Spectacular new listing in Apple Ridge, Wall Township!

East Coast Cookery, Neptune

If you are looking for a great sports bar with cold beer, hot wings, and lots of big screen TVs, have I got the place for you! On Route 66 in Neptune Township, there is a place that will satisfy all of these needs: the East Coast Cookery, located right next to the Home Depot and Jumping Brook Country Club.

I have been here many times, but have yet to eat in the sit-down restaurant – the sports bar catches me every time! Let me explain: when you walk in, you can go left to the restauran or right to the sports bar. In the sports bar, you seat yourself at any open table facing whichever TV is showing the game you want to watch. Behind the bar is a huge 14 foot TV screen showing the big game of the day.They also show all the big MMA events, especially the pay-per-view ones.

Now that we have established the amazing atmosphere – on to the food. They have a wide selection of appetizers and entrees sure to satisfy any palate. You’ll find everything from wings and fried calamari to spinach dip and potato skins – and then some more. I have tried most of the appetizers, and they have always been plentiful and delicious. Usually we select two for four adults, which is enough to get us started and ready for the main course.

Their menu includes a wide variety of casual burgers, salads, pulled pork sandwiches, wraps, and French dips, which are served with your choice of fries, chips, or tortillas and salsa. My favorite is a sandwich reserved only for the weekends: a New England Lobster roll. It has chunks of lobster, cucumbers, and mayo served on a toasted hot dog roll – truly awesome! If you are looking for a more substantial meal, they also offer filet mignon, NY Strip steaks, barbecue ribs, and a host of Italian specialties including chicken or eggplant parmesan and a wide variety of pasta dishes. They definitely have something for everyone.

This is a great casual spot to have a quick meal or a sit-down dinner. It’s kid-friendly and they have a full service bar, excellent service, and a comfortable atmosphere. And did I mention the 14 foot television?!

For many, vacationing at the Jersey Shore in the summer is a tradition. The Jersey Shore wraps fun, activities, and enjoyable family time all into one great package…including the sand between your toes. However in the wake of Sandy, it’s more important than ever to book your summer vacation rental sooner rather than later – if you know you want to vacation at the Jersey Shore this summer, don’t wait to secure your plans! The demand is already showing to be as strong as usual, but the inventory will absolutely be lower.

There are a few things that you will want to think about before you call a realtor:

  • When would you like to go?, You’ll need to decide when will be the ideal time for you to be at the Shore. If you have a child in sports, July or early August is probably best for you since in many cases, school sports’ practices start mid-August. If you have pre-school children, September can be less expensive and quieter, but still warm. Or, would you like to be at the Shore for Memorial Day, July 4th, or Labor Day celebrations?
  • How long will your vacation last? Do you want to rent for the whole summer (Memorial Day – Labor Day), one month, two weeks? The length of time is very important, as shorter vacations will limit the places where you can rent. Condominium associations typically have a minimum rental length written into their bylaws. For example, Beach Front North in Long Branch has a 3 month minimum rental, so to stay there you will have to be willing to rent for the whole summer. Many Spring Lake homes list rentals for 1-month minimums – but if they have not secured tenants as it gets closer to Memorial Day, you will see them agree to 2-week and some 1-week rentals.
  • What’s your budget? You should decide how much you want to spend on your rental. Your budget will help determine in which towns you can find rentals, and the location in those towns. The more you can spend, the bigger home you can find, the closer you can get to the ocean, and the longer you can stay.
  • What type of a vacation are you looking for? Are you a beach bum, whose main concern is getting your perfect spot on the beach each day? Are you bringing kids who need to be near amenities or a boardwalk with amusements? Are you looking for a place near some great nightlife? Sumptuous Restaurants?
  • Do you have a pet? If you can find someone to look after your pet while you are on vacation, that would be optimal. If your pet has to come with you, know that this will limit your options.

It’s important to consider the answer to all these items before calling a realtor. Knowing this information will help the realtor find you the best rental to meet your needs. You will also want to make sure that your realtor is familiar with each town’s plan to ready themselves for the summer post Super Storm Sandy.

So, make your list and call an experienced Jersey Shore realtor today. Waiting will limit your choices!

Windmill, Long Branch

Today I’m going share one of my favorite Jersey shore institutions – the Windmill. There are nine Windmill Restaurants in New Jersey, and seven of them are in the shore area. The one I frequent is the original Windmill in West End (Long Branch) – which is special because it actually looks like a windmill. When you enter, you walk straight to the counter to place your order. There is no indoor seating in this location – instead they have what they call the “deck,” which is on top of the windmill. You pick up your food, head up to the top, sit in the sun, and enjoy! If you have to stay inside, you can eat at the counter by the widows overlooking Ocean Blvd. People line up shoulder to shoulder to enjoy their hot dogs – but nobody minds, because this is a part of the Windmill experience.

Now onto the menu: The Windmill is famous for their grilled jumbo hot dogs and cheese fries. These hot dogs are sitting on the grill as you enter, and you can pick which one you want – they will even place it on the fire grill to make it a little snappier. If you want toppings on your dog they have cheese, homemade chili (which you can also put on the fries), kraut, relish, onions – the list goes on. If you want it, they probably have it. They also have flame grilled burgers, rib eye steak sandwiches, grilled or crispy chicken sandwiches, fried fish sandwiches and the most delicious of all: onion rings. All of these sandwiches are made fresh right in front of you, and after they prepare your food you get to stack all the toppings you want. Pile them high and enjoy!

This is a great place for lunch, dinner, a late-night snack (they are open until 3 am) or if you just need something to eat right off the beach.

The other location in Long Branch is on Ocean Ave North. This one has a nicely sized sit-down restaurant and a liquor license, so if you want an ice cold beer with your dog then head to the Windmill over by Seven Presidents Beach.

I can tell you, I have been eating at the Windmill for over 30 years and I have never been let down. If you’re reading this and thinking “it’s a hot dog – what’s the big deal?” then you have obviously never had a dog at the Windmill. This is the must have for all visitors and locals alike!

Anthony's Pizzeria, Wall

One of the things we take for granted living at the Jersey Shore is the fact that we can get great pizza at any time of the day or night. This really came to my attention last week when friends of ours from Delaware came to visit us – they both grew up in Jersey so they do know the difference between “real” pizza and chain store pizza. We went out to dinner on Friday night and we went to Lubrano’s, which I reviewed earlier in December. Ordering pizza for an appetizer was a requirement for this crew, so we chose a specialty pie with provolone cheese, prosciutto and arugula. Like last time, it was an outstanding experience.

Our friends only had so many meals left to devour in NJ before heading back to Delaware, and they were determined to get their fill of Jersey pizza. What really hit home was that on Saturday morning, they still wanted more! I decided a pie from Anthony’s Pizza on Belmar Blvd in Wall would satisfy their cravings.

Anthony’s is designed as a pizza parlor in the front and a restaurant in the back. In the front they have many specialty pizzas including cheesesteak, barbecue chicken, and chicken and ranch dressing, in addition to all of the traditional Italian favorites. In the case they also have have hot sandwiches, Italian hot dogs, and mini pizzas. In the restaurant they offer a traditional Italian menu with a large selection of pasta, chicken, and veal dishes as well as a couple of dinner specials, all of which are also available for take out. This place is always packed because the food is consistently delicious – I can honestly say that I have tried almost everything on the menu at one time or another, and I have never been disappointed.

Whether you are looking to grab a quick pizza and sub or you want to have a great sit down meal, Anthonys is a great place to go. And in case my glowing review wasn’t enough: on Saturday night our friends were heading to another party and decided they needed stop by Anthony’s again to pick up a Sicilian pie to bring with them – they just couldn’t get enough of their delicious pizza! Now that is a strong endorsement!

New Year’s Resolutions – I’ve never really been a big fan. Sure, it’s great to have goals – but why wait until a new year begins to do things that will improve your life? And, why make your goals some grand – and often unattainable – gesture? What starts out as a well-intentioned resolution becomes a source of great disappointment when the goal is not met.

Here’s the main problem, as I see it: People decide on resolutions. “This year I’m going to lose 20 pounds. This year I’m going to really use that treadmill for exercise, rather than as another place to drape the clothes I don’t feel like hanging up. This year I’m going to save enough money to buy my dream home.” The list goes on and on – and the goals are great, but there always seems to be one very important step that’s missing: ask those same people HOW they are planning on attaining their goals, and 9 times out of 10 you will be met with a blank stare. If mere desire was all that was necessary, we would all be absolutely 100% perfect individuals – the failure in meeting resolutions is that many times there’s no plan on how to reach that goal.

I thought I would share with you one of my goals that did come to fruition this year, and how I was able to attain it – perhaps it will help you as well.

This year I wanted to organize my closets, and keep them organized…but where to begin? It just seemed like a daunting and overwhelming task. The closets in my house have always been a disaster – in the past, I blamed my inability to organize my rooms on a lack of closet space. No matter how many times I cleaned out the closets, they were a mess again within a day or two of straightening them – a major source of frustration for me. It took me entirely too long to discover that trying to use the same space in the same way over and over again would never solve my problem. I believe it was Albert Einstein who defined “insanity” as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Well, that is exactly what I was doing, and I wasn’t going to do it any longer.

I discovered my problem wasn’t a lack of space, but rather an inefficient use of the space. What to do, though? Hiring a closet company to design and install more efficient closet space was not exactly in the budget, so I was going to have to figure out how to do it myself. There were three main closets in my home that really needed work: the closet in my daughter’s room, the closet in my son’s room, and my master closet. Each closet was shaped a little differently, and each person needed different functionality from their respective space. I began by taking inventory of what was needed in each closet and how to most efficiently organize each space to accommodate those needs. The results of my efforts were closets that utilized their space much more effectively, much more organized lives for my whole family, and a pride in realizing that I was able to create these great spaces with my own hands.

Below are examples of what worked for me. Perhaps they will help spur some ideas for you too!

I started with my 9-year-old daughter’s closet. She has a medium-sized square walk-in closet (but suffice it to say, before I made the changes it couldn’t technically be called a “walk-in” – it was more of a “climb-over”, if you know what I mean). The first thing I did was take everything out of the closet and measure the space. There was one bar along the left side, one along the right side, and one across the back, a shelf across the top of each bar, and a dresser that was not very functional because half the drawers were blocked by hanging clothes. On the top shelves were a multitude of items that I seemed to have collected over the years but had long since exhausted their usefulness and were literally just taking up space.

I did some research and found that ClosetMaid makes a great corner shelf unit. It doesn’t take up a lot of space because of its “wave” design, but it holds a lot. I discovered this corner unit (I stacked 2 of them so she would have 6 deep shelves), along with 2 bars on the right side of the closet and a top shelf above, would give her more than sufficient space for her clothes and accessories. I did hang one bar across the back of the closet as well, but she didn’t need it. So, what to do with the rest of the “found” space? Why not make it a comfy place for her to hide out, read a good book…her own personal little place? I hung a sheer purple drape on the bar along the back wall, and added an apple green throw rug, a pink bean bag chair, and a mirror on the inside of the closet door. I even had an electrician (I thought it best to hire a professional for the electric) install a double outlet so she could charge her iPod, maybe add a little lamp at some point, and plug her blow dryer in to do her hair in there. The transformation of this closet from an obstacle course to be entered into at one’s own risk to this organized room with multiple amenities was truly amazing!

Now, on to my son’s closet. His is not a walk-in, but it stretches along one of the walls of his room and has sliding doors. He originally had one bar that spanned the length of the closet, and a single shelf sitting above the bar. I put together a shelf unit for him by starting with a tall unit of shelves and installing one deep drawer in the middle and a basket on the bottom for his shoes. I placed the unit about 18” from the left side of the closet, where I installed a bar for hanging clothes. To the right side I installed two long bars, hanging his pants on the bottom bar and his shirts on the top. I also put a shelf above the top bar for extra storage. It is incredible how much more space you can get with just a little redesign!

Finally, onto the master closet. This was my real challenge: it is a nice-sized walk-in closet, but prior to the redesign you would have never known it. It had one bar along the left side, one along the right, and one along the back wall. At the two back corners the bars overlapped, creating about 12” of completely useless space in either corner. There were also three shelves above each of the bars, but over time, these shelves began to slant a bit downward from the weight of everything stored on them. I had multiple sweatshirts and t-shirts on these shelves, but it got to the point where every time my husband or I would grab a sweatshirt, there would be an avalanche. I also had to store many things on the floor of the closet, because I had nowhere else to put them. You can imagine the frustration.

I used white shelving in my kids’ closets, but the floor of the master closet is hardwood so I felt using cherry would lend a little more elegance. The first thing I knew I would need to do was make use out of the wasted space in the two corners. I bought the cherry version of the corner unit I used in my daughter’s closet, and stacked two units in each corner…making one 6-shelf unit for my husband in the left corner, and one 6-shelf unit for me in the right corner. Since I had created an avalanche-free space to store sweatshirts, I replaced the old bars and shelves with two bars on each wall, doubling the hanging space. No more trying to squeeze everything together! I put a shoe rack on the back of the door, and even found room to install hardware to hold my ironing board and iron. I know this probably sounds crazy, but I love to iron and typically do my ironing in my room while watching television – so finding room to store my iron and board in the closet was ideal for me. No longer does anything fall from above, and now everything is up off the floor. My closet is now truly a “walk-in.”

After this, I now consider myself a closet-organizing expert! Do you have any similar success stories to share, or questions about how I took on the challenge? Shoot me an email- I’d love to hear from you!

Valente's Italian Deli

I have lived in Wall for about 12 years, and one of my go-to places is Valente’s Italian deli on Belmar Blvd. This family-owned deli has a great selection: besides the great sandwiches (both hot and cold subs), they offer many delicious homemade specialties including soups, chicken cutlets, meatballs, cold salads, usually a pasta dish and a chicken dish (these are house specials and they change daily), and even pizza. In the winter they also have some great comfort foods like homemade chicken pot pie and chicken and rice soup. Valente’s also has a wide selection of desserts – pies for the holiday season, Italian cookies, and my personal favorite, homemade cannolis.

In the very back of the deli there is a butcher shop featuring fresh hamburgers, steaks, chicken cutlets, chicken kabobs and hot or sweet sausage. When you order hamburgers, they use freshly ground meat and make the patties on the spot – it doesn’t get any fresher! They also have prepared foods to bring home – heat it up, and dinner is served right in your dining room.

We have also used them to cater parties at my home. For starters, he made us a large antipasto tray with mozzarella cheese, olives and Italian meats. For dinner we ordered trays of sausage and peppers, penne with vodka sauce, chicken fingers for the kids, even barbecue ribs made with gluten free barbecue sauce – and all of the meals were delicious. The staff are also very easy to work with – if you tell then what you need for your party, they will make every effort to accommodate your needs, including delivery on all catering.
To sum it up, if you are in the area and you are looking for a great sandwich, steaks to bring home and grill, or just a loaf of his fresh Italian bread, Valente’s is highly recommended.