From a six-table pizza shop to a gourmet Italian restaurant, Cousin Mario's has come a long way over the past four decades.
The Mays Landing restaurant, owned by Mario Giordano and his four sons, Frank, Joseph, Michael and John, will celebrate its 40-year anniversary this year, with five years in its current spot on Harding Highway.
Frank Giordano, one of Mario's grown sons, says his father opened the restaurant in 1973 when Frank was just a teenager. The Giordano boys grew up working in the family business, Frank says, and its many longtime loyal customers have become like family.
It makes sense that it's called Cousin Mario's, because that's what it feels like: "We're all family." Frank says.
Cousin Mario's is a full-service restaurant, first and foremost, serving everything from seafood cioppino and horseradish-encrusted New York strip steak to burgers and fries.
But the restaurant also has a full bar, which is surrounded by high-top tables and mounted flat-screen TVs, and guest are welcome to come in just for the drinks or to eat at the bar.
There are six beers on tap, a full wine and cocktail menu and an extensive and popular martini list, Frank says.
Cousin Mario's also has a daily happy hour from 1 to 7 p.m., which includes buy one, get one half-off appetizers from 4 to 7 p.m. and NFL game time specials, including discounted drinks and 50-cent wings.
Watch the Super Bowl at Cousin Mario's and enjoy drink and food specials.
Cousin Mario's features live music every Thursday, Friday and Saturday starting at approximately 7:30 p.m.
This weekend's lineup includes: Thursday, DJ Joe Gorgo; Friday, Leather and Lace; Saturday, Jime White.