Shore 2009: Dining Out

Our roster of call-the-sitter-type feasts

Atlantic City gets the most press for upscale dining at the Shore (as well it should), but there are nice meals to be had elsewhere. Like at Yellowfin, the tiny, trendy Asian-fusion BYO in Surf City, where the duck spring roll and panko-crusted, flash-fried Jersey tomato are a nice change of pace from typical Shore fare. Then there’s La Spiaggia, the LBI go-to for haute Northern Italian (the jumbo shrimp over linguine are delish), and two buzzed-about places courtesy of prolific Philly restaurateur Marty Grims — The Plantation in Harvey Cedars, which has been packed ever since it opened in 2007, and a spiffy new place with a seafood-heavy menu inside Brant Beach’s retro-chic boutique hotel Daddy O. (Yellowfin, 104 24th Street, Surf City, 609-494-7001; La Spiaggia, 357 West 8th Street, Ship Bottom, 609-494-4343,; The Plantation, 7908 Long Beach Boulevard, Harvey Cedars, 609-494-8191,; Daddy O, 4401 Long Beach Boulevard, Brant Beach, 609-494-1300,

Margate mavens say that elegant old Steve & Cookie’s is the best place in all of Downbeach to sup, and they’re right: Parking’s a pain, but the bouillabaisse is superb — and the live music is a nice touch. Of course, there are also the beachy-chic Dune and Manna, both newish by Shore standards, both hangs for local sophisticates. In Ventnor, if you can’t get into the always-crowded Italian Red Room Café, you have an adorable (also Italian) alternative in Johnny’s Café, whose little black-striped awning and twinkly white lights declare “Romantic bistro here!” Cape May has the Washington Inn inside a grand old plantation home, where the best-kept secret isn’t the refined Italian dishes; it’s Marty the bartender, a Philly transplant who makes killer manhattans behind his mahogany bar. And Stone Harbor now boasts a just-opened outpost of beautiful, Conshy-based Blackfish. (Try the Cape May Salt Oysters, below.) Stone Harbor’s Quahog’s Seafood Shack isn’t really a shack — in fact, the best way to enjoy its blackened catches of the day is to sit in the covered backyard. Even Wildwood offers a little grown-up breather from the kiddie fun with casually charming Claude’s Restaurant. French-born Claude Pottier and his wife Mary, a PA native, have created an elegant respite with roast chicken, risotto with corn and scallops, and grilled oysters, all served on mismatched china you just know came from Parisian flea markets. (Steve & Cookie’s 9700 Amherst Avenue, Margate, 609-823-1163,; Dune 9510 Ventnor Avenue, Margate, 609-487-7450,; Manna 8409 Ventnor Avenue, Margate, 609-822-7722,; Red Room Café 141 North Dorset Avenue, Ventnor, 609-822-1067; Johnny’s Café 9407 Ventnor Avenue, Margate, 609-822-1789,; Washington Inn 801 Washington Street, Cape May, 609-884-5697,; Blackfish 9628 3rd Avenue, Stone Harbor, 609-967-9100,; Quahog’s Seafood Shack 206 97th Street, Stone Harbor, 609-368-6300,; Claude’s Restaurant 100 Olde New Jersey Avenue, North Wildwood, 609-522-0400,