Gift Certificates Available Reservations Six People or More
RISTORANTE Authentic Italian Cuisine Olives Established in 1994
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La Cashina - Holmdel Patch's Pick of the Week

By KARIN SWAN

Each week, Holmdel Patch picks a great restaurant around town that is worth checking out. Here's this week's choice.

Aren't we taught to never judge a book by its cover? Lesson learned again with La Cashina Ristorante. I never would have just stopped in based on this restaurant's unassuming location on Route 34. It is tucked next to a landscape equipment rental place. A neighbor insisted I try it, and since then I have returned many times.

La Cashina's sunny dining room, with its wood-paneled walls and cloth-draped tables creates a comfortable backdrop to a truly memorable, reasonably-priced meal. It gets its name from the Italian term for little country house, "La Cascina."

The service is impeccable. It is no surprise that I run into dozens of people from my food-loving community of Holmdel every time I dine there. In fact, I've since learned the restaurant owners, Frank Chilelli and his son Domenick, also live in Holmdel.

The menu includes traditional pasta dishes like Rigatoni Bolognese, Penne Putanesca, and Penne alla Vodka prepared to perfection. So what, you say? You've had Penne alla Vodka before. Yes, every Italian restaurant serves that…but not like this. The Penne alla Vodka is served al dente with a complex sauce that has you marveling at the combination of flavors.

Even my highly skilled friends who cook admit they can't duplicate this at home. The diced plum tomato, sautéed onions, cream, and spices play off each other creating the perfect forkful every time.

This same culinary excellence applies to my other favorite, Chicken Fiorentino, which is chicken breast over spinach with melted mozzarella, served in shallots, white wine and lemon sauce. On our last visit, my husband ordered the Veal Cashina which is breaded and fried with tomato, eggplant, and mozzarella, served in a light lemon sauce with wine and shallots. He loved it.

The newly updated website has a wonderful gallery displaying photos of the artfully created menu choices. There is a full array of seafood options as well, making this a great Friday night destination. If there are finicky eaters in your party, La Cashina serves the best 'real' chicken tenders and fries…ever. No wonder this place is a neighborhood favorite since 1994.