I had not been to The Brothers in about five years. I remember the outside being nothing to look at, and the inside kind of dark and dram. But still, there was an atmosphere to it. Something old and classic. When I visited there the other day, I was surprised to see the inside was given a face-lift. It’s a lot cleaner now, but still retains that vintage pizzeria feel. It reminded me of Denino’s on Staten Island, a generational favorite of mine, but the food quality here at Brothers not only matched it, but made a move to surpass it.
It was an empty Memorial Day. I think there were only three or four tables taken, and maybe a few guys at the bar. My eyes widened at the prices of beers listed. $3.75 for a pint of Blue Moon. The rest were similar. These are prices one might have paid 10 years ago for beer in this state, and in pricey Red Bank of all areas. Yes, this appears to be one of those places which has stood pat as the years flew by.
There is a funny story regarding the appetizer pictured above that we ordered. We went back and forth between a few, before deciding on zucchini sticks. Then, in a foolish attempt to eat healthier, I suggested we get stuffed mushrooms (which were a special) because that would be better than fried food in addition to pizza. It took the mushrooms about a half hour to come out, the waitress apologizing several times. She said they are made to order, and take a while to cook right. I was starting to wonder about them when they finally arrived.
Resting in a ramekin were six overstuffed mushrooms filled with a crab and scallop mixture. They were then covered in what might have been a half-pound of cheese, and floating in butter and garlic. My mouth watered as I dug in to the first mushroom. “Would you like some bread with that?” the waitress asked. I couldn’t say yes fast enough. A nice slab of Italian bread to mop up that loose, gooey cheese and butter. While our arteries were begging for mercy, our stomachs were thrilled. I am not exaggerating when I say this is one of the best dishes I’ve ever ordered in any restaurant. Ever. Period. It was so good, I asked our server if she would tell the chef we loved them so much. She remarked that everyone enjoys them, but despite requests to make them a menu regular, they are too difficult and time-consuming to be making in what can be some very busy evenings.
If that was not enough cheese, there were two bar pies coming our way. We thought it would be best to go for the smallest size available that way we could get two instead of one. The first pizza was a clam pie, the other was topped with shrimp scampi. The crusts were thin, not quite like Pete & Elda’s, but in that direction and much thinner than your usual pizza joint. They were crisped to perfection, with only a slight char around the edge. Again, the cheese was piled on like they were trying to get rid of it. In fact, the amount of cheese to crust was deliciously excessive, to the point where that pizza could not have held one more gram. The chef back there knew her limits. The clam pizza was served without sauce, and was good. This was as straight up clam as you could get. No oregano (I asked them to hold it), no breadcrumbs. Just clams, and they were not canned either. So many restaurants go the Oreganata route with a pizza like this, where the clams are tiny canned bits, and there are more breadcrumbs than anything else. This was a more fresh and authentic take, thought it could have used a bit of garlic. As for the Shrimp Scampi pizza, it was even better. There was just the right amount of garlic, and about three shrimp per slice. The smoothness and creaminess of the cheese was just magic with than thin, crispy crust. Both came in at under $10.99.
For bar pies, these were pretty large. My recommendation would be to get one different one per person and do some sampling. They were cut to six slices per pie, and it was more than enough. We left stuffed. Too. Much. Cheese. I don’t think we could have had a better experience at Brothers. I am upset it took me so long to return. I’m not in Red Bank often, but will make it a point to go there again soon. It’s just a tragedy about those mushrooms being a special only. I’d kill for another order. I am going to give Brothers a solid 4 out of 5 stars rating. Excellent job!
The Brothers Italian Cuisine is located at 188 West Front Street in Red Bank, New Jersey.
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