ADDRESS: 45 Broad Street, Red Bank, NJ 07701
The Christmas holiday gave me the opportunity to fly back home to NJ and spend a few days with my parents. On my previous visits back home, they had frequently talked about an Italian restaurant in Red Bank called Via45 that they wanted to take me to. The timing previously hadn’t worked out, but this past holiday visit, everything seemed to line up. My parents had booked a reservation for the day after Christmas, so we showed up promptly when it was time for our 6:00 p.m. timeslot.
One notable thing about Via45 is the fact that their dinner menu changes every evening of service, usually Wednesdays to Sundays. That being said, it makes it a high likelihood that no two meals you’ll have at the restaurant are going to be the same, and provides a compelling reason to keep going back. That night that we stopped in, it looked like both of the chefs and owners of the restaurant, Claudette and Lauren, were there to run the dinner service.
I will say that the interior decorating of the dining area was done with a lot of thought, really making you feel like you were being welcomed into someone’s home. Art and photos hung up on the walls, along with some parts of the dining area containing bookshelves and china cabinets.
Even though the restaurant had a rotating menu, it sounded like they also kept some diner favorites on there as recurring items, including my dad’s favorite: the calamari. To help complement us ordering some fried food, we opted to balance it out with one of their salad dishes as well, which was tossed with beets, oranges, red onions, and goat cheese, finished with a red wine vinaigrette. For the main entrée, I’m normally not a fish guy, but there was something about that Highland Blue salmon dish that was really calling my name.
When we had first arrived, it looked like the place was going to be pretty quiet for the evening. But I guess that everyone else was looking to eat later, because by the time that we left, the entire place was practically full. One aspect of the experience that did stand out to me was the level of service and how hospitable the entire staff was. Our waitress, Donna, remembered my parents from some of their previous visits to the restaurant, and talking with both the hostess, Dawn, and one of the owners, Claudette, was really pleasant as well.
First up were the two appetizers of the artisanal salad and the calamari. There was a reason that my parents said they order the calamari every time they go to eat there, and now I know why. Each piece was lightly battered, but still managed to be really crispy. There are some places where you might get calamari that is more batter than squid, or the batter falls off way too easily. Not in this instance though. I probably could have just eaten the whole thing by myself, but remembered that my parents were probably also looking to have some as well.
The artisanal salad, with its blend of sweet and tangy flavors, was also an interesting starter to open up the palate. The acidity from the combination of oranges, red onions, and red wine vinaigrette really made your mouth pucker a little bit, but the goat cheese paired nicely to add some creaminess to each bite of the salad.
We were on the tail end of wrapping up the salad when our entrées arrived. My salmon steak definitely had the look to it, with the cross-hatch char marks from the grill right on top. It was served on a bed of sautéed vegetable medley, which included red cabbage, onions, zucchini, and squash. You could definitely get that grilled flavor from the bites of the salmon, which was still pretty moist throughout the entire steak. I might have gotten one small bone in one of my bites, but my mom unfortunately got a branzino fillet that seemed to be riddled with bones. Flavor-wise though, it seemed like both fish hit the mark.
It’s easy to see why my parents have been really high on this restaurant for quite some time now. The rotating dinner menu keeps things interesting, with new dishes to try on subsequent visits. But the quality of the food also tastes really fresh as well, with everything in the kitchen made from scratch. The welcoming dining ambiance as well as the hospitable staff working there really do make Via45 a restaurant that I’d be happy to return to in the future to see what they have cooking up.
Let’s now take a look at the Via45 Dish Spotlight. Asterisks (*) below mark my recommended dishes.
And finally, here are my rankings for Via45:
Food: 4.5 / 5
The ingredients used in the various dishes tasted really fresh and the rotating menu for dinner service helps to provide a good amount of variety for return visits. That dish of calamari certainly lived up to the hype. The only thing that detracted from this experience, however, was the large number of bones my mom had to pick through when eating the branzino. It totaled up to over 15 bones in the end; I felt like she had to be more aware of not eating a bone than being able to enjoy the food.
Atmosphere: 4.75 / 5
The décor of the dining area really does a nice job to establish a welcoming ambiance, almost as if you’re sitting in the dining room of someone’s house. It’s a really relaxed atmosphere, and the table layout was nicely arranged that you didn’t have too much overlap between different tables.
Service: 5 / 5
The interactions that we had with members of the restaurant staff, from the hostess to our waitress to the owner, were all very hospitable, making you feel right at home. Our waitress recognized my parents from their previous visits, and even started asking them about some things they talked about during the last time they had dined in.
Price: 4.25 / 5
You have to take into account paying for the overall dining experience, from the ambiance to the staff’s hospitality to the quality of the food. I thought everything was pretty exceptional, but even then I felt the price points on some of the food leaned on the higher side. The $32 for my plate of Highland Blue salmon was something I thought should have gone for maybe $25 – $27 instead.