Somers Point’s Bistro by the Bay at Caroline’s delivers hand-crafted Italian fare
Overcoming adversity is understood to be an essential survival skill in the restaurant industry.
Cooks and waitresses regularly fail to show. Equipment goes on the fritz, usually at the worst possible moment. Purveyors often fail to deliver on their promises.
But when a restaurant loses a key member of its management team, permanently, the loss can become difficult to withstand.
Caroline’s by the Bay in Somers Point suffered such a tragedy a little over a year ago when well-respected GM Dave Tyson, a veteran of the nearby Anchorage Tavern as well, passed away in August 2010.
We’re happy to report that his longtime enterprise didn’t fold, and now stands firmly rooted in the process of reinventing itself.
Much of the credit for that should go to Bruno Berardi. The fortysomething-year-old native of Northeast Philly, recruited by cousin Fausto — operator of Strathmere’s La Fontana Del Mare — stepped firmly into the breach and has moved the restaurant’s direction towards hand-crafted casual Italian and Italian-American fare.
With a degree in hospitality management from Penn State and decades of industry experience, Berardi immediately focused on a formula he knew intimately.
Saying that with Tyson’s passing, “The identity of Caroline’s was gone” and that it’s been a challenge, Berardi chose to reposition the facility. Already possessing some of the most panoramic, relaxing shoreline views regionally, Caroline’s new regime’s intent is: “We want to be able to offer people a great product at a reasonable price and not be that ‘destination only’ restaurant.”
Which has all lead to a new appellation as well, the Bistro at Caroline’s by the Bay. He further admits that it will likely “take three to five years to make my own name.”
Which means stuff like brick oven pizza, lasagna, crab cakes and a house specialty, gnocchi.
Berardi describes those potato-based pasta pillows as a tricky item to properly create, saying they “have to be malleable [and] hold the integrity of the dough.”
But his nascent concept also translates as scratch cooking at every level of the business.
He even goes so far as to proudly declare: “None of my soups come in a can” and “I never use my freezer, except maybe for frozen French fries.”
Calling the revised menu “simple stuff, peasant,” he describes it as “my food, my creations, my passions, not someone else’s.” He’s also quick to praise head chef Tony Ditri — surprise, surprise — another cousin, for delivering consistent, quality cuisine.
If you’re a real food fan, ask to sit in the left rear section. Here you’ll be afforded a peek at the kitchen staff, through a screened service portal, as they prepare your meal.
For first-time restaurateurs Tad and Elizabeth Stern, the opening of their new Bubbie’s Bistro — a Kosher Italian eatery in Ventnor, just minutes outside of Atlantic City — was the culmination of multiple dreams.
The Somers Point Restaurant Week began Nov. 4 and concludes Nov. 13. If you haven’t yet taken advantage of the special dining event featuring $25.07 three-course dinners and $11.07 three-course lunches, you still have a few more days to go.
I love Atlantic City Restaurant Week. As someone on a budget, I rarely indulge in dining out, which is a crying shame since there are so many outstanding dining options in the region. However, when Restaurant Week rolls around, I take advantage of the outstanding fixed price of $33.11 for dinner and $15.11 for lunch.
After enjoying Atlantic City Restaurant Week last year, there was no doubt I planned to seek out another great meal at an excellent price during this year’s special culinary event.
This is the first year the Borgata is blending an "outside" chef into the mix. It is also the first-year that the Borgata will preface the Nov. 12 celebration with a Savor Borgata Restaurant Week, which will run from Sunday, Nov. 6 to Friday, Nov. 11.
The already excellent fall festival season in our region has a new event that will hopefully become an annual affair when the Mays Landing Merchants Association presents the Waterfront Wine & Food Festival Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 22-23, at Lake Lenape Park East in Mays Landing.
Congrats to the McCauley Clan
Spring Dining Dish ’13
Taste of Revel Revisited
Jose Garces Truckin’ at Revel
Tropicana Seafood Week Coming Soon
Sal's Cafe: Pizza with Many Twists
Roman Grill Blossoms in Linwood