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Jan 5, 2009 10:00 AM

What are your favorite OCEAN COUNTY Fine Dining Restaurants?....

I know many of your favorites are up in Monmouth County like Drews Bistro, Trinity, Belford Bistro & many other excellent choices in Redbank , Long Branch & in my travels working or pleasure I enjoy riding to dine at places all over the state. Here we have Bistro 44, River Market (now open for dinner) Villa Amalfi, Café Italia, ...but I wondered if Chowhounders can list or recommend a few more good “Ocean County” places from
Toms River to Tuckerton etc. as we moved here only last April.

Thank You

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  1. i must say i had a great meal at bistro 44 last week. Thank god for you being here eric!!!!!

    other than that, i have been down here for a year and a half.... never heard of river market? Bistro44 is it as i refuse to go out for italian(usually italian/american) food. save the money and go to nobi, ben's extreme bbq, the german butcher, el familiar, and basil t's specials. i have tried the portuguese grill once and it was good, certainly not fine dining. waiting to try indian place on rte 9.......

    1 Reply
    1. re: chefMD

      I haven't been to Aamantran since early summer, but wasn't thrilled. See postings here:

    2. For us Bistro 44 is the best in Ocean County. Need to get to Ben's extreme to sample the BBQ.
      A couple of years ago friends took us to George's restaurant in Bricktown. We wern't expecting much but our meal was very good. Its been two years but I would give it a try.

      4 Replies
      1. re: tom246

        Ocean County and "fine dining" is somewhat incongruous. I agree with the above posters that Bistro 44 is the best restaurant in the county. After that I would probably recommend Atlantic Bar and Grill in Seaside Park.
        Chef - I'm happy you enjoyed B44. Erik is the real deal and we are lucky to have him here in TR. You need to give River Market Cafe a try. I eat there several times a week for lunch and the food is very good.

        1. re: bgut1

          menu looks interesting but...... i have to wonder what they are serving at those prices for dinner???? scallops for 17$, salmon the same, 18$ ribeye? maybe lunch is the time to try????? got another suggestion, trying to figure out for tonight???

          1. re: chefMD

            Chef - While I can't speak of the dinner menu, I have had lunch there on more occasssions than I can count and can assure that you'll like the food. If your interested in doing lunch, please let me know and I would be happy to join you. As far as tonite, since B44 is closed, I would suggest either El Familiar or Nobi. Other than that your pretty much stuck in the big O.C (you can however try Wang Sushi, Aamantran and the new Afghan or Peruvian restaurants). Good Luck.

        2. re: tom246

          Tom .......I heard good things about Georges....Thank you its on my list.

        3. Not sure if I would classify it as 'fine dining', but Shipwreck Grill in Brielle is one of my favorites and has gotten pretty good reviews on this site. Go for the fish. Decent prices and a liqour license. Try this at least once to see if you're sold too.

          3 Replies
          1. re: bnemes3343

            bnemes - Not to be a stickler but Brielle is in Monmouth County.

            1. re: bgut1

              Actually I thought it was in Ocean, but yes, it is in southern Monmouth. Can't be more than a few feet from the county line though and definitely worth it.

            2. re: bnemes3343

              I'd second the Shipwreck. Clearly a stone's throw from Ocean county. If the OP is willing to travel a bit, some parts of TR are close enough for a good meal.

            3. Please don't go in to Villa Amalfi or Cafe Italia ::choke:: and expect "fine dining;" you'd have better luck going to Pizza Hut and finding a coal oven.

              Ocean County is generally a waste land and after years and years of disappointments, we don't even bother looking around anymore. There are a scant few jems:

              1. Red's Lobster Pot, Point Pleasant Beach - not deep, but solid with the freshest lobsters anywhere right off the owners boats
              2. Nobi, Toms River - most superb Japanese around
              3. Labrador Lounge, Normandy Beach - Same owners/chef of Asbury Park's Market In The Middle
              4. Villa Vittoria, Brick - one of the better old school, non haute-Italian joints I've been to this side of Manhattan

              Members of my family keep dragging us to El Familiar but I can't stand the place; we gave up on Basil T's in Toms River long, long ago. The food was too spotty, the service even less consistent, and frankly, not good enough to justify not driving to Red Bank for the sublime original, which I'll admit also has its ups and downs. There's supposed to be some decent things down on Long Beach Island, but I rarely make it down there these days. When I do, it 's to go to The Chicken Or The Egg for wings.

              Bistro 44 and River Market are sounding better and better everytime I hear about them.

              7 Replies
              1. re: BeerWeezil

                BeerWeezil - Just to let you know the owner of Labrador Lounge, Marilyn Schlossbach, no longer owns Market in the Middle.

                1. re: bgut1

                  bgut1 I had jury duty this week in TR but unfortunately didn't get to try RiverMarketCafe. I have heard from others how enjoyable it is and still have plans to go there. If I have jury duty again tomorrow, I will put it on my will go to list.

                  1. re: Babs16

                    That's too bad Babs. I was there for lunch today. Hopefully you will get a chance to try it soon. Good Luck.

                  2. re: bgut1

                    Actually, I didn't know that it changed hands. Shows you how long it's been since I've been to Market in The Middle!

                    1. re: bgut1

                      Just to let you know, Marilyn was never an owner of Market in the Middle. She just called herself that.

                    2. re: BeerWeezil


                      "2. Nobi, Toms River - most superb Japanese around"

                      are you saying Nobi is better then Sushi by KAZU in Howel on rt9?

                      if so I'll give it a try as I have never had anything better then Kazu in NJ.

                      1. re: Tapas52

                        I would second Nobi - it is simply the best sushi in Ocean and better than anything I have ever had in Monmouth as well. Sushi for the purist so to speak. It is better than
                        Kazu which I have been to many times. But, those wasabi dumplings at Kazu are not to be beaten by anyone ever ...

                    3. Tapas, I suspect we each have our own interpretation of “fine dining” as much as we have our own opinions of the chow itself. When I think “fine dining restaurant,” I expect certain aspects of a meal to come together very well – and in an intended way – to achieve a particular and noteworthy experience for the customer: inspired food prepared and presented well, attentive service, and pleasing ambiance; and throughout it all, an attention to detail that shows me that the restaurant wants to make a good impression on me.

                      A fine dining restaurant to me is one where I feel comfortable having a business dinner and want to go to for a special personal occasion. For this, I’m even willing to pay a little more than usual.

                      In large cities, I’d have an expectation of a minimum dress code (although this doesn’t seem to hold up in Los Angeles, where guys wear baseball caps and sneakers to the finest restaurants … and it drives me crazy), but here in Ocean County, maybe not so much.

                      I’d also like to see full bar service available, but again, here in New Jersey where we have a very strong BYO presence, maybe not so much.

                      Here’s what has to say on fine dining:

                      I’ve been in Toms River for a little over a year now, and have to echo Bgut’s response: only Bistro 44 and Atlantic Bar & Grill have measured up to my expectations for fine dining. I think Villa Vittoria and Villa Amalfi aspire to be fine dining establishments. I visit the former frequently and like it (as it's close to home and comfortable); I haven't been to the latter.

                      Like Tapas, if anyone has recommendations for other places (Point Pleasant? LBI?), I’d love to hear about them!

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: njfreqflyer

                        njfreqflyer et all.....Thank you for your replies hope to hear more on this topic. A bit more south is fine with me also.

                        1. re: njfreqflyer

                          Both Yellowfin and Blue(both LBI) should be included on any list of Ocean County fine dining establishments. Plantation in Harvey Cedars is worthy of mention as well.

                          1. re: newfie29

                            Are these LBI restaurants open off season also?

                            1. re: Tapas52

                              Plantation is open year round. Unfortunately the other two are seasonal - April through the end of October.

                            2. re: newfie29

                              I would also add La Spiaggia which serves very good Italian. Only reason we don't get there more often is LBI is a haul.

                            3. re: njfreqflyer

                              Very well put, njfreqflyer, well put indeed.