Obviously the concern over the coronavirus pandemic has turned life in South Jersey on its head. Our area, once known as a dining and nightlife destination has now had to greatly reduce normal operations. So that means no dining out for anyone for the foreseeable future. But if the visual image of slaving over a stove attempting to cook each and every meal doesn’t exactly thrill you, fear not, as restaurants are still permitted to offer takeout and delivery options should they choose to. While it may not be their normal style of hospitality, many local restaurant owners have stepped up their delivery game in the face of this international crisis to bring you great food while you hunker down.

“This is truly unprecedented,” says Frank Triffiletti, owner of Rose’s Garden Grill. “We are just going to keep doing what we’re doing now and try and get through it one day at a time.”

In the spirit of helping you get through it one day at a time, here are some great spots offering takeout and delivery that get our personal stamp of approval.

Essl’s Dugout

Essl’s has been a favorite in the West Atlantic City area for more than 45 years. A legend for both breakfast and lunch, the place was purchased last year by Carey Hettmansperger from original owners Bob and Sharon Messl, but all the great hearty American comfort food you loved still remains on the menu, with a variety of breakfast quesadilla and tasty club sandwiches as well as “The Messl,” the restaurant’s signature dish which features your choice of breakfast meat, fried egg, cheese and home-fried potatoes. If you haven’t had one, you really should find out what the fuss is all about. Essl’s also does take-home meals plans as well as Keto-friendly meals. Essl’s Dugout is located at 7001 E. Black Horse Pike, West Atlantic City. Go to EsslsDugoutNJ.com or call 609-646-0637.

Tennessee Avenue Beer Hall

This Orange Loop hot spot opened its doors in November 2018, and quickly made a name for itself as one of the top gastropubs in the area. For the duration of the shutdown, they will offer delivery through Doordash as well as curbside pickup.

With a kitchen manned by Chef Charles Soreth, the menu here is loaded with kicked-up versions of your favorite pub grub. Not sure what to order? Some of our favorite dishes include the Lobster Tater Tots, which feature your favorite childhood spuds topped with fresh Maine lobster, bacon and lobster bisque; the Kentucky Ave. Chicken Sandwich which starts with a breaded Japanese pepper-spiced chicken breast piled with kimchi slaw and sweet chili aioli on a brioche bun; and the Hell in a Bucket burger, which loads up its duo of custom-blend Angus beef patties with pork roll, bacon, egg, cheese, caramelized onions and chipotle ketchup. And if you need something to wash it all down with, they have growlers to go with 40 taps of beer available, as well as mix and match cans and bottle 4-packs from a variety of nearly 100 choices. Go to TennesseeAvenue BeerHall.com. For curbside pick-up please call 609-541-4099.

Sofia

We admit that it is going to hurt not to be able to dine inside at Sofia, as it is easily one of the most gorgeous restaurants in our area. But as nice as the environment is at this Mediterranean eatery, the reason we keep coming back is because of the amazing food, and luckily we will still be able to enjoy that via takeout and delivery. The delivery is only offered till 4 p.m., but you can pick up orders till 8. What should you get? Well, the menu is large and loaded with wonderful options, but we find it hard to pass up the lamb osso bucco, one of the signature items here, consisting of a braised lamb shank served with spinach orzo with a lamb demi. If you are in the mood for a simpler handheld snack, the full menu of flatbreads is sure to tickle your fancy. Sofia is located at 9314 Amherst Ave in Margate. Go to SofiaOfMargate.com or call 609-822-9111. Tony Beef

The name may be Tony Beef, but this Galloway burger joint offers some of the most exotic game on a bun. The list of unusual meats are always rotating, but you can expect to find everything from camel to alligator on the “beasts of the month” portion of the menu. Of course if you want to stick with less adventurous fare you won’t regret it as the fully customizable menu at Tony Beef will let you sculpt your own perfect burger. We recommend the double beef patty on a grilled cheese bun with a fried egg, American cheese, tomato, caramelized onions and bacon mayo. It ain’t health food, but it sure hits the-spot! Tony Beef is located at 195 S. New York Road in Galloway. Go to TonyBeef.com or call 609-377-5744.

Bellevue Tavern

The Bellevue Tavern has been a landmark in Cape May Court House for over a century. Offering up a large menu with options ranging from Italian specialties to killer burgers, wings and seafood dishes that keep people coming back year round, the Bellevue is always a great option when you are looking for a place that will please everyone. The chicken parm is great here (and even the kid’s portion is impressive) as is the Salmon Baltimore which gets topped with crabmeat and Old Bay, but no matter what, the crab cakes are a must-order. Served with a basil garlic dipping sauce that will blow your mind, you would be quite the fool not to include this with your order. What’s better? The Bellevue is also a liquor store, so you can even get packaged goods! The Bellevue Tavern is located at 7 S Main St. in Cape May Court House. Go to BellevueTavern.com or call 609-463-1738.

Knife & Fork Inn

Looking for something a bit more upscale? An Atlantic City institution, Knife & Fork Inn offers everything from steaks to seafood in one of the most charming and pleasant atmospheres around. Their most famous dish is the Lobster Thermidor, but we’re not sure how well that will translate as a take-out dish, so instead we recommend starting with a bowl of the corn and crab chowder and following that up with the Seafood Risotto, a delicate and delightful dish prepared with shrimp, crab and scallops with asparagus and wild mushrooms. Knife & Fork Inn is located at 3600 Atlantic Ave. in Atlantic City. Go to KnifeAndForkInn.com or call 609-344-1133.

Little Italy Pizzeria and Restaurant

There is still one certainty left in these uncertain times— You know you can always count on a pizzeria to deliver. And Little Italy does just that, offering some superb slices and entrees for you to nosh on while you endure this truly unusual time. We suggest giving the margherita pie a whirl, as you can’t go wrong with fresh mozzarella, San Marzano tomato sauce, basil and olive oil all fired in a brick oven. For pasta lovers the Fettuccine Carbonara — with sautéed pancetta, ham onions and garlic in a cream sauce is a no-brainer. Little Italy is located at 815 Tilton Road in Norhfield. Go to LittleItalyNorthfield or call 609-383-1155.

Rose’s Garden Grill

One of the best in the area when it comes to tasty subs and sandwiches, this Northfield favorite just opened up a new location at The Exchange in Galloway and both are offering takeout and delivery options. One of the best ways to get through this is by ordering one of their awesome cheesesteaks. They have a whole menu full of them, but the Volcano Cheesesteak is a deliciously spicy beast of a sandwich with steak, Cheez Whiz, cayenne, fried onions and your choice of hot peppers. Rose’s Garden Grill’s Northfield is located at 2605 New Road. The Galloway location is at 80 W. Jimmie Leeds Road. Go to RosesGardenGrill.com.

Blue Water Grill

On a normal day Blue Water Grill offers guests a stunning view thanks to its floor-to-ceiling windows and its location on the seventh floor of the FantaSea Resort in Atlantic City, but you’ll have to come back once the pandemic is over to experience that first hand. In the meantime, they are offering takeout (no delivery though) from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, and we encourage you to head down and pick up a tasty meal. But what to pick? We may be partial as it was featured on A.C. Weekly’s 50 Bites+ promotion last year, but we just can’t get enough of the Texas Burger – a tasty Angus beef patty topped with cheddar cheese and barbecue sauce and crowned with an onion ring. Blue Water Grill is located at 60 N. Main Ave in Atlantic City. Go to BWG-AC.com or call 609-347-0770.

Ventura’s Greenhouse

The ocean views and rooftop bar that everyone associates with a trip to Ventura’s Greenhouse will have to wait a few more months, but for now you can still enjoy your favorite items from their menu, as they will offer both takeout and delivery (delivery options for those in Ventnor, Margate and Longport only). We suggest you try the homemade meatballs as an app. They are served topped with marinara, reggiano and ricotta and paired with roasted red and hot peppers, and they are a perfect starter. For a main entrée you simply can’t go wrong with the Chicken Roberto, a boneless chicken breast stuffed with jumbo lump crabmeat topped with artichokes and red peppers served Francaise style with a side of red bliss potatoes and a vegetable medley. Ventura’s Greenhouse is located at 106 Benson Ave. in Margate. Go to VenturasGreenhouse.com or call 609-822-0140.

Angelo’s Fairmount Tavern

This Atlantic City spot is known for serving some of the most mouth-watering Italian food around. During the pandemic, Angelo’s has put together some really great family-style meals that feed four to six people. The meals will be available for takeout or delivery between 3 and 8 p.m. For $45 customers can choose from Shrimp Imperial; crabmeat with spinach and tomatoes in lobster sauce; or sautéed clams with red or white sauce. For $40 customers can choose from chicken parm, chicken marsala, chicken Francaise, chicken picante or chicken fingers and French fries. All dinners come with pasta, salad, bread and butter. Angelo’s Fairmont Tavern is located at 2300 Fairmount Ave. in Atlantic City. Go to AngelosFairmountTavern.com or call 609-344-2439.

Jim’s Lunch

Jim’s Lunch in Millville is the kind of spot people travel for miles to get to, as they offer what is without a doubt one of the best burgers you will find on the planet. And while you can’t visit their quaint folksy interior at the moment, they are offering curbside pick-up and delivery within the city limits of Millville on orders over $20 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. And for the first time, this cash only spot is also accepting credit cards. As for recommendations, obviously the burger is a must do, but you gotta order it right. We recommend going with a double cheeseburger with everything (that’s mustard, onions and sauce) and do yourself a favor — ask for extra sauce. It’s amazing and damn near indescribable. Jim’s Lunch is located at 105 E Main St. in Millville. Go to Call 856-327-1299.

Kelsey & Kim’s Southern Cafe

Southern-style cooking in the Northeast can be tricky to find. And finding a spot that not only does it, but does it well is even trickier. But at Kelsey & Kim’s in Atlantic City that is exactly what you will find. They will offer take-out and delivery, bringing good eats during tough times here in South Jersey. This is a menu where it’s really tough to go wrong, but the Southern fried chicken is not to be missed. Ditto for the catfish nuggets and the turkey chops. Might as well order all three. Kelsey & Kim’s Southern Café is located at 201 Melrose Ave. in Atlantic City. Call 609-350-6800.

Contact: rloughlin@pressofac.com