Luna Derosa's chefs draw inspiration from a variety of cultures, but their emphasis remains on approachable comfort cuisine with a refined edge. Although the menu features numerous Italian staples—including iconic Sunday gravy with braised meatballs, sausage, and beef braciola in tomato sauce—it also incorporates a variety of Asian and American influences. Chefs add a piquant dose of trans-Atlantic flavor with spicy Thai chili sauces and sriracha-spiked sour cream. They also sear porterhouse steaks, new york strips, and filet mignon on the kitchen's flat-iron grill. The bartenders, meanwhile, mix innovative cocktails using sage, muddled jalapeños, or flavored vodkas, which they infuse in-house. Illuminated columns dominate the split-level dining room, helping to gently light the space along with modern track lighting, chandeliers, and elegant wall sconces. The restaurant opens its outdoor patio during the warmer seasons so that diners can enjoy their meal beneath the stars, beside a smoldering fireplace, or in plain view of any attractive hot-air-balloon captains passing overhead.
To make the Fat Ortley burrito, chefs stuff a tortilla with chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks, french fries, ketchup, lettuce, and tomatoes. The eclectic burrito is the brainchild of self-proclaimed foodie Bruce Jones, who graduated from Rutgers University and brings his love of Tex-Mex fusion dishes to the masses at his eatery, Papa Grande Grille. There, chefs fill tacos with Corona-battered cod, and cook up their own jerk chicken. Other standouts include BangBang shimp burritos and a mango chicken quesadilla.
Just off the scenic Seaside Heights Boardwalk, Shake Shoppe Arcade combines the family fun of an old-school boardwalk arcade with the creamy desserts of an ice-cream shop. Guests sip refreshing shakes made with Hershey's ice cream, or win prizes and pass the time at the arsenal of arcade cabinets, simulators, and games.
The first decision to make at Nino's Coal Fired Pizza is an important one: to share, or not to share? The coal-fired pies come in an individual size or a larger 16-inch ideal for sharing. From there, the decision-making process becomes even more agonizing (in the good way), with creative specialty pies topped with everything from meatballs and cheesesteak to, yes, traditional cheese. Whole-wheat and gluten-free crusts are available, and certain pizzas are sold by the slice throughout the day. None of which is to say that Nino's is exclusively about pizza; the menu also includes homemade pasta dishes, steak and seafood entrees, and hot sandwiches.
A Sophia's Bistro, classic European dishes such as salmon, zuppa di pesce, chicken parmigiano, and caesar salad adorn the tables. Flavors descend from France with the chicken francaise. Other bistro favorites include juicy steaks covered in blue-cheese crumbles and salads tossed with mandarin-orange slices.
Exposed brick and rustic wood planks cover alternate walls at District Riverton Bistro, where an open patio begs diners to eat al fresco amid fairy lights, kitschy accents, and more rustic wood touches. But make no mistake?despite these eye-catching environs, District Riverton Bistro is all about good food. Culinary duo Ken Merriman and Dan Maher draw inspiration from Irish, American, and French cuisines, producing a menu that straddles the line between traditional and contemporary. Popular items include a wood-fired pizza dressed in arugula, prosciutto, figs, and balsamic drizzle, as well as cider-glazed salmon with cranberry-brussel sprouts. In addition to dinner, guests can stop in for lunch and brunch, the latter of which features eye-openers such as brioche french toast and chicken and waffles. Or, they can drop by on a weekend evening to indulge in a fixed price, family-style Sunday dinner complete with fresh-baked cookies and a new baby cousin.