There are two things that Brooklawn, New Jersey had been synonymous for from 1979 until 2011. The Brooklawn Diner and the Brooklawn Circle. The Brooklawn Diner sadly went out of business suddenly in 2011 and had rumors of a re-opening in late 2012 that never materialized. The other, the Brooklawn Circle still stands strong, but sadly it seems if someone just even whispers the word rain, the entire circle becomes a watery swampy mess and backs up traffic horrendously. The only thing these two now have in common is while driving through the flooded Brooklawn Circle you can see the still abandoned shell that once was the Brooklawn Diner.
What was Brooklawn’s loss seems to be Westville, New Jersey’s possible gain. The former owners of the Brooklawn Diner, Gus and Aliki Miliaresis’s son Danny Miliaresis is now the owner of the Piston Diner (PD). PD also made a name for itself five months ago when a front loader construction vehicle drove through PD and forced its previous owner Jason Kramer to close PD for good after only being open just slightly past three months. I had never visited PD before so I do not know what if any changes were made by Danny Miliaresis to the interior of PD during my visit, but I can tell you the roof and ceiling are fixed as I sat in a booth that used to have a sky view. I liked the vibe and feel of the interior. It was bright and cheery with lots of old school nostalgia of legendary Hollywood stars hanging on the walls. The furniture seemed new and modern unlike some diners around whose glory days happened too long ago to even remember what unworn seating looks like.
PD started out with an Italian Minestrone Soup. The soup was a solid interpretation of this classic. From the broth, beans, pasta, and vegetables it was all seamlessly balanced with a decent flavor throughout. If all of their soups are this good, they may be a great place in the winter for a good soup and sandwich to warm up to. They also provided nice fresh rolls and butter to start the meal.
The main course was Chicken Croquettes atop mashed potatoes drizzled with chicken gravy with sautéed string beans and apple sauce as sides. The croquettes were a generous size and better than some I have had in the past. The green beans were a little too al dente as well as being under seasoned and the apple sauce was your standard out of a jar variety. It is not the best meal I have ever had, but it is by far not the worst either.
All in all my assessment of PD is that they are exactly what everyone who loves a Jersey diner loves about them. They provided me a decent meal at a very affordable price and a menu that is six pages in length giving you the ability to order almost anything your heart could desire at anytime of the day. At ten dollars I could not expect gourmet, but what they did give me was a very tasty soup, fresh rolls, a dinner in quality that was better than your standard chain restaurant, and in an atmosphere that was friendly and fresh. If PD continues in this direction and construction vehicles avoid driving through PD, Danny Miliaresis’s legacy in the diner business has the ability to last as long if not longer than his parents.