Fare: Traditional Italian - American
Food Quality: Inconsistent execution, scarce use of high-quality ingredients, though menu has a few well-executed dishes prepared with healthy wild caught seafood and organic free range whole chicken.
Service: Friendly and welcoming, though inconsistent. "Old World" faux professional with the wait staff dressed in tuxedos, and with a limited knowledge of the menu.
Ambiance/Decor: Cozy, inviting atmosphere. "Old World" dated attractive with softly lit background lighting, exposed brick walls, Tables set with white linen. The soft background music is from a past era,
Overall Rating: 2 Stars
Note: Four star Rating System from 1/2 Star = Poor to Four stars = Best in Class
Noise Level: Moderate - High (Friday evenings)
Recommended For: Old world diners who enjoy traditional Italian BYOB with "Old World" ambiance.
Not Recommended For: Diners who prefer trendy ambiance with creative, healthy dishes using locally sourced seafood and fresh farm-to-table ingredients
Recommended dishes: When available, The Berkshire Pork Osso Bucco; The Wild Alaskan Salmon: The Rack of Lamb.
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 the few "Old School" family run Italian restaurants in the Freehold area that have managed to survive the influx of new trendy restaurants, with creative, well-executed menus.
While it still maintains many of the characteristics of an "Old World" fine dining restaurant (such as tuxedo clad waiters, pseudo-Roman white columns, table linens, etc.), as a result 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 the use of meats without anti-biotics and growth hormones.
The decor is "Old World" dated 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. Tables set with white linen. 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 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.
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 served cold.
The menu consists of primarily of a large variety of traditional Italian dishes prepared with the use of "supermarket quality ingredients," though several dishes have been upgraded and introduced recently to satisfy the palettes of diners who prefer healthy, sustainable products such as wild Alaskan salmon and organic free range whole chicken. Some of the produce is supplemented from their own, small seasonal organic garden'
However, for the most part, the menu lacks creativity, and consistency. For an Italian restaurant that strives to stay on top of the pack of other local, Western Monmouth County Italian restaurants, there is a scarcity of fresh, homemade pastas on the menu.
Service, friendly and welcoming, tends to be inconsistent and "Old World" faux professional with the wait staff dressed in tuxedos, and with a limited knowledge of the menu.
In the summer months you can choose to dine in their outside Garden Café.
There is limited onsite parking supplemented by nearby public parking lots.
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 August 2021)
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