New York Times
New Jersey Dining | Highlights of 2009
Our Plates Were Full: Of Variety, Imagination,
"Best Over All"
STELLA MARINA For me, Stella Marina in Asbury Park
hit the trifecta: best over all, best of Shore and
most exciting. Expect the effervescence of a full
house and a good time, where diners are laughing
sharing plates. The setting, at the south end of
the Boardwalk, has stunning views. Best appetizers
sampled include octopus in sherry vinaigrette and
a fine Caesar salad. For dinner, the margherita
is reminiscent of Trenton's classics, and the
vitello capricciosa, breaded and fried veal
topped with arugula salad, is alchemy. - K. C.
Entrees, $18 to $29. Reviewed
New Jersey Dining | Asbury Park
A Fitting Complement to Sea and Sky
Nadav Neuhaus for The New York Times
SCENIC OVERLOOK Stella Marina, on the Boardwalk in
offers indoor and outdoor dining on two levels.
By KARLA COOK
Published: July 24, 2009
STELLA MARINA in Asbury Park is a masterly
juxtaposition of the built environment and the
It was created by a constellation of restaurateurs
who know the Italian culinary tradition and
it with assurance in a dramatic space lined with
huge windows. There's the effervescence of a full
and a good time: Diners are laughing and sharing
plates (a very good sign), and waiters are a
efficient blur. Then there's the setting, at the
south end of the Boardwalk, cozied up to the
the vast and storied Casino structure, with
stunning, unobstructed views of the Atlantic Ocean
Quick Bite | Newark: Rich Latin Dishes for
Everyone (July 26, 2009)
Times Topics: New Jersey Dining
Nadav Neuhaus for The New York Times
Stella Marina, indoors.
The restaurant, which opened in November, is owned
by Michael Cetrulo, owner of Scalini Fedeli in New
York and Chatham and Il Mondo Vecchio in Madison,
and his brother, Joe Cetrulo, who owns La Campagna
Morristown and Millburn. The brothers also own
Sirena Ristorante in Long Branch. Their working
are Kenneth Mansfield, who was chef de cuisine at
Scalini Fedeli in New York.
First-course offerings are delightfully expansive.
Tuna carpaccio, from the specials list on a
night, was an exquisite composition, the almost
buttery fish set off by a few capers, a frisson of
arugula, pine nuts and Mr. Mansfield's
oregano-flavored Sicilian vinaigrette. Both the
octopus in sherry
vinaigrette and the scungilli in lemon vinaigrette
were tender and delicious. In one small ramekin,
pieces of pink tentacle were served along with
morsels of potato and Cerignola olives; in
thin slices of whelk were enhanced by slivers of
celery and bits of onion. Calamari, though touted
superlative by the waiter on our first visit, was
The Caesar salad was a fine example of what can
happen when the simplest of ingredients are
combined. The escarole, with its red onion,
pecorino, walnuts and shaved fennel dressed with
vinaigrette, failed to achieve the same alchemy.
Escarole was better represented with cannellini
in a core-warming soup.
The margherita pizza with fresh tomato, garlic,
basil and mozzarella, crisp crust and interplay of
and acid, was reminiscent of the fabled tomato
pies of Trenton. Two pastas we chose from a field
eight (each $17) - a rich porcini ravioli and the
pappardelle with a meaty Bolognese - were fine
examples of classics. (Unfortunately, the kitchen
refuses to allow half-orders.) Mushroom risotto
simply, gratifyingly, real.
The kitchen shows mastery with main dishes, but
only the vitello capricciosa (seen elsewhere as
Milanese), with its abundance of arugula salad
sparked with red onion, tomato and capers piled
the breaded and fried scaloppine, had enough
vegetables to balance the meat. Grilled pork chop
with sausage was a runner-up, with its
accompaniments of sweet and hot peppers, onions,
The sweet white flesh of grilled branzino played
well against roasted potatoes but dwarfed the few
asparagus spears alongside; and pan-seared salmon,
encrusted with toasted and chopped pine nuts, was
served on a too-small portion of succulent
spinach. The rib pork chop, though beautiful with
stuffing of fontina, prosciutto and spinach,
seemed heavy. Contorni (side dishes), like the
platter of crisp-tender broccoli rabe with roasted
garlic ($9), help balance a meal.
As for desserts, skip the tiramisù with its
too-liberal dusting of mouth-puckering cocoa, and
cannoli, with shells closer to brittle than crisp.
Choose instead the chocolate gelato; the apple
(like ciabatta bread pudding with custard, walnuts
and vanilla gelato); Valrhona chocolate polenta
with its scoop of pistachio gelato and amarena
cherries; or the fruit tart, its buttery shell
with pastry cream as backdrop to a panoply of
blueberries and raspberries.
For real sublimity, order the zabaglione. The cool
custard glows beneath the chandeliers, but the
perfectly ripened strawberries steal the show. In
the end, that's what the ocean does, too, at
New York Times July 26, 2009
THE SPACE Spacious two-story, 210-seat dining room
with stunning ocean views. Outdoor decks seat 160.
THE CROWD Noisy and festive; some children.
THE BAR List of about 130 wines by the bottle, $25
to $450; 14 half-bottles, $19 to $145; and about
dozen by the glass, from $8 to $16.
THE BILL At lunch, pizza, pasta and main dishes,
$12 to $19. Dinner entrees, $18 to $29. (All major
credit cards accepted.)
WHAT WE LIKE Marinated octopus, marinated
scungilli, escarole and cannellini soup, Caesar
broccoli rabe, veal scaloppine with arugula salad,
grilled pork chop giambotta, grilled branzino,
seared salmon with pine nuts and spinach, pizza
margherita, wild mushroom risotto, porcini
pappardelle bolognese, strawberries with
zabaglione, fruit tart, chocolate polenta cake,
IF YOU GO Lunch: Monday through Saturday, noon to
3:45 p.m. Dinner: Monday through Thursday, 4 to 11
p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 4 p.m. to midnight;
Sunday, noon to 10 p.m. Reservations recommended.
and municipal lot parking.