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"Recently I have had the honor of being interviewed by Steven Froias, Editor of the TriCity News, Monmouth County, New Jersey. Photography is done by Michael D. Zielinski. I would like to thank them for sharing the art of belly dance. Truly, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Also, a great big thank you to Dr. Sketchy Of Asbury Park. You do so much for everyone you meet. You are my Buddy."

- Venus




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BRADLEY BEACH – There’s no doubt that Monmouth County has its fair share of first-rate restaurants and super-star chefs from Belmar (Brandl comes to mind) through the ever-broadening dining options in Asbury Park, Long Branch and Red Bank and the constellations that surround these hub urban solar systems, to Rumson (David Burke’s Fromagerie is nationally-known).

You have to search a bit for ethnic diversity in the county, however, and sometimes wander off the beaten path. Asian-fusion and coal-fired anything can be gratifying but not particularly original or even authentic, and Italian-inspired menus still dominate.

So the arrival of something entirely new and different on the scene is a cause for mouth-watering jubilation. That’s why we’re salivating to take a bite of La Vie, a new French-Moroccan eatery which will soon open its doors in Bradley Beach. It’s not just different – it will be one-of-a-kind in Monmouth.

Asbury Pulp dropped in at 714 Main Street this past week to get the scoop on what promises to be a most note-worthy destination come September. On the day of our visit, the furniture had yet to arrive, but it was easy to envision the unique space it will very soon become. La Vie has set an early to mid-September date for their official opening, but an invite-only affair featuring entertainment courtesy of the enchanting belly-dancer, Lori Venus will happen the first week of that month – and no question Asbury Pulp will be there.

Moroccan food isn’t simply the typical fare of northern Africa but is instead a fusion of the conquerors from thousands of years. From the Moors to the Spaniards, to the French, each has had a tremendous influence on the cuisine of Morocco. Many of the people in Morocco actually speak French as a second language and enjoy the impact the French have had on their cuisine.

I describe it as a blend of two great cultures with the grace of French cooking and the boldness of Morocco. Because Morocco is on the Mediterranean, they enjoy an abundance of seafood. Even though the boundaries of a great desert are part of the landscape, there is still a considerable amount of farming. As a matter of fact, Morocco is the one African country that can support their food needs 100%.

The herbs used in Morocco are typically African and Middle Eastern – from leeks, to coriander, to dill and the spices (with a huge influence from early trade routes) are strong and bold.

Ben has considerable experience working with friends in the restaurant industry but has never owned his own. After considerable thought he overcame any trepidation and decided to display his heritage with food and recipes from home that have been tempered by the French.

Moroccan cuisine with French flair is all about fresh farm-to-table ingredients. At La Vie the scents, tastes, and textures of bold Moroccan food is tempered with French style preparations where each dish is made to order. Where some customers may be accustomed to the British or pure French preparations for something like lamb, don’t expect to find mint jelly on La Vie’s menu. Instead you’ll find the lamb scented with spices like cinnamon and cardamom and perhaps a hint of dill and coriander.

La Vie was designed to be a simple experience with great cuisine one might find in Southern France or throughout Morocco. The décor is clean and simple and unlike in Morocco where many people eat without utensils, there are knives and forks. But, there are also some lower Moroccan tables where you can relax in the corner on a beautiful carpet with plush pillows. There will be handmade Moroccan breads throughout your dinner, a special Moroccan quail pie with a French twist, and the wonderful Moroccan teas poured with a sugar foam.

In addition to his role as Master Chef, Gil has also done some staffing: Chef de Cuisine will be Chef Tom Poley, and further top-chef professional are on the way.

Gil also told Asbury Pulp that La Vie will be open Tuesday through Sunday for dinner only. But come next spring, they are planning to set up a Moroccan tent out back on a raised platform complete with Hookas and low slung tables with pillows – a definite taste of the Middle East in Eastern Monmouth County!

Keeping with tradition, belly dancers will perform every Friday and Saturday evening and La Vie will even be offering free lessons on Saturday afternoons. He adds that during the winter, they are also contemplating some cooking lessons on Saturday afternoons as well.

La Vie will be BYOB, but they have made arrangements with Bradley Liquors to make deliveries right to the customer’s table – within minutes. “We have an ample supply of glassware for all our customers as well as ice buckets,” Gil notes – and suggests the following:  Two categories of wine will work well with most of our dishes. Flowery light white wines like chardonnays and bold red wines from the merlot and cabernet families will work well. Bring one of each!There is no cork fee – just BYOB and enjoy.

La Vie opens in September; Asbury Pulp will update this report when that happens to let readers know when they can make the pilgrimage to Bradley Beach. Address is 714 Main Street, 732-455-3597 and website is

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Thank you for your interest in Venus! To reserve Venus for your event please call 908-907-0716 

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