When you have a mindset that every dish you serve is something you would serve to your family and loved ones, the end result will always be delicious.
That is the mindset of co-owners Robert Kareem and his father Fathi Kareem, of Lincroft, who opened their restaurant at the end of May.
Mediterranean Grill, 75 B Brighton Ave., Long Branch, offers Mediterranean-American cuisine, but not a fusion of the two, according to Robert.
"We're not going outside the box too much," Robert said. "We are serving our food and making it recognizable; it's our food and that's what we know well."
Diners will find all the typical Mediterranean favorites such as falafel, gyros and moussaka. They will also find American favorites with a Mediterranean twist such as the lamb burger which is hamburger from ground lamb and topped with yogurt sauce on a brioche bun.
Their Greek salads are particularly delicious and are topped with stuffed grape leaves. When topped with Fathi's marinated grilled chicken, the salad can be a meal in of itself.
The lamb kabob is also a favorite dish of customers and the amount of time that goes into making one is all the evidence people need to know in order to tell how good it is.
"We take a lamb leg, clean it up, and it is then cubed, seasoned, marinated and then grilled," Robert said.
No matter what Mediterranean Grill customers order, Robert said they can be assured that it will be fresh and homemade.
"We pride ourselves on taking a lot of time to make everything from scratch," Robert said. "They can order anything the way they like it and anything on the menu can be changed because it's all made on site from scratch."
"We make sure everything is really fresh, and there's nothing on the menu that I wouldn't share with the customer.
Robert said his father moved to the county about 45 years ago and started as a chef before getting into the construction industry. After retiring, Fathi did not get complacent and wanted to continue working, so he decided to open a restaurant with his son.
"It's something he always wanted to do," Robert said.
After looking at various locations, the store's current space on Brighton Avenue ended up being the best fit.
"Unlike other places, everything came together very easily, so we took it as a sign," Robert said.
He said the restaurant has been a success from the beginning, and that he has built a loyal customer base.
"From day one, it has been packed and we've had nothing but good reviews," he said. "I love seeing people enjoy the food, because you know you are making them happy, and that's the best feedback someone can give you."
Mediterranean Grill is open Tuesday-Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and is closed on Mondays in the winter. Robert said the restaurant offers take-out, catering and delivery.