● BEACH HAVEN
13211 Long Beach Boulevard
OPEN Lunch and dinner, daily
S T YLE Diner-like, but sleek, with
subway tile, wood and slate surfaces. Local seafood dominates
the nicely priced menu. Full bar.
THE SCOOP Opened in 2015 by
the same family that owns the
neighboring Terrace Tavern.
THE MENU Tapas-style ap-
petizers are abundant and easy
to share. Favorites include broiled
oysters topped with tomatoes
and shallots (above), and the
charcuterie board. Snapper-tur-
tle soup will be their entry in this
year’s Chowderfest. The raw bar
features Delaware Bay oysters
and Barnegat Bay clams. Mains
are mainly creative sandwiches,
served with seasoned fries
and cole slaw sweetened with
pineapple. Fresh-caught tuna
from Viking Village is steamed,
flaked mixed with mayo and
served on grilled sourdough.
Other choices include fried
oyster po’ boy and fish tacos.
The Angus steak sandwich
is smotherered in cheddar and
HEADS UP Seating is limited to
24 stools, six high-tops and a fe w
outside tables. No reservations,
so summer weekends can mean
long waits.—Ken Schlager
● PARSIPPAN Y
333 Route 46
OPEN Lunch and dinner, Tues-Sun
S T YLE Small yet busy Chinese
restaurant located in a strip
mall next to an Asian market.
The newly redecorated dining
room features seating for up to
50 people, a mural of noodle
making, and a window with a view
into the kitchen so you can watch
noodles being made by hand.
THE SCOOP Owner Shan Shan
Lu and her family are origi-
nally from Xinjiang in northwest
China. She opened Shan Shan
Noodles in October 2014.
THE MENU Start with a bowl
of spicy wontons (above) or a
plate of scallion pancakes or pork
buns. Noodle dishes are the main
event, with a number of options.
Sautéed noodles can be ordered
with vegetable, beef, chicken,
seafood or pork (all under $10).
Standout soups include lamb
noodle stew, noodles with spicy
minced pork, and beef tendon
soup with knife-cut noodles.
Opt for the hand-pulled
noodles with sesame sauce if
you’re averse to spicy food.
The Chinese burger, a crispy
bun filled with shredded,
slow-cooked pork, is a house
specialty. Dishes like kung
pao chicken and dry-fried string
beans are also worth ordering.
HEADS UP Having trouble managing the long tangles of noodles?
The staff will gladly supply
scissors to make them easier to
eat. Pay with cash and get 10% off
your bill. —Shelby Vittek
● ASBURY PARK
209 Fourth Avenue
OPEN Weekdays until midnight;
STYLE Small, chrome, ’60s-
style diner with tile floors, vinyl
booths and counter seating.
THE SCOOP Asbury Lanes
closed for renovation in 2015 and
reopened this year on Memorial
Day weekend with a new feature:
The former lounge has been
converted to a diner accessible
from the bowling alleys or from
the street. Salt Hotels, which
runs the nearby Asbury Hotel,
operates the diner.
THE MENU Diner fare with a
Jersey accent, like disco fries or a
pork-roll waffle sandwich—Tay-
lor ham, egg and cheese between
two waffles, served with tater
tots and ketchup. The cinnamon
roll (above), a delicious, dark-as-
night giant served in a cast-iron
pan, is glazed in brown butter and
laced with Devonshire cream.
Perfect for sharing, if you’re
feeling generous. For an
equally generous main, try the
Lanes Burger. Chopped jalape-
ño and caramelized onions are
worked into the patty before it
hits the griddle. It’s topped with
Jack cheese, shredded lettuce,
tomato and chipotle mayo, and
served with fries and thick, crispy
onion rings. The menu offers a
fe w trendier dishes, like avocado
toast and s weet potato hash.
HEADS UP While not on the
menu, the diner has a board
listing “boozy milkshakes” made
with chocolate, vanilla or strawberry gelato plus liquor. They’re
silkier than regular milkshakes
and come with a kick.
prices (most entrées)
$15 to $25
that won’t break
“Reservation?” Yes, we had one. We
chose a booth across from the bar.
Servers clustered nearby, not approaching our table. The waitress who
finally took our drink orders described
one Chardonnay as “earthy” and
another as “popular.” Of Sofia’s 5 dozen
wines, only 4 are under $50.
In the bar, the deejay’s music was
deafening, and pleas for mercy from
all three of my guests went unheeded.
“Maybe we should text instead of talk,”
one suggested. Crispy octopus featured
one lone, chewy tentacle; the six specimens in clams oreganata were thumb-nail-sized and pooled in a sauce that
tasted mainly of butter. Two polpette
(meatballs) were made with trimmings
from the dry-aged beef, yet lacked flavor. Roasted eggplant salad amounted
to a heap of microgreens with bits of
chèvre and two slivers of marinated
eggplant no bigger than dominoes.
“How’s your steak?” I shouted to
my guest, who’d ordered the 16-ounce
New York strip ($51). He gestured back
with two thumbs up. A taste proved him
right. Colorado lamb chops, ordered
rare-to-medium-rare, arrived nearly
well-done. A manager whisked them
away, and the swift replacement was
pink and enticingly gamy. Shrimp
Veneziana’s trio of behemoths were
tender and fresh. But their sauce, as
with the clams, tasted mainly of butter. Spaghetti lobster, the pasta made
in-house, delivered a mound of delicate
Maine lobster chunks; but the sauce, labeled fra diavolo, lacked that red sauce’s
Weekends bring flown-in Mediterranean fish like branzino, imperial
snapper, amberjack and Portuguese
sardines, priced from around $55 to
$70. Apart from crisp shoestring fries,
side dishes underperformed.
The same can be said of Frola’s desserts. Flourless pecan-chocolate cake was
diminished by an acerbic espresso reduction. Ricotta cheesecake had a gummy
crust. Apple crisp, absurdly underbaked,
was garnished with cotton candy.
Sofia’s stupendous wood-grilled steaks
are the reason to go. Though the design is
ravishing, the noise is ridiculous. Friendlier service and more consistent execution across the menu would help it live up
to its velvet-rope ambitions.