Stella Marina Bar & Restaurant, Asbury Park, NJ
Monday, November 12, 7:12 p.m.
Where I Sat
As I walked into the bar area I grabbed the end seat, closest to the cappuccino machine. I liked it there, waitstaff gathered to munch and chat for short breaks as they worked their shifts. It was where the cool kids were hanging out. Besides, the seats closest to the window looking out to the ocean were full, and there were other folks sprinkled consistently throughout the length of the bar. I liked the little bit of isolation so I could do my thing.
Who Served Me
Erica. A lovely young woman full of life and in her element. Well versed in the menu, passionate about her cocktails and welcoming to all. I could hear her engage with other customers along the bar, ensuring they felt seen, cared for, and well served.
Bartender’s Favorite Bite
“The mushroom ravioli” was out of her mouth without hesitation. Erica added her thoughts after I asked what about the dish made it so special. “It comes in a truffle cream sauce that’s so good,” she said, and I could see her attempt to conjure the taste. She subconsciously covered her mouth for a quick second as if talking with her mouth full. It sounded good indeed.
The Vibe and My Vantage Point
Cozy and chill. The bar had a warmth to it; the lighting inside was quite dim, very soothing. I sat near the station where staff gathered, with bar tables behind me and the dining room behind those. The bar continues to the right, toward the ocean, and tall windows line the boardwalk side of the restaurant, offering incredible views (before daylight savings stole my light).
What Quenched My Thirst
White Linen, $13
Botanist gin, St. Germaine, white cranberry juice, bruised mint
So many things I love in one glass however I didn’t like the idea of bruised mint, only to find it was actually just a garnish—and not at all bruised. Botanist gin has such an aromatic flavor it’s almost shameful to add anything other than soda, but this little number was fantastic. It was a touch sweet from the cranberry and I loved that the drink was clear. Super chic—very clean—well done.
What Fed My Soul
Bread basket (homemade daily), complimentary
served with a tray of accoutrements including olive oil, Parmesan cheese, hot pepper flakes, salt & pepper
I didn’t want to get filled up but had to try a taste. This bread was really solid—especially when I used it to soak up the last of my soup. Read on.
Escarole Bean Soup, $11
Cannellini beans, escarole, oregano, extra virgin olive oil, parmesan
This was one gorgeous bowl of soup. Served in a shallow pasta dish, the escarole glistened from under the droplets of olive oil. The first mouthful was complete heaven—really one of the best I’ve ever had. This nailed the ideal proportion of bean to escarole, and the extra touch of parmesan brought out even more of the creaminess of the beans. Total yum fest.
Salad Special, $16
Barbabietole oven-roasted beets, frisée lettuce, crushed pistachios, ricotta salata, pistachio vinaigrette
A gorgeous mound of frisée piled high on the plate with gorgeous, deeply colored yellow and purple beets scattered across the bottom of the plate with whirls of vinaigrette peeking out from the curls of lettuce. I experienced amazing opposing flavors and textures—the crunch of pistachios against the softness of the beet and the bitterness of the frisée against the dry bits of ricotta salata hit all the right notes. The super tasty dish included beautifully roasted beets that boasted truly earthy goodness.
Scampi Arrabbiata, $18
Shrimp, garlic, parsley, chili, broccoli rabe
Unlike any scampi I’ve ever had or prepared. I was a bit underwhelmed in the flavor department but the shrimp in this super simple dish were cooked to such perfection I had to go back. My expectation was explosive flavor and high heat. I liked the added touch of finely cooked broccoli rabe but would consider renaming this dish.
Beyond the Bar
Located right on the boardwalk in Asbury Park, Stella Marina sits across from the Empress Hotel, and offers gorgeous ocean views. The second floor is available for private events and parties.
When to Show
Monday through Wednesday: 11:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Thursday and Friday: 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Saturday: 11:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.
Sunday: Noon to 9:00 p.m.
Know Before You Go!
Fall and winter specials include pasta nights and half-price bottles of wine. Please check the website for more information.
Hours, prices, and menus are subject to change.
800 Ocean Avenue
Asbury Park, NJ 07712