Soup Hoppin’ Cruise # 3!

By Sharon Merkel Prudhomme ~

Soup! The one thing that can come as a snack, lunch or a dinner. It’s a great all year round food. Good when feeling under the weather or feeling chipper, this is one food easily found on any menu.

Rella’s Italian Tavern, in Brielle comes as the 1st stop on this cruise. Sitting near Rella’s bar area fire-place offers a welcoming cozy feel on a damp and chilly afternoon. Add to this a nice piping hot bowl of good old French Onion soup…. Priceless. Warm and gooey cheese really makes this delicious treat and here the chef is generous on the cheese which had a nice full covering. So good you just can’t resist scraping every last bit from the rim! Toasted croutons are floating under the canopy of yum which although trying to avoid carbs….without them the cheese would sink. I opted to keep them. The onions are sliced thin, the broth is beautiful rich and beefy. A meal in itself! My husband was into the Chicken & Veggie Soup. Loaded with shredded chicken and a tad lite on veggies with a good chicken broth was light without the usual salt overload. Salt, you see is a flavor enhancer, when using enough herb and spice, there isn’t much need to add salt if any. On a previous visit we were entertained by the Mangos, a great three-piece band that played great tunes that aren’t heard often. So nice to hear fresh tunes rather than the broken record same songs each gig. Now that the weather is breaking, you may like to enjoy your soup out on the patio! Check out their “Beat the Clock” Happy Hour!  One of the best around which…..will be highlighted soon in a Best Happy Hour piece!

Rella’s Italian Tavern 110 Union Ave. (Rt. 71) Brielle, NJ 08730 ph: 732-528-0034     

At the Four Winds Restaurant in Manasquan, 2nd on this cruise, we found ourselves back at one of our long time (30+yrs) haunts. Quite a bit has changed with the various upgrades since the old days, but she is just as popular and busy as ever. Although the bar is super long, we suggest getting an early Happy Hour start as it tends to fill up quickly. Cozy tables next to the stone fireplace and piano are hot spots. We enjoy listening to Rockin’ Randy tickle the ivories on Wednesday evenings. A friendly musician who is quick with a smile, conversation and is open to and encourages requests! On this “Soup Cruise” we opted for the Chicken & Lentil soup. I love beans of all sorts and finding this was a treat. Nice and thick almost creamy with a ton of lentils along with a few small diced carrots. The seasoning was just fine, but as you know, I like a bit of a zippity-do-da, so a couple of dashes of hot sauce jacked it up a tad. Now this really hit the spot and….I would do up a bowl next time for a meal. However, since I find the Four Winds mussels in marinara with crusty dippin’ bread one of THE best in the shore area, I had to have a bowl! A relatively new stone seating area  out front is frequented by those waiting for a table at the busy times. This is a great destination for families, friends, couples as well as singles. The friendly staff is all smiles and you’ve got to admire those bartenders who remember what your preferences and names even tho’ you may not frequent as much as you’d like. Another amazing Happy Hour! Further info soon!

Four Winds 1316 Jefferson Ave. Manasquan, NJ 08736

Simko’s Grill, Brielle was our 3rd stop on the cruise. Although just off Rt 35 before the Manasquan Bridge, it is rather off the beaten track and easy to miss. We almost drove off as there was little indication it was open for business. After checking the doors we were happy to make our way in. A nautical feel with décor keeps that shore feel alive with ample seats at the bar and plenty of tables in and around to the dining room. Surprised to find the Happy Hour enjoyed by us and one other gentleman conducting business on his cell. We decided to try the soup de jour, Potato Soup. Having had Potato Soup for years as well as having made it many times I was rather surprised…or bummed with this version. What we found was a potato broth void of any potato, onion, carrot, celery, etc. Thin and watery which by adding the complimentary crackers gave it something close to substance. This is one soup which was not completely consumed…..a first on the Cruise. On the bright side, the bartender was friendly and smiling. *side note-listed online they will be relocating in June, will be new ownership at this location.

Simko’s Grill 403 Higgins Ave. Brielle, NJ 08730 ph: 732-528-9989


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