Guest Bite by Meryl Boker
When I drove down Broadway in Long Branch recently, I was so excited to see the new awning of Johnny Piancone’s. This could only mean one thing, a chef I have known and enjoyed for many years had come out of retirement.
Eleven of us ventured out into the wind and rain of March 13th to get reacquainted with an old friend and enjoy a wonderful evening of friendship and great food. As soon as I walked threw the door, there he was, John “Rick” Piancone, greeting his guests like family. His new restaurant is very cozy and comfortable with lots of exposed brick and warm wood tones. There are two levels to the restaurant, each with a bar area where you can enjoy a delicious glass of sangria or one of their many house wines (all very good). We were seated immediately upstairs and the aroma of garlicky goodness was everywhere.
Our server was very attentive and knowledgeable about the choices on the menu. I ordered from the selection of specials a Grilled Long Steam Artichoke Heart appetizer baked with lemon butter sauce and topped with crumbled feta cheese and bread crumbs. It was delicious. So good in fact, I had to polish the plate with a nice hunk of great bread. My husband, Ricky, ordered the Stuffed Roasted Red Pepper which was stuffed with Gorgonzola cheese and topped with pignoli nuts and a sharp provolone cheese. It was served on a bed of greens with balsamic vinaigrette. The others at the table ordered the huge Homemade Meatballs and Fried Calamari and various salads that were presented beautifully and devoured immediately.
For an entree, I had the Sautéed Shrimp Special served with escarole, cannelloni beans, and plum tomatoes over pasta with a garlic white wine sauce. My husband went with a more traditional Italian dish, the Sunday Sauce over rigatoni with a big dollop of ricotta cheese. Comments from around the table indicated that the Filet Mignon was a big hit as was the Clam Sauce. The Seafood Genovese Special with Salmon, Shrimp Crabmeat and artichoke hearts in pesto scampi was another favorite. The desert menu had many tempting choices. I had an awesome tiramisu and my husband ordered the rum cake which was outrageous. In the end, eleven of us had a wonderful experience and I highly recommend this restaurant. The prices were very reasonable, the portions were generous and our dinner was enjoyed by all. Welcome back Johnny Piancone.
Meryl Boker is a dedicated foodie from Wall Township. She and her husband enjoy exploring new restaurants and taking culinary adventures in Monmouth County and beyond.