You may have heard some rumblings in the area about a new pizzeria in town, but what you haven’t heard is that this new restaurant is not your standard Italian pizza joint. In fact, owners Mark Shear and Joseph Guli are serving up new American cuisine and specializing in grilled pizza at their new establishment.
Grilled pizza? That’s right. Mark Joseph’s Grilled Pizza & Restaurant actually cook their pizza on a barbecue grill.
Shear, who has lived in the area for 11 years and currently resides in Matawan, said he thought many local restaurants serve the same kind of food, and he and Guli wanted to bring something imaginative and different to the area.
“I thought this would be a perfect location for us since there is nothing around here like it,” Shear said.
The atypical restaurant is divided into a pizzeria and a full restaurant serving new American cuisine.
The pizzeria side serves up original grilled pizzas that are made to order. You can create your own pizza with a large variety of toppings, or choose from one of the speciality pizzas, which include “mark’s favorite”, which consists of roasted mushrooms, fontina val d’aosta and truffled breadcrumbs, and a breakfast pizza, which has applewood bacon, hen eggs, caramelized onions and fontina val d’aosta.
And don’t bother looking for chicken parmigiana on the menu. You won’t find traditional Italian fare here, but rather more modern dishes including cabernet braised short ribs that cook for 48-hours, homemade pastas, eclectic sandwiches, and a build-your-own salad bar.
Some of the more popular menu items include the fried meatballs, which are Shears’ grandmother’s recipe, the shrimp and zucchini, and the braised short-ribs. “People are just loving them,” Shear said of the big sellers.
The menu was collectively put together by Shear, Guli, and their chef Michael D’Ennery, who has over 20 years experience working as a professional chef. While Shear and Guli are not as skilled in the kitchen, they are certainly zealous about food.
“We’re two guys that love to cook, we love to grill, we love everything about food, love going to restaurants, love eating - we truly have a passion for it,” Shear said enthusiastically.
The restaurant also supports local farmers by using fresh local produce, cheese, and seafood. Because of this, the menu changes seasonally based on what is fresh and attainable locally.
Mark Joseph’s has been open for about two months and so far the restauranteurs are happy with the response. They have had an extremely positive experience so far, to the point where they have developed return costumers and a tremendous amount of referrals in such a short period of time, according to Guli.
The official grand opening of the restaurant is being held this weekend. On Saturday, Oct. 13 the restaurant will be rolling out the red carpet at 8 p.m. for costumers and a DJ will be playing music. They will also have giveaways and prizes.
Sunday, Oct. 14 will be more family oriented with a pizza-pie eating contest, competitions for children to participate in, and an obstacle course. There will also be blow-up carnival, food, games and a DJ. Manalapan Mayor Susan Cohen will officially open the doors of the restaurant by cutting the ribbon at 1 p.m.
This is Shear’s and Guli’s first restaurant and a dream come true for them both.
“It’s like we’re walking on cloud nine everyday. We’re in heaven,” said Shear. “We couldn’t be happier and more excited about having our own restaurant and the way people are responding - it’s been great.”
Mark Joseph’s Grilled Pizza and Restaurant is located at 333 Route 9 South, Manalapan.