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Apr 16, 2013 10:29 AM

My Ocean/Monmouth Picks

Lets face it, we are not in Manhattan or the pickens are lean.

So here are my picks for decent eats in our neck of the woods;

1) Xina in Toms River...Steve formerly of Sawa an Shogun, just knows
how to treat people. The sushi is extraordinary. A large and ultra fresh
assortment of oysters is a plus that is often overlooked at many sushi
restaurants. They always offer a whole fresh fish wok fried. Chinese
selections are exceptional. I like the orange beef. Calamari appetizers
Kobe Beef on a hot stone are all winners. Saki bombs away!

2) Shipwreck Grill in Brielle. I think the chef is inventive and the food normally very good. Stay away from the super high volume nights and
be mindful of the Monday night lobster deals. Foie gras/Scallop appetizer
is outstanding.

3) (Currently closed due to Hurricane Sandy) Shipwreck Point Steak house...tough to get seat in summer, but
work the trek and effort. I loved my ribeye, bone in, and all the classic
steak house sides.

3) Tuscan House/Toms River, they recently added entertainment on
the weekends. Some standout menu items are the pork osso bucco,
papardelle bolognese, short ribs, rib eye all good. Desserts include
gelato and hot zeppole...which pair very well together if you have a
big party.

4) St Stephans in Spring Lake...Not for the food, just for the crowd
and the entertainment. I have never felt more welcome in any bar
then this one. Staff is efficient and friendly, crowd that goes there
are well outgoing and friendly. Just a nice place to go to hoist a

5) Atlantic Bar and Grill, Best oysters I ever had were here, big
chesepeakes. Crab cakes, diver Scallops, King crab. I will say this however, noise level can be offputting, the room is just noisey.

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  1. Welcome onBoard,* Tonwa. I'm with you about the Shipwrecks. Moreover, I think there are plenty of good spots for chow in the Mon/OC. For curiosity's sake, where do you like to get your pizza?

    *Sorry, couldn't resist the pun.

    1. Nice choices but are any of these in Monmouth County ?

      3 Replies
      1. re: scrappyone

        Ship Wreck and St Stephans both in Monmouth

        1. re: scrappyone

          Shipwreck Grill - Brielle & St Stephans in Spring Lake are in Monmouth, Co.

          1. re: scrappyone

            Spano's in Point Boro for Grandma pizza, Naples Pizza Fischer Blvd Toms River for regular and Sicilian and Attlio's on Rte 166 Toms River

          2. Nice the Tuscan House the old Ground Round or Basile's on Hooper Ave? I get the two locations confused.

            While I enjoy the Atlantic Bar and Grill the best oyster award in my opinion goes to Avenue in Long Branch. Just about the only reason I will go there. Also Rooney's has a nice selection at their raw bar as well.

            4 Replies
            1. re: jrvedivici

              Tuscan House was Ground Round. Basil Ts is now the Artisan Cafe near Pier 1 imports

              Tuscan House has a nice semi open air conversation pit
              in front with a raging gas jet fire pit in the middle.

              Really nice this time of year.

              1. re: Tonwa

                We had a shore house in Toms River when I was growing up and I knew the Ground Round well. You are the first person I have heard speak positively of the Tuscan House. To be honest my impression was they weren't cutting it, perhaps my impression was wrong.

                I recently ate at the Artisan Cafe under the false impression it was no longer a Basile's. Unfortunately the only thing that changed was the I was less than thrilled.

                Xina I'm not familiar with but both Sawa and Shogun the sushi is the best both of those locations have to offer so I would certainly try it when in the area. Sadly when I'm dining in the area it's generally with my parents and sushi isn't their thing.

                1. re: jrvedivici

                  Actually I have eaten at Tuscan and would not recommend it to anyone. I had gotten bad veal but thought maybe it was just me getting over a cold. Nope. I later found out my brother had bad veal also. My coworker tried the food a couple times and said never again. YMMV.

                  1. re: Jerseygirl111

                    Veal is something I will only try once I have confidence in a place. In my world there is only good veal or bad no middle of the road. Sorry to hear of your experience.

            2. I've never eaten at Tuscan House (now called Tuscan Bistro and Grill or something similar) but I've never heard a good thing about it, even from people who visit Red Lobster and Olove a garden regularly.

              10 Replies
              1. re: Njchicaa

                You make my point for me...remember how I couched this posting at the start...."remember we are not in Manhattan or Frisco" In Toms River especially you have people flocking to these food chains of mediocrity. I can tell you I had a family dinner at Tuscan House late March and the food was on the money...and Im pretty fussy. Having said that again, the bar in Ocean and Monmouth is pretty low sorry to say, and I think part of the reason is the buying public, consists of a lot of seniors looking for early bird specials, kids with no sense of palate and middle age people who are unwilling to experiment or give a neighborhood mom and pop a chance....BRING ON THE FOOD TRUCKS!

                1. re: Tonwa

                  Although I will frequently refer to the "Mon/OC" as a general geographic zone, it's relevant to keep in mind that the socio-economic demographics are quite different between the Western OC and Eastern Monmouth County.

                  I mean, Red Bank and Asbury Park are very different places than TR or Brick - whether you're talkin' about the restaurants, the populations, or the prevailing lifestyles/ethos. In Eastern Monmouth, one also has the ability to easily travel from old small town to old small town by train or car. Consequently, the restaurant culture predates the "Chains on the Highway" culture that evolved on the other side of the Manasquan River.*

                  Out of curiosity, have you taken some time to read some old posts on related subjects on these boards? Perhaps, like many of us, you lurked and read for a while before posting? There are spots like Firefly, Committed Pig, and Max Devros that are doing "newer" things in Manasquan. Moreover, there are hundreds of discussion of good eats all over Monmouth County (and a lot of love for Siam Spice in TR).

                  Moreover, I submit that AP's restaurant renaissance has added to the quality of food in the area. As you say, we ain't in SF or Manhattan, but, at least here I can walk to the ocean and go for a swim. We all must strike a balance, no?

                  Back to AP, I think the steaks at Ivan & Andy's are as good as, and in some instances better than, those at Shipwreck Point. The sides and service are inferior, but the place is cool to hang out in and if I really want a steak and a beer, it's a tough choice for me between the two. The bar at Fish is pretty cool too.

                  At bottom, we welcome your thoughts and recommendations and look forward to sharing our's with you. New "voices" on this Board are essential to its continued vitality.

                  *In fact, the restaurant culture in Western Monmouth is noticeably different from that to the East for basically the same reason.

                  1. re: MGZ

                    MGZ, thanks for your post and clear analysis of the differences of the region.

                    I am really enjoying the quality restaurants that Asbury
                    Park now has...and never venture into Ocean County....IMHO there is no comparison

                    1. re: SusieQQ

                      Susie Qs, you're beginning to make this sound like a class thing instead of a restaurant focus "never venture into Ocean County??" What the hay?

                      1. re: Tonwa

                        I believe SusieQQ is strictly speaking of venturing into OC for dining. I don't see it as a slight towards the citizens or class of people in OC at all. To be perfectly honest if it weren't for my parents residing in OC there is little there to draw me into the county for dining. I, however, as MGZ points out above, am a bit spoiled to live in the heart of the Eastern Monmouth area.

                        1. re: jrvedivici

                          I've spent considerable time in Wall, Spring Lake, Manasquan and Asbury in recent years and have eaten all over. I'm not so sure what sort of restaurant Mecca you describe up there. I havent seen it. On balance, Ocean and Monmouth could really use a restaurant make over and a lot less chain places.

                          COMPLETELY OFF SUBJECT: Did they ever fix the roads, put up street lights, curbs, sidewalks, get robo cans, regularly scheduled single stream recycling along East Chicago, section of Wall near Old Mill? I was shocked venturing from Ocean County, where those things are the norm, to see this neglect in such a highly taxed highly populated area. My gal pal there was told at a town meeting roads were deliberately left in disrepair to discourage speeding near school. No word on how children may be further imperiled by motorists trying to avoid meteorite craters in the streets.

                          1. re: Tonwa


                            Have put the names of those towns in the Chowhound Search? If you do you will find discussions on restaurants in those areas.

                        2. re: Tonwa

                          Because I live in Monmouth County which has so many good restaurants to chose from....why should I drive a half hour+ when Ocean County has no restaurants, that I know of, that have the same quality?

                          1. re: SusieQQ

                            I have to agree with you Susie. Even with the 'hit' we took via Sandy (and some places either not coming back or delayed), there really isn't a compelling reason to travel into OC to dine (other than maybe the Atlantic Grill). Though living less than a mile from the beach, I will succinctly state that a better beach day cannot be had than one at IBSP.

                            Along with MGZ's 'on the money' overview, we're quite fortunate - it's not NYC or SF, but when you factor in the little towns, the water, and the character Aaaaaand characters, why even consider leaving Monmouth? ;-)

                      2. re: MGZ

                        " I think the steaks at Ivan & Andy's are as good as, and in some instances better than, those at Shipwreck Point. The sides and service are inferior, but the place is cool to hang out in"

                        Spot on to my review of the place, however I found the place to be very uncomfortable to hang out in. My only experience was at the bar and it wasn't enjoyable for a variety of reasons.

                  2. Agreed with St Stephans to hang out, irish nachos make good bar munch while enjoying the crowd.

                    Love the Buttered Biscuit for breakfast. Bradley Beach.

                    Daniels Bistro By The Sea, Avon is our goto BYOB with excellent osso bucco, scallops and fish.

                    Pete n Eldas in Neptune for a great bar pie, extra thin.

                    At the Table, Asbury Park down home comfort food for lunch or casual dinner.

                    Ocean County....haven't been much since Sandy, Will occaisionally go to Osaka in Toms River to see Theresa and grab some Japenese.