for this Holmdel eatery, Italian favorites are a “blessed tradition”
by Jessica Jones-Gorman • Photos BY Amessé Photography
When Frank Brusco ventured into the restaurant business last year, he had a particular vision for the dining experience he wanted to deliver to Monmouth County residents.
“I love Italian food,” Brusco said, describing a youth in which the family meal held great significance. “We cooked and jarred tomato sauce every August, made our own wine, and had a yard full of tomato plants, string beans, squash, zucchini flowers, and figs. Every single night there was a home cooked dinner on our table. And that’s the tone I wanted to bring to Patricia’s.”
Not to be confused with Patrizia’s of Red Bank (the two restaurants have similar names but no connection) Patricia’s features a menu full of traditional Italian favorites like Pappardelle Bolognese, Fioretti Boscaiola, and Linguine alla Vongole. Recipes from Brusco’s mother, who was born and raised in Italy, are also prominent in the kitchen.
“This is the food I grew up with,” Brusco said. “My parents both grew up in the Italian region of Calabria and took great pride in the types of food they cooked. Theirs are recipes you cannot find anywhere else.”
Take, for instance, homemade squid-ink linguine with baby cockle clams, shrimp, olives, and capers, or a Seafood Tower built with homemade focaccia bread, wood-fired baby pulpo, clams, mussels, and Italian long hot peppers, served over oreganata-style mussels, clams, shrimp, and lobster with oysters Rockefeller and grilled shrimp.
“They’re all delicious dishes crafted from only the freshest ingredients,” Brusco said.
Originally a 5,000-square-foot pizzeria nestled in a corner of Holmdel Commons off Route 35, Brusco transformed the space in one of the area’s nicest shopping centers to accommodate his vision.
“I’m a salesman by trade; I work in the commercial printing business and part of my job requires me to be out with clients all day long, eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner in a variety of restaurants,” Brusco said. “And since I spend so much of my time in restaurants for business purposes, I know exactly what I like and dislike, so I put all of those ideas together when I designed this space.”
That’s why Brusco added a black soundproof ceiling to reduce noise and designed the dining room with black crystal chandeliers and crisp white tablecloths. “I wanted the entire restaurant to be upscale,” he said.
Brusco also added a 16-foot, 900°F brick oven and cherrywood tables and chairs, and splashed the walls in a warm and inviting burgundy shade. Then he hired Chef Lenny DiMaria to craft the simple, old-school Italian menu he had long envisioned.
“Our chef is from Sicily, so the menu definitely has a southern Italian touch,” Brusco said. “We have some great signature dishes, like Pappardelle Bolognese, a real crowd-pleaser; Chicken Scarpariello, that our customers just love to death, and an octopus dish that everyone says is worth the drive.”
The restaurant also features 12 different types of gourmet pizza cooked in that 900°F wood-burning oven, plus fresh fish, meat, chicken, and pasta entrees and a selection of specials that rotates daily. Nonna’s Sunday sauce—filled with homemade braciole, Italian sausage, veal, beef, and pork meatballs and simmered in San Marzano tomatoes—is served every Sunday.
“The response from the community has been phenomenal,” Brusco said of Patricia’s first year in business. “We have customers who travel from all over New Jersey and even some regulars from New York. We’re packed every single night, and I truly believe it’s because we’ve answered a demand in this area for delicious, authentic Italian food.”
Patricia’s of Holmdel, which embraces a bring-your-own bottle policy, features a range of desserts, including Nutella pizza, tartufo, flourless chocolate cake, zeppole, and authentic affogato—a mix of vanilla and hazelnut gelato served “bicchiere” with stiffened cream and drenched with a shot of
Italian roasted espresso.
“This has been a truly phenomenal experience,” Brusco added of the past year, which he defined as his crazy but thrilling introduction to the restaurant business. “I’ve always been passionate about good food, and to be able to bring these dishes and this ambience to the residents of New Jersey has been a dream come true.”
Patricia’s of Holmdel
2132 Route 35, Holmdel / 732.275.0234