What do you do on the Friday of Memorial Day Weekend when you live in the Jersey Shore? You go west to dinner so off to Sam Vera in Marlboro we went. Sam Vera is an excellent restaurant which has been around at least 15 years, but unfortunately for us, it’s generally just outside the cusp of how far we care to travel.
As I said this was the Friday of Memorial Day weekend so 7pm reservations were easily had and the restaurant never filled up at any point in the night as most people were headed to the shore. It’s been at least 5-7+ years since I’ve been to Sam Vera so to be perfectly honest, I have very little memory of their standard fare. They did serve a very nice cold antipasto when we were seated with a nice bread selection. We were greeted, drinks were ordered and specials were given.
Apps were fried calamari, another cold antipasto (which really was a waste after what they already gave us, but someone wanted more so we ordered it) and a tricolor salad. The calamari was the stand out, very tender and fresh, delicious!
For entree’s I had the veal shank, as did my buddy, my wife had shrimp fra diavolo and the other woman ordered a chicken dish. The veal shank was excellent, truly fall off the bone tender and very well flavored. The shrimp fra diavolo was a bit of a let down, as it had no spice to it at all. Absolutely void of any heat, 100% shrimp marinara, you shouldn’t have to be heavy handed with the pepper flakes to spice up your fra diavolo. The chicken dish (which one escapes me) was well enjoyed by the other couples wife.
A double espresso and sambucca for me for desert as the ladies shared a couple of the specialties they had and enjoyed them as well.
All in all a very good experience, excellent service, just don’t order anything if you like it spicy!
Will have to tell friends who live in the area about this place. Would be right up thier alley
We tried this place a few nights ago. I wasn’t blown away but I would like to try it again because it so close. The antipasto appetizer that they deliver to the table is a really nice touch. Service is attentive but I felt like the food was flat (except for the tiramisu which was amazing). It all needed salt or cheese to bump it up. Prices are fair but the drinks felt expensive for what they were ($9 per glass of house wine). I really want to give it another chance.
My friend went years ago and said she got a definite “Sopranos” vibe from the other diners which made her very uncomfortable. I assume this wasn’t true for you?
I’m not sure why that would make her feel uncomfortable unless she’s a snitch. (joke)
Honestly though if you are in an Italian restaurant that has been established as long as they have, I think an assumed presence of that nature might be a positive testament to the restaurant.
It is very Jersey Italian. And I don’t mean that as an insult. We had our toddler with us and they were perfectly accommodating. I had my back to the restaurant so I didn’t get to stare at the other patrons the way I like to normally. But, I will say that we were the youngest people in the place. Granted we were eating early which likely had something to do with it. I didn’t feel uncomfortable at all but I’m Italian so YMMV!
Good stuff JR. I’m glad you had a nice time. How were those chops prepared?
I had some fra Diavlo shrimp on Thursday at rooneys. They were actually pretty good and they turned the heat up a notch for me upon request.
CJ this post is from Memorial Day, not Labor Day. hahahhaa I can’t remember what I ate this past Friday let alone Memorial Day. Apparently from my review they were fall off the fork tender so I would assume a low and slow braise?
And Memorial Day LAST year to boot!
Haha! Don’t mind me. I’m enjoying some ac and some cocktails lol…and I’m getting hungry!
Hahahahaha that’s even better because I really didn’t recall being there that recently.
I’m guessing your friend has never been to the Belmont Tavern in Belleville. Damn good food,
cash only, no reservations, wood paneling from the late '50s, and no joke, I’m pretty sure they DID film some of the Sopranos there. Because their regulars can be extras without getting a salary…
You talkin to me?
Don’t get me started on this topic.
I’m DYING to go there with you!!! Seriously. We should plan a HOdown road trip.
Well after what could be best described as a debacle at my first preview of The Polo Club, I decided since I was half way here I might as well pay a visit. Sadly on a Wednesday night I was the ONLY table in the dining room, as the matter of fact there was only one other table of 4 people in the bar/lounge. Literally a ghost town.
Anyway long story short another solid meal. The only pic I took was of the “antipasto” they give you when you sit. I forgot about this but it’s a very nice touch and probably the best “freebie” around. I had a cesare salad and chicken francese which both were good. My daughter linguine in clam sauce which she enjoyed and my wife a chicken dish on special which was very good as well.
All in all a very good meal at a long standing Italian restaurant. Sadly I have a feeling Couzin’s up the road has affected their business or maybe it’s just summer in central Jersey that is affecting them. I wish them well, never a bad meal.