So many birthdays and parties lately! Lots of fun! For my friend Katie’s birthday, we dined at Stella Marina, an Italian restaurant on the boardwalk in Asbury Park. I love the boardwalk (even when the wind coming off of the ocean makes it feel like it’s 30 degrees on a 70 degrees evening)! Asbury Park’s boardwalk has tons of modern and chic restaurants and stands, a mini golf place, a tunnel with a huge octopus mural, an antique, eerily beautiful carousel building. There’s definitely something for everyone! It’s hip and on the rise as a great spot to go out for a nice dinner, hang out with friends, or (obviously) go to the beach!
Stella Marina is a contemporary Italian restaurant. My favorite decor element was the round chandeliers that hung from the ceiling made of empty wine bottles cut in half. So cool! We decided to order a bunch of things to share. Our waitress seemed a bit like she did not want to be there which is kind of off-putting– we thought maybe she was annoyed to be serving young people even though we were completely respectful. Service can completely make or break a restaurant, so that was a little annoying.
First we shared two Caesar Salads. A Caesar salad can be boring or it can be the best kind of simple, and this one was perfect! Chopped hearts of romaine lettuce were tossed in a light and flavorful Caesar dressing with a little hint of lemon. It was topped with shaved parmesan cheese, toasted ciabatta croutons, and cracked black pepper. The cheese on top was my favorite part– I think I could have eaten a whole block of it! I wished that there was more salad because the portions were pretty small.
Then, we had pizzas and pasta! The pasta was outstanding. We shared orecchiette with rapini (broccoli rabe) pesto, topped with grated grana padano and chopped pistachios. I loved that there were chunks of broccoli rabe within the bright green pesto, and the pistachios on top gave the dish a nice mix of textures. Like the Caesar salad, I definitely wished that this pasta was a bigger portion! I loved it and wanted more but it was all gone in the blink of an eye. With nine of us sharing, we were each able to have only a little taste.
We also ordered two Margherita pizzas and one broccoli pizza to share. The Margherita was the classic you’d expect with fresh tomatoes, basil, and melted mozzarella, and it was certainly a classic done right. The broccoli pizza was topped with broccoli, slices of lemon (which were kind of tricky to pick around but gave such a wonderful tart flavor to the pizza), and some type of smoked mozzarella. This one was interesting… The smoked mozzarella was a taste that I couldn’t decide how I felt about. I think I liked it? I don’t really know to be honest… I am not used to things with smoky flavor, so it was surprising. And good? I think? The best feature of both pizzas was definitely the house made crust. It was lightly charred and the ideal thickness. It was the perfect bed for all the fresh and interesting toppings!
So, we finished everything we had ordered. But we weren’t that full yet. So, we weighed our options. We could order more food. We could order dessert. And then someone mentioned Asian tacos, and we were out the door in a flash. Because that totally makes sense after an Italian dinner, right? I thought so. Some of the group opted for ice cream or crepes which looked spectacular, but those Asian tacos needed me and I needed them. Sometimes, spontaneous decisions such as this one make life so much better. A stand on the boardwalk called MOGO serves Korean fusion tacos– they’re the perfect size for a small meal/large snack and super inexpensive too! Mine was $4. I got the Beef taco (Beef in Korean is bulgogi)– the tortilla was filled with Korean BBQ marinated rib-eye, Asian pico de gallo, and chopped romaine. This taco hit the spot! It was bright and fresh, and the meat was so well seasoned and delicious.
Enjoy! Love, The Perky Foodie