By Judy O’Gorman Alvarez
RED BANK – Summer dining in Red Bank means fresh and bountiful produce and maybe even alfresco dining.
“What we most look forward to is using fresh local ingredients,” Phillips said. “The lively flavors from our earth’s bounty. And incorporating fresh fruits in unexpected ways.”
Using fresh, local ingredients is a hallmark of Via45, which just celebrated its fifth anniversary.
“We use local growers, like Dearborn, and tap into what they have available,” she said. Treats such as dandelion – with the flowers – Israeli cucumber, which is sweet, and red leaf lettuce, are popular now. The seasoned chefs know what is in-season and their rapport with vendors guarantees tasty table offerings.
“When it’s local and it’s available, it’s great,” said Herring, who eagerly looks forward to peaches and strawberries coming into season soon. “Sometimes you have to source it out” when local produce is not available. “But for us, this is the best time.”
Fresh corn – in season now – is welcomed by chefs and diners alike.
“Sweet corn,” Herring said, “it’s like eating candy.”
Via45 offers it warm or hot, seasoned with chili lime or paprika and made on the grill.
“We really love playing with all the flavors,” Phillips said.
“It’s really simple ingredients, simple food,” Herring said. “You
don’t have to mix in a lot of things. If you like arugula and you like blueberries,” the result is an arugula and blueberries salad.
“It’s simple and it’s fresh.”
In summer, Phillips and Herring can take full advantage of the various farmers’ markets in the area. They enjoy shopping excursions to chat with the local growers, sample the wares and fill the Via45 kitchen with the freshest produce.
“You can smell it – the earth, the produce,” Herring said. Like farm to table, “it’s from earth to table. Fresh food available for everyone.”
“In today’s world everything is so big,” Herring said, including “food in great quantities. It doesn’t have to be like that.”
She favors the idea to “go back to the basics,” she said. “And summer is the perfect time.”
Many of Via45’s dishes are prepared on a large grill, used year round, but even more so in summer. “In summer, you want to eat food that’s a little lighter,” said Phillips.
The grilled branzino is a popular dish that they prepare and can be served whole or butterflied.
***ITALVia45, 45 Broad St., Red Bank, is open for dinner Tuesday through Sunday.***END
WHOLE GRILLED BRANZINO
1 1/2- 2-pound bone-in, cleaned branzino
cafe ground pepper
fresh rosemary, thyme, parsley, basil
fresh tomato (plum, vine-riped, cherry)
extra virgin olive oil
Prepare grill high.
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Fill cavity with:
sprinkled salt and pepper
1/2 sprig rosemary
1 sprig thyme
1 leaf basil
pinch of parsley
Season skin with salt and pepper. Drizzle oil inside and out.
Place fish on grill turning to create “X” marks on skin (both sides).
Transfer to a baking dish.
Place in oven for approximately 19 minutes (or close grill cover moving pan away from direct flame).
To serve: lift fish with spatula, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and fresh squeeze lemon.
Kitchen Insider will be a regular feature in Vibe.