sam's rialto grill owner

Jake Hunter of Sam's Rialto grill keeps family traditions alive


Some bars just know how to give you what you want before you even know you want it. The frosty Mason jar filled with sugary-sweet purple Kool-Aid at Sam’s Rialto Grill in Pleasantville was so unexpectedly perfect that it set the tone for the entire experience. Talk about starting out on the right foot — score one for Sam’s.

What to expect

Sam’s Rialto Grill is the kind of place where the notion of trendy cocktails and snooty dishes involving quail eggs are so foreign that it seems laughable that any place anywhere would think to serve them. Instead, all of Sam’s everyday eggs are placed firmly in the basket of comfort, whether it be from the down home soul food, the unpretentious atmosphere or the friendly staff. On all levels, Sam’s makes you feel right at home. The host of this particular welcome wagon is Jake Hunter, son of Sam himself. Jake took over the family business — along with his mother Brenda — after his dad passed away in 2007, and they have been proudly running it ever since.

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If you are looking for nightlife, the crowd here runs a bit on the older side. It’s mostly age 40 and up, but don’t let the age range fool you into thinking it’s not lively. This is a place to unwind and have a good time, regardless of what calendar year you may have entered this planet.

Food and drink

Again, it’s not about mixology and fancy cocktails, the drinks here are void of all muddling, and fresh herbs and spices are nowhere in sight behind the bar. What you DO get is a full bar packed with the ingredients to make the classics at very reasonable prices. Designated drivers really should consider a few mugs of the aforementioned Kool-Aid — available in your choice of red or purple.

Happy hour runs from 4 to 7 p.m. and features $4 well drinks and 50 cents off all beers.

Whether you came hungry or not, it’s near impossible to look at the menu at Sam’s and not order an item or three. Just about everything is made from scratch, and the standouts include a superb meatloaf along with chicken and waffles, and some particularly tasty sides of potato salad and cole slaw.

Live Music

We were pleasantly surprised that a bar of this size would feature live music, but they do. Every Tuesday is jazz night, and beginning at 6 p.m. a live jazz trio

performs, just adding an extra layer of authenticity to the southern vibe.

Coming up

Keep your eyes peeled to the Food Network in the coming months, as filming just recently took place at Sam’s for an episode of the ever-popular Guy Fieri hosted show, “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.”

Sam’s Rialto Grill

Where: 18 S. Main St. Pleasantville

When: Open 8:30 a.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday; 8:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

Who: Owned by Brenda and Jake Hunter

Contact: 609-646-5128

Other info: Disabled accessible, take-out available, live music, street parking, delivery available

Freelance reporter for At The Shore/Atlantic City Insiders from 2011-2015; Editor in Chief,,2014-2015; Writer for Zagat, 2013

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