New Treat in Manahawkin: Cookie Doughs Coffee and Dessert

The Next Generation in Business
By MARIA SCANDALE | Aug 07, 2019
Courtesy of: Joe Rulli

Manahawkin — There’s a story behind that mind-boggling choice between limoncello cake and “Gimme S'more” milkshake and zeppole vanilla sundae and the rest of the rainbow at Cookie Doughs, a new dessert and coffee shop in Manahawkin.

Talking about opening Cookie Doughs this summer, 24-year-old Gabrielle Rulli considers it a great opportunity to have learned so much from her dad, Joeys’ Pizza & Pasta Italian Family Restaurant owner Joe Rulli.

The father and daughter are 50-50 partners in the dessert shop located at 1340 Route 72 West, next to Joeys’ busy restaurant in Ocean Acres.

The venture is an offshoot of Rulli selling Joeys’ longtime Beach Haven Crest location in April, where Gabrielle waitressed for the last three years.

“Listen, I’ve got a proposition for you,” her dad approached her. Gabrielle had just quit a preschool teaching job in Manasquan because the travel distance was too much. She is meanwhile working toward a master’s degree to teach elementary special education.

“Of course I said yes right away. “It’s so much fun and it’s awesome to work with my dad and get this opportunity to learn from him, because he’s so successful.”

It’s not that growing up in a three-restaurant family made it a foregone conclusion that she would enter the family business.

“To be honest, I never, ever thought I would be part of owning my own business or being his partner – anything remotely close to that – because I’m going for teaching and that’s where I saw myself,” Gabrielle said. “But the fact that I can do this, too, and learn so much from him and learn so much in general, it’s great.”

Ice cream lovers will be back because they won’t be able to decide between intriguing  flavors like a French toast shake or a coffee lover’s shake, to name two in the selection. Other gourmet shakes incorporate Fruity Pebbles, Nutella, crushed cherries or bananas with peanut butter. A deep, dark favorite unique to the store, double fudge brownie, blends chocolate ice cream with fudge ripple, chocolate sauce and bites of brownie – yes, this is a shake.

Cheesecake devotees will taste that the dessert is made fresh in Brooklyn and tastes fresh when it is thawed in the case in Manahawkin. Just as much of a delicacy to so many people of all ages is the edible cookie dough that inspired the shop's name.

Chocolate cravers are satiated with a special sundae. The brownie bowl bomb is, “A brownie shaped as a cup. You heat that up for 30 seconds, fill it with your choice of ice cream and hot fudge, with a cherry,” described Gabrielle. “That’s been going like crazy, too.”

Just as important an ingredient in the restaurant business is how customers feel, and that acumen seems to have come naturally to Gabrielle.

“He’s a people person,” she said of her dad. “What I learned from him is really just how to be that people person.”

To create “a friendly, family place,” being outgoing came naturally. So does adding a dash of what she calls sarcasm in a joking way, to keep things fun and more personal.” If she is not in the shop, look instead for her best friend of the last 10 years, Cori Bengel, who also had plenty of experience working at Joeys’.

The location in a cozy but busy enclave right on Route 72 was a built-in plus for the young co-owner. It’s an easy treat for the restaurant patrons to just roll next-door for dessert and coffee. Other customers stroll in or ride their bikes from the neighborhood. The word has gotten to neighboring Barnegat, as well as to passersby who see the sign.

For the interior, the entrepreneur and her crew created a coffee shop feel with darker colors, realistic faux brick wall covering, and blackboards for listing the novel flavors of the ice cream desserts. Cheesecakes, cannolis, and other specialties from Brooklyn are tempting from a glass case at the front.

The coffee bar features wonderful cappuccinos and espressos. The quality brand is Lavazza, imported from Italy. The company is administered by the third and fourth generations of the Lavazza family in Turin.

Gabrielle hopes to have Cookie Doughs in her family for a long time.

“My dad said, in a few years once we get the money back from this place, we’ll see where it’s at, and I could run it on my own. Or if I’m married one day, my husband could do the same thing as partners with me, and it would still be running in the family.”

“We hope; that’s our goal.”

Hours are until 10 p.m. every night, opening at 4 p.m. weekdays and at 1 p.m. weekends.

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