Mac Attack Gourmet Cheesery descends on Red Bank and gives an old favorite the diva treatment
By Marisa Procopio • Photo by Eric Taylor
There’s nothing unusual about a restaurant owner being too busy to give an interview—say at lunchtime and dinnertime. When it’s 3:48 p.m. on a Thursday, and that’s when they’re too busy, it’s a heads-up they’re doing something right.
Sure enough, Mac Attack opened its Red Bank restaurant on Memorial Day weekend, and is now serving some 300 customers every weekend. Patrons weaned on Kraft’s blue-box horror have been getting a succinct education on what homemade macaroni and cheese tastes like ever since.
“This gives a twist on something everyone knows. It’s simple, relatable food that’s made really well,” said John Castiglione, co-owner with brothers Abe Elkomey (chef) and Hasan Elkomey (social media/marketing director).
Among other small wonders here are Mac & Cheese Rolls (mac and cheese tucked inside a spring roll, served with housemade paprika aioli) and Mozz Sticks with fresh mozzarella (which means ludicrous stretchiness, as evidenced by one giggling teen as he bit and pulled and stretched as far as his arm would go before separating it with his other hand), and both small and large sizes cater to all appetites.
Elkomey, thin as an exclamation point and as enthusiastic, demonstrates a light hand with ingredients and a talent for balance which belies his years. When asked for go-to ingredients in his dishes, his smile gets wider. “Well, I’m classically trained,” he said (read: French-trained; also read: butter is key).
Granted, butter adds richness; but those expecting a typical orange homogenous heap will be happy not to find one. The noodles are barely al dente, enough to hold their own and not get lost. The Lobster Mac, ubiquitous on menus these days, here is made with Manchego (an aged sheep’s milk cheese), Parmesan, and tarragon, and topped with delicate panko bread crumbs. (All mac and cheese dishes sport a panko topping but one: the popular Southwest Mac, topped with crumbled homemade cornbread.) Manchego turns up frequently on the menu and stands out in the triangular Manchego Sticks, so fragile that they almost shatter on the tongue into salty, rich loveliness.
The grilled cheese sandwiches are a treat, too, especially with Elkomey’s aioli; and patron Cassie Dominach warmly describes the Show Stopper—a burger between two grilled cheese sandwiches—as a “cheeseburger on crack.”
“We started with no money in our bank accounts,” laughed Castiglione. Going way out on a limb here, it looks like this team will be fine. •
Mac Attack Cheesery
20 Broad St., Red Bank
732.741.6700 / macattackcheesery.com