New York Times

New Jersey Dining | Highlights of 2009
Our Plates Were Full: Of Variety, Imagination, Value

"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 and
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 pizza
is reminiscent of Trenton's classics, and the vitello capricciosa, breaded and fried veal scaloppine
topped with arugula salad, is alchemy. - K. C.

Entrees, $18 to $29. Reviewed
July 26.

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 Asbury Park,
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 natural world.
It was created by a constellation of restaurateurs who know the Italian culinary tradition and deliver
it with assurance in a dramatic space lined with huge windows. There's the effervescence of a full house
and a good time: Diners are laughing and sharing plates (a very good sign), and waiters are a friendly,
efficient blur. Then there's the setting, at the south end of the Boardwalk, cozied up to the remains of
the vast and storied Casino structure, with stunning, unobstructed views of the Atlantic Ocean and the
sky above.

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 in
Morristown and Millburn. The brothers also own Sirena Ristorante in Long Branch. Their working partners
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 weekend
night, was an exquisite composition, the almost buttery fish set off by a few capers, a frisson of micro
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, the
pieces of pink tentacle were served along with morsels of potato and Cerignola olives; in another, the
thin slices of whelk were enhanced by slivers of celery and bits of onion. Calamari, though touted as
superlative by the waiter on our first visit, was unremarkable.

The Caesar salad was a fine example of what can happen when the simplest of ingredients are expertly
combined. The escarole, with its red onion, pecorino, walnuts and shaved fennel dressed with red wine
vinaigrette, failed to achieve the same alchemy. Escarole was better represented with cannellini beans
in a core-warming soup.

The margherita pizza with fresh tomato, garlic, basil and mozzarella, crisp crust and interplay of sweet
and acid, was reminiscent of the fabled tomato pies of Trenton. Two pastas we chose from a field of
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 was
simply, gratifyingly, real.

The kitchen shows mastery with main dishes, but only the vitello capricciosa (seen elsewhere as veal
Milanese), with its abundance of arugula salad sparked with red onion, tomato and capers piled high atop
the breaded and fried scaloppine, had enough vegetables to balance the meat. Grilled pork chop giambotta
with sausage was a runner-up, with its accompaniments of sweet and hot peppers, onions, mushrooms and
tomato.

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 its
stuffing of fontina, prosciutto and spinach, seemed heavy. Contorni (side dishes), like the long, slim
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 the
cannoli, with shells closer to brittle than crisp. Choose instead the chocolate gelato; the apple budino
(like ciabatta bread pudding with custard, walnuts and vanilla gelato); Valrhona chocolate polenta cake
with its scoop of pistachio gelato and amarena cherries; or the fruit tart, its buttery shell filled
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 Stella
Marina.

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New York Times July 26, 2009

Stella Marina

"VERY GOOD"

THE SPACE Spacious two-story, 210-seat dining room with stunning ocean views. Outdoor decks seat 160.
Wheelchair access.

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 two
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 salad,
broccoli rabe, veal scaloppine with arugula salad, grilled pork chop giambotta, grilled branzino, pan-
seared salmon with pine nuts and spinach, pizza margherita, wild mushroom risotto, porcini ravioli,
pappardelle bolognese, strawberries with zabaglione, fruit tart, chocolate polenta cake, chocolate
gelato.

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. Street
and municipal lot parking.