I was down in Long Beach Island for the weekend of July 4th and what a gorgeous weekend it was! My friend and I decided to kick off the fun filled weekend with a delicious dinner at Stefano's. I did some research before we went and Stefano's had everything we were looking for, including an extensive menu of seafood specialties, classic Italian dishes, outdoor seating, and BYOB. We did not make a reservation so we had to wait for a table to clear. Since it was such a beautiful evening we insisted on sitting outside. While we were waiting I enjoyed staring at the abundance of decadent desserts looming at me from the dessert case. Before even looking at the menu I knew there was a slice of peanut butter mousse pie with my name on it! YUM! Our wait was surprisingly quick and we were seated at a cozy table outside. The friendly server came right over to greet us, uncork our wine and bring us some bread. On a beautiful, hot, Summer night there is nothing better than a crisp, refreshing glass of chilled Pinot Grigio. For appetizer I decided on the clams and mussels sauteed in white wine, topped with lump crab meat and arugula. Being a huge seafood lover this dish was everything you could want in a bowl! It came out steaming and accompanied by garlic bread. The bread was perfect for dipping in the delicious broth and gathering up the succulent pieces of crab and wilted arugula that fell to the bottom.
After enjoying the delish appetizer we pondered over the capacious menu. We were not in a rush so we sat back enjoyed our wine and the beautiful surroundings. There is something about dining alfresco with the aromas of the salty beach in the background, really gives you the true feelings of Summer. Stefano's has an amazing menu ranging from Crab Cakes, to Chicken Parmigiana, to Surf and Turf, to a variety of authentic pasta dishes, there is something for everyone. Needless to say the decision was extremely difficult, but once I laid eyes on the Sea Bass Tuscany, it was love at first sight! The sea bass came pan seared, served over a Gorgonzola spinach risotto and topped with crisp sweet potato straws. This dish was AMAZING! The fish, cooked to perfection, with a sear on top, flaked apart to the touch and melted like butter in your mouth. The delicate fish melded together with the rich and creamy risotto harmoniously. The Gorgonzola added a depthness to the risotto with its robust flavors. My friend enjoyed the Chicken Diparma, which was chicken topped with prosciutto and fresh mozzarella served over sauteed spinach and topped in a lemon wine sauce. The dish was flavourful and light, similar to a saltimbocca.
Stefano's was an all around amazing experience! We had a great time and it was exactly what we were looking for to jump start an exciting Fourth of July weekend. Stefano's is great for any occasion. With excellent service, a casual intimate atmosphere, impeccable food and an affordable menu, it is a definite must try. Next trip down to the Jersey Shore stop in LBI and check out Stefano's, if not for dinner, at least for a bowl of their Nine Time Grand Champion Chowder!