A Guide to Red Bank, New Jersey, for Jon Stewart

front street

Dear Jon Stewart,

I was totally psyched to learn yesterday that you have bought a house in Red Bank, New Jersey, which is the town next to the town where I grew up-Little Silver, New Jersey. In fact, I went to Red Bank Regional High School, which, confusingly, is located in Little Silver. I don’t get back there so often since my mom moved away and I know the place has changed a lot. (So faaaaaancy, as Tony Soprano’s mom would say.) But as a way of welcoming you to this part of the world, I thought I might offer you some recommendations, sort of an area guide, hot spots to check out, that sort of thing.

1. The Front Street Trattoria, 31 Front Street, Red Bank
Good linguine with pesto. And pizza. The guy who used to run the place, David, gave me very first job there, as a dish washer and bus boy. (Come to think of it, I should maybe give him a call.) David was a great guy. He looked a lot like Slash from Guns n’ Roses. And he was a guitarist, too. But a fusion-jazz guitarist. So in the back kitchen, spraying plates in the twin metal sinks, I got way more familiar with music of Spyro Gyro than anyone should ever have to get. Also, there was an older guy who worked with me-grizzled, half-bearded, must have been pretty down-on-his-luck-who would eat the leftovers off the dishes that came back to us. I tried not to look. And halfway through the summer, the owner, Michael said we couldn’t drink any more Orangina for free, we could only drink the less expensive sodas. So that sucked. But it was a fun place to work. You should go.

2) Danny’s Pizza & Subs, 24 Ayers Lane, Little Silver, right across from the train station.
Good pizza, great subs. Get the “Italian” with proscuittini, capicola, salami, provolone. Get hot peppers on it. I worked there, too, as a delivery guy, once I got my license. On one of my first days, one of the older drivers warned me not to accept offers of sex from any of my delivery customers, though he said he had, of course, and that everybody else did. Because it would probably be a set up, he said. That was weird. We used to eat there three times a day. We went there so often that my friend Ted once said, “All roads lead to Danny’s,” which became a sort of crew motto for us. We thought it was so awesome at the time. Because of the way Ted said it, all mock profound and all. You can use that on The Daily Show if you want. Unless you don’t find it as funny as we did, somehow. Oh, I saw Bruce Springsteen at Danny’s once. (He was walking in, I was walking out. Well, actually, I was already in my car, he was in the parking lot. But, you know.) I know you’re about as big of a fawning geek for Bruce as everyone else, so you’ll probably appreciate that he was in the exact same bomber jacket he wore in the video for “One Step Up,” which had just come out around that time. Maybe you’ll see him there!

3) Edie’s, 164 Rumson Road, Little Silver
For breakfast. Excellent eggs, and so many different potato options to accompany them that it might be a little overwhelming at first. Relax. You live here now, you’ll have time to try them all. (The cottage fries are my favorite.) This is a nice place to sit and read the paper, too. Sort of an old-time diner vibe. I think you’ll dig it.

4) The Globe, 20 East Front Street, Red Bank
The Globe is a bar that was a hotel in the 1800s, and it smells like beer has been soaking into the wood floors since then. This a very good quality in a bar, I think. When I used to go there in the early 90s (the 1990s, I mean), it would be filled with beefy guys with goatees in trench coats and backwards baseball hats-guys who looked very much like the famous movie director Kevin Smith, who as I’m sure you know has a comic book shop about a block away. When I went back around ten years later, it was still filled with beefy guys with goatees in trench coats and backward baseball caps. I guess this was because Kevin Smith had gotten famous in the interim, and his look, which was the look of that part of New Jersey around the time he did, had sort of taken root as a local badge of pride. I liked this and I didn’t like it, you know what I mean?

5) Brannigans, 14 Wharf Avenue, Red Bank
Kind of diagonally across from the Globe, is another bar, Brannigans. Nice high ceilings. But a warning: If anyone, particularly an older delivery guy from Danny’s who told you not to have sex with customers, even though he had, ever offers to buy you a shot in Brannigans called a “cement mixer,” DO NOT ACCEPT. This is not a real shot! As it turns out, it is a mix of Bailey’s Irish Cream and lime juice. The lime juice curdles the cream, turning it to a consistency not unlike that of wet cement. Drinking it is not at all pleasant and might in fact make you throw up on the bar-which in turn might make the bar tender very angry (even though it would really have been his fault for making such a not-funny “gag” drink in the first place) and he may kick you out. If your friend Mark who is much bigger than you and very loyal and who has always come to your defense then ends up in a shouting match with the bartender that almost turns into a fist-fight, you might be physically removed from the premises by a bouncer, and for what might be the only time this ever happens to you (let’s hope!) you could be “banned for life” from an establishment. There’s probably a different bartender there now.

Oh and here’s Bruce, so you can spot him. He really is the best, isn’t he?