By John Burton
FAIR HAVEN – Food should be fun. That’s what the owners of the recently opened Cravin Haven are aiming to ensure.
“It’s about guilty pleasures,” said Matt Jones, co-owner of the new eatery, which opened Jan. 6 and held it’s grand opening on Saturday, Jan. 18, at 560 River Road in the Acme Shopping Center.
One look at the menu shows Cravin Haven is offering its version of comfort food. Among the selections are different types of french fries with topping options including chili, cheese, bacon, gravy, wing sauce and blue cheese. There are wings that range in hotness from no problem to loco and others flavored as PB&J and Hawaiian Hot Chocolate.
The sandwiches come in the large to the very large size on 8-, 16- and 24-inch rolls and bear names like The Soprano, a breaded chicken breast loaded with mozzarella sticks, beer battered union rings, then topped with melted mozzarella cheese and marinara sauce; and the NJ vs. PA, which is a cheese steak topped with pork roll, fried eggs, beer-battered onion rings, mozzarella sticks, then topped with gravy and the customer’s choice of cheese. Diners can also build their own Cravin Fave sandwich, with such ingredients as burgers and pulled pork with toppings to suit their individual tastes.
Jones said his favorite is the Jersey Eye Opener, a concoction that will have the cardiologist and Weight Watchers consultant cry uncle. It’s stacked with bacon, pork roll, fried eggs, thick-cut fries, beer-battered onion rings and then topped with a choice of melted cheese.
The restaurant is intended to be a place where kids and their families, or kids with their friends or teammates, can come for a casual, quick, and – especially – fun bite of some favorite foods while being a little bit different than standard fare, said Michael Mazzucca, another of the three co-owners.
Mazzucca, his brother Anthony, who is also the restaurant’s chef, and Jones, who all live in the borough and were raised in Rumson, have been playing with the idea of opening a restaurant for some time, Michael Mazzucca said.
After having dismissed a number of ideas about the type of eatery it should be, they gave serious weight to a “grease truck” – fast food on wheels that were made famous at Rutgers University. “We ran with that,” and it eventually evolved into Cravin Haven, Michael Mazzucca said.
“The idea was to be a fun concept for everybody,” one that had “an atmosphere that is a little loose” and a creative menu that was “whimsical,” Jones added.
Having a wide variety of items was important to Anthony Mazzucca. He previously was a chef at Val’s Tavern on River Road in Rumson. But, probably more important, was his experience as a father of six children.
“You have to be creative when you’re trying to figure out what to feed six kids,” he noted.
Cravin Haven is open daily from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. for dining in or takeout.