If there was a campsite attached to the Joe Leone’s kitchen, I would bring my bed (and my cats) and move there. There are truly no words to describe the quality and the taste of these Italian specialty dishes. I just discovered this place about two years ago. Natalie, again, has been eating there her whole life. From sandwiches, to salads, to prepared hot and cold foods, everything is just exquisite. I started a hashtag on Instagram #webikeforleones because I literally would bike those 6 miles round trip every single day if I could to eat that food. Our favorite sandwich is a variation of eggplant with fresh mozzarella (THAT MELTS IN YOUR MOUTH AND IGNITES YOUR TASTE BUDS IN SUCH A WAY THAT YOU COULD ALMOST DROP TO THE FLOOR AND NOT DO ANYTHING FOR THE REST OF THE DAY BECAUSE YOU’RE THAT FULFILLED), roasted red peppers, mayo and balsamic glaze. Sometimes, we get it with sliced chicken breast, sometimes with extra veggies, and once one of our friends got it with pesto. The 8 oz sandwich is plenty for two people and it is only about $8 (no matter what you put on it) AND it comes with a bag of chips! The salads are also reasonably priced. They range from $5-$8, come with a plethora of fresh ingredients, and can also feed a small army. You just keep eating from it and it doesn’t end! The prepared salads and other weighed items can get a little pricey, but if you sample small amounts of each, you can eat for about $10-$20 with a buddy. Some more of our favorites include: chicken salad, buffalo chicken salad, tomato petals, meatballs, macaroni salad, macaroni and cheese (duh), chicken meatballs, THEIR PREPARED SALAD OF THE DAY…etc… When I use the word “quality”, I am not only referring to the food! Everything from the presentation, to the cleanliness, to the attentiveness of the staff, and even the plastic containers that the food comes in (that we wash and reuse) are all top notch! Walking into both the Gastronomia in Sea Girt and the main location in Point Pleasant Beach give off the vibe that it’s Christmas time in Vermont all year round! The atmosphere is so warm and fun. Sometimes, they even have samples! I look forward to company coming over so we can show them this fantastic place that they (like me) have been missing out on their whole lives.
Update 1/13/17: LAST MONTH WE MET JOE LEONE! I feel like he’s such a celebrity and this was like on my bucket list, the way Hollywood obsessed fanatics idolize movie stars! We attended the Regions of Italy restaurant week event (I wrote a blog post about that) in which Joe Leone supplied the food for. After a couple of glasses of wine, I built up the confidence to introduce myself and the other half of the GGs. He was so down to Earth and just such a genuinely nice man.