Where I Was
Cuzin’s Seafood – Clam Bar, Marlboro, NJ
Monday, July 1, 12:24 p.m.
Where I Sat
I sat almost at the middle of the bar, slightly closer to the kitchen than the front window.
Who Served Me
Karen. A hustling bartender of more than 20 years and at Cuzin’s about a year. Not only did she work behind the bar but she also served the highboys in the bar area as well. Karen never missed a beat with the four or five of us sitting at the bar proper.
Bartender’s Favorite Bite
“Well we’re known for our seafood, obviously, but everything is great,” Karen said. “The steak purveyor is out of this world, so if you want a steak you can’t go wrong there. They also make a great burger. But if I were to order something off the menu, it would be the Alaskan king crab legs. It’s my favorite thing!”
The Vibe and My Vantage Point
Once you move past the location within the Maple Tree Plaza, the atmosphere is comfortable. Wood, glass, leather, and a constant ambient blue neon light from, well, I’m not sure where. The pendulum lighting was a nice touch. I opted for a seat with a straight shot of the bar, as outside only provides a view of the parked cars in the strip mall’s lot.
What Quenched My Thirst
Kentucky Sweet Tea Mojito, $12
Bulleit small batch bourbon, simple syrup, fresh mint, lemon, brewed iced tea
Definitely bourbon-forward and for sure, I expected nothing different. It felt more julep than mojito, as I was missing the fizziness. While I hoped to decipher the tea, mint, and lemon notes separately it was still all bourbon, all day, even after I squeezed in more lemon.
Yet as the ice began to melt, the flavors started to mellow and meld. I used my straw to muddle the mint and lemon into the bottom of the glass. My guess is I wouldn’t be able to manage more than one of these, ever!
What Fed My Soul
Seafood Salad, $15
Shrimp, scungilli, calamari, octopus, and Maine lobster meat
Plentiful and vibrant, the colors across my plate were gorgeous. A large half lemon accompanied the seafood, and it was fragrant and garlicky in the best way. Meanwhile, the finely sliced celery offered a nice ceding to the suppleness of the fish.
The fresh parsley was abundant and made for an ideal seasoning with a touch of heat from what I’m guessing were red pepper flakes. This is a Christmas Eve staple in my family and I must say this one was just as yummy! If seafood salad is how you roll, this one won’t disappoint! Dive in.
There is so much to say about my very first taste of this well-constructed sandwich. On a triangular chunk of a single slice of ciabatta was just the right schmear of yogurt spread, a perfect hunk of crispy seared fish, a mound of fresh arugula, and a red-orange ripened chunk of tomato.
I didn’t realize how deeply my passion for grilled bread runs, and it turns out this ciabatta may be my very favorite. Charred, rich, crispy, and light all at once. The sandwich took over most—if not all—of the plate with a stunning mound of well-seasoned fries. The fries had a hint of thyme, which incorporated the Greek feel from the (Tzatziki-inspired) spread on the fish. At first, I thought the homemade slaw would be off-putting against the two well-paired items thus far, but I was dead wrong. This lovely slaw was light and crunchy with lovely, finely shaved cabbage.
Served with a small, silver carafe of half-and-half, and single packets of a range of sweeteners.
What’s on Tap
No beers on tap, however a decent selection of bottles is available. Selections may vary.
Lunetta, Italy, $8
Hacienda, California, $8
Gnarly Head, California, $9
La Crema, Monterey County, $12
Jordan, Russian Valley, $18
Guy Saget Le Petite Perriere, Loire, $8
Matanzas Creek, Sonoma County $10
Oyster Bay, Marlborough, $12
Firestone, Central Coast, $8
S.A. Brum Essence, Germany, $10
Pasqua, Delle Venezia, $8
Alto Luna, Alto Adige, $10
Santa Marguerita, Alto Adige, $15
Baron De Ley Rioja, $8
Jean Luc Colombo, Provence $10
La Crema, Monterey, $12
Whispering Angel, Cote de Provence, $15
Hacienda, California, $8
Noble Vines 337, Lodi, $10
Sebastian, Sonoma Valley, $13
Jordan, Alexander Valley, $23
Hacienda, California, $8
Santa Carolina, Chile, $9
Lost Angel, California, $8
Higher Ground, Monterey County, $10
La Crema, Sonoma County, $17
Finca del Origen, Malbec, Mendoza, $10
Rocca della Macie Chianti Classico, Tuscany, $12
Selections may vary.
What Else to Know
The cocktail menu features a cool selection of mini “bar” features including one for margaritas, another for mules, and the last featuring botanicals, which is something I haven’t seen outside of NYC. Very cool indeed.
The story goes that one cousin is in the fish business and the other is a restaurateur and that is how Cuzin’s was born. The family bond, love of their businesses, and heartfelt approach to their restaurant makes Cuzin’s quality and experience unexpectedly special. The thoughtful menu and interesting creations are evidence of the passion behind the business.
When to Show
Monday through Thursday: 12:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Friday and Saturday: 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. (Kitchen closes at 11:00 p.m.)
Sunday: 1:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. (kitchen closes at 9:00 p.m.)
Know Before You Go!
Cuzin’s recently opened for lunch! Gift certificates available. Please check the website for the most up-to-date information.
Cuzin’s Seafood – Clam Bar
130 Route 79 South
Marlboro, NJ 07746
A Lady Walks into a Bar™ is owned and trademarked by Gabrielle Garofalo.