Now Open: Riv’s Toms River Hub, an Eatery With a “Sensory-Friendly” Room

Plus: Other restaurant news from East Rutherford and Ramsey.

Photo courtesy of Pexels

Open:

—The Rivoli family is back with Riv’s Toms River Hub (opened on Tuesday, per this excited Facebook post from Tom Rivoli). The family had been running Rivoli’s in Toms River for 30 years when it closed suddenly in 2016. Maybe more exciting than the sports bar/restaurant concept or the return of the family to the neighborhood restaurant scene is what they’re calling “Chase’s Friends Zone.” Created with the Rivoli’s autistic grandson Chase in mind, and designed with the help of local community experts, it’s a 45-seat room designed to be “sensory-friendly,” using things like lower lighting, quiet, and bean bag chairs to create an environment that’s more comforting to children (and adults) on the autism spectrum. The menu will also include gluten-free options from Ocean Organics in Toms River and servers will have been certified at KultureCity, an organization dedicated to raising awareness and acceptance for those living with autism and special needs. The Shore sports bar experience, complete with a nice wide room, high stools, fried food and beer, will be available to all. Riv’s Toms River Hub, 1850 Hooper Avenue, Toms River; (732) 270-3634

In the Works:

—You might recognize Marc Murphy from “Chopped” (he’s a regular judge). And you might also recognize the American Dream entertainment/retail/dining destination from recent rumblings in New Jersey news, where they’re tracking the massive project as it lurches its way toward completion. You can add Marc Murphy to the long list of future tenants at the East Rutherford complex. He’s signed on with Grisini, a Manhattan-based entertainment and hospitality group that’s launching both a food hall and two (so far) coffee shops in American Dream. The food hall—Grisini by Marc Murphy—is a European-style food hall, with 24 “original concepts” from Murphy, including pasta, pizza, creperie, bakery, and even a raw bar (and counting). The coffee shops will be third-wave style (meaning emphasis on coffee regions and roasts, various—and slightly slower—brew methods) with their own pastry shops. While American Dream supposedly “begins” on October 25 (with Nickelodeon Universe), there’s no word on opening dates for the food hall. Murphy’s food hall joins two other prominent soon-to-be residents of American Dream: the first Kosher food hall and the MUNCHIES food hall. Considering, well, 91 acres, there should be room for all. Grisini by Marc Murphy, 1 American Dream Way, East Rutherford; 646-417-9780

Closed:

—The Olive Garden at 66 Route 17 in Ramsey closed down earlier this month after 15 years in operation. It doesn’t mark the end of the “endless breadsticks” chain in New Jersey, however; there are still 13 other locations to get your carb fix.

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