FANWOOD, NJ – Customers are welcomed to a mouthwatering aroma the moment they walk into the Fanwood Grille (34 South Martine Ave., downtown Fanwood). In the morning, bacon and eggs fill the air. Around noon, the smell of sizzling burgers attract hungry customers

The grille's menu features traditional breakfast foods, including omelets, pancakes, and the ever-popular New Jersey favorite: Taylor Ham, egg and cheese sandwich. The 8-ounce burgers with Jersey Shore fries have proven popular, as expected. However, many patrons are allured by the variety of offerings, including 12-inch Texas style hot dogs, Maine lobster rolls, falafel, and the Gerry Cooney Sandwich (prime rib that will "knock you out").

Veteran chef Joseph Mattos has added a dash of creativity to a traditional luncheonette menu. He brings more than two decades of experience in the kitchen and a lifelong passion for food to the Fanwood Grille. 

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Raised by his grandparents – an Italian and an Alabamian – Mattos’ first memory of cooking comes from when he was age five helping his grandmother roll meatballs. Growing up under this unusual upbringing, he was just as likely to eat the traditional Italian dishes such as lasagna and chicken cacciatore as he was to consume Southern favorites such as fried green tomatoes, shrimp, and, of course, grits.

Shortly after his grandfather’s death, he landed his first job at a deli when he was 10 years old to help his grandmother pay some of the bills. Currently a chef at the Red Knot restaurant at Galloping Hill Golf Course, Mattos is best known locally for opening Limani Seafood Grill and working for four years as executive chef at Cosimos Italian restaurant in Westfield. He has added flair to the Fanwood Grille's menu with specials including BBQ beef brisket, Waldorf chicken salad, and homemade rice pudding.

“Working (here) takes me back to my roots,” Mattos explained. “Making simple and classic food with heart, soul and love. Seeing families smiling with their children reminds me of all the great times I spent cooking with my own son, Christopher, and that brings a great sense of satisfaction to me.”

“I remembered something my grandparents always told me – ‘find something in life you love doing, and you will never work a day in your life'," the chef recounted. "Even after almost 34 years, I wake up each day happy with the career I chose and am confident my grandparents are looking down on me with pride. They were right those many years ago. I have never ‘worked’ a day in my life.”

His food has been featured in the Star-Ledger, Asbury Park Press, New York Daily News, and the Greek Times.

“Whether I’m cooking chateau briand or a Taylor Ham, egg and cheese, I take the same pride and enjoy seeing the smiles on peoples face as they eat,” says Mattos. “I am happy to be part of the team at Fanwood Grille and look forward to helping it become part of the fabric of the community.”

The Fanwood Grille opened on July 7, 2017, at the old Fanwood Corner Store at 34 South Martine Ave. It is open daily from 7:00 a.m. for breakfast and lunch and will soon extend its hours to 6:00 p.m. The eatery features takeout and, starting on Saturday, weekend delivery. Call in an order at (908) 322-9500 or place an order online at www.fanwoodgrille.com

Editor's note: TAPintoSPF editor John Mooney is an owner of The Fanwood Grille.