Fare: Traditional Italian - American
Price: Moderate - Expensive
Food Quality: 1 1/2 Stars
Service: 2 Stars
Decor: 2 Stars
Overall Rating: 1 1/2 Stars
Note: Four star Rating System from 1/2 Star = Poor to Four stars = Best in Class
Charming and intimate "Old World" ambiance and service.
Menu lacks a commitment to fresh farm-to-table ingredients and wild caught seafood. Preparation is heavy on packaged, canned, and frozen ingredients
Noise Level: Moderate - High (Friday evenings)
Recommended For: Old world diners who enjoy traditional Italian food.
Not Recommended For: Diners who enjoy creative, dishes using wild caught , fresh seafood and locally sourced fresh farm-to-table ingredients
Recommended dishes: When available, Pork Osso Bucco; Ocean Garden Shrimp, and the Breast of Chicken, Prosciutto and Mozzarella.
La Cipollina Ristorante is a long time Freehold Italian restaurant, popular with devoted patrons who come to enjoy "Old World" style dining and amenities.
One of the first fine dining Italian restaurants in Freehold, established by founder, co-owner, and Executive chef Anthony Braica, La Cipollina is currently one of many mediocre, family run Italian restaurants in the Freehold area.
While it still has many of the qualities of a fine dining restaurant ( such as tuxedo clad waiters, pseudo Roman white columns, table linens, etc. ), in recent years they have fallen behind restaurant industry trends such as the movement towards casual, industrial chic ambiance, commitment to fresh farm to table ingredients, and wild caught, fresh seafood, etc.
The decor is attractive with softly lit background lighting, exposed brick walls, and a walled mirror at the rear of the main dining area providing a cozy, inviting atmosphere. The soft background music is from a past era, mainly Frank Sinatra, Louie Prima, Dean Martin, etc.
The dining patrons tend to be older, typically in their sixties and seventies, with many of them being loyal repeat customers.
The beginning of your dining experience starts off in a very elegant manner with a cordial greeting by tuxedo clad servers serving excellent bread (though often times served cold) along with an accompaniment of roasted garlic, black olives and a virgin olive oil for dipping.
However, from there the dining experience drops off with a tired, limited menu of uninspiring, traditional American and Italian dishes.
The menu lacks creativity and inspiration. For an Italian restaurant, there is a scarcity of fresh, home made pastas on the menu.
The kitchen is run by Chef Matthew Higgins who started out as an 8 year old in the shadow of Anthony Braica at the bottom of the totem pole working as a busboy, dishwasher, back waiter, captain waiter, line cook, ultimately chef, and now a co-owner with his mentor Anthony Braica.
In the summer months you can choose to dine in their outside Garden Café.
On site (limited) parking with valet service on weekends.
Live entertainment is provided every Friday evening.
Eat in cooking classes are offered at frequent intervals and have shown to be very popular
La Cipollina also has banquet facilities that can accommodate private functions of up to 65 in the front dining room and 100 in either the back room or the patio in the warmer summer months.
(updated December, 2016)
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