SEA BRIGHT – The food scene is growing in the borough.
After a tough time following Super Storm Sandy, residents and visitors are celebrating the arrival of the summer season with restaurants taking center stage. Old favorites have been reestablished and there are new eateries to try along Ocean Avenue.
One of these new places, Boondocks 2 Go, will be a sibling to the original Boondocks Fishery located in Red Bank’s Marine Park.
The recently approved plan will allow Boondocks’ owner Kelly Ryan to immediately begin renovating her desired location – the former Sea Bright service station at the foot of the Rumson-Sea Bright Bridge, which shares a building with a Dunkin’ Donuts.
“I’m really looking forward to trying Boondocks 2 Go once it opens,” said Debra Parmentola, a Lincroft resident. “I’ve been to the original in Red Bank, and love the food there.”
Boondocks 2 Go will be a takeout restaurant that will serve the nearby community of beach clubs and locals, but also cater to the needs of pass-through traffic. There will be picnic tables indoors and outdoors for quick, easy and informal dining, while the atmosphere will maintain the original Boondocks’ rustic feel. The menu will include Boondocks’ classic selection of fish, but to a simpler degree because of the eatery’s main focus as a takeout restaurant.
Ryan aims for Boondocks 2 Go to be open in July.
Another takeout, eat-in restaurant coming to town is Sea Bright Fish Company. Workers are now in the shop and the sign in the window announces it is “coming soon.”
Robert Phillips had hoped to have portions of Donovan’s Reef bar and restaurant operating by Memorial Day but now he’s hoping for mid-July. He’s waiting for approvals and has been addressing paperwork needed by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority to get loans to allow him and his partners to move forward with rebuilding.
Construction on Donovan’s main structure probably won’t begin until after Labor Day.
Other well-known locations in Sea Bright’s downtown area are also back up and running for the summer beach traffic.
A longtime favorite, Anjelica’s Restaurant, is open and serving its traditional and delicious Italian cuisine after a long recovery from Super Storm Sandy.
“We always loved being in Sea Bright,” owner Anjelica Lena said. “And it feels like after the storm, even more so. The community really came together… and we all supported each other.”
Located in the heart of town, guests can choose from a crabcake or salad to the assortment of meat, fish and pasta entrees on the menu. Though on the sophisticated side, dishes like the Pollo Alla Scarpiello, a sautéed chicken breast and sausage with mushrooms and potatoes in a white wine and balsamic sauce, are among the selections.
Across Ocean Avenue, Woody’s Ocean Grille offers a casual, relaxed dining location. Couples and families alike are able to sit back and enjoy the California coast-style menu, complete with fresh seafood and unique southwestern dishes.
Guests over the age of 21 can order from the specialty drink menu, which includes Woody’s infamous Orange Crush, and a special deal on days that it rains, appropriately called “When it Rains, it Pours.” On these days, the Dark and Stormy, a drink composed of Goslings Black Seal rum and ginger beer garnished with lime, is only $4.
As one of the restaurants with the least damage from Sandy, Woody’s reopened exactly three months after the storm hit, and was able to help many of the smaller, less fortunate restaurants in the area.
Despite the hardships, owner Chris “Woody” Wood is fond of his restaurant’s location, as he enjoys seeing and serving people he grew up with, but has not seen in years.
“We have been very fortunate and have great cliental,” Wood said. “I enjoy my job.”
Also downtown, Alice’s Kitchen, an Irish-American breakfast and lunch location, opened its doors after the Steve’s Breakfast and Lunch was washed away with Sandy, and Billy G’s Beach Bistro, formerly located in Long Branch, now offers a selection of specialty sandwiches for lunch and a variety of fish and meat for dinner.
Another upscale location in the area, Ama Ristorante, is located at Driftwood Beach Club. As the only oceanfront location in the area, Ama Ristorante has a Tuscan-inspired atmosphere where the mix of traditional Italian cuisine and newly crafted classics leave guests satisfied. The menu offers a variety of fish, including salmon and snapper, in addition to a selection of meats, including a Mediterranean Bronzino Filet and a Florentine-Style Rib-Eye.
Visitors to Ama will also enjoy the benefits of a full-service bar, four flat-screen TVs, and a private dining room with ocean views that no other restaurant in the area can offer.
Several family-friendly places like Harry’s Lobster House, The Mad Hatter and the Sea Bright Pizzeria and Restaurant are a few of the other well-known names back on the map.
After recovering from Sandy’s damage, Gracie and the Dudes Homemade Ice Cream and Italian Ice is open and serving its unique frozen treats. Gracie and the Dudes’ products are made with all natural flavors and no artificial colors. After a long day on the beach, visitors can cool off and relax while enjoying a cup or cone of Gracie’s slow-churned, creamy ice cream that will be sure to satisfy their sweet cravings.
Next door, Beach Burgers and Grille gives hungry beach-goers exactly what they are looking for: A quick burger, wrap or sandwich and a comfortable hang out spot.
Yumi, one of the more modern eateries on Ocean Avenue, serves a neo-Asian cuisine and a variety of sushi. Open for lunch and dinner during the week, Chef Shuenn Yang’s menu includes a diverse selection of signature rolls that can be ordered as is, or crafted individually by a guest.
Anyone looking for tradition can visit Mrs. Rooney’s legendary Sabrett stand for a midday beach snack at the intersection of Surf Street and Ocean Avenue. Since 1977, she has prepared her own condiments and left locals and pass-through traffic satisfied.
Stephanie Cartier, a resident of Lincroft, enjoys coming to Sea Bright’s local establishments with both her family and friends. Seated with her book club in Anjelica’s Restaurant recently, she spoke positively about the area, and its recovery since November of 2012.
“I love that it is a local place close to home, but it feels like a vacation,” Cartier said.
Cono Trezza, owner of the Sea Bright Pizzeria, echoed Cartier’s words.
“I have always liked being right by the water, the neighborhood and the people here. It is a great place to live and serve the local community,” Trezza said.
Now that June is here, long summer days and late night dining beckon in the near future. Sea Bright has come very far in a short amount of time – a feat that should not be taken lightly, but celebrated.
Locals and visitors alike should take the time to stop into their favorite places for a bite, not only to satisfy their empty stomachs, but also to appreciate the work that has gone into reviving some of the area’s most iconic, and most loved restaurants.
“Sea Bright is on a rebound – you can truly see a big difference,” Wood said.