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Food Critic’s Club: From Empanadas to Barbecue

Fuze Eatery in Long Branch, courtesy of wordontheshore.com

Fuze Eatery in Long Branch, courtesy of wordontheshore.com

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The Middletown North Foods’ Critic’s Club is continuing their tasting tour of local restaurants. In the past few weeks, the club has ventured to two fairly new Jersey Shore establishments: Fuze Eatery and Local Smoke Barbecue. Today, we’ll share their reviews of the restaurants and see just how the food sat with the North student body.

Fuze Eatery

Located in Long Branch, Fuze Eatery is a small joint described as delightful and friendly by students.  Occupying the area of a once famous lighthouse, Fuze has turned itself into low a maintenance, trendy restaurant. Many were pleased by the modern art donning the walls of the establishment.

Though Fuze had reasonable curb appeal, it lacked proper seating. “We were incredibly crammed,” said club member Mackenzie Kelly. “We sat on what were essentially lawn chairs. It was too grandma-like for a ‘hip’ place.”

What Fuze lacked in seating amenities, it made up for in taste. All sorts of empanadas were sampled by the club, ranging from sweet vegetarian options to spicy beef offerings.

Mike Prefer, who had chicken empanadas, was highly satisfied with his meal. “It is totally worth the trip out there,” the senior remarked. “Nice area, nice atmosphere. I thought the food was incredibly well made and the service was quick.”

“It was really good. (Fuze) had a little trouble seating all of us, but it is good at what it does: giving people low cost, good tasting food and smoothies,” said Omar Mbarki, a senior member of the club.

The aforementioned smoothies were a big hit with those who opted for them.

Katie Marino, a self-proclaimed picky eater and one of FCC’s toughest to please members, was highly satisfied with her smoothie. “It was awesome,” said Marino with a grin. “It was the perfect amount of natural sweetness from the fruit and flavor of yogurt. It was pureed very well, too. It was the perfect texture and went really well with the food.”

When everyone’s grades (on a scale of 1-10) of Fuze eatery were tallied, the average score came in at a solid 7.65. Though lacking in accommodations, Fuze thrives upon its good tasting food and trendy vibe.

 

Local Smoke Barbecue

Shifting gears considerably, the Food Critic’s Club also dined at Local Smoke Barbecue in Red Bank. This award winning southern style joint is known for their pulled pork, signature sauces, and hearty sides.

The atmosphere of Local Smoke left everyone with quite an impression. Jack Kanach, a North senior, admired the rustic feel of the wooden ceiling and giant chalkboard menu in the front of the restaurant. Ariana Pitruzello regaled in the sea-foam green tile backsplash that marvelously accented the blacks and browns of the restaurant.

The club was shocked at how quickly their food was brought out. Considering how long and arduous the art of barbecuing is, the fast and friendly service was a welcome surprise to all involved.

What was not surprising, however, was just how tremendous the food tasted. With all of the awards and hype associated with Local Smoke, one cannot help but have their mouth water at the mere idea of biting into a juicy, delicious sandwich. For Matt LiVolsi, this dream became a sweet, smoky reality.

“The pulled pork sandwich (was) just awesome,” LiVolsi told The Lions’ Roar. “The sauce was so good. I kept pouring more and more on and I just couldn’t stop. The mac and cheese was very solid, too.”

Though meats that ran the gambit from chicken to beef were sampled, the sauce was the one element that brought the entire club together. Everyone sampled the variety of sauces the restaurant availed; which ranged from their original recipe BBQ to a special pulled pork marinade that was, as Kanach put it, to die for.

Even Pitruzello, the club’s resident vegan, was impressed. “All I had was a salad and some fries with the sauces, but it was really good.”

All in all, the universally loved joint garnered an even 8 out of 10 from the group. Heralded for its incredible variety of options and comforting atmosphere, all in the Food Critic’s Club would highly recommend Local Smoke to any looking for a taste of real, American cooking.

 

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Food Critic’s Club: From Empanadas to Barbecue