During the 1940s, Le Mondine – or “The Weeders” – were an agricultural workforce made of mostly women in northern Italy. These women weeded Italy’s rice fields to help maintain its massive rice economy while fighting for female cultural recognition. La Mondina, a new Italian restaurant in Brielle, Monmouth County, is an ode to the women of Italian households.
The 10,000-square-foot spot seats 250 inside, plus another 50 outside. Fireplaces and greenery give the restaurant a homey feeling. In fact, even the bar provides a warm, cozy vibe. “It has a rustic and farmhouse-like inside,” describes co-owner Carmine DeRosa.
Since closing their Seaside Heights restaurant in 2017, co-owners DeRosa and Charles Messina have been looking at new venues. Along with general manager Nick DeRosa, the team found just the building they were looking for. “We wanted a location that we felt could use good Italian food with catering,” says co-owner DeRosa. “Not a lot of facilities in the area could accommodate parties and also have a nice Italian restaurant.”
Chef Timothy Spielman helms the kitchen, who some may know from his time at Brando’s Citi Cucina in Asbury Park. Although the menu is Italian, La Mondina puts their stamp on dishes in a way guests will love.
For cold appetizers, DeRosa suggests the ricotta crostini; fresh ricotta, roasted grapes, prosciutto, basil and aged balsamic. But for hot apps, one instant favorite is their black mussels in a spicy tomato sauce.
Of course, La Mondina also has signature pizzas. Particularly, DeRosa recommends the prosciutto pizza, made in their brick oven. As for seafood lovers, the scallops with asparagus and risotto are a delicious option.
In addition, pastas are made fresh daily in house. “That takes it to the next level,” says DeRosa. Bolognese is their specialty dish made fresh daily, which takes 4.5 hours to make. “We’re not your traditional come-in-and-get-your-normal-Italian-dishes restaurant,” says DeRosa. “We’re rustic Italian. It’s traditional Italian and we put our little twist into it, making it more authentic.”
Finally, their dessert items include cheesecake and salted caramel budino, a brown-sugar rum custard topped with salted caramel.
La Mondina plans to offer weekend entertainment. Fridays will feature happy hours with an acoustic singer. Next, Saturdays offer an entertainer for late-night music. Perhaps best of all, stop in on Sundays for renditions of tunes by Frank Sinatra and other Rat Pack crooners.
The restaurant features multiple private dining spaces. They can accommodate parties ranging from intimate gatherings like a birthday party to larger events like bridal showers, communions or corporate functions for more than 100 guests. “Private parties are a big focus here,” says DeRosa. “That’s what we had in mind when we designed this place. Not a lot of spots in the area can accommodate a party of more than 60 people.”