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You may not be able to tell by my last name, but I was raised in an Italian family. Needless to say, food is very important to me. I learned early on the power of food. It brings people together, makes them happy, and spurs some of the best conversations one can have. In other words: trust me on my recommendations. The way food is manipulated, plated, and served down the shore is very special; to truly get the Jersey Shore experience, it is essential to try some of the restaurants I have picked. This food is truly indescribable until it’s tried, and the upcoming Betfair.com Haskell Invitational Stakes on July 29 provides a great excuse to visit these places – the likes of which you will only find in and around beautiful Monmouth Park.
1070 Ocean Ave Sea Bright, NJ
This Italian restaurant exemplifies Jersey Shore fine dining. Reservations are recommended as this time of year many people will use their gambling winnings from Monmouth Park to eat well at this establishment!
2. Fruta Loca
547 Broadway Long Branch, NJ
A relatively new juice bar/smoothie shop, this is definitely worth the try on a hot afternoon down the shore. Established in May of this year, Fruta Loca offers a healthy, inexpensive option for lunch on race day.
200 Port Au Peck Ave Oceanport, NJ
Located at Monmouth Park by the mini golf course, Blu Grotto provides an open gazebo-like atmosphere with good Italian food all while the excitement of racing is underway. Bettors fear not; there is simulcasting inside the restaurant, as well as full bar and blue chairs throughout.
4. Mar Belo
611 Broadway Long Branch, NJ
Spanish and Portuguese cuisine lovers rejoice! You will find an intimate setting at Mar Belo with the wait staff carrying the freshest seafood and meats. There is a private room for larger events. An extensive wine list replete with Spanish and Portuguese bottles is not only consumed at this restaurant, they are celebrated.
27 Ocean Ave Long Branch, NJ
What better way to start your official summer than with this appetizer special?!? Sliced Smoked Salmone, Shaved Fennel, Capers, finished with Arugula, Lime juice, Sea salt and EVOO. #sirena #sosirena #sirenaristorante #sirenanj #appetizer #appspecial #chefspick #sliced #smoked #salmon #fennel #lime #summer #summertime #igfood #foodie #longbranch #piervillage #oceanviews #bestseatinhouse #oceanfront #trinityhospitalitygroup
Recently having come under a new executive chef, Sirena has one of the best locations in Pier Village. If seated by the windows, there is a fantastic view of the beach. On a cool day, outdoor seating is available where one can soak up Jersey Shore rays while enjoying a sensational Italian meal. Disclaimer: This is my family and I’s favorite restaurant down the shore, and I will shamelessly sing their praises.
6. Norah’s Irie Jamaican Restaurant
530 Springdale Ave Long Branch, NJ
If in the mood for a Caribbean dish, one cannot go wrong at Norah’s. The oxtail is held in very high regard, as is their jerk chicken, pork, and curry plates. Authentic Jamaican food is often hard to come by but it has a home down the shore at Norah’s.
23 Ocean Ave Long Branch, NJ
It's bar burger night! Get an 8oz sirloin burger with French fries for $9 or a veggie burger with French fries for $9. Pair it with a draft beer for $4. Tonight from 3 pm until close at the bar. #burger #sirloinburger #veggieburger #frenchfries #draftbeer #piervillage #newjersey #jerseyshore #longbranch #leclubavenue
Simply and locally known as ‘Avenue’, French fare is served here on their beachfront property very similar to Sirena. The vibe is very much a cross between a brasserie in Paris and a beachy restaurant in the French Riviera. With a wine list of over 200 names and a beach bar, Avenue has all of the essentials for a fun night after a day at the races.
8. Rodeio Grill and Restaurant
78 Oceanport Ave West Long Branch, NJ
Don’t be dissuaded by their humble exterior. Rodeio Grill located in West Long Branch has some of the best Brazilian style foods around. If you are feeling hungry, make sure to stop by here as they serve their meats the rodizio way. There is a healthy salad bar as well. Make sure you save room for desert – all of which are homemade at Rodeio.
25 Matilda Ter Long Branch, NJ (also served at MTH on race days)
Max’s is a Jersey Shore classic. Growing up in New Jersey, everybody loves these hotdogs and it’s always a treat to have at the beach. My grandfather would spend his summers down the shore growing up, and Max’s dogs had a special place in the hearts of him and his brothers: only at Max’s were they allowed to get more than one hot dog – their father knew how good they were!
10. Luke’s Lobster
84 Ocean Ave Long Branch, NJ
Lobster rolls are served the ‘Maine’ way at Luke’s with the management receiving their lobsters directly from fishermen in the Pine Tree State – no middle man involved. Luke’s is great for a quick bite, especially if you have a craving for some chilled lobster drizzled with butter. Only at the shore will you find a place like this.
11. Joe Leone’s
527 Washington Blvd Sea Girt, NJ
Monday Sandwich of the Day: Herb Roasted Pork, Sharp Provolone & Broccoli Rabe w/ Balsamic Vinegar & Olive Oil on a Semolina Roll : #JoeLeones #ItalianSpecialties #monday #sandwichoftheday #sandwich #herbroasted #pork #sharp #provolone #broccolirabe #balsamicvinegar #oliveoil #semolina #food #foodie #foodlover #eeeeeats #hungry #lunch #eatlocal #summer #pointpleasantbeach #yum #nomnom
The go-to spot for locals, this restaurant is another Jersey Shore classic. It is farther from the track than the other locations, but definitely worth the drive for some fresh Italian food done right. I always make a point to take out from here when I am down the shore!
11 W. River Rd Rumson, NJ
A villa like atmosphere is found at Undici. Open for dinner all week and lunch on the weekends, there is a very rustic feel about this place. Meats are often hanging from the ceiling which gives it an old world vibe, but outdoor seating and live music offsets this with a modern touch. The Italian cuisine here is second to none.
26 Ridge Rd Rumson, NJ
Fromagerie is strictly a dinner restaurant opening at 5 p.m. every day and closing at 10 p.m. all nights but Friday and Saturday, when they close at 11 p.m. Special burgers are served every Tuesday, so if you happen to find yourself at the track then, be sure to give it a try. Italy married France and they live in an American ambience at Fromagerie, prompting the production of some of the most unique and delicious food in South Jersey.