Though they all share the same name, all eight of McLoone's Restaurants' locations have their own interior charm. With dining rooms adjacent to off-track betting facilities, McLoone’s Woodbridge Grille and McLoone’s Bayonne Grille are peppered with an energetic ambiance that fills their brightly colored spaces. Televisions at every table keep diners abreast of the results of each race, and the big screens plastered around the restaurants also broadcast NFL, MLB, and college games. Like an indecisive bride’s wedding, each location’s bistro-style menu includes both casual and elegant dishes, from seasoned thai chicken wings and Black Angus burgers to new york strip steak and mango salmon.
Pearl of Lisbon surrounds its guests with glowing lanterns, built-in wine racks, and oil paintings of castles reminiscent of its namesake city while filling plates with traditional Portuguese dishes from a two-part menu. Once seated indoors or outside beneath the grapevine-shaded patio, guests can dine on grilled prawns in a spicy mozambique sauce ($20.95) or flambéed portuguese sausage ($10.95). Daily specials keep things fresh, making use of whatever fresh seafood the chefs could barter that day from entrepreneurial mermen.
Jutting out over the salty waters of Raritan Bay, Jakeabob's Bay furnishes diners with picturesque views to accompany a menu of classic American and maritime fare. Tantalize taste buds with an appetizer of fried calamari with marinara sauce ($12) and bypass cumbersome cutlery with dishes such as the fried-tilapia fish taco served in a soft tortilla shell with pineapple chili ($12) or the fried-sea-scallop-and-wasabi-mayo sandwich ($11). Daily specials add variety to the standard menu with such variables as the lobster dinner ($17)—a steamy crustacean served whole, complete with its lobster bowtie. As they take in their nautical cuisine, diners catch between-bite views of the New York skyline and invigorating breaths of Atlantic wind.
When it comes to Italian food, the culinary team at Cafe 34 Bistro draws equally from tradition and its own creativity. From seasoning housemade gnocchi with ground beef to tossing fettuccine with bacon-wrapped scallions and creamy wild-mushroom sauce, the cooks prove they have classic Italian flavors mastered. On the flip side, they lend fried calamari an extra zest by tossing the rings in mandarin-orange sauce. Cafe 34's culinary wizards likewise expand the flavorful potential of the burger by crowning beef patties with Cajun seasoning and mango-crabmeat salsa.
An extensive selection of wine by the glass and bottle, as well as cocktails, such as chocolate martinis, complements Cafe 34's edibles. Meals, in turn, complement the cafe's entertainment lineup, which bounces between flat-screen TVs showing the night's biggest games and live music performed three nights a week.
Blue Water Seafood Company’s expansive menu satisfies the deepest desires of seafaring appetites. Appetizers such as oysters on the half shell ($16/dozen) launch the stomach on a seafaring journey, continued by jumbo lump crab cakes ($17 lunch; $23 dinner) and fried clam strips ($15 lunch; $18 dinner). Blue Water's live Maine lobster ($26/lb., dinner only) is steamed and served with roasted potatoes and fresh vegetables upon order, bringing forth celestial flavors from the abyssopelagic depths. The maritime menu is bordered by an assortment of terra firma tasties including lemon chicken with artichoke hearts and crispy garlic ($14 lunch; $18 dinner) and New Zealand lamb chops ($35, dinner only).
At South Fin Grill, the ocean breeze mingles with a menu of upscale seafood and steakhouse dishes praised by New York magazine. Amid what critic Ethan Wolff describes as a "priceless" ocean view, servers roll out lobster, crab, swordfish, and salmon incarnated as pasta, soup, and sushi dishes. The "turf" portion of the menu showcases grilled new york sirloin, filet mignon, and barbecued pork, but the focus once again turns seaside at a raw bar that features clams and oysters kept fresh by pearl-shaped breath mints.
Beams of blue and yellow lighting hover above the interior dining tables, each blanketed with a white tablecloth and centered with a flickering candle. Outside, the ocean deck's sea-blue umbrellas shelter views of the boardwalk, ocean, and seagull beach volleyball tourneys. The restaurant bolsters its elegantly plated cuisine with occasional entertainment acts, which have included DJs.