Friday, September 6, 2013

Ferrari's Pizza


Price: $$$

I recently received a coupon in the mail offering a free pizza from Ferrari’s on Atlantic City Blvd (Rt. 9) in Beachwood.  The coupon said “Restrictions Apply” so I called to see what the restrictions were.  I told the woman on the phone that I had a coupon for a free pizza which I wanted to order and asked what exactly I had to do to get one.  I was told I had to “Like” them on Facebook, give them my email address, pick it up, and bring ID.  Bring ID?  Seemed like a bit much for a pizza, but I agreed and I “Liked” them on Facebook while I was on the phone with her.  I told her I had done what I was supposed to and wanted to order my free pie (I ordered a large plain, assuming there would be a charge for toppings).  I also ordered a grilled chicken wrap and a large cold antipasto since I didn’t want to just take a free pizza and run.  Sounds good right?  Boy was I wrong.

I got there after waiting the 20 minutes that they suggested.  They didn’t start my wrap until after I got there because it turns out there is more than one type of grilled chicken wrap so they didn’t know which one I wanted.  I told them I wanted the wrap that came with grilled chicken, roasted red peppers and fresh mozzarella with balsamic vinegar.  Not too terribly long afterward, my sandwich, antipasto and free pizza arrived at the counter.  What?  It’s not free?  Here we go……

I “liked” them on facebook like I was told, I wrote my email address on the side of the coupon, I brought ID and I picked it up instead of having it delivered.  I satisfied all four of their ridiculous requirements.  What did I miss?  Excuse me?  I ordered a large pie and only the medium pie is free?  Where does it say that?  When giving me the rundown of all the restrictions, rules and regulations, never once did she mention that.  And when I ordered the large pie, after telling her that I was using the coupon, she never corrected me.  Wouldn’t that have been a good time to mention the fifth regulation?  What’s that you say?  You’ll give me a break and sell me the pizza at the “coupon price” for a large pie?  The coupon price, is FREE!  He wouldn’t budge.  Then he had the NERVE to say to me as I was leaving (in all seriousness), “Keep the free coupon, it’s good all month, come back again.”

So, if that were the end of the story, and my meal was at least tasty, my review might not be as bad based on just that one example of poor customer service.  But it doesn’t end there.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Captain's Inn

304 East Lacey Road
Forked River, NJ 08731

John:   Ellen:

Price: $$

Captain’s Inn was awarded two thumbs up based on our delicious entrées , despite the fact that our visit was like a roller coaster ride of “this is good, this is not, this is good, this is not“. The goods outweighed the bads though, so our overall experience was a positive one.

When we first walked into Captain’s Inn, we found ourselves in small, loud, dark bar. Not a very good first impression. We walked the length of the bar to find the hostess podium where we were immediately seated at a much quieter, table with a partial view of the marina. The other half of the view was of their outdoor tiki bar and the parking lot. We had expected a view overlooking the bay and were a bit disappointed by the blocked view. Between the boats, cars and the bar, there wasn’t much water visible. And the Inn is actually located across the street from the marina, not on the water itself, so another portion of our view was the street right outside of our window. But that’s okay, we came to eat, not to admire the water.

Dinner began disappointingly with a basket of store bought bread sticks still wrapped in their manufacturers plastic wrappers, and saltine crackers that you’d get with your to-go container of soup at your local convenience store. They were accompanied by a plastic cup of cheese spread that was so flavorless, if my wife Ellen hadn‘t corrected me, I‘d have thought it was butter. We thought, oh man, if this is any indication of what’s to come, we’re in trouble. Unappealing first impression of the entrance into the bar, disappointing view, cold mass produced breadbasket fare.

It got better!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Island Cafe

1611 Route 37 East
Toms River, NJ 08753

John:     Ellen:

Price: $$

Neslted next to Richs II Ice Cream between Washington and Vaughn sits a casual, friendly, family owned and operated BYOB eatery called Island Café. I was told that I absolutely had to visit there to try one of their 18 different wraps. When we first walked in, it looked like every other pizza joint with it’s glass counter showing pizzas you buy by the slice as well as fixing for their subs. To the right, however, is a cute little dining room with about a dozen tables, seating 45. The walls were nicely painted in a seascape mural. One look at their extensive menu of veal, beef, chicken, 20 different salads, pasta, pork and more and any thoughts of this being just another pizza joint went out the window. Not to say they don’t take good care of their pizza customers, with such choices as whole wheat and gluten free pizza.

After being seated, we were pleasantly greeted by our waitress Tara. She and another server, Barry, were the only two servers, responsible for serving and bussing the entire dining room. Quite a task. Fortunately, not all tables were full but as the evening went on, the few empty tables began filling up. Somehow though, they managed to pull it off. And with the exception of the kitchen, which did not share our servers’ passion for speed, service was flawless. Thanks to Barry who was steadily walking around the dining room looking for things that needed his attention, our soda glasses were never empty and our used bread and appetizer plates were removed as soon as we finished our last bites. Even though he wasn’t our server, he didn’t hesitate to take care of whatever needed his attention, regardless of whose table it was.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Tuscan House

1250 Hooper Avenue
Toms River, NJ 08753

John:   Ellen:

Price: $ $ (free entree coupon)
Finally! A restaurant for the “Good” list. Our first visit to Tuscan House, when they first opened a couple years ago, was an extreme disappointment. The menu, consisting of absolutely nothing I wanted to order, was printed on our paper napkin. They’ve come long way since then. Our second visit a year or so ago was much better, but still nothing to rave about. But, we figured, if they get better every year let’s give them another try and see if the third time is the charm. Well, it is! The menu improved, the service improved, the food improved, and Tuscan House has become a new destination of choice.

Dinner started out a little scary. When the bread basket came, instead of the typical big ol’ hunk of Italian bread, or a bunch of rolls, we got a half dozen wedges of pita thin flat bread. At first we didn’t quite know what to make of it, but when we tasted it, dipped in the olive oil/balsamic vinegar dip that came with it, it was surprisingly delicious! We couldn’t stop eating it and when we finished it off in no time flat, we were quickly offered a refill, which we gladly accepted.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Baker's Water Street Bar and Grille

4 Robbins Parkway
Toms River, NJ 08753

John:   Ellen:

Price: $ $ (because two out of three items were half price)

What is it with air conditioning lately? We always bring a jacket into any restaurant we go to because invariably it is going to be too cold inside. However, the last two places we visited, Sixth Avenue Bistro in Seaside Heights (see review below) and Baker’s Water Street Bar and Grille were sweat boxes. Not cool enough is one thing, but down right hot and humid is unacceptable if you’re charging me money to sit in there. Later that evening, after we had eaten, as we were walking out, we passed through some areas that were cool. So I guess it was just the luck of the draw that we got put in an area that the A/C couldn’t reach. Or maybe we were too close to the door leading to the outer deck. Either way, it needs to be fixed. I couldn’t help but feel for the wait staff that was dressed all in black.

The first thing we noticed was the beautiful view of Toms River (not the town, the river) through the huge picture windows alongside our table. (Okay, so actually the first thing I noticed was the way too short, too tight skirt on the hostess.) But getting back to the river view, the problem was, to see the river we had to look through a swarm of flies that were walking on the inside of the window that our table butted up against. So to avoid looking at all the flies by our table, we didn’t allow ourselves to partake of the river view.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Sixth Avenue Bistro

201 Sumner Ave
Seaside Heights, NJ 08721
(732) 250-6430

John:   Ellen:

Price: $ $ $ $

On the corner of Sumner Ave and Central Ave in Seaside Heights, sits a little place inexplicably named, don’t ask me why, Sixth Avenue Bistro. The name is the first of many head scratches to come.

The moment my wife and I walked in the door, I knew this was a mistake, and if we hadn’t already purchased a $25 gift certificate for here from, we would have walked out. It was a hot summer night, and there was no hint of air conditioning inside. It was as hot and humid inside as it was outside. At least outside there was a breeze and didn’t smell of rancid cooking oil.

According to their write-up on they profess to be a “neighborhood favorite” but someone forgot to tell the neighborhood. During our prime weekend dinner time visit, we were the only two customers in the place. Oh wait, should I include the family of five that came in, sat down, looked at the menu, and got up and walked out? But how about the food? After all, feed me a great meal and I could forgive just about any indiscretions.