We have a hard job, I know. Tasting countless seafood dishes in Central Jersey from Greek restaurants in Metuchen to Zagat rated in Montclair, we had our work cut out for us. Thanks to a little help from our friends and some local intel, we gathered together some of the ultimate seafood dishes throughout central Jersey. Whether it’s served with a Portuguese flair or taking some culinary liberties, we’re fully on board. One bite in we guarantee you’ll be nodding your head in agreement.
If you happen to be down the beach for the day, check out our Local’s Guide to Jersey Shore Seafood Dishes that will make a day at the shore complete!
Your Guide to Delicious Central Jersey Seafood Dishes From Montclair to Freehold
Daily “Pesce” Specials, Solo Trattoria
You know it’s fresh when the pesce dishes aren’t even listed on the menu! Solo Trattoria (7 South Street, Freehold 732-780-2337) changes their pesce menu daily depending on what’s available and with limited quantities, they go quickly. We’ve had some pretty delectable entrees so far and we’re looking forward to what’s to come. It’s always a good surprise!
Calamari Ciasulli, Civile Cucina Italiana
A dish that was originally an accident has become one of Civile Cucina Italiana’s (154 Main Street, Metuchen 732-662-9982) most memorable appetizer. This fried calamari is not served with your traditional marina sauce, oh no, it’s tossed in an intense balsamic reduction and then served with diced tomatoes and scallions. Crispy, salty, and sweet.
Fish Tacos, The Thirsty Turtle
Bar food at its finest, the fish tacos at The Thirsty Turtle (1-7 S Ave E, Cranford 908-324-4140) has won over many as the ultimate seafood dish. We’re talking freshly grilled fish with creamy avocado, a spicy sauce, and crispy slaw. Add on a cold beer from their taps and it’s a win-win situation.
Broiled Sea Scallops, DP’s Pub
Serving the best locally sourced seafood from our very own Jersey waters, DP’s Pub (732 River Road, Garfield 973-772-9755) excels in all your classic dishes like their Broiled Sea Scallops. A hearty portion of scallops that are broiled till tender and then covered in lemon.
Grilled Shrimp Greek Salad, Old City Café & Grill
Looking for a light lunch or dinner that will satisfy your hunger cravings? Well, the Greek Salad at Old City Cafe & Grill (20 North Union Avenue, Cranford (908) 276-2701) is your saving grace, especially when you top it with grilled shrimp. A bed or romaine lettuce is tossed with everything from Feta cheese to lemon and olives.
Tuna Panini, Urban Griddle
You may think we’re stretching it with this item, but hear us out. Comfort food goes up a few notches when you add some tuna. The Tuna Panini is Urban Griddle’s (460 Maple Ave, Elizabeth (908) 289-2465) take on your classic diner tuna melt. Served with some of the ingredients (American cheese), but then upping its game with grilled tomatoes, guacamole, and thick sliced multi grain bread.
Lobster Cob Salad, Toast
We’ve said it before in our Jersey Shore Lobster Lover’s Guide and we’ll say it again here, this Lobster Cob Salad from Toast (516 Cookman Avenue, Asbury Park 732-776-5900) is a home run. Fresh lobster on a bed of crisp greens and served with all the makings of the traditional cobb salad (think avocado, bacon, tomato, and blue cheese), just amped up a bit with lobster.
Poke Salad, Teak
If you’re going to eat raw fish, you better eat it at one a Jersey Shore seafood restaurant that’s known for high quality dishes. For a refreshing small plate, try the Poke Salad at Teak (64 Monmouth Street, Red Bank 732-747-5775) featuring a combination of tuna, yellowtail, and salmon that’s placed with crisp cucumber, red onion, avocado, sesame soy, and bright greens.
Baja Fish Tacos, Red Knot Restaurant
Grilled mahi, spicy cabbage slaw, spicy chipotle mayo, and smashed avocado – these are what Baja Fish Tacos are made of. Red Knot Restaurant (3 Golf Drive, Kenilworth (908) 241-2211) knows what they’re doing. It’s definitely a hole-in-one in the culinary books! Bonus information: Tuesdays mean Tacos and ½ priced signature beers!
Crab Cakes, 618 Restaurant
The crab cake appetizer at 618 Restaurant (618 Park Avenue, Freehold 732-577-0001) is made up of pretty much one ingredient – jumbo lump crab meat – just the way we like it. Topped with a sweet and zingy mango ginger relish and spicy chipotle aioli (which helps to pick up every last piece), we have been known to order one as an appetizer and one for our entrée.
Grilled Octopus, Mister C’s Beach Bistro
We weren’t joking when we said that octopus is reclaiming the spotlight at the dinner table. At Mister C’s Beach Bistro (Allen Avenue on the Ocean, Allenhurst 732-531-3665), Chef Jimmy Vena makes sure the seafood he serves is fresh (especially since he tends to get up by 3:15am to meet the local fishmonger and then serve that same fresh catch for dinner that evening!) This dish in particular features fingerling potatoes and string beans tossed in a blueberry vinaigrette – the perfect highlight to this seafood treat.
Grouper Platter, Woody’s Roadside Tavern
We love when we see different fish on a menu (ok, grouper isn’t that different, but it’s not nearly such a staple as shrimp, tuna, and calamari) At Woody’s Roadside Tavern (105 Academy St, Farmingdale (732) 938-6404), their Grouper Platter is served your way – broiled, fried, or blackened, with a side of seasoned rice, and fresh veggies. Oh and lots of lemon wedges.
Fish & Chips, Oh My Cod
If you’re craving fish and chips and you’re anywhere near Montclair, start heading the car in the direction of Oh My Cod (103 Forest Street, Montclair 973-744-7263) where they’re known for dishing out the hottest, crispiest, fish and chips outside of New England. Choose from cod or whiting, add some chips and mushy peas (don’t knock it till you try it), and maybe a side of curry sauce and baked beans. You can’t go wrong here.
Thalasomezes, Limani Seafood
We haven’t been to the Greek islands, but we imagine it looks like the way the Thalosomezes appetizer at Limani Seafood (235 N. Avenue W, Westfield 908-233-0052) tastes. A plate filled with char-grilled shrimp, octopus, and calamari that’s complemented with oregano and a lemon-oil emulsion. One day we’ll go to Greece, but until then, we have Limani.
Lobster Benedict, Halycon Seafood Brasserie
Named after a mythical bird that would charm the wind and the waves, Halycon Seafood Brasserie (114 Walnut Street, Montclair 973-744-4450) will charm your stomach right into a stupor. Head there on Sundays for brunch and order a dish that they’ve become known for – the Lobster Benedict. It’s the epitome of summer brunching.
Polvo a Feira (Steamed Octopus), Allegro Seafood Grill
The Portuguese know how to cook and Allegro Seafood Grill (58 Kossuth Street, Newark 973-344-4500) is just another example of their culinary prowess. Their menu is full of seafood dishes that will certainly make your dinner, but the octopus is just a notch above the rest. Maybe it’s the way they expertly steam the octopus or maybe it’s the vibrant paprika that’s sprinkled on after. We’re not sure, but we’re also not asking.
Seafood Fra Diavolo, LouCas Restaurant
The motto here? You get way more seafood in your pasta dish than you do pasta! The Seafood Fra Diavolo from LouCas Restaurant (9 Lincoln Highway, Edison 732-549-8580) is no exception with a “tantalizing variety of seafood” that includes shrimp, scallops, clams, mussels, and calamari sautéed in a spicy red sauce and then served on a bed of linguini (we promise it’s under there just soaking in all of this sauce!)
Spring Roll, Fin Raw Bar & Kitchen
Dedicated to sustainability and seasonal quality, the seafood menu at Montclair’s Fin Raw Bar & Kitchen (183 Glenridge Avenue, Montclair 973-744-0068) boasts a large selection of wood fired fish, entrees, and appetizers that will make you drool. We suggest you order the Spring Rolls that are packed with fresh shrimp and lobster, fried to perfection, and served with a mustard dipping sauce. Seriously, we’re digging what Chef Michael Juliano is serving.
Clams Casino, Gus & Co. Seafood Market
Serving fresh fish and shellfish that’s hand-selected from the Fulton Fish Market, Gus & Co. Seafood Market (626 Valley Road, Upper Montclair 973-783-3874) is your one-stop-shop for cooking a seafood dinner at home and picking up some prepared specialties like their Clams Casino. Their version is way better than yours and seriously, who wants to do all that work anyway?
Basa Deleon, Lola Latin Bistro
You know when you order something and it just looks so delicious that you can’t help but dig in only to remember half way through that you meant to take a picture? This dish will do that to you. The Basa filet is encrusted with pounded pumpkin seeds and then served with butternut squash confit and to top it all off… lobster butter. Thank you Lola Latin Bistro (87 Central Avenue, Metuchen 732-548-5682) for this dish. We salute you.
Tawa Scallops, Aarzu Modern Indian Bistro
Thanks to Aarzu Modern Indian Bistro (30 E. Main Street, Freehold 732-333-0933) we have become completely obsessed with the intricacies and the unique flavors of Indian cuisine. This summer, take a bite out of their Tawa Scallops with upma tikki, and pineapple koshimbir. If you’re a scallop lover (or even if you’re not), this Jersey Shore seafood dish is sure to win you over!