Gargiulo’s* (Formerly Portifinos) Tinton Falls NJ

You gotta go…you are spot on with this is what I expected Garaguilo’s to be as well, but in an even finer dining experience. Jimmy’s is table clothed dining but “fine dining” would be a bit of a stretch.

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very few Italian places are really “high end”- none around here; something like Marea which is prob more Mediterranean or something like Del Posto. Prob the “white table cloth” moniker is more apt, but I really miss that around here. However, most of those have gone the way of the sweatpants, hat, and tank top these days as it’s prob too difficult to turn away the $$.
One of my buddies used to wait tables at a mid level Italian spot in Staten Island on the weekends, a place with a great rep- his stories about inappropriate patrons every Mon were awesome.

FYI, Jimmy’s is NOT Marea. Just don’t want you to have that expectation! But I’m with @NotJrvedivici - I bet you’ll love it. Old school and they do what they do extremely well!

The closest we get to a true Mediterranean Italian experience around here is Via45 in Red Bank and Il Nido in Marlboro.

You have undici, buona sera, angelicas, birra vino. The word “high end” is subjective but these places are in the “nicer” end of the spectrum in my eyes. Some place like the pastaria or Patrizias I would consider more “mid range.”

I don’t think a super fancy Italian place would make it here unless the food was worldclass (think something like nicholas.)

Here is my concern with the new spot. The food will be good, I think most can agree on that. Will it be good enough? That is the question! Will the value be there to lure people in? The food has to stand out to make it in that location. The place has to make food better than the other Italian competition or offer a good value if the food isn’t top notch. It is one or the other. People aren’t paying higher dollar for average italian.

My concern is location. There isn’t going to be any foot traffic or people driving by and randomly stopping for dinner there. Let’s face the facts, it isnt rt 35, 36, 9 etc. So I think they need great food to make people go out of their way to get there, or serve good quality food at a fair price and turn it into a “neighborhood” restaurant. (Example would be the sitting duck. No one is turning down that street. Its 90% local people or employees that work in the area. Food is ok and prices are fair.)

Ps, buona sera has 803 Google reviews at 4.4 stars. That is impressive!

While I agree with just about everything you have stated you overlook one thing, Portofino’s survived there for 20+ years prior to their closing, because the owner/chef fell ill. I don’t think Gargiulo’s food is much better or worse than Portofino’s, so who knows. lol

Yeah I do remember them being around for a long time. That brings me to the “neighborhood” topic. Weren’t most of the people in there local and if I recall, the prices were decent?

I’m definitely rooting for them. I’d love to see solid Italian off the beaten path.

I can’t honestly answer that question, albeit I’m a local and I never went there.

4.1 on Google and 3.5 on yelp so far. The reviews are all over and I didn’t read any google or yelp reviews from people with 1-3 ratings. Those people are never reliable (either a rant or a friend/relative hyping the place up.)

Has anyone been lately?

Some discrepancies I noticed among reviews…

Rice balls were dry and tasteless
Rice balls were great

Bread was stale
Bread was fresh

Pasta was undercooked
Pasta was mush

Place is dark and drab
Place was too bright my girlfriend said

Which of the two chicken scarapiello dishes would you choose?

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This is exactly why I don’t bother with Yelp or Google for restaurant reviews.

Interesting I didn’t realize it was almost 2 years to the day since I first tried Gragiulo’s on their opening night. Sadly the first night had a couple bumps but obviously due to covid my return was delayed.

Called at 7pm for a potential reservation at 8pm on a Saturday night and they were able to accommodate. We showed up at 8pm and the place was jumping, honestly I have no idea for a small place where they were putting everyone which convened me for distance with indoor dining, I don’t want to be packed in a small room. (BTW they have a large outdoor tent which on a nice night makes a decent option as well)

After a 10 min wait our table was surprisingly ready, and upstairs we went. Pleasantly surprised to find the tables we spaced and we had a nice 4 top for the 2 of us. Greeted drinks ordered and a nice loaf of decent Italian bread was brought.

Service slightly slow but it’s a busy Saturday night the server was pleasant and it was just nice to be out, no strikes for service it was fine for a leisurely dinner.

Salads: pear for the Mrs and Ceasare for me. She liked the pear as did I with the Ceasare. It’s a traditional oil and egg fresh made Ceasare not a mayo based dressing. Not my personal favorite but that’s not to say it’s bad, it’s very good. Just a very old school traditional version you don’t see often anymore.

Entree: sole oreganatto and pork chop with Gorgonzola cheese, side of broccoli rabe. Both entrees were good, we both enjoyed, the broccoli rabe, like the salad is old school. This is bitter broccoli prepared the way they made it off the boat. Not for the casual broccoli rabe eater, not my favorite version but it’s a purest rendition and I appreciated it.

Late reservations with a leisurely paced meal made it time to go without any coffee or dessert. The valet parking situation is what would best be described as organized chaos at it’s finest.

Long story short, Jimmy’s is my barometer of great red sauce Italian place. This isn’t in the same category for me but that shouldn’t reflect badly on Gargiulo’s, I’ll definitely be back and I promise it won’t take another two years.

image

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I ain’t from Jersey, nor am I Italian, but I love my broccoli rabe very bitter. In fact, I love all bitter greens (eg, mustard and dandelion greens) so this rendition would make me very happy.

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I have not found a Caesar dressing that I love so far after returning to NJ. I prefer a nice garlicky Caesar. I have tried more than a few and Sirena is the one I like best. Think I have to try Piancone’s.
Good house made dressings seem to be as rare as Gyros from the Autodoner, mass produced and in the case of gyros, frozen strips.

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“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

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