Last month, I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek into Talula’s before the eatery opened its doors in Asbury Park. That sneak peek didn’t include any food, so when I was invited to join them for dinner, I practically ran there!
Let me tell you, it was everything that I had hoped it would be. The atmosphere is casual, warm, and hearthy. Owners Steve Mignogna, Shanti Church, and Josh Stewart celebrate their local purveyors including From the Garden, Seven Arrows East Farm, and Shangri-La Farm. All of their bread and dough is made on site daily, using their very own “Mother” and organic grains from Farmer Ground Flour. Many of the tables were made with loving care by Church’s brother. If you’re looking to meet new friends, there are plenty of community tables, or you can keep it small and sit with your loved ones. Either way, you get to enjoy the inspiring and delicious food coming out of the Talula’s kitchen.
In addition to great food, Talula’s has a well-stocked bar featuring many local beers, wine, and an incredible list of cocktails including Autumn Mule made with vodka, boiled apple cider, ginger beer, and lime. If you’re interested in beer, be sure to try the Kane Ripple, a light IPA, if you’re lucky enough for it to be on tap.
Back to the food. Our server, who also happens to be one of the cooks, suggested that we start off with the “bread + butter,” a rather large portion of their daily sourdough bread, paired with herbed butter and olive oil with honey. The bread was a home run. Crusty on the outside, soft on the inside and when paired with the honeyed olive oil, it was dynamite. Church shared that she had learned that trick from Mint, one of her favorite cheese stores in Tarrytown, New York.
After our appetizer, we ordered some more bread. Two pies: the hearty Beekeeper’s Lament, in an effort to keep our honey-themed dinner going, and the Saltie. The Beekeeper’s Lament is a classic. The dough, crisped on the outside, yet perfectly soft on the inside, featuring fresh tomato sauce, hot Calabrian sopressata, fresh mozzarella, and a drizzle of local honey to top it off. The perfect combination of sweet, salty, and spicy.
However, my favorite of the two was the Saltie. It’s like a Vietnamese banh mi on a pizza. Seriously? I could have eaten the whole pie myself. The pizza exhibited the perfect ratio of feta, fresh mozzarella, pickled vegetables like cauliflower and red onion, fresh cilantro and parsley, capers, pimentón, and to top it all off, a yolky egg. The freshness of the herbs interacted with the tart pickled veggies, the creamy egg, and the salty cheese, and then came together on a fresh pizza pie—it was out of this world.
Church named what is now my favorite pie after the bahn mi shop in Brooklyn, Saltie, where she spent time learning how to pickle like a champ. If you’re reading this and thinking that you’d like to pass, you’re wrong. Just take my word for it and if you don’t like it, I’ll eat your leftovers.
I do have to go back as there are so many other pies that I want to try including the Spud Mackenzie, which has become an instant hit. The pie is like a loaded baked potato with garlic mashed potatoes, fresh mozzarella, cheddar, Benton’s bacon, and buttermilk. (No, it’s not figure friendly, but who cares, it’s winter!) Order one of Talula’s salads like the 7 Arrows Farm Salad with radish, house-made vinaigrette, and sumac to make you feel better about eating all the pizza.
We did leave room for dessert, deciding on the Milk + Honey Panna Cotta, which our amazing server recommended because it was so light (especially after we ate so much). She hadn’t steered us wrong yet. The dish is made with honey gelee, on top of amaranth crumble and bee pollen brittle. It really was the perfect end to a perfect meal.
Talula’s accommodates vegan, gluten free, and vegetarians alike. They’d be happy to substitute any cheese for their homemade vegan mozzarella or cashew almond ricotta on any pizza for just a dollar extra.
Stop by for lunch or dinner any day, and brunch on Saturday and Sunday. And don’t forget to bring an appetite!
550 Cookman Avenue, #108
Melissa Beveridge is a freelance journalist and editor, focusing on great food, healthy living, and wellness. Her passion for eating and living well embodies her writing. A lover of all things Jersey, she is also an avid traveler, always looking to discover those hidden culinary gems everywhere she goes. Her musings can be found on her blog mbeewell.wordpress.com.