A Local’s Guide to Farm & Sea to Table at the Jersey Shore
Farm to table and even sea to table has become a phrase used by many restaurants (somewhat loosely in our humble opinion). In an effort to restore our faith in what the Garden State has to offer, we set out to find those true Jersey Shore farm to table and sea to table restaurants – whether they advertise it or not. After all, with a state like New Jersey that boasts fertile soil and produces some of the best tasting tomatoes, blueberries, corn and peaches in the Northeast, to a coastline that offers world class fishing, how can chefs not get excited to use what’s right in their own backyard?[broadstreet zone=”54949″]
Farm and Sea to Table Dining at Jersey Shore Restaurants
Ama Ristorante, Sea Bright
“All of our seafood is served within 12 hours of when it comes off the boat,” said Chef Chuck Lesbirel of Ama Ristorante in Sea Bright. That includes their summer special, a mushroom dusted fluke, served with hand foraged mushrooms hailing from Pennsylvania and crispy potatoes. It’s land and sea at its best.
The Boondocks Fishery, Red Bank
Known for being the place to devour some lobster, The Boondocks Fishery in Red Bank may have one of the best locations (right on the Navesink River), with the best atmosphere (just try to not laugh with owner Kelly), and the freshest lobster at the Jersey Shore. Grab some friends, tie a bib around your neck, and enjoy the outdoors with summer’s staple food – lobster (in everything).
The Cheese Cave, Red Bank
No, The Cheese Cave in Red Bank isn’t your typical Jersey Shore farm and sea to table restaurant. However, with their array of regionally produced farm cheeses (and not so regional cheeses), jams, chutneys, preserves and crackers, there’s no reason that you’re next cheese plate can’t represent the bounties of the Northeast. “Although we do not have a large variety of New Jersey cheeses, we do bring in a number of regional cheeses from the Northeast that are made by small artisan cheese makers that source local milk to produce world-class cheeses,” said Stephen Catania.
Chef Mike’s ABG, Seaside Park
Make no mistake, Chef Mike of Chef Mike’s ABG in Seaside Park makes buying locally sourced fish a priority for his enticing menu. With the majority of his fish coming from Viking Village in Barnegat and Philadelphia Market and produce coming from Katona Farms in Chesterfield and DeWold Farms in New Egypt, it’s no surprise that his dishes are as rock star as his reputation for local flavor.
Drew’s Bayshore Bistro, Keyport
One look at this Jersey Corn Gelato featuring New Jersey corn and it’s really hard to not want to see what Chef Drew is cooking up at his bayou inspired restaurant, Drew’s Bayshore Bistro in Keyport. “Jersey Corn Gelato is one of our most popular summer desserts. I use local corn from Samaha Farms in Matawan on Lloyd Road,” said Drew Araneo. In addition to this dessert, Drew’s also features Jersey Blueberry Cobbler and a number of locally grown produce that are acquired throughout the week from local farmer’s markets near this Keyport restaurant.
Graze, Little Silver
After enjoying a Heritage Pork Suckling Pig and Oyster Lemon Burger, ingredients courtesy of Green Duchess Farm in Franklin Twp., Shibumi Farms in Princeton, and Harvest Drop at Graze, there’s no question where Chef Junior gets his culinary inspiration – what he refers to as “community camaraderie.” “Our relationships with local businesses have taken on a key role in the foundation of our restaurant,” said Chef Junior. “We’re coming back full circle to the simple life.” Whether it’s creating a meal from a local catch or spotlighting what was in the farmer’s basket, it’s always delectable.
With a name like Harvest, it’s no wonder that owners and brothers, Daniel and Anthony Vrgoc, are supporters of locally sourced produce and protein. Check on their Facebook page and you’ll see they’re regulars at Union Square Greenmarket. The menu is always packed with specials (like tuna belly from Local 130 Seafood) that just feel right at any time of year.
Hello Chef, Long Branch (West End)
On those nights when you feel like a meal that was made with produce straight from the farmer’s market, but you lack any motivation to actually cook – Hello Chef in Long Branch comes to the rescue. Chef Dan Vogt is a personal chef who has brought his passion for healthy and flavorful meals to the Jersey Shore. With veggie-centric dishes, we may be lazy a bit more this summer.
Klein’s Fish Market and Waterside Cafe, Belmar
Klein’s Fish Market and Waterside Cafe offers delicious seafood that hails from waters just off their outdoor deck to waters a little bit more out of reach. It’s the combination of local and international that we love. Dine in and see what the chefs are whipping up today, or pick out your own locally sourced fish fillet at the market and bring the Jersey Shore waters to your kitchen.
Local Urban Kitchen, Pt. Pleasant Beach
We’ve talked about Local Urban Kitchen in Pt. Pleasant Beach before. Singing the praises of their dishes that satisfy the entire family. What you may not know is that Chef Maged began this venture with sustainability and organic farming in mind. He believes that the best ingredients, with the most nutrients are homegrown – less miles traveled equals better tasting food. You’ll be a believer once you give their dishes a try.
Local 130 Seafood, Asbury Park
OK, they may not be a restaurant, but Local 130 Seafood has exploded onto the restaurant and farmer’s market scene, creating an opportunity for local fishermen out of Pt. Pleasant, Barnegat Light, and Belmar to connect directly with chefs and consumers. “We approach the seafood industry with innovation and an extremely positive outlook for the future,” said Eric Morris, Founder and CEO. “By working with integrity, loyalty and transparency, we will will inherently bring traceability and awareness to local fishermen while at the same time giving back to the community.”
Mulberry Street, Brick and Toms River
Mulberry Street has a number of menu items created from NJ produce during our growing season. “Whenever possible we’re using locally sourced produce from NJ farms,” said Chef Ross. “We have a great relationship with Silveri & Sons of Lakewood. They’re a big supporter of local farms, some of which are operated by the 2nd, 3rd and even 4th generation of family members”
Oyster Creek, Leeds Point
Gaining inspiration from his surroundings, Chef Scott of Oyster Creek in Leeds Point sources all of his Blue Claw Crabs and clams from Great Bay and the body of water right outside the restaurant. As for the rest of the seafood, the scallops hail from Barnegat Light or Cape May and the flounder is Jersey sourced. If that’s not sea to table, we’re not sure what is.
Panini Bay, Tuckerton
Chef Ivar Johnson is serious about food, which is probably why he grows his own herbs on site at Panini Bay in Tuckerton. With views of Barnegat Bay, he also makes a point to source seafood from local purveyors Sally’s Seafood in Barnegat and Parson’s in Tuckerton. Add on seasonal produce delivered by B&B Produce – of which an overwhelming majority is sourced locally – and you’ve got a recipe for success.
If you’re wondering where Chef Chris of Porcini in Highlands gets his inspiration for his daily specials (including Pan Seared Swordfish over Vegetable Couscous with Jalapeno Relish), look no further than the farmer’s markets in Highlands, Atlantic Highlands, and Sea Bright. “We also get all of our seafood from Lusty Lobster, our local seafood market down the street,” said Chef Chris. “It’s always great quality. Seafood is one of my favorite things to cook!”
Red’s Lobster Pot, Pt. Pleasant Beach
Enjoying a meal at Red’s Lobster Pot is the equivalent of setting out to sea, catching your own lobster and fish, then heading back to port and enjoying it with some fresh corn. Except at Red’s Lobster Pot in Pt. Pleasant Beach, you just have to enjoy the food and maybe converse with some of the local fisherman who set course past Red’s daily.
Seed to Sprout, Avon-By-the-Sea and Fair Haven
When the growing months are in full bloom, you can bet that the kale you’re munching down at From Seed to Sprout was grown close by. Owners Alex and Cara have been known to work directly with local farmers, sourcing the most vegan-worthy ingredients.
Talula’s, Asbury Park
Turn to the right once you step inside Talula’s in Asbury Park and you’ll see first hand where they’re buying many of their ingredients. Fresh produce from Farmer Meg at Seven Arrows in Locust, flour from Farmer Ground Floor in New York State, and meat from Benton’s Country Ham, there’s a reason it’s one of the best Jersey Shore farm to table restaurants – all without saying it.
Trama’s Trattoria, Long Branch
Chef Pat of Trama’s Trattoria in Long Branch is all about the Garden State, especially if it is produce. From the juicy tomatoes to the just in season figs, the menu is full of everything that our state has to offer. “I’m at every farmer’s market from Asbury Park to Red Bank,” said Chef Pat. “I am so lucky to be a chef in Monmouth County with all of the local farms at my fingertips. After all, we are the Garden State, so I see it as my duty to continue to support local farmers by cooking their seasonal products of the earth.”
Twisted Tree Café, Asbury Park
When you’re in the mood for a vegetarian lunch that’s packed with vegetables, look no further than Twisted Tree Cafe in Asbury Park. This Cookman Avenue establishment offers delicious, healthy, and simple food that begins with as many locally sourced fresh ingredients as they can get their hands on.