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Asbury Park Saturday Night

Friends from out of town want to see AP (and I don't blame them). Our go-to spot is generally Langosta, but these days my dh thinks the place is overrated and overpriced. My thinking is either Langosta or McLoone's for dinner followed by Watermark for drinks. I don't want to deal with parking twice, or I would definitely go a few blocks inland. Moonstruck is terrible value for the dollar, so that's out.

Given the choices on the boardwalk, where would you go? Your timely responses are deeply appreciated.

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  1. I'd have drinks on the boardwalk, but dinner at Taka. And you'll def need a reservation.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Curlz

      I would have drinks at Watermark - great ambiance, view, and creative cocktails - followed by dinner at Stella Marina. The spiedino (not sure if I spelled this right) and bolognese is fabulous. Bistro Ole is good also. Afterwards check out the Beach Bar, Aqua, or the new place Porta. Porta has a great outside beer garden with bocci ball. Have fun!

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

      Bistro Ole
      230 Main St, Asbury Park, NJ 07712

      1. re: dannan

        +1 for Watermark and Stella Marina (however I haven't been back to SM in quite a while and friends have complained of recent issues with the food and service).

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

        1. re: dannan

          Just had dinner at Stella Marina last weekend and it was as good as I remembered. We like to split the pizza as an app, my SO had the bolognese and enjoyed it very much. I had the veal saltimbocca- not so great, but wasn't in the mood for seafood which they do so well.

          One thing I've noticed from dining at Stella is that they have very good service. It really adds to the experience.

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

      2. I find Langosta to be a terrible value as well as Stella Marina and the Watermark (when one factors in price, food quality as well as quantity with the latter having nothing to do with my wanting Italian family style portins). The few true values (with quality) that exist in AP remain Taka, & Moonstruck (imho)

        Many folks are down on MS - don't know why. Beautiful ambience, good cocktails and a menu that remains solid if not the 'same' for those of us who have dined there over the years. I've yet to walk out of MS feeling shorted or wanting.

        Me? I've resigned myself to a bucket of greenies and pub food from the BSB where I get good value, a grungy hipness and none of the faux posers that I now see habituating on the boards.

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

        9 Replies
        1. re: JustJake

          Is a faux poser a genuine person? Seems like a double negative.

          1. re: tommy

            Bad wording Tommy. What I meant to say is we have diners waxing about places that I feel aren't worth the money or the effort. Substitute: irrational exuberance - most of these spots don't deserve a second visit.

            Which brings to me to the following. I'll be entertaing some business vendors of mine in a couple of weeks. It will be Asbury and it will be for cocktails/happy hour - and maybe some some small plates - and it has to be on the boardwalk. We'll have some laughs and small plates/appys are usually pretty good.

            1. re: JustJake

              I had some perfectly acceptable food and drink at Cubacan and Langosta Lounge recently. In the context of "boardwalk restaurants", they were certainly fine and better than they needed to be. Possibly not destination restaurants though. And most of these new places seemed to be very similar in style/concept/decor. Not much in the way of diversity.

              But compared to what one has to eat in Point Pleasant or Seaside, where sticky fly-filled bars with not much more than warm Coors Light is the standard, I'll take these joints any day.

              I'm more interested in the place that has a piece of plywood announcing that it's now open and serves Neapolitan pizza.

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              Langosta Lounge
              1000 Ocean Ave, Asbury Park, NJ 07712

              1. re: tommy

                tommy, agreed as to the Point/Seaside comments. I don't step foot on either boardwalk, even if I'm invited to the occasional corporate event on the PPB boards (Tiki Bar???).

                I guess, I'm getting a bit more calculating when it comes to the equation of $$ spent for a meal vs subjective/objective end result of my meeting as to quality, good portion, service, etc.

                1. re: JustJake

                  I hear ya. Langosta Lounge lists 1 ounce of Milagro tequila for 9 dollars. Who serves 1 ounce of tequila? And 9 dollars?

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                  Langosta Lounge
                  1000 Ocean Ave, Asbury Park, NJ 07712

            1. re: tuxedo

              Bond Street Bar - dive with good food that AP definitely needs more of. It's a shoebox of a bar too.

            2. re: JustJake

              I've only been to Taka once but it didn't stike me as being a good value - I remember feeling like I was overpaying a bit - I got a couple of their rolls and none of them seemed much better than the specialty rolls others are serving. What would you recommend there?

              1. re: joonjoon

                The Jumbo Shumai (pork + shrimp combined) are excellent; they've been on the specials menu on two recent visits. The spicy calamari (fried) is a must-order when we go. Even their salad is good (and HUGE--share it)!
                The only sushi I like is tuna, and of late, I'm stuck on the Red Dragon roll, which, for $15, is a good value imo. Shrimp tempura inside, tuna and spicy mayo on the outside. I can usually eat 1.5 of them--2 if I don't get a big app. I think they're pretty large rolls.
                One of my friends had the branzino the last time we went and she's still raving about it...
                I just think the quality of the food is excellent.

            3. Ate there the other night. Had Lobster mac and cheese. Please, was there any lobster in it? Salad as main course was supposed to be sweet melon, cheese, pine nuts on arugula with some kind of light dressing. No cheese, not pine nuts, maybe walnuts? I counted 4 pieces of bite sized honeydew. This was a $15 salad. Guest had short ribs. So dry, no sauce, nothing. Taka's infinitley better.
              Marilyn needs to go back and take a look at all her places and make sure they are keeping up to her standards. This is highly over-rated. Not going back. Only good thing was service.

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              Langosta Lounge
              1000 Ocean Ave, Asbury Park, NJ 07712

              4 Replies
              1. re: never2tan

                Was there 2 weeks ago, with my viewpoint on this and other AP restaurants pretty upfront - like them or not - there's a lot to be said about the staid quality and cost of many AP eateries.. When I was there, enjoyed Wednesday $5 cocktails and after a while ordered a couple of small plates - and they were average. Calamari - tiny portion/breading falling off. Hummus plate - terribly sub par (look at how good it can be at Seagrass in nearby Ocean Grove) with the only decent small plate being the ahi tuna.

                Well, it's Saturday nite, and it's my oldest's birthday. We're not going to AP which we can bike to. Called in reservations to the Belford Bistro and hopefully we'll get in.

                As an aside to Never2tan - you want great short ribs? Go to Belford Bistro or Bay Ave Trattoria - they're succulent and the best around. Have been for years. Everyone else's are mere pretenders.

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                Belford Bistro
                870 Main Street, Belford, NJ 07718

                Bay Ave Trattoria
                122 Bay Ave, Highlands, NJ 07732

                Seagrass
                68 Main Ave, Ocean Grove, NJ 07756

                1. re: JustJake

                  Short ribs at Dish in Red Bank are also a force to be reckoned with! A veritable deboned meat mountain...

                  1. re: equal_Mark

                    I prefer my meat mountains to be boned.

                    1. re: joonjoon

                      I agree with joon. Bones = flavor.

              2. meeting friends in asbury next week...anyone have some recent updates on favorite spots?

                11 Replies
                1. re: Mr. Bingley

                  If I were meeting friends, and wanted a fine meal, in a nice atmosphere in Asbury Park, it would have to be Moonstruck. Never had anything but a good meal/experience there. Make sure you make reservations should you consider it. The only other spot that may make my list would be Dauphin Grill in the Berkeley Carteret Hotel (owned by Scholshbach, same owner of Langosta and of Trinity & Pope). The latter based on a recommendation from friends.

                  1. re: Mr. Bingley

                    Not fine dining, but great place is Porta's on Kingsley. Unreal pizza, apps and salads.!

                    www.pizzaporta.com

                      1. re: SusieQQ

                        +2. My go to place in Asbury these days. Very noisy and busy on a weekend dinner, but you can call ahead to get on the wait list. In addition to SusieQQ's comments on food, I'd throw in the pastas and nutella pizza dessert.

                        1. re: jsfein

                          I was in town last nite (for the fireworks) and the place (Porta) was mobbed. People blocking the doorway, not an excuse me as you get jostled or cut off and a complete turnoff. Asked if I could order a pie to go, with the receptionist commenting that I'd have to sit at the bar and then ask the bartender to box it for me (I presume that it would have me having to buy a drink). I have FF Summer Ale back at the house, no thank you -. Said thanks, but no thanks and drove out of town. Stoped into the strip mall in Ocean Grove (where Clancy's is) and grabbed a quick slice.

                          I just don't get the allure of Porta......at all. It's like being at the Fair Haven Fireman's Fair only with a liquor license with the unique pizza being just as easy to make at home. I had an arugala pizza at a Deli where I work last week. It was so much better than the one time I was at Porta and had to inhale a mound of dry arugala atop their pie. Fresh, with diced tomato and I was given a packet of Marie's balsamic to drizzle over the pie - it was delicious. I see Porta as nothing more than 'irrational exuberance' just because it's slightly different than traditional Shore pizzarias and it's a chance for the noveau elite to take their kids out to a late dinner like it was DisneyWorld.

                          1. re: JustJake

                            JustJake - I would have to respectfully disagree. I have never been disappointed with the food at Porta. Recently I enjoyed the day boat octopus appetizer (with fingerling potatoes and shaved fennel), their three trees salad (radicchio, Belgian endive and arugula with roasted prosciutto, toasted almonds, pear, rosemary-shallot vinaigrette) and a very well made margherita pie. While I don't dispute that the crowds on popular nights (weekends and the fireworks shows) can be daunting, I propose either going on an off night (or after season) or going with the flow (like I did this past Saturday) and sit at the bar. For me half the fun is people watching. With regard to "taking out" a brick oven pie, I wouldn't recommend it as in my experience they don't hold up too well.

                            1. re: bgut1

                              Bg, I happen to really love their octopus appetizer (with that same fennel and fingerling potatoes - it's as good as I've had and is a must order); their pastas are good (though admit it, pricey for what you get). Perhaps my pissy mood was on the complete madhouse that AP was on Wednesday as it resembled Manhattan (no parking/traffic) - I guess fireworks do bring out the masses and as I attempt to answer all who offered contrarian - I find the folks now bringing their kids into AP were probably the same who wouldn't touch AP with a 10' pole some 5 years ago (without their kids in tow for a nite out). There's really no interesting people watching with a demographic that is top heavy vanilla pedestrian . Personally, I'd like just a little bit separation in my adult world (at 10pm in a bar I could've easily nursed a beer while waiting for my pie) than having to look over my shoulder and see DisneyWorld North/mall hysteria - I still stand by that comment - and we took our kids out to dinner all the time. It was typically at 5pm (at white linen restaurants to knockarounds like we have locally).

                              As for my homemade pies - they're quite good - not saying that they're better, but my output is improving all the time - it's something that I work at. From the standard Margharita (which I hybridize with a bit of Fontina and Parmesano-Reggiano, diced plum t. and a healthy frisee of fresh Basil), or my carmelized shallot/shitaki/goat cheese or this one from a good friend out on the left coast which is simply outstanding...http://www.chefcharlieayers.com/recip...

                              Listen folks, it's not that I don't care for the place - more than anything, the AP of Wednesday nite tells me to stay the hell out of town till after Labor Day - or using it a bit more effectively and judiciously , like sliding into town early for the Farmer's Market and following that up with breakfast tacos at La Tapatia, a beer & burger at Bond Street (also on anything other than a Fri/Sat), or running the beach with my pup early before the lifeguards are there.

                              Thanks for the feedback - it's duly noted and if anything Bg reminds me that I must get back for that octopus appetizer or that Tres Salad ....but on a very 'slow nite' Enjoy your weekend folks.

                              1. re: JustJake

                                JustJake - I completely understand the disappointment and the frustration and appreciate the explanation. That being said, I think we are on the same page.

                            2. re: JustJake

                              What is "noveau elite?"

                              Have you successfully made that style of pizza at home? I'd be very surprised to hear that. Please share your process!

                            3. re: jsfein

                              I suspect I'm going to be +3 on Porta; I told friends I had read about it, and they went twice during the week we spent at the shore and are still raaaaaaaaaving. Going tomorrow night and I know I'm getting that octopus!

                              1. re: Curlz

                                it definitely sounds like a place worth trying...but not on a Saturday in the Summer.

                        2. When did Moonstruck start taking reservations?
                          Taka is my favorite in Asbury Park....