decided, but plans include brick-oven pizza, pasta and entrees, and the restaurant has a liquor license.
"The overall experience is going to be affordable for people," Carmine DeRosa said. "We want to provide really fresh products at an affordable price, and give a rustic Italian experience."
La Mondina will serve dinner only, with weekend entertainment.
Go: 110 Union Ave.; 732-612-8331, lamondinabrielle.com
Amici's Gelato Caffé, Asbury Park
This spring, find authentic gelato, cannoli filled to order, and sorbet on Mattison Avenue, where Amici's Gelato Caffé is opening next to DJ's Delights.
When Rob Castore and Anthony Russo, who grew up in Brooklyn's Little Italy, moved to the Shore, they wanted to re-create something from their childhood. They partnered with gelato chef Emiliano Graci, who moved to New Jersey from Milan a decade ago.
"I'm trying to help them recreate a little slice of Italy," Graci said. "The gelato will be really traditional Italian (pistachio, hazelnuts), but we'll have the American favorites (Oreo, strawberry cheesecake)."
Amici's – designed to look like a 1930s cafe, in black and white with pops of red – will serve coffee from illycaffè, a third-generation Italian coffee company, and supplement its gelato, gelato pops, sorbet, cannoli and frozen yogurt ("single flavor, Italian, tart, a real yogurt with probiotics," Graci said) with locally baked vegan pastries.
The cafe also will serve a menu of light fare, including cheese boards, panini, wraps and salads.
Following a soft opening, Graci said the cafe's regular hours most likely will be "early hours for the coffee rush to late at night for the dessert crowd."
Go: 630 Mattison Ave.; search Amici Gelato & Caffe on Facebook
Joe's Bagel & Grill, Brick
The Jersey Shore is not lacking in bagel shops, but as far as we know, only one serves a sandwich called The Super Tsnumai.
Six slices of pork roll. Four eggs. Three slices of bacon. All on a triple-decker sandwich made from French toast.
"When someone orders it, the whole grill is taken up," said Samantha Grabow of Point Pleasant Beach, a part owner of Joe's Bagel & Grill in Brick.
This is the fifth location for Joe's, which was started by Grabow's father, Russell Grabow of Belmar, who at one time owned Bagel Bistro in Randolph, Morris County. Joe Caputo, formerly of Long Branch, is another owner and the bagel shops' namesake.
The Brick location opened Feb. 1. The first store opened in West Long Branch nearly three years ago, followed by Belmar, Point Pleasant, and the Cliffwood Beach section of Aberdeen.
Joe's Bagel & Grill serves breakfast and lunch; Samantha Grabow said popular items include pork roll, egg and cheese ($5.25); the Dirty Monkey smoothie, made with Nutella, banana, peanut butter and almond milk ($5.95); and the chicken Cali sandiwch, made with chicken salad, bacon, avocado, lettuce and tomato ($8.95).
Go: 950 Cedar Bridge Ave.; 732-202-7177, joesbagelandgrill.com
East Bay Italian Grille, Barnegat
Matthew Vernieri has decades of experience in the restaurant business, from working in them to owning them. And later this month, he plans to open his first in his hometown.
East Bay Italian Grille will open in the East Bay Avenue space previously occupied by Gemelli Bistro & Pizziera, which took over Serpico's Ristorante. Prior to this venture, Vernieri owned Bay View Terrace at Waretown's Key Harbor Marina.
"My father was a restaurateur for 50 years up in north Jersey, Bergen County," said Vernieri, who has lived in Barnegat for 10 years. "My first restaurant was with him, Track Side Grille, in Fair Lawn."
Following some time off from the business, "this opportunity came about. I always knew the spot there, it's a good location," he said. "The concept that I'm going to put there is strictly Italian, a full Italian menu. A full-service restaurant with pizza, open for lunch and dinner seven days a week."
Vernieri plans to serve thin-crust pizza, burgers with an Italian twist, specialty sandwiches, and traditional Italian dishes and specialties, including short ribs and osso buco.
"I'm looking forward to getting back into the restaurant business," he said. "It's a great location, and I've met a lot of people in town over the years."
Go: 696 East Bay Ave in Barnegat; 609-994-2353.
Crave, Toms River
The building at 73 Main St. in downtown Toms River has been many things through the years: Java Joint, a coffee house; Mean Bean Burritos & Beyond; and most recently, Island Creole Kitchen.
In January, Crave – a restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner – opened there. The space is next door to another new addition, craft brewery Hops on Main, which is in the works.
Crave's menu brings new dishes to this part of town: crab cake eggs Benedict, pretzels with beer cheese, lobster mac and cheese, Buffalo chicken dip and lobster rolls. Vegan offerings include "mozzarella" sticks, "sausage" and peppers, a nacho platter, "mac and cheese" and the Impossible Burger.
Doughnuts from Toms River's OB-CO Donuts line the counter, and Crave serves Lavazza coffee and specialty drinks.
Go: 73 Main St.; 732-667-6900, cravenj.com
Hello, foodies! I'm Sarah Griesemer, food writer for The Asbury Park Press. If you have a tip on a new restaurant or an idea for a story, please share it with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you love reading about the Shore's dining scene, follow me @jersey.shore.eats and consider a subscription; learn more at https://offers.app.com/specialoffer.