I've been in the area almost a year, here are some of my favs and not favs. I really need suggestions for great regular gas oven pizza slices/pies, Thai, Chinese and Mexican anywhere in Eastern Monmouth!
Enjoy (or hate)...
Birravino - Everything here is fresh and high quality and it's probably the most consistent restaurant I've ever frequented, which is probably why I'm regularly here and have never stopped coming (except during their March savings menu when everyone comes out of their hole clogging this place looking for a deal not to return again for 11 months and I have to wait behind them). Some dishes aren't my thing, some are good and some are excellent - caesar, chicken scarpariello, hanger steak, sole/chicken francaise, chicken parm, sausages, some pastas.
Porta - Great salads, pastas and very fresh mozzarella. I prefer the pizzas at Talulas, or many other Neapolitan pizza spots - it's a little too thick maybe? Because I always feel like its undercooked even though the top and bottom are charred - but I still order the 14 1/2 pie often (mozzarella, crushed tomatoes, soppressata, ricotta, Calabrian chiles). The Bee Sting at Talulas is cooked better but different flavors. Paulie Gee's Hellboy reigns supreme over all (if you want to go to Brooklyn).
D'jeet - Seasonal fresh food, focus on veggies but also a burger and sandwiches. This is my healthier option but still very flavorful
Tommy's (Red Bank) - Good pizza, good salads, good wood fire wings, kids like it, lots of TVs for sports games, good beers. A good cheaper place.
Surf BBQ - This place crushes every other BBQ place in NJ. All their meats are PRIME! Thick meaty cuts, bark, smoke rings, etc etc this place does it all right. Fink's in BBQ used to be the best in NJ but the meat at Surf is much better (exceptional) quality. The chicken here is insane, not a cop out dish. The beef rib has got to be over a foot long, very impressive but so rich it can only be an occasional treat. Same owners are Birravino who hired the pitmaster from Hometown as a consultant and they crushed it. Makes Local Smoke a local joke and I won't even drive to JSBBQ again.
Luigis - Baked square pies, I don't know anybody else who does this in NJ. Some say it's greasy, I say it's great
Bond St - Not really a secret anymore so I'll list it. Great bar food, good cheap local beer. It gets crowded and uncomfortable. But I heard they added a second floor or opened up a second location? Who knows... still sort of mysterious I guess.
-GOOD, NOT TERRIBLE BUT NOT OFTEN
Avenue - pretty good, too expensive for what they serve. Winter service sucks here, turnover seems very high (it's never busy in winter, or even summer weeknights for that matter)
Woodys - Not terrible. Beer and appetizer. The tuna wasabi is pretty good. But usually after an app and beer I wish my dinner wouldn't come out. Go here after the beach on your way home for a snack or something
Undici - Another from Birravino/Surf BBQ guys. High quality ingredients but the preparations do nothing for me nor does the dark setting. Great for a drink especially if you're looking for divorcees
Brickwall - Meh.
Pascal & Sabines - I had some great meals here when it first opened but last two times I came here I was less than wowed. One of the times my medium pork chops came out well done (all white, no pink). Expensive place to not love every course
Beach Tavern - The food here used to be very good but overpriced and horrible service. With a new chef the food quality is lower, the price is slightly lower, but I had pretty good service last time. Great fried chicken which nobody in the area really does except Brickwall but this is more flavorful, nice lobster with an herbed butter. This is the nicest place in town and actually a nice place but there are often people in hats and sweatshirts on weekend nights. Strange town...
Anjelicas - People really like this place but I had a seafood pasta that was fishy. Places better than this serving the same type of Italian are a dime a dozen in North Jersey. Not impressed. Is there anywhere great in Sea Bright? Sure are more than a few options.
Salt Creek - Wasn't bad but did nothing for me. Never returned, may one day. I think out of towners must keep this place going, great setting.
Outback - Not chow-worthy but there aren't enough great local restaurants at this price point to keep me away from here.
B2 - The food here is OK but the presentations feel sort of pretentious and so does the front of the house. They wish they were in Asbury, they are not. I really don't enjoy going here.
Drews - This place fell off last 2 times I went and it was overpriced anyway. Somebody tell me to try it again...
The 2 Thai places in Red Bank - The one in the Galleria wasn't great and was expensive. The one on E Front doesn't sound good. I'm used to Thai Thai and Origins, is there any great Thai down here?
Bangkok House - Food did not seem very fresh, I did not like this place. Kind of grossed me out I don't remember why though
Char - The food was very good actually but the decor SUCKS and the girls working dress like hookers. Appropriate this is near GOTHAM, the supposed "speakeasy" but I feel like the owner moved from Staten Island to Colts Neck and loves showing off his "bootiful joint" filled with rare pieces of artwork like superhero statues and corny paintings. Char-Gotham are like a one two punch for cheeseballs looking for a "big night out"
Robinson Ale House - Great location, very nice decor. Looks like a great steakhouse. Food sucks. This place had that trademark mystical McCloone's moment where you're eating something or one time you go and it's good and then your next course comes or you go again and you wonder what the hell you were thinking. Go for the bar I guess
Juanitos - Do you like fried? Do you like cheese? Do you like flavorless sauces? Do you like overcooked meats? Then come here. A true cheap gringos delight
SHORT LIST TO TRY (comments especially here please)
-Copper Canyon - for whatever reason I can't myself to go here
-Nicholas - I've been saying I'll come here for a special occ for years but never have. I like casual eating. But recently someone told me to eat at the bar tables so maybe I will one day soon