The new Semolina in Red Bank

Yes, I usually feel if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say it, although I did have that bad experience at La Griglia :slightly_smiling_face: We also usually go to our regular places each month where they know us and treat us like family.


Yowza. I’ve never met Eli in person, but that must have been some experience to write a review like that. I apologize for my sister town treating you poorly.

We were at Semolina last week for the first time actually. Our server Brandt was amazing, the food generally excellent. Our gripe was with the loud table next to us. (seated at the Eli table, we were the next 4 top at the window :slight_smile: ) Not just loud talking, but the kind of innocuous, hideous, “you’re great, no you are, well you are so humble, yes I am aren’t I” blather you get from entitled twenty or thirtysomethings. It definitely put a damper on the evening, and in an otherwise empty 5pm restaurant I’m not sure why they, or anybody, was sat right next to us.

That said, the food was excellent. I would not order the steak again as I didn’t care for the quality of the meat which I found tough, nor whatever topping they slathered on top, ymmv on that.

Eli, as I said on your IG post, it’s really a shame; EVERY diner, regardless of how far they’re travelling, should get the same treatment at a restaurant. Semolina has been on my radar but this certainly makes me think twice about going there. That said, I noticed that you didn’t tag their account in your IG post, which you can still edit if you want to. I’d be very curious to see how management would handle this–that would tell me a LOT.

@paryzer Sorry to hear of your experience, especially as I’ve been one of Semolina’s cheerleaders. I’ve been three times since May with Karen my server on each visit and received consistently good service. I hope it was nothing more than an “off day,” but even so it shouldn’t have ever impacted your visit. Ever.

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Eli, You should not have had to put up with the “server from Hell.” Why didn’t you speak to the manager?

Starting at the get-go… When a patron asks for a table change, the decision whether to honor that request is made by the maitre d’ or, if there is none, the manager. Never the server! And it’s unheard of for a server to have the authority to limit your stay.

The server’s disgusting “tough shit” attitude re: your request to slow things down was totally unacceptable. When Mrs. P.’s plate arrived while she wasn’t there, the least they could have done was cover it so the food was not stone cold when she returned. In other restaurants, I’ve seen plates covered when a diner is unavoidably absent when a course is served. Though in your case, it could probably have been avoided if you had spoken to the manager.

Finally, what really shocks me is that you left a tip! And not a down-graded tip, but 20%! Since a tip is a reward for quality of service, imo, your experience there is a perfect instance where a zero tip was justified. So, why did you “reward” this person — and so handsomely— who ruined your meal?!


@paryzer. I too am sorry you had such a terrible experience at Semolina. I was there at 8pm on Friday night and Karen was our server, as she has been for our last few visits. She is always very professional and attentive with the best attitude. Semolina is one of the few restaurants that honors reservations. There seems to be empty tables when we get there, yet they turn away walk-ins to honor their reservations.

We’ve sat where we’ve been assigned- in that four top next to the host stand, in the window four top, or in the back…who cares? To me, it’s about the food, not about where we’re sitting.

Every server we’ve had at Semolina requests that we give them our entire order up front- this helps with the pace of the food coming out of the kitchen. Perhaps your wife’s bathroom timing wasn’t the best-once the food is fired they’re going to bring it out when it’s ready and hot.

We all do the same thing here on Hungry Onion, give our opinions good and bad about restaurants. However, I found your review an unnecessary personal attack on the server. Naming calling and vulgarities directed at a single person isn’t called for here. Let’s keep it more professional.


Thanks Roz. Unfortunately there was really no manager there. The hostess couldn’t’ have been more than 18 (and not a mature 18). It looks like Karen was running the show. It was her way or the highway, and we were too far away to leave or go someplace else.

Mrs. P was very upset that I left such a nice tip and was ready to take money off the table, but I always try to stay classy.

Thanks everyone for your concern. Please don’t let me discourage you from going to Semolina. This was probably an off day. The food was really excellent (as you can see the beautiful presentations from my pictures). I just wish we could have enjoyed it more, but we were put in a bad mood from the beginning (which ruined our appetites) and it didn’t get any better. I could see the rush (but not the attitude) if we were dining prime time at 8 on a Saturday night, but this was at 4PM in an empty restaurant on a Sunday.


@sockster I apologize about my unprofessional rant. If you have seen my previous posts, I am always very kind and professional. Whenever we dine out we are always very polite and appreciative of the staff. We are very friendly with the servers at our regular restaurants, and they always look forward to our visits. I was more upset for my wife. As far as her bathroom timing not being the best, she got up to go to the bathroom right after we ate our appetizers, not expecting our main course to be rushed out immediately. They were bringing out the food as she was walking towards the bathroom. As far as placing your full order up front, that didn’t help much with the pacing :slightly_smiling_face: I told her right after we finished our appetizers to please wait a few minutes before firing up the entree, but she said it was too late. She could have told the chef to hold off. I also told her in the beginning to please not rush the entree out immediately after the appetizers, and she assured me that it will be well paced. However, after the entrees came out she said I didn’t say anything and this is how they always do it (one course immediately after another). She then said to take my time (even though I was just served my last course within 45 minutes).


I’d like to start off with saying thank you to all the semolina followers on this forum. I read every post about the restaurant; in this chat as well as all the other mentions in the other threads. I really appreciate all the feedback, good and bad.

@paryzer I’m not going to get into an argument with you over your review; everyone is entitled to their opinion. However when my server with over 30 years of PROFESSIONAL restaurant experience, as well as working with me for over 5 years, pings someone within 5 minutes of sitting down that you are going to have some sort of problem; she is usually right. and come to find out the moment you left her exact words were “That may have been the worst customer, I have ever had to deal with in my life.” Take it as you will, but you’re very unprofessional review means nothing to me.

I know @sockster and a few other “HO’s” can back up Karen’s excellent and professional service, and her lovely attitude. Its the reason her and I have worked together for so long, as well as most of my staff. For the customers who have not tried Semolina yet, try it. Allow our servers, Karen included, to prove to you that they are professional and have a love for what they do. What really sets our service apart from other restaurants is the servers have the same love and passion for Semolina and what we do at the restaurant as myself.

Some people like our policies, some people don’t care about them, others don’t like them. They are set up the way to make the flow of dinner service as smooth as they can possibly be. And to provide the best guest experience we can possibly provide. We are a small restaurant of 15 tables and 45 seats. There’s not much wiggle room for really anything especially to allow 2 people to sit at a 4-top.(We obviously accommodate when we can as Mr. Paryzer experienced as well as another customer on this thread). Mr. Paryzer our 15 table restaurant turned over all of our tables twice last night. Other tables might not have been sat at, however they were reserved for the night and we do our best to honor each and every reservation for customers to be seated promptly.

Backtracking to some other comments about the restaurant, ie the noise, the waiting area, the size of the tables. We have been installing more sound tiles although it is hard with it being such a small “Box” space; but we are trying. It is also so hard being in a small space when all it takes is a bottle of wine and a girls night out at one table to be loud. To address the waiting area and tables we may potentially have an opportunity to expand our waiting area which will allow us to increase table size as well. We just need what we have in the works to be finalized. Which should be in the fall, So stay tuned.

Again Thank you “HO’s” for all your support. It is people like you who push me everyday to better the restaurant as well as the Semolina brand. And a big shout out to @sockster who has followed me and my career for a number of years now!


Chuck, thank you for reply. I have already apologized several times for my unprofessional rant. It was uncalled for, but I was so frustrated because we have never been treated with such disrespect in our lives. I guess your very professional server might have had an off day, or I might have upset her by politely asking for a 4 top at 4PM on a Sunday in an empty restaurant that was still empty when we left. We purposely dined at that ungodly hour, and took the one hour trip from North Jersey, so we wouldn’t be in the way when business usually picks up. She couldn’t get rid of us fast enough after that, even though we did nothing to warrant such treatment. I made it clear that we didn’t want our entree coming out immediately after our appetizers and she assured me it would be properly paced. After we finished our appetizer I asked her to please wait a few minutes to fire up the entree but she told me it was too late and made no effort to hold off. And as my wife went to the bathroom, after finishing our appetizers, her entree came out and sat under the fan making it cold by the time she came back. They could have at least attempted to cover it up. It was also unprofessional for the staff to be congregating by the hostess area (right next to our table) and whispering all night long by my wife. I guess if we were seated one table over it wouldn’t have been so bad.
Any way, you have an extremely talented and creative chef and the food is exceptional. I wish you only the best, and lets just chalk it up to an off day on both sides.


It seems to me that you were unnecessarily disrespectful of @paryzer. There was obviously some conflict between him and Karen. These things happen. But he did recommend that others patronize your restaurant, and he praised the food. I think that you owe him an apology.


I was taken aback a bit by that reply. Negative reviews happen and are not meant to be spiteful.


@paryzer yea, we’ll chalk it up as that.

@bcc How is my response disrespectful?

@presunto I don’t see spite in my response, like I said in my post “I appreciate the feedback, good and bad”

There are two sides to every story and I gave the people of this thread the other side. Take it as you will; That is the purpose of a review forum, no?

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'That may have been the worst customer, I have ever had to deal with in my life.” Take it as you will, but you’re very unprofessional review means nothing to me."

Let’s just chalk it up to the 100 degree weather and full moon.

Chuck, just so you know, this unprofessional review is the exception and not the norm with me. I am always very professional and polite and shower praise on the restaurants we go to. For a sample of my normal reviews, please see my recent review on newly opened restaurant Bloom in Verona, NJ. This restaurant barely seats 20 people and the servers couldn’t have been more friendlier and the Chef/owner came out several times to see how we were enjoying our meal. They gave us no problems when we requested a larger 4 top (even though that was probably 20% of their tables). This is how you treat your customers.
By the way, feel free to use my beautiful pictures of your outstanding food :slightly_smiling_face:


Chuck, I’m really not sure what to say about your response. I know you have a popular and tiny spot, but I think there are better ways to handle a customer’s response. If nothing else, in spite of his/their experience, the diner STILL praised the food, posted some great photos, AND left a 20% tip. That right there should give you some idea of what kind of person he is, although he doesn’t need anyone on here to defend him. I have friends who are chefs and owners so I know just how hard it is to run a restaurant, but I think you might want to step back and look at the entire post.

Now, a question–and there’s no snark here…I’m curious to know if this is how your service always goes. “we got served 2 appetizers, a pasta dish, and 2 entrees in barely 45 minutes,” Was this simply because of the 90-minute window before the 5:30 reservations came in, or do you generally get people in/out that fast? I’m asking because I have some friends who would welcome that and others who would hate it.


Just so you know I am not going crazy, below are some excerpts of reviews on yelp that were conveniently hidden.

From Jackie V.: The older waitress rushed us 2 times to order our dessert & we were trying to enjoy our wine after dinner. She said there would be 2 other seating after ours which they should space out the next set of people out to give everyone a reasonable amount of time to eat - we were only there for 1 hour & 10 minutes tops. She brought us our check with our desserts to rush us a 3rd time. We definitely won’t be back.

From Nancy G.: My friend and I were still chatting a bit after I paid when much to my surprise and not a little horror the server approached our table and said “I’m sorry but I have to ask you to leave. We need the table.” I noted the time was 8:00.

In 50+ years of dining out I have NEVER been asked to leave a restaurant, for any reason. I can’t understand why their scheduling problem became MY problem. If the courses had arrived in a more timely fashion I suspect we would have been gone in the “time allotted.” However, I find this treatment totally unacceptable and although the food was good and I might have considered going back, I doubt I will. As I was leaving I had a respectful conversation with a server who happened to be at the front, and I asked her to pass on my experience to the owners. Since they had my phone number from my having made my reservation, the least they could have done was call me the next day to apologize. That did not happen.

By the way I do not intend to enter a review on yelp. I just kept it in this small food forum.


@paryzer like I said in my original post I’m not here to argue about your personal experience. I simply quoted what my server said about you upon arrival and upon departure. There’s two sides to every story and all this will be is a he said, she said scenario. The forum got your he said, and I stated what she said. And like I said because of your “unprofessional rant” It means nothing to me. If it was a negative review written with a little integrity and not directly bashing a staff member I would have taken something from it and potentially grown from it.

@CurlzNJ yes I get it, and like I said two sides to every story. There are also plenty people that Karen has given excellent service as posted above, however a direct attack was unnecessary and if his unnecessary rant was written a little more professionally, I would have responded differently. and Both @paryzer and I chalked it off as an off night from both parties. To answer your question. We allow 90 minutes for tables upto 4 and 2 hours for tables uptown 6. On Fridays and Saturdays we only have 1 table that seats 6 and during the rest of the week, if we can push tables together we will. Also with the 90 minutes we accommodate longer sit times during the week when we can.

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I had Semolina on my list of places to try. Because of your attitude, my hard-earned dollars will not be spent there.


Moderators hat on

Friends and NJ Neighbors, I’m sitting out on any comments since I have previously reviewed this restaurant. At this point we have read @paryzer unfortunate experience and we have also heard @semolinanj response.

I fail to see any benefit from pointing fingers or piling on one way or the other, we read what we read and we make our judgments from there. It just seems the conversation is getting away from the experience and moving into finger pointing, blaming or shaming. None of which is truly adding any value to the conversation.

I’m going to ask at this point we refrain from any more finger pointing or opinions about opinions. If you have something to add regarding your direct experiences or questions for @semolinanj please feel free to share. We encourage members of the community being owners, managers and chef’s to participate, let’s not contribute to an environment where they do not feel welcome.

Let’s try to get the conversation(s) back to experiences and away from judgments.

Thank you.


And I read every review and looked at every reservation and made notes both those reviewers showed up late for their reservation and were told how much time they had to eat and both agreed to sit down (like she did with you). We also extended Nancy G’s time to an hour and fifty minutes. Obviously there is only so much we can do, We told them how much time they had to sit down before the next reservation, they opted to sit. We made them aware it was their decision to sit and when the next table showed up for their reservation, we had to ask them to leave. They would have had the full 90 minutes to eat if they didn’t show up 20 minutes late and then beg us to sit because we typically don’t honor reservations after 15 minutes. We were threatened with a Yelp review upon there departure for both the reservations.

I look at all these sites and read every review and I can usually find exactly the table the review is from. I then speak with my staff get any information from them and make a decision on what to do. For example there is a recent review on TripAdvisor about being rushed and having a check on there table at 630pm. I looked up her reservation and she occupied the table until 720pm and he desserts didn’t go out of the kitchen until 7. And that is the kind of stuff as a restaurant owner we have to deal with. Its one of the few “bonuses” of being a such a small restaurant and the use of Opentable , it is easy for us to figure who is who and keep notes on guest experiences,

@fershore and that’s fine, its your decision.

I announced my presence on this forum with my reply. If you didn’t like my response to someone directly bashing my server in an unprofessional manner, then that’s your opinion. Take it or Leave it.

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