In the 1930s, women in skirted bathing suits and gents shaded under boater hats flocked to the beaches of the Jersey Shore. When they grew hungry or hot, they strolled the boardwalk looking for treats, often intrigued by the frosty cups of flavored ice sold by a young Italian immigrant. That man, Tony Strollo, crafted ices from old family recipes in his garage before shuttling them to the beach in a gasping, converted bus. Over the years, Tony’s frosty treats became staples for vacationing families and discerning hummingbirds. When Tony passed his sugar-stained recipes on to his son in the '70s, Ray faced the challenge of meeting the growing demand. He tinkered with the recipes to make them in bulk within the churning, swirling belly of a soft-serve machine.
Today, a third-generation Strollo keeps the summer tradition alive at Strollo's Lighthouse Italian Ice, which has expanded to four storefronts and earned a feature on the Food Network. Still homemade, the nectarous delights include rich ice cream as well as many flavors of Italian ice. Hot from the still-popular beaches or virtual summer camp, modern families clamor for flavors of root beer, pistachio, blue raspberry, coconut, and Oreo.
Manasquan Water Taxi is a 40-foot riverboat. The wide, low-riding vessel has an open-air deck shaded by a canopy, and colored light from neon signs casts a glow on the water’s ripples. The water taxi cruises at up to 25 miles per hour, ferrying riders between bars and restaurants, to islands, beneath fireworks, and over any wimpier boats in its way. A sound system turns the boat into a floating boom box, and riders can drink at the full bar onboard and nibble hot dogs and subs.
Chevys serves up Mexican fare in Texas-size portions, with salsa and tortillas made from scratch daily. Begin by ordering a bowl of guacamole to witness a server capture, skin, and gut a live avocado right at your table before hand-mashing it into fresh guacamole. From there, let your taste buds tango across tender tamales wrapped by hand each morning, or play mad scientist and suture together an electrified monster plate from enchiladas, tacos, grilled chili rellenos, tamales, and chimichangas ($10.29 for any two, $11.99 for any three, $12.99 for any four). Seafarers, meanwhile, will want to try the grilled fish tacos—a mélange of grilled fish, chipotle aioli, lettuce, and pico de gallo, warmly embraced by the floury flaps of El Machino tortillas and topped with a sprinkling of crumbled cotija cheese ($10.99). To keep the hot peppers and piquant salsas from singing the sinuses, douse your mouth-flames periodically with drinks such as the Kraken fruit punch, black spiced rum coupled with spicy mango and orange juice ($8.75), or the Blue Agave margarita, a mixture of El Mayor Reposado tequila and blue Curacao ($6.75 regular, $11.50 grande).
Befitting their Jersey Shore locale, the cooks at F-Cove Restaurant specialize in seafood. Using ingredients sourced from local farms and waters, the culinary team dabbles in some seafood mainstays, like peel-and-eat shrimp tossed in spicy seasonings for a fiery kick. Mostly, though, the F-Cove crew experiments with textures and flavors, sprinkling toasted almonds atop browned grouper and stirring mussels and bacon into garlic beer sauce. Those upscale tweaks dominate the BYOB restaurant’s remaining menu, which takes on steak-house classics like 14-ounce pork chops paired with bourbon apples and London-inspired burgers grilled in worcestershire sauce.
Bistro by the Beach's chef and owner B.J. Brown employs organic ingredients to craft a menu of mouthwatering maritime fare, high-quality steaks, and free-range chicken dishes in a coastline-hugging location. Diners can prime appetites with such succulent starters as a jumbo lump crab cake dressed with a roasted corn salsa, avocado puree, and zero birthday candles ($13.50). Or, dive into one of Bistro by the Beach's decadent aquatic entrees, such as the pan-seared scallops with a sweet potato and parsnip puree, bacon braised cabbage, and apple cider gastrique ($22). Pasta-from-the-sea features a tummy-tempting trio of shrimp, scallops, little-neck clams in white wine, and lemon ($22), and energizes eaters before a long day of coating rival basketball teams’ courts with surf wax. Meanwhile, roasted free-range chicken is bathed in a rosemary jus ($21) and the grilled New York strip rests in a roasted garlic cabernet butter sauce ($27) to satisfy appetites.
Through a set of solid mahogany doors, the dining room at Remington’s teems with seasonal dishes inspired by the Jersey Shore. Executive Chef Dominick Rizzo gathers ingredients from farmers, fishmongers, and local cheese makers from the tri-state area, letting the harvest inform his constantly changing menu of upscale American cuisine. Recent dishes have included locally caught fluke sautéed with yellowfoot chanterelle mushrooms and served with lentils and a drizzle of chive oil. For libations, Remington’s sommeliers refer to a long list of wines from Europe, South America, and California. All this good cooking comes with good scenery to match—there’s a 5-foot freshwater aquarium decorating the dining room, alongside hand-painted murals of beaches, ocean scenes, and Moondoggie’s leash.