The quaint Stone Harbor trattoria’s specialty is seafood, as tailored around similar establishments sited in the southern Italian coastal hubs.
Last summer, it was Margate’s daring, al fresco Fisch Kitchen, attached to Downbeach Deli.
In 2010, it was Avalon’s Diving Horse, featuring a brief menu rotating to reflect regional availabilities.
What we refer to is the Jersey shore phenomenon of the summertime BYOB. Now, in 2012, that mantle clearly rests with Stone Harbor’s Spiaggia Seafood Trattoria. What could be more appropriate than a place whose very name — “spiaggia,” or “beach” in Italian — invokes our own unique seashore environs?
Owner/operators Marco and Analia Tarantino, along with their extended family, have simultaneously carved out an exciting new local dining niche with this latest concept.
Spiaggia is what one would expect to find in southern Italian coastal hubs like Positano, Capri or Bari — a menu largely based on the nearby ocean’s bounty. The Tarantinos were limited partners in the building’s previous occupant, a restaurant called Sole, more along the lines of standard Italian-American fare.
Visiting Spiaggia just prior to July 4, we were stunned to see several dozen patrons patiently waiting curbside for entry, despite the oppressive heat. Once inside, we quickly figured out why.
My starter, traditional fritto misto, had been given a nice twist. A cute, mini fryer basket used for presentation was filled, overflowing with chunks of lobster, calamari and artichoke. All were crisp and hot, delivered quickly, bearing no evidence of residual oiliness. Plated with a peperoncino-infused aioli, this spicy dip offered just the right amount of contrast to the subtle ingredients.
My dining partner opted for seared day-boat scallops. Between a duet of mollusks, in the plate’s center, was a silky-smooth sauté of organic zucchini. Blood orange vinaigrette nicely dotted the corners. The scallops themselves were fresh and properly prepared. Which is to say, barely exposed to heat. This allowed their oceanic flavors top billing, and the pairing with soft ribbons of zucchini also worked well texturally.
As middle courses on this sizzling evening, we opted for a pair of cooling salads. First, the Spiaggia, loaded with organic lettuces, seasonal Jersey tomatoes, pecorino cheese and vinaigrette. Simple, pretty and delicious, just as all Italian cookery aspires to be.
An evening’s addition, arugula salad, was more intricate. Composed of those peppery greens, halved figs, crumbled gorgonzola and chopped tomatoes, these elements alone would have made for a worthwhile special. Gilding the lily even further, the addition of thinly shaved prosciutto, draped across like a rooftop.
Plus, the Album of the Week, Beachstock in Margate and Drew Toonz
The musician and artist will make two special Jersey Shore appearances this weekend , including a show at Borgata and an artist reception in Stone Harbor at Ocean Galleries.
AOL Travel has named Stone Harbor among its “Top 10 Secret Beaches” in the entire nation. Jordan Simon, a writer for the travel site, labeled the borough’s beaches as “an ideal destination for those who prefer to savor sun, sand and sea — with a bit of solitude.”
The very best meal we've had all summer -- while on the clock or off -- was at Stone Harbor's cozy Back Yard, a lovely little garden restaurant hidden between blocks, off 81st Street. The evening be...
There's something special about Stone Harbor. It keeps attracting summertime visitors who, like the colorful songbirds that migrate to its renowned Bird Sanctuary, return year after year. Yet, for some, the attraction is so strong that they decide to stay and make their homes in this picturesque seashore resort on Seven Mile Island. In 1975, Suzanne Walters purchased a vacation home in the borough, was captivated by the community, and three years later decided to make Stone Harbor her home. Likewise, summer visitor Barry Mastrangelo relocated his business to the community in 1986, moved to Stone Harbor as a year-round resident in 1996 and is still there. Over the years, both raised families and involved themselves in community service. Now, Walters is mayor, Mastrangelo is borough council president, and they're still sold on the community. "It's clean, safe and walkable, which is one of the definite things that makes it a lot different from some other communities," says Walters. "You can come to Stone Harbor, park your can and walk basically wherever you want or ride your bike. It's got some great shopping areas and terrific restaurants." They're all supported by a plethora of summer visitors and residents, which at...