Taste: Where We’re Eating: June 2007
You’d think sweet, casual BYOBs like Dune would be a dime a dozen in Shore towns. After all, the formula makes perfect sense. Where else but to a one-room dining room full of faded white woodwork and old black-and-white beach photos would you want to go after a long day of wave-jumping? The youthful next-door neighbor to Margate’s neon-lit Dairy Bar draws downbeach diners with just-edgy-enough fare: moules frites with champagne broth and salty pancetta; tabouleh-like cracked wheat salad brimming with asparagus, red grapes and tufts of mâche; locally lined skate on a bed of shiitakes and chewy herb gnocchi; and buttery berry cobbler with a scoop of homemade vanilla. (The Dairy Bar can wait.) 9510 Ventnor Avenue, Margate, 609-487-7450; dunerestaurant.com.
This Japanese restaurant was a New Jersey destination from the time it opened its doors in 1979 until it closed in 2006, a victim of the state’s plan to widen Route 130. Now, after several months in limbo, Fuji has resurfaced on Kings Highway in Haddonfield. The BYOB’s tiny sign seems easy to miss, and the dining room is hidden from view inside the Shops at 116, but chef Masaharu Ito’s fans are persistent. Service can be spotty in this hectic dining room, but all of Ito’s crowd-pleasers — worth-it miso soup laden with enoki mushrooms and toothsome tofu; tender octopus salad; long plates of sometimes overly elaborate sushi rolls — are on the menu, as is his traditional eight-course kaiseki meal. 116 East Kings Highway, Haddonfield, 856-354-8200; fujirestaurant.com.
This well-priced Washington Square addition has it all: a first-come-first-serve front café, a large bar ideal for anytime cocktails and snacks, and a dining room for unrushed meals. The combination of loud music, sparse white walls and high ceilings somehow gives 707 a warm energy that compliments the retro comfort dishes. Small plates like flaky pigs-in-a-blanket share menu space with entrées that include moist meatloaf. A few need more thought — plump mussels have an odd sauce of jalapeños and bacon, and Reuben spring rolls are all roll and little meat. But the banana split is the real deal, and sugar-covered funnel cake is as authentic as if eaten seaside. 707 Chestnut Street, 215-922-7770; 707restaurant.com.
Bistro Juliana owners Luigi Basile and Massimo Coscia know something about running a successful restaurant at an unexpected intersection. (See Radicchio, almost under the 676 overpass at 4th and Wood.) Now they’ve ventured further afield, setting this everyday Italian restaurant — plentiful pastas for $12? — on the very northern edge of Fishtown, behind the Port Richmond Shopping Center. The BYOB, a stout concrete building made welcoming with flung-open windows, sparkling glassware, and Italian accents in the open kitchen, may face I-95, but you’ll be distracted by a complimentary glass of white wine, served oh-so-casually on a hot day with an ice cube, and a Radicchio-plus menu that includes olive-oil-seared filet, al dente bucatini all’amatriciana, and that grilled octopus. 2723 East Cumberland Street; 215-425-2501.