Restaurant Now Closed.
33 First Avenue
Atlantic Highlands, Monmouth County, New Jersey
The Artful Diner
Special to NJ.Com
June 26, 2006
In Atlantic Highlands, which is fast becoming quite the restaurant
town -- Copper Canyon, Gianna's, Indigo Moon, Memphis Pig Out -- BoBo's 33
is still causing quite a stir. Proprietor James Barry, Jr., perhaps in a moment
of whimsy, named his nine-month-old establishment after the late family dog.
But don't be fooled; the only thing whimsical about this eatery is the name.
A granite-topped bar is at the epicenter of the interior décor, surrounded
by rustic brick walls, rich mahogany woodwork, slate & wood floor, and
miniature modern light fixtures suspended from the black ceiling. Two huge
arched windows at the front and side add a light and airy touch to the scene.
All very New York. And very chic. But it only takes one taste of the
superlative cuisine to convince you that BoBo's 33 is infinitely more
than just another trendy restaurant.
Chef Brad Rust, a CIA grad and alumnus of the Molly Pitcher Inn and
Wilmington's excellent Restaurant 821, artfully infuses traditional
Armenian/Mediterranean fare with a decidedly creative regional flair. His
culinary creations are as pleasing to the eye as they are to the palate, as
many of his presentations are reminiscent of the bento style, a form of
Japanese take-out in which a box is divided into numerous small compartments.
And from the moment the bread hits the table, the chef's innovative energy becomes
palpable. It is beautifully presented in a rectangular triptych: The left and
right precincts contain arrangements of scrumptious grilled pita and sourdough;
the center is adorned with herbed olive oil for dipping and topped with
crisscrossed breadsticks that resemble chopsticks.
Appetizers include such illustrious representatives of Mediterranean
classics as hummus ($7.00) and tabouleh ($9.00). The former -- a thick puréed
amalgam of chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic -- receives a
heady dose of basil and is surrounded by an armada of grilled pita triangles.
The latter -- bulgur wheat infused with finely chopped scallions, tomatoes,
mint, and parsley -- is formed into a square and encircled by five leaves of
endive and topping of basil leaves. Both are outstanding.
Salads also make excellent starters. And the star of the show is the pulled
chicken salad ($10.00), which comes replete with pulled spiced (quite mild,
actually) chicken, chopped romaine, tomato, cucumber, and incredibly addictive
fried chickpeas. These ingredients are then placed in a crisp Parmesan tuile
bowl and tossed with a fabulously creamy Parmesan-horseradish dressing. Salad
33 ($8.00), BoBo's contemporary take on traditional Greek greenery, is
also quite good. Finely chopped iceberg is imbued with meaty black olives,
chunks of feta, and tossed with a zippy herb vinaigrette.
Just one additional note. Whether settled in at the bar enjoying a
preprandial libation or as an appetizer at table, the assorted Mediterranean
olives ($6.00) make a marvelous adjunct to your meal. They are absolutely fresh
and are attractively presented surrounded by artistic squiggles of aged
balsamic and topped with a sprig of basil.
Entrées -- whether meat, fish, fowl, or vegetarian -- strike a number of
intriguing notes. And, in keeping with the Mediterranean/Armenian theme, kebabs
are prominent: The chicken kebab ($22.00) features chunks of tender cumin- and
coriander-marinated chicken breast interspersed with red, yellow & green
peppers, red onion, and cherry tomatoes served on a bed of Armenian rice
garnished with mango chutney; and BoBo's kebab ($35.00) headlines
crisscrossed skewers of succulent medallions of swordfish and filet tenderloin
on a pillow of lemon-herb couscous embellished with a heady garlic dipping
sauce. Both portions are more than ample.
Among the piscatorial pleasures, the tilapia ($29.00) is a standout.
Marinated and perfectly grilled, it is set on a creamy seabed of herbed crab
risotto and surrounded by an extraordinarily delectable lemon-basil beurre
blanc. You might also consider the pan-seared red snapper ($22.00)
companioned by broccoli rabe and figs and dressed in a lemon-garlic
vinaigrette, or the whole grilled branzino ($33.00) stuffed with citrus and
herbs and served with sautéed spinach and herbed couscous.
Two other dishes are also worth mentioning. The first is the
"Monti" ($18.00), diminutive ground lamb balls seasoned with onion
& parsley and seductively sequestered in spiraled baked wontons. The bento-style
pervades here: The two side compartments contain the lamb; the center, an
irresistible slaw of julienne of carrots, zucchini, and yellow squash. And
vegetarians would do well to sample the mixed grille ($18.00), artistically
arranged segments of grilled eggplant, zucchini, and yellow squash in concert
with orzo pasta and balsamic reduction.
Desserts are all worth considering. Bento holds sway once again in a
presentation of chili-chocolate bread pudding, fresh peaches, and vanilla ice
cream ($7.50); the chocolate dipped cheesecake garnished with chocolate sauce
($7.50) is a decadently creamy delight; and the fresh fruit cup ($8.00) is
simply marvelous. For starters, all the fruit is at the peak of ripeness.
Midori-marinated cantaloupe and honeydew melon balls, chunks of sweet
pineappple, and blueberries reside in a delicate fried rice paper cup dusted
with cinnamon and sugar; the finishing touch is a lush and luxurious crème
And there are plenty of possibilities to assuage your thirst. A very nice
selection of vintages available by the glass -- Sonoma-Cutrer "Russian
River" Chardonnay ($11.00), Jekel Pinot Noir ($10.00), Pepperwood Grove
Syrah ($8.00), Smoking Loon Cabernet Sauvignon ($7.00) -- highlights the
first-rate wine list. BoBo's also features an extraordinary array of
fine vodkas, as well as an interesting assortment of foreign and domestic
Trendy and stylish are the two words that best describe BoBo's 33.
But this is more than just another pretty face. The kitchen delivers the goods,
as does the energetic wait staff. It surely deserves a prominent place on your
future dining agenda.
Hours: Dinner: Mon - Thurs, 5:00 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.; Fri & Sat, 5:00
p.m. - 10:30 p.m.; CLOSED SUNDAY
Credit Cards: All major
Attire: Smart Casual
Reservations: Recommended; especially on weekends
Parking: Ample street parking
Handicapped Accessible: Yes
Web Site: www.bobos33.com