Fins away from the Ocean

Sometimes you’re just in the mood for some really fresh seafood with no ethnicities attached to the preparation. In Northern New Jersey, the quick option is going to one of the gazillion Italian restaurants and choosing an item under “pesce” (admit you always think of Joe Pesci when you see this on a menu). I guarantee it will be a choice of shrimp scampi, shrimp fra diavolo, shrimp oreganato, shrimp parmigiana and any other shrimp dish ending in a vowel or with a dreaded red sauce. Then they throw in the obilgatory salmon dish to get something with a fin in there for the non-crustaceans. When I’m in the mood for fish, though, I want something that swims, not necessarily just crawls along the bottom. I want a filet or a steak. If I’m eating a crawler, I’m going for the big daddy – the lobster. So where do I go for a swimmer that only stopped swimming in the last day or so? I want to eat in a place where the chef doesn’t feel obligated to return the fish to its natural habitat on my plate by drowning it in some garlic-laden or acidic tomato liquid.

In Central and Southern New Jersey, being at the shore, there is naturally an abundance of straight-forward, off-the-hook seafood establishments. And many do it well without straining your wallet. Try Mr. Shrimp in Belmar and Bahr’s Landing or Moby’s Lobster Deck in Highlands when you make your trek to the beach this summer.



If you Google “Seafood Restaurants Northern New Jersey,” the corporate names like Bonefish Grill and Chart House come up. If you’re looking for more personal, there is a place in the quaint town of Maywood, N.J., that is solely (pun intended) focused on seafood: Seafood Gourmet. It originated, and remains in the front as a fish market, where John sells fish he picks up every morning from Fulton. That same fish is prepared for the diners in the small back dining room. Because there are only about 10 tables, reservations are a must. Every seafood-loving resident in the area knows about this place.

The menu is simple, but it offers a variety of seafood, usually prepared wood-grilled, broiled or blackened (your choice). There are always the more intricate specials, but the best choice you can make is the one that comes with your meal – a choice of soup or salad. Go with the lobster bisque! It is one of the best in the area. It has nice bits of lobster meat of which you can actually taste the sweetness.


Blackened Swordfish

Recommended is the swordfish steak blackened. I normally don’t order swordfish out in a casual restaurant because inevitably it comes out dry: not here. It is moist and meaty. Their version of blackened is flavorful but not hot. If you’re in the mood for some fresh, basic fish prepared well, head on over to Maywood and even bring your crustacean-loving friends (they have a lobster tank).

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