Every neighborhood has one of those places – a homey little spot that turns out delicious and dependable food, the kind of place you visit pretty often, especially when you don’t feel like cooking or maybe a quick pop-in for lunch. Jeans and sweatshirts are just fine, and the food is always good. Are you thinking of your neighborhood spot right now? (Please share it with me if you are. I love to know about those kinds of places.)
We were enjoying some of the sights along Route 537 and Route 34 when hunger took over and we pulled into one of those spots – Prima Pizza – and it was just what we heard it was: delicious homemade food and friendly service.
Prima has been in the neighborhood for a long time, but it’s under new ownership and worth a look. They have done a full upgrade of the dining area, complete with an open kitchen where you can see the masters at work. There is an expanded outdoor, all-season dining space complete with four TVs and soft lighting. You can reserve this space for parties of up to 40 and bring in your own liquor and bartender, entertainment and flowers. Indoors or out, you’ll be right at home except you don’t have to do the dishes.
We began with three appetizers, any of which you will surely enjoy. The Mozzarella Sticks are homemade and done really well. The Fried Shrimp were equally tasty. The chef has a well-seasoned breading that clings beautifully without being overly thick or greasy. We also ordered some Meatballs, which is an important yardstick for me, and these passed the test. They are two big, juicy meatballs with a homemade taste that is beef forward. They are swimming in a well-balanced marinara sauce. It’s a great side dish or appetizer. We split a Caesar salad before settling down for our entrées.
Diner one had Chicken Marsala served over penne. She was satisfied especially with the two large chicken breasts that were pounded thin and still juicy. She also really liked the freshly prepared mushrooms which were firm and flavorful.
Diner two had a traditional favorite, the Fettucine Alfredo. How can you not enjoy an alfredo, especially when it is thick enough to coat the pasta without being so rich to put you to sleep? He said the sauce hit that mark and that it was a cozy companion on a chilly, windy night.
Diner three chose a Personal 10-inch Pizza made with vodka sauce. It looked so good I grabbed a slice, and I was glad I did. The vodka sauce and its gooey cheese topping gave the pie a light, almost sweet taste. Thin crust fans will love this one as it’s so crunchy it borders on the edge of crackers. Primo has a big pizza menu, including a full gourmet pizza section with offerings like an eggplant parm pie, a clam pie, and chicken pies in your choice of parmesan, marsala, buffalo, barbecue, vodka and francese, and that’s just a few.
I had a wonderful Shrimp Francese served over pasta. The lightly breaded and sautéed shrimp combined with that buttery lemon white wine sauce was light and filling at the same time.
Another fun to look at item are their Garlic Knot Sandwiches. Picture a garlic knot about seven or eight inches wide, split down the middle and stuffed with all kinds of parmigiana goodies. It looked delicious!
For dessert, we had a Nutella Pizza which comes in two sizes, 10 and 16 inches, the smaller of which we chose. This cleverly prepared dish looks so much like a savory pizza it took my eyes several bites to catch up with my taste buds. It starts with that crunchy pizza crust with a thick coating of creamy Nutella sprinkled with crumbled cannoli shells and dotted with cannoli cream that mimics the look of mozzarella. We enjoyed this dish, along with our Nutella memories, swapping stories as we savored each bite. Other desserts include Tartufo, Cannoli and Zeppoli, which I’m looking forward to trying.
Prima Pizza has a large catering menu, and from time to time, they also host special events and classes, such as the recently held mozzarella-making workshop.
This is not formal fine dining. This is just what we said in the beginning – that great neighborhood place for dependable, delicious, homemade food for the whole family. Enjoy!
Cost – Low
What we liked – The fresh ingredients, the friendly staff, the easy attitude, the party room and the newly refreshed interior
We give it 9 out of 10 Js
Prima Pizza is located at 943 Route 34 at the Route 4 split in Colts Neck. 732-943-5315. It is open for lunch and dinner Monday through Thursday 11 am to 9 pm, Friday and Saturday 11 am to 10 pm and Sunday noon to 8 pm. It is BYOB. PrimaPizzaNJ.com.