Stella Marina, Asbury Park, NJ

I haven’t been here since shortly after they opened however long ago that was. My guess 8+ years? Had 8pm reservations Saturday night we arrived on time and were seated at a high top table in the bar area. Not my personal preference of seating, especially with reservations, however the wife and daughter were happy with it so who am I to complain.

First observation, the place is LOUD, honestly very LOUD and very hard to talk across the table or even hear the server as he speaks. We were greeted shortly after being seated, ordered drinks, my wife ordered the red sangria which was very “light” water and iced tea for the rest of the table.

We decided to just share a bunch of appetizers so our order was; Margarita pizza - Shrimp Arrabbiata - Italian Meat and Cheese Platter (Fromaggio & Carne ) - Fresh Oysters (blue point). Although the waiter seemed to give us a warning that the kitchen was a little backed up, the food came out relatively soon after placing our order. No real delay noticed.

Pizza = for me this was the weakest of the dishes. It was just too bland and the crust had zero crust or crisp to it. Very bread / doughy consistency, it was cooked so it wasn’t raw dough but just lacked any crispness to it and was relatively bland tasting.

Shrimp Arrabbiata = Was certainly good, but my impression with this dish is A.) Tomato based sauce B.) Some spice level to it, this had neither of those. The shrimp were of nice size and the sauce was tasty, just not what I was expecting. Won’t say it was bad, just not my preference in preparation.

Fromaggio & Carne = this was probably the best version of this I’ve had since the old Basil T’s or Un dici versions. You can get any choice of meat or cheese combinations, we went all in which gave us 5 of each. ($51) This was very good EXCEPT…and this is a big exception, they drizzle the plates with truffle oil. While I love truffle oil infused dishes like mac n cheese, direct truffle oil is VERY intrusive to me. The smell and taste of the oil overwhelmed everything it touched. My daughter even asked me to re-position the meat platter away from her as the truffle smell was overwhelming her. Next time I know, but the menu didn’t mention it being drizzled with truffle oil so it was a bit of an unwelcome surprise.

Oysters = 6 blue points fresh and tasty as they should be.

$ 147. for the above with 2 glasses of sangria.

Bottom line, it will probably be another 8+ years before I go back!! I wouldn’t avoid the place if friends wanted to go out, but there is nothing to really draw or pull me back. Especially when I hung my head in shame as I passed Jimmy’s on the way out of town, I’m sorry Jimmy, I cheated and I’m not proud of myself. Never again will I go for Italian in APP. NEVER !!!

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You know I have always wondered if the name of this place has anything to do with Local Hero, which is one of my favorite movies evah:

Last time I went to the house of S&M they committed sacrilege on two of my favorite dishes:

They put cheese, tomato and SPINACH on veal saltimbocca.

They used bucatini (not spaghetti), and put thyme and SNOW PEAS on carbonara.

If they were in Italy, they would be run out of town on a rail for this:

Messing with two classic, simple Italian dishes like that should be a class one misdemeanor!


to serve mediocre food with a liquor license !

Another “successful” restaurant in Monmouth.

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Yes, I actually chuckled to myself while at dinner thinking of your theory. Honestly though that is exactly what this place seems to be and that was my original impression of it 8± years ago.

There was a nice crowd and vibe at Cubicon(?) a few doors down, anyone been? I’m not usually a fan of Cuban food, I prefer my domestic animals as pets, not dinner. (sorry) My daughter had “plans” for the night so I didn’t have the luxury to hang around but they had live music and a good crowd. Also seems like they have expanded and taken additional space as a tapas place? Not sure.

Haven’t been to Comicon but then I am a little gun shy on any resto on that strip. Everything else I’ve tried has been “Meh” at best, and my wallet is a Benjamin lighter when I leave. Honestly it was better in the bad old days with Ho Jo’s. At least you knew what you were getting.

About the only places I like in Asbury are Bond St and Mogo, but they are not really fine dining destinations. The pizza at Porta is ok, but I like Pete & Eldas better, and Pete & Eldas doesn’t turn into a night club after 9pm.

And I have to say that no matter where I go out to eat in Asbury, I always feel like I need a shower afterwards.

Johnny Mac’s ruined Porta for me, I will be the first to admit I have some perceived value issues. How can I go to Porta for a $10+ pie & $8 drink ($18), when at Johnny Macs I can get 2 drinks & 2 pies for $16.!?!? Value!!

Or for $ 14 you can go to Pete & Eldas, get a truly delicious genuine Jersey shore pie and a free XXXL T shirt !!!

Hard to beat that value, dinner and apparel shopping all in one stop.


So what your telling me is my next eating challenge is going to cost me $56!?!?! The cost of these keeps going up!!

Why do you need 4 shirts?

If you are eating to put clothes on your kids backs it’s time to explain the facts of life to them.

Put the lazy little buggers to work and make them eat their own pie for the shirt.

After all, they are part of a proud lineage.

It’s so funny…Sat night I was walking the boards in AP with friends, and they were asking me about each restaurant we passed. I haven’t been to Stella Marina, Cubacan, Pop’s Garage, or McCloone’s in the year+ I’ve been living here. I know from reliable sources here and elsewhere in my life that those spots are all about the location/view and not about the food. The one place where I have eaten is Langosta Lounge, and while our meal wasn’t bad, it certainly wasn’t worth the prices they’re charging, imo. I also felt like the menu was all over the place and there’s no restaurant that does that wide a range of food well, as far as I’m concerned; it comes across as a bit schitzo to me. That said, I had terrific cocktails at Langosta.

Viking, while I’m 100% with you on Porta after 9pm, I still think they’re putting out terrific food and I love the vibe there. I’m not sure why you feel you need a shower after being in AP. Have you been to Talulla’s? Cardinal Provisions? Barrio Costera? As a resident, I’m blown away by the volume of suburbanites who are in town every weekend (year-round), and have ended up in conversation with many of them; they come from Rumson, Red Bank, Freehold, Marlboro, etc. Mogo and Bond Street may not attract them, but from what I can see, the majority of the restaurants (and certainly all of those on the boardwalk) are mostly pulling people from elsewhere!

We agree on Langosta, I am not a big fan of anything by Schlossbach (or McCloonies). Her menus are all over the place. And quality and freshness are inconsistent.

But they do serve a lot of cocktails.

Again, the singularity.

As regards Asbury in general, I’m really not into crowds, noise or suntan oil when I’m dining out, so Asbury is avoided from May to October.

And I am very insistent on cleanliness in a restaurant. I find housekeeping at most places in Asbury is lax as they cater to a party crowd that mostly doesn’t notice.

I don’t know if you’ve ever seen Gordon Ramsey when he walks into a resto on his show, and reems the owners out about all the dirt he finds, but I’m kind of like that. If a place isn’t clean, and the restroom smells, then I can only imagine what’s going on in the kitchen. I get sick easily when dining out, so I’m very careful about stuff like that.

So my comment about the shower was more along those lines.

I would consider trying some of the places you like and look forward to your reviews of ie Tallulah’s, Costera or Cardinal, especially if they have an interesting lunch as this is when I most often dine out.

Finally if I am dropping more than a C Note on a meal I tend to go to Brooklyn as I find better value for the dollar there.

For the record, I’m rarely eating in places that are $50+pp since moving down here; I just haven’t found a place yet that can convince me their $25+ entrees are worth the price (see: Brandl, where I was someone’s guest recently). I do think legit higher-end restaurants just can’t survive as easily down here, but I’m also not dining out in Red Bank or Rumson, so I may have no clue. :slight_smile:

The thread on Cardinal Provisions is here, and they’re only open for breakfast and lunch and brunch on weekends:

I could swear I had started a Talula’s thread, but based on my searches here and on CH, I just write about it whenever the topic of pizza comes up. I’ll remedy that today at some point! :smile: But I can tell you they do lunch and dinner and they often post lunch sandwich specials on Instagram that torture me from afar.

One thing we certainly agree on is that service in general is abysmal in this area. I chalk it up to beach life/attitude and the more seasonal availability of 20-somethings, but it still annoys me on a regular basis. I will say that at both Talula’s and Cardinal that I’ve found servers who have stayed with the restaurant and who have more of a clue than those working at other places in the area.

I guess if I could summarize my position it’s not that I am opposed to Asbury per se. I am always willing to try new things.

I just haven’t found anything in Rasbury that I get really excited about, especially with the summer crowds, the indifferent service & food, and the price levels.

My comment about the benjamin/C note for dinner was based on two entrees at $30 a piece, a shared app at $15, and shared dessert at $ 10 which is invariably creme brulee and mostly “shared” by Helga. Add tax and tip, but no booze, and it’s easily a $ 100 bill.

I look forward to your continued reports and recommendations.

This unfortunately can happen to anyone and anywhere, it is also the reason why it’s always better to “over cook” than under-cook your proteins.

… and now they’re getting the Yelp “I heard that …” reviews. I hate that the median IQ is 100.

“Management at Stella Marina did not return multiple calls seeking further information about its response and the incident.”

And once again, we have a restaurant that doesn’t know how to handle themselves from a PR/hospitality standpoint. Here’s a perfect opportunity to EDUCATE the public about parasites in food/fish cleaning/etc. but instead… YEESH.

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HEY @gcaggiano !!! As the resident HO’s follow up caller you want to see what you can find out! Do your best not to p*ss off a manager that will come here and call names!!!

I just figured if they changed their name to Stella Marina and Bait Shop, it would clear everything up.