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Where To Dine

To us dining is a total experience; food, ambiance and service. Miss one and it just isn’t that special. Have them all and it will be a night you’ll remember for some time. Good food is a given in our recommendations, but alone it is just not enough. Our recommendations include all three elements and hope your experience is as good as ours.

Nicholas  |  David Burke Fromagerie
Undici  |  Pascal & Sabine
Shipwreck Grill  |  Avenue
Remington's  |  La Dolce Vita
Brandl  |  Harpoon Willy's

Nicholas
Route 35 South, Red Bank
HALL OF FAME

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I have lived at the Jersey Shore for most of my life and I cannot remember a better restaurant here than Restaurant Nicholas. But, Nicholas and Melissa Harary's elegant restaurant is not just extraordinary by Jersey Shore standards, but by any standard. Its food and service can hold its own against the finest New York has to offer.

Located on southbound Route 35, just over the bridge from Red Bank, the austere, concrete building stands alone in an unlikely spot for a restaurant. The décor is minimalist; beige walls, beige and brown checkerboard carpeting, sparse wall hangings, modern ceiling design, an almost sheet like, flowing, window covering. Generally not my favorite style for a romantic restaurant, however the wonderful use of recessed and indirect lighting turns the room into an enchanting and very romantic haven.

To watch the staff move about the room is to view a modern dance in progress; effortless, seamless. Each captain and each waiter waits on every table from four serving carts placed around the room. An empty glass is refilled by one, another brings more bread, yet another serves an entrée. Each staff member is totally aware of what is happening at every table. Guests at larger tables are all served at once. Appetizers and entrees are brought to the table covered with silver domes. Courses are unveiled and sauces are added by the captain. A veal chop was presented to a diner, whisked to a serving cart, expertly carved from the bone and delicately sauced before being re-served. This staff has been expertly trained and seems to genuinely enjoy what they are doing.

Nicholas was trained at the esteemed Culinary Institute of America and before opening his own restaurant in late 2000, was the sommelier of Jean George in New York.

The menu changes seasonally. Some recent highlights: as appetizers, seared day boat sea scallops, fresh lychee, toasted coconut and lime vinaigrette, crispy soft shell crab, green apple & jicama salad with citrus basil vinaigrette and spiced lamb carpaccio, cucumber yogurt salad, pine nuts and currants.

For entrees; olive oil poached Halibut, bacon powder, pickled pearl onions and tomato butter sauce, glazed Long Island duck breast, summer succotash, corn pudding and crispy duck prosciutto and the signature braised suckling pig, Swiss cheese Gougères, mustard seed caviar and Mojo jus.

Dessert started with a cheese course, selected tableside with the captain’s assistance. I like aromatic cheeses and Jen likes them more mild, so he picked three of each and served them with a raisin-pecan bread, dried figs, raspberries and apricots.

This is where I usually end my meal, but the chocolate ganache and the watermelon soup looked wonderful.

The wine list is extensive and has been carefully assembled to include many unusual selections. There are about 20 wines by the glass and about 30 1/2 bottle choices, which is good for any wine list. While there are "superstars" on the list at the high end, you will find plenty of choices under $70 to enjoy.

The menu is prix fix with a three course regular or vegetarian at $65 and a tasting menu at $85 (add $50 for accompanying wines). I think the best deal is the three course at $65, which has the most choices. This is an incredible value for a restaurant of this stature.

Reservations are required, weekends fill up quickly and jackets are requested for men. All credit cards. Table #12 or the window table in the small room to the right of the entrance are our favorites.

A bustling lounge is open for a pre-dinner cocktail or for a more casual "small plates" bar menu. Most small plates are under $20.

This is the place for any special occasions, but don’t wait for one….go now.



ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: High. This place is seductive.



WHAT OTHERS SAY...

“Hot off its 10th-year anniversary”, Nicholas and Melissa Harary’s “fine-tuned” “crown jewel” in Red Bank is again voted New Jersey’s Most Popular restaurant as well as No. 1 for Food and Service; look for “showstopping”, prix fixe–only New American meals served by an “impeccable” team in an “understatedly elegant”, jackets-suggested setting; it’s a “flawless experience that’s “worth every hundred you spend”, though insiders report you can dine for less at the “hip”, “more relaxed” bar. ZAGAT



You can make dining reservations by going to our Weekend Planner for contact information. Many dining reservations can be made at OPEN TABLE.


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David Burke Fromagerie
26 Ridge Road, Rumson
HALL OF FAME

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Long before he became a renowned chef (davidburke & donatella, Park Avenue Cafe, The River Cafe) David Burke started in the kitchen of the Fromagerie in Rumson, New Jersey. Through the years he maintained contact and a friendship with the owners, the Peters brothers. He always told them that if they ever decided to sell the restaurant, he wanted to buy it. That lifelong dream came to fruition about 2 years ago. David Burke came home.

Since then Burke has transformed the popular, albeit somewhat sedate and dark, restaurant into a light and airy space with a quite spectacular menu. The dining rooms have a contemporary flair painted in soft beiges and taupes some with wainscoting and all with crown moldings. Wall sconces splash soft lighting across the room and artwork adds a touch of color. Ceiling fans, large framed mirrors, fresh flowers and sparkling tableware complete a sophisticated but welcoming look.

For those of us who travel a great deal and get the opportunity to eat in many restaurants, the difference between a good chef and a great one is almost instantly apparent. The attention to detail, the creativity of the menu and impeccable service shine through to create an amazing dining experience.

We started with a drink at the dazzling new white marble bar and enjoyed a bar snack of Japanese pretzels soaking in a mustard oil. We were also offered a taste of a delicious short-rib dumpling, something I would have ordered as an entrée had it been available.

As is the custom in many fine dining restaurants, we were presented with a delightful amuse, a dumpling of chicken and jack cheese with a sweet and tangy sauce. A great start.

Selecting an appetizer was difficult because there were so many interesting choices, but I selected a Japanese pretzel crusted crab cake served with a mango vinaigrette and poppy seed honey. Crunchy, tangy and sweet all at once. Jen enjoyed the “hot and angry” lobster cocktail. A variety of spices coated this slightly out-of-the-shell lobster meat which was the best lobster I ever had (I’m generally not a huge lobster fan). This item was voted the #1 lobster dish in 2004 by New York Magazine.

My entrĂ©e was a signature “Bronx style” filet mignon of veal on the bone and served with horseradish parsnip puree and roasted beet “Diane” sauce. Just amazing. Jen had a delicately seared halibut served with scrumptious lobster dumplings and an incredible lobster Bordelaise. Yes, Bordelaise, a red wine sauce with lobster stock instead of meat.

This is a big time wine list with big time prices. With some searching, though, there are a number of good white and red wines under $60. We asked for a recommendation for a red under $60 and the wine steward suggested a 2004 Ruffino Modus, a blend of Sangiovese, Merlot and Cab that was delicious.

The artesian cheese course was inviting, but I was pretty full. Our server let me try another signature of Burke's, cheesecake pops served with fresh raspberries and bubblegum whipped cream. Next time I’ll order the tray! Jen chose a wonderful apple galette with homemade dolce de leche ice cream.

Seating is available in the bar area, a main dining room on the first floor and another room upstairs. Table 100 in the bar area is the best table, in a little nook by itself. Saturday night it’s usually reserved for the same guy who has come in nearly every Saturday for 30 years. But give it a try. Second choice is upstairs which is a little more intimate and whimsical with its hanging children's toys than the main dining room.

The service is excellent, we never wanted for anything, but there are so many people waiting on you that it almost seems chaotic at times.

Appetizers-$8-$21. Entrees-$26-$39. Tasting menu at $65, $90 with wine pairings. All credit cards. Jackets preferred for men.

Now there's an even greater reason to visit the Jersey Shore.




ROMANTIC QUOTIENT-
It's a beautiful place, but the main dining room can be a little hectic. Opt for Table 100 if you can get it or a little nook upstairs.



WHAT OTHERS SAY
"Star chef Burke “got his start” at this “upper-crust” Rumson classic and his “modernized” revamp since taking over features “lighter” American “fare with flair” (including his signature angry lobster and cheesecake lollipops); though the crowd’s as “Waspy” as ever, now its “intimate” rooms are “brighter” and the pricing so “expensive” that “budget-conscious foodies” reserve the experience for a “special occasion” – or go for “Tuesday burger night.” ZAGAT
 


You can make dining reservations by going to our Weekend Planner for contact information. Many dining reservations can be made at OPEN TABLE.

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Undici
11 W. River Road, Rumson
SPECIAL OCCASION

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There are Italian restaurants and then there is Undici. It is not often that I get so enthused about a restaurant that I want to return quickly, but I have already gone back a second time after just eating there two days ago. It was that good. Here's the tip-off; on both nights at the tables next to us were groups of native Italians reveling in every dish and thoroughly enjoying themselves.....

We have a number of very good Italian restaurants on our site and this in no way diminishes them and I continue to enjoy them. But Undici is on another plane for so many reasons. First, the decor, fashioned after a Tuscan farmhouse, it is reminiscent of actual rustic tavernas I have enjoyed in Italy. Stone walls and floors, wood beamed ceilings, brick fireplaces, arched doorways, Italian tile, hanging cheeses and meats, an open kitchen, wood fired ovens, beautiful displays of tomatoes and peppers and glass enclosed wine racks. Farm tables are set with kitchen napkins and utensils (knives that reminded me of Bowie knives!) and wine glasses.

Start with a cocktail at the marble bar and while the wines are tempting, try one of their signature cocktails. Here's two we tried that were delicious: the Grantini; Stolichnaya Raspberry Vodka, pomegranate juice, Triple Sec,
with an orange twist, shaken and served up in a martini glass and the Aranciata; Sicilian natural orange liqueur, Absolute Citron Vodka, Fresh orange wedge topped with San Pelligrino served on the rocks.

On our first visit, we decided to order a number of things to try them and what a feast we had. We started with the Misto, 18 month aged Prosciutto di Parma, Genoa salami, soppressata, dried hot Italian sausage, bresaola, mortadella, bufala mozzarella, Parmigiano – Reggiano, roasted almonds, fresh fruit and homemade ciabatta crouton. By the way the plate for 1-2 people is enough for 4. Next was Italian sweet sausage, sautĂ© onions and sweet peppers on house made wood oven rustic roll. On to the wood oven pizza with San Marzano tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, Parmigiano – Reggiano and Sicilian first press unfiltered olive oil. Our pasta was Mafaldine Bolognese, house made mafaldine “ruffled fettuccine”, slow braised meat sauce with veal, beef, pork, carrots, onion and celery topped with ricotta cheese. Finally, Scarpariello, whole baby chicken, lemon, extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and bay leaf, saute spinach and fingerling potato. Spectacular.

On our second visit, we sampled a fantastic grilled fresh salmon filet, fresh artichokes, imported pancetta, Sicilian olive oil, and roasted NY state fingerling potato and a special ravioli stuffed with artichokes and ricotta cheese served with a Jersey tomato and basil sauce.

Second trip we had room for dessert and we tried three; pistachio, vanilla and black cherry gelatos between homemade chocolate chip cookies; a bittersweet chocolate tart with a crispy polenta crust, served warm with vanilla gelato; finally a fresh Jersey white peach, brown sugar with a rustic pastry crust served with vanilla gelato. For someone who seldom eats dessert, this was an other worldly experience.

The all Italian wine list is absolutely wonderful and worth the trip alone. If you love Italian wine, this is one of the best I have seen. As good as any NYC restaurant but much more reasonably priced. Organized by region, wines are listed with the grapes used to make the wine and the percentage of each (75% Cabernet Sauvignon 20% Sangiovese 5% Cabernet Franc). They are also listed in ascending price order and there are many terrific choices under $50. You'll want to drink your way through this list! What makes the experience even better is Elizabeth Bogner, who really knows this list and can help you navigate through it.

Our servers, Dawn the first time and Kevin the second, were very well-trained, professional and competent, yet we managed to have fun with them. They helped make a great experience even better.

My only regret is that this restaurant is so far from my home, otherwise I'd be here all the time.

Appetizers:$12-$19,  Entrees: $22-$35, Desserts: $9. All credit cards. Dress is smart casual.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: This is a place to enjoy with friends.Not particularly romantic...but who cares...you come for the food and wine.

WHAT OTHERS SAY...
“Gorgeous” “Tuscan villa” design “transports you to Italy” at this “sophisticated” Italian, a Rumson favorite famed for its “profoundly authentic” cooking and “extensive” wine list; the “lively” bar can be “loud” and it’s an “expensive endeavor”, so “get someone else to pick up the check” – or else stick with the “great” appetizers and wood-fired pizza. ZAGAT

Many dining reservations can be made at OPEN TABLE.

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Pascal & Sabine
601 Bangs Ave. Asbury Park
EXCELLENT

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If Pascal & Sabine were in my neighborhood, I would probably eat there a couple times a week. Wonderful decor (who doesn't like booths?), excellent bistro food, a very good wine list, a fantastic Sunday brunch with live jazz and a really enjoyable staff makes this a favorite at the Jersey Shore.

Pascal and Sabine are characters from French filmmaker Albert Lamorisse’s signature work, The Red Balloon. In the film, Pascal finds a red balloon with a mind of its own that follows him around the city. You'll see that red balloon outside the doors of the restaurant.

Inside the French inspired brasserie has a wonderful metal topped bar with small red shaded lamps, huge circular dark leather booths and the stunning artwork of Paolo Ventura. There is also an expresso bar at the front of the restaurant.

The bar offers a wonderful selection of bourbons, whiskeys, single malts, tequila and craft beers. Hand crafted cocktails include items like the Red Rum; pilar vanilla rum, red wine, lemon juice, simple syrup, brandied cherries and Peach Bourbon Ice Tea; Bulleit bourbon, peach purée, honey simple syrup, ice tea, mint. There's also nearly 50 wines by the glass with some excellent choices.

But ultimately, it is the food you go for and it is richly satisfying at Pascal. You can enjoy classic appetizers like French onion soup, escargot and beef tartare, There's a wonderful selection of charcuterie and cheese and caviar from around the globe. Bistro fare includes Coq Au Vin: chicken stewed in red wine with mushrooms, pearl onions & bacon, with pommes purée; Roasted Breast of Chicken: asparagus, fried duck egg, jambon de bayonne: Steak Frites: pan-seared snake river farms kobe sirloin flap, au poivre, hand-cut frites; Lobster Bouillabaisse; lobster, scallops, shrimp, mussels, bouillabaisse broth, rouille and Moules Frites; blue bay mussels, white wine, garlic, shallots, thyme & baguette.

If you still have room for dessert the creme brulee and the St. Stephen cheesecake;  hazelnut cookie crust with seasonal berries are excellent.

The wine list, with a decided French bent has a nice mix of higher end wines and bottles under $50.

732.774.3396
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Shipwreck Grill
720 Ashley Avenue, Brielle
EXCELLENT

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When you go for dinner in the middle of the week and the parking lot is full, the bar crowded and all the tables occupied, it's a pretty good tip-off that the food is going to be good and the Shipwreck doesn't disappoint.

It's become kind of the "go to" place for locals, a restaurant that delivers consistently and one where you are likely to run into some friends. Trying new restaurants is fun, but when you want to be guaranteed a delicious meal, you won't go wrong here.

The feel is casual with a touch of elegance. Knotty pine walls and exposed ceiling duct work are coupled with linen table cloths and china. The bar, which occupies almost half of the space, is always lively and the bartenders are competent and friendly. There’s an open kitchen and some interesting artifacts on the walls and in display cases from Bill’s salvage dives.

Last visit, I felt like having a steak and picked a NY strip. Having suffered tasteless or overcooked steaks all to often, this was a revelation, perfectly cooked, (just pink) gently marinated and oozing juices. Served with garlic mashed potatoes, crispy and homemade onion rings and delicious creamed spinach, it was the perfect meal I was looking for. On a previous visit we opted for some more ambitious items. I started with a Maryland crab cake with a chili pepper aioli and roasted corn with micro cilantro. The wonderful roasted corn taste coupled with the bite of the chili peppers and the aroma of the cilantro was the perfect accompaniment to a crab cake that was just slightly crusted on the outside. As an entrée, I had a sesame crusted tuna with a ginger soy vinaigrette and a pea shoot salad. Jen had coconut shrimp with Japanese dipping sauces to start and followed that with an Australian baby rack of lamb with an exotic mushroom risotto, white truffle oil and burgundy wine.

There’s an excellent raw bar with varieties of oysters and clams and fat jumbo shrimp. Try the Ship Wreck Shellfish Sampler for $14. You can get lobsters fresh from their own tanks, a number of different cuts of beef and lamb. The beef is marinated and served with garlic mashed potatoes, onion rings and creamed spinach.

The wine list is about 50 bottles strong with some good choices and excellent values. there are plenty of options under $50.

The bar, the food, the service and the ambiance all combine to make this a must stop when you are at the Jersey Shore.

Not only is the food excellent, but so are the prices. Appetizers range from $7-$10, entrees from $18-$32. Dress is casual, the restaurant is open 7 days and accepts all credit cards. Reservations accepted.




ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: Can be a little noisy at times, but it's still a most enjoyable evening.



WHAT OTHERS SAY...
“Always busy”, this “unassuming” American seafooder in Brielle is a “consistent performer”, with “top-notch” cooking and “exceptional” service; too bad the “way-too-loud” acoustics make for “sign-language” conversations, but overall it’s a “nice local place.” ZAGAT


You can make dining reservations by going to our Weekend Planner for contact information. Many dining reservations can be made at OPEN TABLE.



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Avenue
23 Ocean Avenue, Long Branch
EXCELLENT

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When we tried Avenue in the wonderful Pier Village in Long Branch, NJ when it first opened, we thought the oceanfront location spectacular, the space dramatic and the food pretty good. The menu prices were, however, very high, particularly for a “bistro” style restaurant.

A visit this week found the ocean still there, the space as dramatic as ever but other changes make this a place you won’t want to miss. We had two absolutely fantastic meals and the prices have come down substantially where it is now an excellent value for a wonderful experience.

Towering ceilings and lots of windows make this space seem somewhat cavernous at first glance, but then you notice the warming fireplace, the long stainless bar, the booths in the bar area, a raw bar right out on the floor and of course, the amazing ocean views. The beige palette is soothing, the staff young and attractive and even early on a Sunday evening there’s a kind of buzz here.

The menu is classic French brasserie with daily specials like Coquille St. Jacques, Bouillabaisse and Dover Sole. You’ll find standards like charcuterie and fromage, onion soup, escargot and steak frite on the regular menu. But, you’ll want to start with the excellent raw bar, one of the few around, which is strange for an area by the sea. Fresh East and West Coast oysters, shrimp, King crabs, clams and lobster will satisfy just about anyone’s need for “fruits de mer”.

My standard for roast chicken has always been Hamersley’s Bistro in Boston cooked by the acclaimed chef Gordon Hamersley, but I have to tell you this was equally as good, with a crisp skin, tender meat, a pommes puree and fava beans. Paired with an excellent Muscadet, it was a terrific meal.

Jen enjoyed a succulent boeuf bourguignon that literally fell off the fork it was so tender. Served with fresh parpadelle, red wine sauce, braised vegetables and lardons, the flavors were rich and savory.

The desserts are sinful, but don’t miss the crème brulee or the flourless chocolate torte served with a fresh raspberry sauce.

The wine list is very good with some excellent choices and I particularly like the presentation where the wine style is described clearly. While I would like to see more, there are ample choices under $50 in just about every category.

Appetizers:$8-$14, entrees: $16-$34, desserts: $8. Serves lunch, brunch and dinner. All credit cards. Dress: Upscale casual.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: Inside can be noisy when it’s busy, but a table outside on the deck with the lights on the water can be very romantic.

WHAT OTHERS SAY….
“Unusually sophisticated for the Jersey Shore”, this “gorgeous” French brasserie in Long Branch’s Pier Village boasts “delicious” food, “stylish” decor, “sweeping” ocean views and a “scene-and-a-half” vibe, stoked by a “beautiful”, “dressed-up” crowd; “pretty-penny” pricing and “attitude” from the otherwise “professional” staff come with the territory.. ZAGAT

Many dining reservations can be made at OPEN TABLE.
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Remington's
142 Main Street, Manasquan
EXCELLENT

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2012 renovations have made this local's favorite even more inviting with a sophisticated bar area with high tops for a more casual bar menu and the regular dining room for the more formal menu.

This is a beautifully designed restaurant with large storefront windows affording great people watching. There is something magical about a window table here on a rainy or snowy night.

The menu changes seasonally, but here is a sampling: A delicious white bean amuse bouche started our meal and it went uphill from there with a rich and flavorful lobster bisque that had a hint of citrus in it and a wonderful ginger crusted calamari with a Thai basil lime aioli. A thick veal chop was perfectly seasoned and expertly cooked, just pink and served with smashed potatoes and green beans and cherry tomatoes sprinkled with fresh thyme. Grilled swordfish was served with a citrus sauce with mandarin orange slices and capers over roasted potatoes and onions with a side of sauteed spinach and garlic. Delicious.
 
While not usually a dessert eater, I couldn't resist the flourless chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream. Decadent, but oh so satisfying...

There are about 13 wines by the glass and @10 1/2 bottles which is a welcome addition to any list that too many wine lists omit. The wine list, while not particularly deep, has some excellent choices and is organized by price: $25, $35, $45 and $55. Wonderful idea.

Service was crisp and attentive..our wine glass was always full...the bread was warm....they get it.

Appetizers: $8-$13, Entrees: $22-$30.



ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: What is nice about this place is that it is equally enjoyable for a casual dinner in the bar room or a romantic evening in the dining room. Grab a front table in the back room on a rainy or snowy night...nothing better.

WHAT OTHERS SAY...
“Shows promise” is the early word on this Manasquan New American that reworks the former Mahogany Grille space and could be the “closest thing to a NYC restaurant on the Jersey Shore”; the “interesting” seasonal menu is “nicely presented”, and service is “attentive” at this “classy” spot."ZAGAT



You can make dining reservations by going to our Weekend Planner for contact information. Many dining reservations can be made at OPEN TABLE.

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La Dolce Vita
Ocean Avenue, Belmar
EXCELLENT

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La Dolce Vita is a delightful oceanfront restaurant in Belmar serving lunch and dinner every day.

Outside is a canopied patio with about 20 tables which can be closed in during inclement weather and is a delightful place to enjoy the beach beyond and people watch…and there are sure some characters around! While the inside is very nice, we’ll save that for the cold weather, outside is the place to be.

Inside, a marble bar with redwood wine racks behind it, is separated from the dining room by a ½ wall. The walls are done in a beige patterned wallpaper and the room has marble columns, funky hanging globes in a track lighting arrangement and tile floors. The 14 or so tables in the dining room are elegantly set with white tablecloths and sparkling accessories. Large windows on two sides allow you to take in the scene outside.

I have an old adage, when the bread is warm, good things are to come and that was the case here. The pastas are delicious and could be meals unto themselves. Pappardelle Amatriciana…sautĂ©ed onions, pancetta, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, fresh basil, San Marzano tomatoes and parmesan cheese. Or the Tortolini ai Funghi Graitinati filled with goat cheese and tossed with wild mushrooms, asiago, proscuitto, scallions and cream.

Entrees, served with roasted potatoes, string beans and carrots, were equally satisfying. I had a wonderful Pollo Savoya, tender chicken breast with sweet peppers, cherry peppers, garlic, rosemary and a balsamic demi-glaze. Jen’s Veal Fiorentina was sautĂ©ed in a lemon white wine sauce, topped with spinach and melted mozzarella and sprinkled with roasted tomatoes.

The wine list is small but very fairly priced. Most whites are under $35 and reds under $40. We had a wonderful Gavi at $24 on one trip and a surprisingly well priced Amarone at $48 on another. Appetizers range from $5.95 for salads to $16.95. Entrees are in the $19.95-$24.95 range. Seasonal liquor license.




ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: Can be a little loud, but an outside table on a comfortable night can be pretty romantic.



You can make dining reservations by going to our Weekend Planner for contact information. Many dining reservations can be made at OPEN TABLE.

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Brandl
703 Belmar Plaza, Belmar
EXCELLENT

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There’s two reasons locals love Brandl. The first is that the food is awfully good and the second is that everybody likes chef-owner Chris Brandl himself. We’ll talk about the food in a minute.

Brandl is one of those guys who never stops giving of himself and his talent. He’s involved in virtually every local event be it charitable or otherwise. He’s an astute marketer and just an all-around nice guy.

Here’s an example; he started his career at the renowned Farmingdale House, one of the Shore’s great restaurants for many years, under acclaimed chef Toni Froio. Today, every third Tuesday, Toni cooks a Farmingdale House Dinner at Brandl.

As nice as he is though, the restaurant wouldn’t be as popular without great food and that’s why it’s the choice of many for a good evening out.

Located in a strip mall, the space is decorated with bold colors and striking artwork which adds a touch of whimsy to a very serious restaurant.

For starters, the crab cakes are a must. My wife who is something of a crab cake aficionado, thinks they’re among the top few she’s had. I thought the garlic shrimp with snipped chives and a brown roasted garlic butter were fantastic. I’ve also had the signature Kobe beef sliders with truffle mayo that I could make a meal of alone.

My wife will take lobster served out of the shell any time she can get it and Brandl’s “Lazy Lobster” fit the bill. Served with asparagus scallion risotto and “orgasmic” vanilla bean butter, it was a wonderful meal for a summer night at the Shore. My succulent braised short ribs, served with a port demi-glace and garlic mashed potatoes and glazed carrots were tender and rich. Nothing like slow cooking to bring out the flavors.

Dessert was a pre-ordered raspberry chocolate soufflé that was wonderful.

Excellent food, skillful presentation, wonderful tastes, we left pleasantly full and talked about when we would return to sample more dishes.

Appetizers: $11-$15, entrees: $28-$35. BYOB.



ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: When the weather is nice sit outside on the brick patio, under an umbrella amidst the flowers and twinkling lights.



WHAT OTHERS SAY: "Chef Chris Brandl demonstrates his “enormous skill” at this “unpretentious” New American BYO “hidden” in a Shore strip mall; true, it’s “somewhat pricey for Belmar” and the “downscale” decor and “not-that-great” service “could be better”, yet most feel this “little gem” has “special occasion” written all over it." ZAGAT

Many dining reservations can be made at OPEN TABLE.
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Harpoon Willy's
Rt.70, Wall
EXCELLENT

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Sometimes you just want something quick, easy, casual and inexpensive. Here's one of our favorites;

Long operated as a somewhat mediocre pub, Harpoon Willy's on the westbound side of Rt. 70 just before the Brielle Bridge has been revitalized by new owners including Jim Scarponi, late of another favorite, the Ship Wreck Grill. The menu is a big step up from conventional pub food and an excellent wine list completes the transformation. The setting remains the same, however with a great big bar, a huge stone fireplace and views from anywhere out to the Manasquan River. There's a big grill behind the bar and the roasted clams and burgers are as good as they come. The rest of the menu is divided into a raw bar (seafood by the pound), a Butcher Shop (steaks etc) and a Fish Market with a variety of types of fish. You select the item, how you want it cooked, a starch and a sauce. Simple, easy and delicious. This is the perfect place to while away a rainy day or catch a game on TV.


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