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Nov 16, 2008 11:20 AM

Stella Marina - Asbury Park

Stella Marina offers fine Italian cuisine, an extensive wine list and an intimate ambiance overlooking the ocean at Asbury Park. Situated right on the boardwalk next to the old Casio building this restaurant is destined to become one of the hot spots on the Jersey Shore.
It has a large open room on the first floor and another on the second floor, each with their own expansive white marble top bars. Plenty of glass with ocean views and an outside deck upstaris for the summer months.

Offering interesting selectons from apps. salads, pizza, pasta and main courses, my wife and I shared an arugula salad ($10), a shrimp dish ($23) and bronzino ($25) then shared a lemon tart for desert ($7). Everything was delicious. For drinks we had a total of three glasses of Italian Barbara at ($8) per glass. The total bill about $95 before tip was a very fair
price considering the overall dinning experience.

The service was very good considerating that they just opened for business last Monday.
Overall this is a first class restaurant where you can just go to hang at one of the beautiful bars and enjoy a few apps. and spend very little or you can fine dine and break the bank with one of their cellar selections of wine. They are already seeing a nice crowd of patrons just by work of mouth. Their web site is not up yet but should be soon.

In any event this restaturant will be THE place to be in Asbury Park come next summer -guaranteed!

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  1. Just a note, this restaurant is run by the same people that run Serena in Long Branch, Scalini Fedeli in Chatam and a few other Italian restaurants in New York. Personally I have always enjoyed my meals at Serena. I am excited to give this restaurant a try. I am pretty sure that the same chef who runs this spot is also the chef in Long Branch, so it is not a surprise that the food seems to be a success.

    1. this post reads a lot like an informercial, or a free advertisement... I've grown skeptical of most of the Asbury Park restaurants of late... seems the packaging never lives up to the substance (see The Harrison, Carmine's, Salt Water)....

      12 Replies
      1. re: aklein

        I agree with your comments, most Asbury restaurants simply do not live up to their expectations. The Salt Water Cafe is a prime example as it just never got off the ground. I'm hoping that Stella Marina will be that rare exception like TAKA for example. I do realize that I gush about it above and make no appologies for doing so. It is a first class establishment.

        But, in the real world many thinge can go wrong in this business and honestly i would not bet the farm on my one meal experience. However, that said - you go there and give us you opinoin which is valued. Thanks.

        1. re: JerzeyShore

          Jerzey - I'm interested to know if you have ever dined at the sister restaurant Sirena in Long Branch? I've read mixed reviews, OTOH, Scalini Fedeli is pretty much universally held in high regard.

          1. re: bgut1

            bgut1, no I have not dined at Sirena in Long Branch and did not know there was a connection with Stella Marina until I read the above post. Interesting though, the main draw on this place will be the ocean views along with a very nice ambiance.
            The space is big and on two levels. This is not intimate fine dinnig as you find at Trinity or Drews. It will draw hugh crowds next summer for sure. Check it out when you get a chance and give us your thoughts.

            1. re: JerzeyShore

              Jerzey - I plan on doing so. Again, thanks for the review and reply.

              1. re: bgut1

                I have been watching them build this restaurant and am happy to hear it is finally open. Great location and great decor (or so it seems from peeking in the window). The outside deck will be a great addition to the somewhat limited amount of oceanview dining we have at the shore. I have tried Sirena in LB and while it was good for the most part, the shrimp in the seafood pasta dish that I ordered was overcooked, which is an inexcusable rookie mistake. Still, I am looking forward to trying Stella Marina, and reading more Chow posts.

                1. re: DinnerChick11

                  Anyone else try this place? I'm thinking of giving it a shot this weekend.

                  1. re: bgut1

                    The DW and I decided to try Stella Marina on Saturday night. Given the fact that it is only two weeks old, I would characterize the restaurant as a work in progress.

                    While the space is beautiful (very NYC – think Otto - I especially liked the large “bottle” chandeliers) and the food is top notch, the service was amateurish and the kitchen could not handle the crowd. It took over two hours before we were served our entrees (apps took over an hour). While my osso buco with risotto and peas was prepared properly, my DW’s lamb chop had to be returned twice as it was completely undercooked. When it was finally returned (after finishing my entrée), the chop was excellent. I especially enjoyed the sausage and peppers which accompanied the dish. For apps we tried a gnocchi special (with tomato sauce, basil and buffalo mozzarella) and fried calamari. The gnocchi while tasting homemade was overcooked and was not warm enough. The calamari on the other hand was tender and the coating and marinara sauce both had a nice kick to them. The desserts did interest us as they were quite pedestrian (think typical Italian – cannoli, tartufo, tiramisu, cookies and gelato). Management did the right thing and properly addressed the matter apologizing for accepting too many walk ins resulting in the kitchen “being in the weeds” for most of the evening. The professional way in which they handled the mater, the quality of the food as well as the design of the restaurant merits giving them another shot. I hope to return in the coming months and suggest you give the restaurant a chance after it gets its “legs”.

                    1. re: bgut1

                      Hey, b.,

                      You and Mrs. bgut really are foodie troopers! An hour to get your apps and *three* tries for them to get the lamb chops right?!!

                      I am surprised that when the lamb chops had to be returned you didn't send back your osso buco as well. A long time ago, Mr. R. and I agreed that when it's just the two of us, if there's a problem with one of our dishes, we send both of them back, thus eliminating the very annoying situation of one of us eating while the other is left sitting there with no food.

                      You didn't mention prices. I've not found a website. (Do they have one?) But I did find an article that says pastas are in the teens and mains $19 - $30. Does that mesh with the cost for your dinner? If so, that would be along the lines of Convivio, in NYC. If the food at Stella Marina is as fine as it is at Convivio, that would be something!

                      1. re: RGR

                        R - At that point in time, I was too hungry to return my dish. As far as prices, I thought they were quite fair. I seem to recall that both our entrees were in the low 20's. I need to correct an error in my post above. My DW had the pork chop instead of the lamb. Sorry for any confusion. :)

                        1. re: bgut1

                          I look forward to visiting this place, but I would hate to wait 2 hours for an entree...reminds me of Jimmy's in its heyday when Big Daddy was cooking and the waits were long long long

                          1. re: beentheredonethat

                            I have a loose rule for such situations. I like to give a totally new place at least 3 months to work out the kinks that all new places suffer from, both in the kitchen, the dining room and anywhere in between. If it is an establishment that has changed management but retained most of the staff I'll give them 4 or 5 weeks unless, like Charlies Ocean Grill, they have been through extensive renovations. In that case I treat them as a "New" establishment.

                            1. re: equal_Mark

                              Good point Mark. However, there is a bit of a "thrill" being one of the first to try out a new restaurant.

      2. Had dinner there last Saturday on a recommendation. The food was good, the service was not. The restaurant is VERY noisy, so if you were hoping for a quiet dinner go somewhere else. If you hope to have conversation with dinner, go somewhere else.

        I think it's WAY overpriced too. I don't mind paying but I expect superior service. This was below par for any restaurant.

        My wife and I are certain we won't be going back, nor will we recommend it.

        5 Replies
        1. re: BigPops51

          Complaints about noise and service (including wait time for food) have been pretty consistent. However, I have thought myself and heard from others that the prices seemed very reasonable. What, in particular, did you find to be overpriced? Thanks in advance.

          1. re: Nicholasfan

            After a search on here ,there are four or five almost identically headed threads on this place - infuriating! Anyhow.....stopped in over the w/e and found the place to be packed.From the moment we arrived the vast army of young and obviously novice staff spent too much time bumping into each other or looking for direction.The annoying use of earphones while trying to coordinate seating plans within this fairly vast space may be well intentioned,but seemingly needs refining.The bartender was able to look straight through me ,and it took numerous verbal attempts and hand hand gestures before we were recognised.All this while seated inches away.The only redeeming factor was that this person who had an apparent permanent colagen induced scowl ( so young and yet so bitter - it must be something in the Asbury air? ) also suffered from a particularly weak wrist and managed to pour a considerably better drink in our favor.This was again poor training / management and by no means done as any form of reconciliation for the horrendous wait for food.Talking of which, food was O.K.-$17 small portions of patsa seved on oversize plates is what pays the rent and affords you an ocean view,but could taste so much better with a well managed and trained staff.Yes it was busy,the kitchen was in the weeds,i'll possibly try them again mid-week,but the truth of the matter is,if a restaurant is well run none of these thoughts should enter my head?

            1. re: xny556cip

              I waited for the summer traffic to subside before returning to Stella. Last night was the first time we had been back in a few months. We sat upstairs and regrettably had a few issues. First, although the room wasn't full, it was uncomfortably loud. Second, the beautiful view of the ocean was marred by dirty windows. Last, while the food was good, the portion sizes were ridiculously small. This wasn't something we had experienced on our previous visits. The two items were the Gamberoni alla Arrabiata (Spicy shrimp, garlic, pepperoncini, oregano, parsley) ($14) and the Chilean Sea Bass (Branzino preparation) ($26). The appetizer consisted of three lonely shrimp on a large rectangular plate. The dish looked ridiculous and for $14 I was expecting at least one more shrimp. Heck, I would have paid another $1 for one shrimp. The entree was also a joke. The piece of fish was one inch wide by three inches long. I called the waiter over to complain about the size and he responded that the fish is weighed and portioned in the kitchen and was at least 8 ounces. There was no way in heck it was four ounces let alone eight. To the waiter's credit he did offer another entree which we rejected as we didn't wish to wait. A manager did come over to apologize and acknowledge the deficient size of the entree. That being said, I took issue with the fact that no accommodation was made with regard to the bill. While I intend to return to Stella I doubt it will be for some time.

              1. re: bgut1

                bgut, sorry to hear about the disappointment at Stella. Sounds like they have some consistency problems.
                Dinner with friends last night at Trinity. Good meal, need to post on it if I get some time.

                1. re: tom246

                  RGR - Its funny you mention Drew's and Belford as was trying to convince the DW to go as we were walking into the restaurant. As far as Allegretti , any pix?

                  tom - I look forward to the review. As I've previously posted, I've never been there for dinner due to its proximity to Drew's as well as its somewhat "eclectic" menu (which may not be a problem for me but for the DW and other guests).

        2. It's irritating that the initial post reads like an advertisement right from the desk of the manager of Stella. That said, we've been a bunch of times since they opened and generally speaking, I really like the place. Consistency is surely an issue - sometimes the food is great and the service crap. Other times, it's a switcharoo. Either way it's worth a visit.

          4 Replies
          1. re: meohmy

            meohmy - I agree that the food is usually good. However, unless they correct these consistency issues, they will lose business most notably mine.

            1. re: bgut1

              Totally agree, b., about their losing business. Whatever inclination I might have about trying Stella Marina is soured when I read about inconsistencies in both food and service. And when it comes to repeat business, it's definitely a restaurant's bread and butter. I suppose there are some who are willing to risk returning even if things don't go well. But, eventually, even those people will go away permanently.

              1. re: bgut1

                My wife & I and 2 close friends were at Stella this past Saturday evening. They had a good crowd both upstairs and down. We sat upstairs. None of us had been there and we were excited to try it. Unfortunately it was a major disappointment. The table was not set up correctly, 2 bread plates instead of 4. One appetizer plate had to be returned as it was dirty. The service was slow and woefully inattentive. It was even borderline incompetent as when some guy came by and filled up my friend's Sprite glass with "more water"! The noise was almost unbearable, we could really not have a conversation. The food was OK, some things small portioned such as the vitello limone. My veal - vitello capriocossa - was way too thin and cooked dry as a result. The calamari appetizer was good, as were the stuffed mushrooms. If this were the summer season, we might have been more understanding of the whole experience, but it was not. Stella is wasting a beautiful location! Get it together! I don't think we'll be back anytime soon.

                1. re: legaldude

                  I agree LEGALDUDE. the service has gotten much better this summer, however, the menu is VERY limited and they never have any specials !! They still let people smoke on the upstairs deck which is very annoying, there is a sign NO SMOKING, but they do not enforce it. Also, they do not try to please the customer. They REFUSE to offer a half portion of pasta to have as an appetizer !! Is that such a difficult request ?? considering how limited the menu is, you would think they would try and work with the customer to make them happy.

                  Stella Marina Bar & Restaurant
                  1200 Ocean Ave, Asbury Park, NJ 07712

            2. My friends and I ate dinner at Stella Marina a few weeks ago, sitting out on the deck on a Saturday night. On balance I thought our food was good and the service quite fine (our waitress was clearly an experienced "career" server, which I appreciate). That said, I was appalled at the value proposition, or lack thereof. I was the only one of our table of five to stick with appetizers (a softshell crab special, which was excellent, and a prosciutto-arugula salad). My food cost about $25 total, and I thought that was about right. My friends all had appetizers and then entrees; these were in the $23-$28 range, and so tiny as to be laughable. I believe it was the shrimp al'Arrabiata (somebody correct me if I got that name wrong) that was the most egregious--four shrimp on a miniscule heap of pasta, at something like $27. At least they could be more generous with the pasta! I got as much food with my softshell crab as my friend did with the shrimp.

              My other gripe was that all of our food arrived lukewarm. We were sitting at the farthest point from the kitchen, at the far end of the deck, but it was still clear that it didn't even start out hot. We were all hungry, so we ate it anyway, but we did make a mention of it to our waitress. She was properly apologetic, but no one offered anything compensatory.

              My food was indeed quite good, so I wouldn't write Stella Marina off altogether. Still, if I were to go back, it would be on a slower night (the place was packed when we were there) and with a very careful ordering strategy--no entrees!

              Stella Marina Bar & Restaurant
              1200 Ocean Ave, Asbury Park, NJ 07712

              1 Reply
              1. re: travelmad478

                We went there a few weeks ago, and the pizza was so friggin good. Luckily I saw a table of 4 women with delicious-looking thin crust pizza in front of each of them at the bar while we were waiting for our table. Split it as an app, didn't care that my bf initially didn't want any, "I'll take half home," I said. My instincts were dead on. Cannot wait to have that pizza again.