FOOD: Jamaican, Caribbean
AMBIENCE: Storefront with island vibe
SERVICE: Upbeat, if stressed at times
WINE LIST: BYO
PRICES: Appetizers, $6.95-$10.95; entrées, $9.95-$24.95; sides, $3.95–$6.95;
HOURS: Tuesday through Sunday, 4 to
CREDIT CARDS; AX, D, MC, V; ;
714 Main Street, Bradley Beach (732-
Just when he thought he was out, they pulled him back in. Not to anything nefarious, you understand,
but to Blue Marlin, the Jamaican restaurant in Bradley Beach where Roy Reid had
delighted customers for 12 years.
In 2003, with restaurants still in the
post-9/11 doldrums, Reid and his wife
moved to Atlanta. “Every time I’d come
to town,” he told me after my visits,
“people would say, ‘When are you coming back? We need you.’” Finally, in 2013,
he decided to revive Blue Marlin. Same
mural, many of the same dishes—and
same gregarious owner, known for his
stories of growing up in western Jamaica.
What has changed, Reid admits, is
the competition. When he opened Blue
Marlin in 1991, Bradley Beach had few
restaurants. Now there are more than
two dozen, and neighboring Asbury Park
boasts many more. The first Blue Marlin
had tablecloths. The new one does not.
“I wanted to stay away from anything that cost more money, so I could
pass along the savings to customers in
the food,” said Reid, who did invest in a
needed kitchen update and redesign. The
place is decorated with miniature flags of
Caribbean countries; that mural of a Caribbean village in the rear dining room;
and parachute cloth in orange, brown
and cream suspended overhead in the
front dining room for a tent-like effect.
Reid’s daughter, Tiffany, helps out in the
dining rooms on weekends.
Reid calls the menu “Caribbean
authentic Jamaican food with my twist.”
He refined his technique working in the
kitchens of the Fromagerie in Rumson
and the Channel Club in Monmouth
Beach before opening Blue Marlin.
We sampled two house-made non-
alcoholic libations: a nose-tingling
ginger beer and a hibiscus drink, both
delicious previews of flavors to come.
Among appetizers, standouts included
tender sautéed shrimp in a spicy/sweet
tomato curry, wrapped in roti, the Indian
flatbread. Mussels were plump and juicy
in their rich broth of olive oil, balsamic
vinegar, basil and chopped tomatoes.
The pan-fried, lightly crispy crab cake
nicely combined Maryland crabmeat,
minced scallions and minimal bread
filling. Conch fritters, on the other hand,
were densely crusty and tough. Both
came with a pleasingly piquant chipotle
mayonnaise. The bits of fish in a watery,
tomato-based snapper chowder were
overwhelmed by large pieces of over-
cooked carrots and celery.
The simple orange salad proved a
table favorite. Overflowing with Boston
toes, microherbs and aged balsamic.
The field-green salad with goat cheese,
roasted walnuts and dried cranberries
might be a cliché, but for $8, with good
ingredients, you’d be churlish to fault it.
After growing up in Paterson and
Totowa, DeSisto graduated from John-
son and Wales. He has worked with
Emeril Lagasse and Tyler Florence, but
his most important mentor has been
Mitchell Altholz, the respected execu-
tive chef of Highlawn Pavilion and the
Manor in West Orange. “Mitchell was
very open with me, personally and as a
boss,” DeSisto said. “He showed me his
techniques, explaining why this would
work or that wouldn’t.”
Desserts are not yet a strong point,
although a warm chocolate lava cake
showed why this warhorse will always
be a champion when executed properly.
DeSisto has assembled a good team.
He has the right instincts. If he continues
to buy sustainably produced ingredi-
ents, cook them carefully, sell them at a
reasonable price and refine the few flavor
combinations that don’t quite work, he
could be the one to finally get 615 Bloom-
field Avenue off the schneid.