This is how it should be done.
Chris: Via 45 delivers the type of dining experience that so many restaurants promise but so few deliver. It truly stands out in an area over saturated with mediocre Italian cuisine.
Janine: It’s the unique little things that separate Via 45 from the rest of the pack. What other restaurant in this area offers a small, hand written menu that changes daily based on what is fresh and in season?
Chris: The main ingredients are the stars of the plate. They are minimally prepared, without ornamentation and embellishment. Everything on the menu is made to order. There are no premade components for any dish. It’s honest cooking. The type people do when they really care about the food and people they are serving.
Janine: The dining area is intimate and eclectically decorated. The wait staff is attentive and down-right welcoming. The chefs gauge customer satisfaction by actually stepping out from behind the stove and introduce themselves to their guests. Is this Red Bank, New Jersey or a quaint little village somewhere in central Italy?
Chris: I ordered Steamed Littleneck Clams as an appetizer. They arrived with a pair of simmered Lemon sections nestled on top of the shells. Disappointment was my first reaction. Lemon sometimes overpowers the delicate white wine, clam broth, and butter combination. Contrary to my initial thought, the dish was perfectly balanced. A subtle hint of Lemon was noticed on the back of the palette, as opposed to exploding in the forefront. Sprigs of Dill and Parsley added an herbal note.
Janine: I was surprised to see Burrata offered as an appetizer. Frankly, I have only had it in Italy. Burrata is a soft Italian cheese that consists of a thin outer skin of Mozzarella wrapped around a creamy center. It was served with gorgeous Tomatoes, roasted peppers, red onions and a balsamic reduction. The richness of the cream nicely complimented the acidity of the tomatoes and dressing. Most people who are unfamiliar with Burrata may be surprised by the texture. I strongly recommend you try it.
Chris: The Penne alla Norma showed some refinement over the typical versions you find in most Pizza and Pasta joints. Judging by the purple and white streaked skin, Sicilian or oriental eggplant was used instead of the ubiquitous dark purple variety.
Janine: I ordered the Penne with Shrimp and Mushroom cream sauce. I wasn’t familiar with the dish but thought it was worth a try. The pasta arrived lightly sauced instead of swimming in a puddle of cream. The dish lent itself to a more traditional Italian treatment of pasta than we normally find here in the states (not over-sauced). Cremini and dried Porcini Mushrooms added texture and fragrance. Jumbo shrimp still in the shell provided protein.
Chris: Our dessert choice was a simple grilled peach served with crumbled Amoretti cookies and a drizzle of honey. It was a humble tribute to the region in Italy that serves as this restaurant’s inspiration.
Janine: Via 45 may not be the fanciest restaurant in the area or have an impressive wine list (actually, the restaurant is a BYO), but as far as we are concerned, this is how Rustic Italian should be done.
45 Broad Street
Red bank, NJ 07701