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Mar 30, 2007 07:54 PM

Bistro 44 - Toms River

I don't know how many of you get the chance to visit my little neck of the woods, but I wanted to let you know about this really solid restaurant on Washington Street in downtown Toms River. First and foremost, I have no affiliation with this place. I am just very happy lunch regular that wants to put the word out about the fantastic food being offered at Bistro 44. As many of you know we have been hit pretty hard in downtown TR of late when it comes to restaurants. Both Jeffrey's and the Downtown Restaurant closed several years back and now Slowly (the successor to the Jeffrey's) has recently closed. I don't want to see the last quality restaurant in town close. That being said, I know the Bistro does a decent business (I'm sure even better since Slowly closed) however, I'm sure extra business and word of mouth wouldn't hurt. Please check out their website at and give the place a try. You will not be disappointed. By way of specific example, this afternoon, I had a phenomenal grilled tuna salad with mixed greens, snap peas, roasted peppers and mixed spring greens in a red wine vinaigrette. Everything was super fresh, the tuna was perfectly seared with a beautiful rare center and the salad was properly dressed. Commitment to quality like this should be rewarded. Otherwise without our support, these places will close down and we (at least us in TR) will be left with only McDonald's and Subway. Thanks.

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  1. I too live in this area and have a hard timing finding a decent restaurant for lunch let alone a great dinner. Do you know if they take reservations for a large party (8 or 10)? A group of us try to get together every month or so and are always looking for a new place to dine. I am going to suggest Bistro-44. I will post after dining there and give my opinion.
    Thanks again and if you have any other suggestions, please let us locals know.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Babs16

      You should have no problem with a large party reservation. They have a nice size room off to the side that is perfect for large parties. We have had some nice office luncheons there with about 20 people, so 10 should be fine. Have a great time and please don't forget to let us know how you liked it.

      1. re: bgut1

        The chef of this place actually appeared and won on Chopped on the food network. I haven't gotten a chance to try it yet, but if he withstood that, I have to think he's at the very least creative and has good flavor :)

        1. re: lividbeez

          You are probably getting confused with the previous chef and owner, Eric Witherspoon, who won chopped back in 2010 (?). He has since sold the restaurant and moved on. Unless you mean the current chef has won Chopped as well?

          1. re: JerZ Wine Geek

            I wasn't aware that he sold honestly as I don't get there that often but within the last six months they were still advertising at the restaurant and on their website that the chef had won chopped. I haven't checked recently to see if they still are

            1. re: lividbeez

              I think this is closed. I'll drive past tomorrow and let you know.

    2. I did not know Slowly closed? I really enjoyed my meals there. What a shame.

      I feel your pain. Nothing in your area. I will give this place a shot. I will post when I do!

      3 Replies
      1. re: Angelina

        Angelina - Over the past year, the food at Slowly seemed to trail off. I also felt bad dining there prior to their close as the place was always empty. I should have known things were in bad shape when about 6 months ago they started to advertise a $14.95 early bird dinner special (first sign of trouble per Bourdain in Kitchen Confidential). I hope you do in fact try Bistro 44 as Chef Eric is quite the talent. Please let us know what you think. Good Luck.

        1. re: bgut1

          I went there for the first time for a nice romantic dinner two weeks ago. First impression was a quaint, quiet little joint, but we were about to be pleasantly surprised. My tastebuds had a field day. The menu was small but there was something for everybody. While we waited we got warm bread and olive oil to dip in. We started with fried oysters with black-eyed peas. Delicious! I got the Long Island roasted duck breast with pearl onions and cardomom and mashed sweet potato. That dish was delectible and probably the best duck I've ever had. Lastly, and the best part of the meal was cappuccino and rosemary crem brulee with fruits. It was so sinful and the rosemary was surprising but tied everything together. It was a memorable meal to say the least!

          1. re: goose9280

            Goose - I'm happy you enjoyed one of my favorite restaurants. B44 is an oasis in the desert that is the Ocean County dining scene. Good Luck.

      2. The original comment has been removed
        1. Hi, it's my birthday on Friday and my husband told me I can pick the restaurant. I saw your post on Bistro 44 and it looks really good. Do they have a liquor license? Also, what is the dress code (I never know what to wear)? Thanks!

          4 Replies
          1. re: k8t13

            Happy Birthday!! It is BYOB. As far as dress is concerned, casual is fine but for dinner I would recommend anything except jeans. Enjoy your meal ... have a blast.

            1. re: bgut1

              Thank you so much. BYOB-even better!!!

              1. re: bgut1

                Thank you so much for recommending Bistro 44. My husband and I had an excellent dinner. We started with the Duck Spring Rolls-yum and we had the corn and crab bisque (a special that night). Both were outstanding! For our entees, we both had specials. I had scallops, asparagus and mushrooms over Linguine with a dijon white wine sauce. It was very good. The scallops were cooked to perfection and the sauce was excellent. My husband had Soft Shell Crabs. It came with a ham and sherry sauce which he didn't eat and asparagus and Basamati rice. The seasoning on the crabs was wonderful. We shared a Molten Lava cake for dessert-WOW! It had cookies and cream gelati and fresh strawberries on the side. Everything was delicious. The waitress was so nice and helpful. We were surprised at how empty it was for a Friday night. There were only maybe 5 tables seated. I would definitely go back again though. Thanks again for telling me about it!

                1. re: k8t13

                  k8t13 - I am so happy you enjoyed your meal. The food there is fabulous. I agree it should be more crowded considering the quality of food and service. That is why I'm trying to drum up support. I too enjoyed the soft shell crabs for lunch on Friday in the daily special chef's salad.

            2. Thanks - bgut1. I am straying from my home site in DC because I have a business trip to Toms River area later this week. Looks like Bistro-44 will be one of my stops. I feel better now...I went to trip advisor and The Olive Garden was rated the best restaurant in town. If you have any other sugggestions please advise. Always looking for good seafood and I don't mind driving 10-15 miles for it.

              10 Replies
              1. re: Alexvamike

                Hello Alexvamike. The Olive Garden comment gave me a chuckle. Its pretty bad in TR but far from a culinary wasteland. You just have to now where to go. Here are couple more suggestions. I like Basil T's on Hooper Avenue right near the Ocean County Mall. Its a brew pub with solid continental fare, salads , pizza etc. A good comfortable place. Another fun casual place is the Labrador Lounge in Normandy Beach, NJ (about 10 miles out of down town). As far as Italian is concerned, I would try either Villa Amalfi or Caffe Italia. For very good colombian/mexican try La Familiar in the Stella Plaza. For Indian cusine try Aamantran. Even though we are right next to the Atlantic, I can't recommend a seafood in the direct vicinity. The closest I can think of is Spikes in Point Pleasant Beach (very basic seafood shack decor). The food is very fresh (right off the boat) simply prepared and fairly priced. Spikes is located about 15 miles from TR. Although I've never been, friends recommend the Shipwreck Grille in Brielle (about 17 miles out of downtown) for seafood in a "nicer" surrounding. Good luck and let me know where you went.

                1. re: bgut1

                  Good on you bgut1. I dined last night at Bistro-44 and what a pleasant meal at a bargain price compared to what I am used to paying. The BYOB thing through me a curve ball but the helpful staff sent me out ...I got a beer and a nice wine and was right back. I usually prefer to select my entree and then pick my wine so I grabbed a NZ White and crossed my fingers they had decent fish or chicken...they did...and it worked great. Funny, I stayed at the Ramada Inn. I asked Where is the B-44? "Never heard of it" was the response. Had to dig it out of the yellow pages on my own...but glad I did. Thanks.

                  1. re: Alexvamike

                    Alexvamike - Your welcome. I am truly happy you enjoyed it. Doesn't surprise me about the Ramada folks. Don't tell me ... the white was a Kim Crawford SB? BYOB's are great. It keeps the cost of dinner down and nothing bothers me more than paying up to a 300% markup on wine I can get around the corner. I hope you had a decent time in TR.

                    1. re: bgut1

                      Alexvamike - I ate lunch there this afternoon. My favortie waitperson Judy recalls you coming in Wednesday night and had nothing but nice things to say. Again, I am very happy you enjoyed your meal.

                      1. re: bgut1

                        Having never actually eaten dinner at Bistro 44, I decided to put my money were my mouth was and dine there this past weekend. Considering how good the lunches were, I had quite high expecations. While I wasn't blown away by the meal, it was quite solid. We ordered as follows: a grilled quail with homemade BBQ sauce special (okay but nothing to write home about), their signature shrimp appetizer (my wife raved about it - the one bite I had was very good), the gazapacho soup with shrimp (excellent although the serving was a little miserly for the price), a cowboy steak on the bone and potato puree (excellent flavored butter on steak made the dish, large size steak, very well prepared and properly cooked) and grilled opakapaka (hawaiian pink snapper) with coconut jasmine rice and pineapple salsa (perfectly cooked, a well conceived and beautiful entree - the best of the nite), lava chocolate cake (standard but good) and various gelatos (good - but not homemade - ciao bella I understand). Price for the above excluding tip was about $125. I would have been more enthused had not had the mind blowing meal for the same price at One 53 the week prior. All in all, however, a very good meal and clearly the best your going to get in Ocean County. Good Luck.

                        1. re: bgut1

                          As many of you know I'm a big fan of this restaurant and while I eat there regularly for lunch, I don't have occasion to eat dinner there that often. In fact, my last post reminds me that I haven't had dinner at B44 in almost 6 months. This evening however myself and several colleagues had a business dinner at the restaurant. As usual the food was excellent. My meal consisted of the "duck trilogy" appetizer which comprised of an exemplary duck spring roll (perfectly crisp and greaseless), a generous scoop of duck rillettes with toast points (better then your mom's chopped liver) and slices of smoked duck breast over a diced red fruit of some sort (just a spectacular app). For the entree I choose the short ribs (2 nice sized chunks) with collard greens and cheese grits. While I've had short ribs in every kind of configuration, this combination was probably the best I've ever enjoyed. On paper it didn't sound like it would work, but the flavor combination was perfect. The collards were a nice consistency (toothsome - not to mushy but not too hard) and lacked any bitterness while the cheese grits were the best I've ever eaten. Too bad it was unseasonably warm this evening as the dish would have been perfect for a cold night. The only slight disappointment was the dessert. Staying in a southern mood, I decided to order the warm pecan pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Instead of the ideal slice of pie (topped with a layer of large pecans and a buttery crust), it was more a slender and thin tart with very little crust and crushed pecans. While decent it wasn't what I was expecting. The saving grace for the dessert however was the excellent scoop of vanilla IC. I am happy to report that for a Wednesday evening, the restaurant was pretty full. If located in Monmouth County I would eat dinner at B44 every week. Good Luck.

                          1. re: bgut1

                            I just wanted to let everyone know that Chef Erik has just changed his lunch menu (and is about to do the same with the dinner one). Two new notable additions to the lunch menu are the trio of sliders (kobe burger, pulled pork and crab cake) with sweet potato fries and homemade coleslaw with grapes and mandarin oranges - (my tablemates raved) and the ahi tuna salad with jicama salad and peanut dressing (perfectly seared tuna atop a melange of field greens with a slighty spicy dressing). Chef Erik continues to amaze. Good Luck.

                            1. re: bgut1

                              Thank you so much for recommending places down here in toms river, bgut1. It's always hard to find places near this neck of the woods. Every time I see this post resurrected, I keep reminding myself to go try out Bistro 44. In fact, I even have a gift certificate to it. I just keep forgetting. :( On another note, have you tried the mexican-columbian place on route 166? It's called el familiar.

                              1. re: alielle

                                alielle - It's my pleasure to help. I hope you enjoy your meal at B44. Please let us know what you think. Yes, I have been to El Familiar. It's very good as well. Good Luck.

                                1. re: alielle

                                  El Familiar is excellent - super clean, super fresh, very reasonably priced - we've been going there since it first opened, and it seems to be growing in popularity as word of mouth spreads - always a good sign. The menu is quite extensive, and I've yet to order something in which I found myself disappointed.