Opening Special: Bell Tolls for Fine Fare in Holmdel

An uber-exciting culinary complex to put on your coming-soon radar.

A landmark complex on the National Register of Historic Places in Central Jersey has at its core a massive modernist building designed by Eero Saarinen. Described by Architectural Forum as “the biggest mirror ever,” the structure is being refitted to house a food hall, high-style restaurant and serve as a kind of culinary center for the Garden State.

Bell Works, the reincarnation of the world-renowned center for innovation Bell Labs, is being reimagined by Somerset Development to include a culinary component to serve thousands of people working at the new enterprises located there, and thousands more who will be employed by additional businesses under contract to open there in the next few years.

In addition, Bell Works will be open nights and weekends so the public can dine, shop and engage in activities at the complex that is poised to become another kind of center for innovation.

In charge of the food component at Bell Works is RBC Hospitality Group; RBC stands for Run By Chefs. Principals in RBC are the husband-wife team Richard and Chantelle Corbo, Toms River; Chad Spencer, Red Bank; and Jeffrey Sytsma, Hoboken. Chantelle Corbo is a sommelier, while the other three team members are veteran chefs.

In March, RBC is opening a food hall called Bell Market with five distinct areas dubbed by the team as “culinary destinations.”

* Corbo & Sons will serve wood-fired oven Italian fare, featuring both Neapolitan- and Roman-style pizzas, according to its supervising chef, Richard Corbo.

* Bubz Deli will offer “thoughtfully crafted” New York-style deli classics, a spokeswoman for RBC notes.

* Jozu will have a menu of sushi, ramen and robata, and be under the guidance of Spencer, who worked in the Bay Area at a number of acclaimed restaurants, including Gary Danko and Michael Mina.

* Broadfork will serve dishes that focus on greens and grains, plus produce RBC plans to grow at the Bell Works complex.

* Honeybell will be a bakeshop overseen by Sytsma, who has worked at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, Oceana and Bien Cuit in New York; it will feature both sweet and savory breads, pastries and Viennoiserie that combine the traditional and the contemporary.

In late summer, RBC will also open a 150-seat bar and grill at Bell Works that is not yet named. Richard Corbo will serve as executive chef of the restaurant that draws from his experiences at Tribeca Grill, the Standard Bar & Grill, the Regency Bar & Grill and Union Square Cafe in New York.

Its focus, Corbo says, will be on “high-quality proteins” as well as “a great burger” at all service times and composed salads perfect for lunch. Produce will be New Jersey-grown and, at dinner time, he adds, “the menu will skew a bit sexier with dishes like crudo…and global flavor influences.”

Sommelier Chantelle Corbo, the veteran of L2O and Uplands in New York, who is heading up the wine program, will focus on natural wines and lesser-known viticultural regions. Indeed, the bar will be a focal point of the space. Other setting components of note: an open kitchen facing the main dining room and plush booth seating.

Our hope is that Bell Market will be the pulse of Bell Works,” Chantelle Corbo says, “a place where people not only get inspired and share wholesome meals, but also meet and mingle with other creative go-getters. …We want our guest to engage with one another…whether it’s over a business breakfast, a relaxing post-work sip of wine, or a celebratory meal.”

Adds Ralph Zucker, who is president of Somerset Development: “Bell Market is bringing an entirely new dimension to the growing community at Bell Works. Dining always has been a critical component of our plan to turn this once-vacant building into a dynamic ‘metroburb,’ where thousands of people can work, gather, play and collaborate.”

Richard Corbo, who grew up in the Lincroft section of Middletown, currently is working with his chef-partners to feed—through daily lunchtime pop-ups—the 2,000-plus people employed by the myriad enterprises now at Bell Works, which is a 5-minute drive off the Garden State Parkway Exit 114.

Exciting, don’t you think? We’ll keep you posted with updates.

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