Restaurant: Pat’s Select Pizza Grill

Address: 1330, 702 Hessian Ave, National Park, NJ 08063

Food:  Pizzeria

Price:  High

Portions:  Big

Taste:  Mind-blowing

Service:  Really Good

Atmosphere:  Very high end by pizzeria standards

My nephew and I were on another Pokemon run.  This time, we headed to Red Bank Park in the town with the uninspired name of National Park, NJ.  Afterwards, we were hungry walking around catching Pokemon and he remembered this place.  I was skeptical.  My nephew’s tastes run from pizza to some other kind of pizza.  Then again, who doesn’t like pizza?  So I was in.

Immediately when I walked into the place, I thought we had the wrong address.  I was expecting one of those cramped pizzerias with cheap plastic booth furniture, a TV blaring sports and napkins on the floor.  I’m not above those places, mind you, it’s just that it is the atmosphere of most pizzerias in South Jersey.  Instantly I realize this place had a different vibe.

The decor was way more mellow and upscale.  There was large chalkboards on the wall where parts of the menu and the specials were written and the menus weren’t just paper.  As I flipped through, I realize this was more like a real restaurant.  I was in the mood for something healthy, so I took a chance and ordered an Oriental Chicken salad.  My nephew got a small pizza with buffalo chicken on it.

Now, if you’ve ever had an Oriental Chicken salad, you know it’s exactly the kind of meal that even a high end restaurant can screw up badly.  I sensed that this place would nail it and boy was I right!  The Mandarian orange slices tasted fresh and it had the crunchy noodle toppings I like and a really good sesame dressing.  Plus, fresh chicken that was all white meat.  It wasn’t fried crispy chunks either, it was moist and delicious.

My nephew, who has literally complained about every meal he has ever eaten, took one bite and was like, “Oh, my God!  This is delicious.”  Unlimited refills on the iced tea was an added bonus, so in terms of taste and portions, they nailed it.  I had a slice of the pizza too and it was great.  Not good, but great.  And it is hard to get buffalo chicken pizza right.  I mean, there is a real balance with the cheesy pizza part and the chicken part, but I could taste both and they were good!

The minor downsides:  Well, the location.  It’s kind of in the middle of nowhere, but after looking on their website, I realize that this was the most remote location.  It’s actually perfect for me when I go to Red Bank to catch Pokemon.  We’ll definitely be back!  The set up is a little odd.  I mean, it could clearly be a regular restaurant with a wait staff.  It’s super nice to sit in, so I was a little unsure about how to tip.  Is it a full tip or what?

My other problem, it is expensive.  Total bill, around $32 for two people.  Now here’s the thing, they were running a special that day: $5 off bills over $30.  My nephew noticed that and when the cashier said it came to $35, I was like “This whole bill was $40?”  She was like, no, the bill was actually just shy of $30.  So I ordered a small order of fries.  They were generous, but the only part of the meal that wasn’t amazing.  They were the top end frozen kind of fries, but I felt fresh potatoes were really needed if the other parts were going to be so fresh.

Anyway, back to the price.  So the fries, pushed us over $30, then minus $5, it became like $32 with the tax and all.  Then I had to tip because she had given us the discount, so I was basically back to $35.  To me, this kind of math is silly, but whatever.  Next, the first booth we sat down in the seat sunk so low we had to move.  Also, the place was super empty, which is a shame since the food was so good.  It’s kind of in a remote location, not sure how it’s staying open.

Still, the food was amazing.  The cooks really deserve their due.  If you’re ever in range of this place or one of the affiliates, understand the price is worth it.

I give Pat’s Select Pizza Grill 9.5 out of 10 keggers.