The “fast-restaurant” industry must have caught onto a trend, offering higher quality ingredients with more flavors for those pickier customers (yes, I’m talking about myself). Along with Chipotle, Panera and Smashburger comes Noodles & Company, a Chicago-based chain that has everyone going a little… noodles.
The Mascott Corporation of Hillside opened its first Noodles & Company location in East Brunswick and has debuted its location at the Monmouth Mall in Eatontown. They plan to open 40 more locations throughout Northern and Central New Jersey over the next 10 years, so in the next few years there will likely be one right around the corner from your home!
Noodles & Company brands itself as “Your World Kitchen,” with specific attention given to, you guessed it—noodles. There’s something for everyone, whether you’re in the mood for Italian, Thai, Japanese or classic American dishes. The menu reads like the United Nations of coodles – pesto cavatappi, Bangkok curry, pad Thai, tomato basil bisque, Thai curry soup and, of course, chicken noodle soup. The restaurant even offers gluten-free options, made with rice noodles.
Plenty of Noodles
I had the opportunity to taste some of these flavors from around the world and to be quite honest, I’m a self-proclaimed pasta snob. I absolutely hate mushy, well-done pasta—it’s all about al dente for me. As I’m sure you can relate, it’s hard to find really quality food with flavor, especially at a “fast-restaurant.” But, I went in with an open heart and an empty stomach, and I was pleasantly surprised.
Manager Rafael Ramos led us through the menu while we sampled four of their small bites, two salads, three soups and five noodle dishes. My favorite appetizer was the adobo flatbread with adobo-spiced pork, a sliced red hot pepper, lots of spices and tomatoes. Just a warning, this isn’t for those who can’t take spice. The flatbreads are seasonal so you can enjoy this one until the winter special takes its place. If you have children with you or even an adult who’s young at heart, try out the cheesy garlic bread.
We continued on our world journey to sample the pork Med salad, which was dressed lightly with a spicy yogurt dressing and of course some noodles with the romaine—sounds weird, but tasted delicious. With the salad came soup. My favorite was the Thai curry soup, which includes more than 40 spices, shipped right from Thailand. The flavors were delicious. As the main course, my favorite happened to be their special of the month: Parmesan-encrusted chicken alfredo with spinach, tomatoes and roasted garlic. The pesto cavatappi and the Japanese pan noodles also ranked pretty high on the flavor scale.
If all the different menu items don’t entice you to try it out, maybe the lack of a microwave or freezer will persuade you. Not only does the restaurant not have a freezer or a microwave, but they also receive all of their produce fresh every morning and prepare it twice a day, once for lunch and once for dinner.
“We use the freshest ingredients possible, all the time,” said Rafael Ramos. “Even those Rice-Krispy treats were made just two hours ago.” All of their noodles are cooked fresh right when ordered, just like your sit-down restaurants.
“We’re doing everything that a sit-down restaurant offers, but at half the price,” said Ramos. But, for one lucky winner, we’re going to do even better than half the price. How does FREE sound? One winner will be selected to receive 4 FREE Noodle Bowls to be redeemed at either their Eatontown or New Brunswick locations. You can go Noodle NUTS! How to Enter: Just pop over to the Menu page and come back to tell us in a comment below what Noodle bowl would be your first pick.
Noodles & Company
180 Route 35 South
Melissa Beveridge is a freelance journalist and editor, focusing on great food, healthy living, and wellness. Her passion for eating and living well embodies her writing. A lover of all things Jersey, she is also an avid traveler, always looking to discover those hidden culinary gems everywhere she goes. Her musings can be found on her blog mbeewell.wordpress.com.