When it comes to legendary establishments, the Jersey Shore has its share. Many restaurants, pubs, pizza shops and candy stores have been in business for decades, some passed down from generation to generation.
So what makes a place legendary?
“Longevity,” answers Jeff Taccarino, chef at Voltaco’s in Ocean City, which has been in business since 1954. “We’ve been here a long time, and we’re in good company with many other places that have stood the test of time.”
We've uncovered the legendary establishments that have maintained an important presence at the Jersey Shore for decades — some even a century or more.
Knife and Fork Inn and Dock’s Oyster House. Both restaurants have been in business for more than 100 years; Knife and Fork was founded in 1912, and Dock’s was established in 1897.
“Atlantic City has had its ups and downs, but these two restaurants have been here through all of it,” says Maureen Shay, owner of the Knife and Fork Inn, and co-owner of Dock’s Oyster House with husband Frank and brother-in-law Joe Dougherty.
“Consistency is the key,” says Shay. “Customers expect a certain experience when they come to our restaurants. We want to meet their expectations by giving them high-quality, friendly service and high-quality dining.”
Dock’s is a fourth-generation restaurant. Oysters are its signature dish, served just about any way you want: raw, Rockefeller, baked, fried. There was a time when fried oysters were THE only way to eat this delicacy. Dock’s accommodated the demand with six fryers. Now the restaurant only has one because “people have changed their eating habits,” Shay says.
Of course, if you’re not an oyster lover, fried or otherwise, they offer an array of other seafood from shrimp and clams to tuna and halibut. For landlubbers, Dock’s serves steaks and other prime meats as well.
Knife and Fork, the other high-end restaurant owned by the family, was taken over by the Doughertys in 2005. Its homage to the past is lobster thermidor, a dish that requires long prep time. For that reason, many places don’t offer it on their menus, according to Shay. Steaks and chops, along with seafood and shellfish, feature prominently on the menu.
Subs and sandwiches
Voltaco’s. The restaurant was born when Taccarino’s grandmother wanted to supplement her income as a door-to-door real estate saleswoman. The native from Naples, Italy, was “fantastic in the kitchen,” says Taccarino, and her recipes for eggplant parm, lasagna and stuffed peppers are still used today.
Over the years, the menu has “exploded,” says the chef. Pizza, sandwiches, salads, Italian entrees — think, chicken cacciatore, veal parm, ravioli and meatballs, among them — appeal to a broad spectrum of patrons. “Customers expect more,” he says. “Everybody wants something different, and we want to accommodate them.
“Our food is consistent ... we have served generations of families here,” Taccarino continues. “It means we’re doing something right.”
Voltaco's, 957 West Ave., Ocean City, 609-399-0753, 609-399-0734
White House Subs. Arguably the most famous sandwich shop in our region, this place is truly the stuff of legends. Visited by famous and infamous folks like The Beatles, Frank Sinatra and several U.S. presidents, this is where you go for good grub in Atlantic City. The original still resides in the Ducktown section, with a new second location now in Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City.
White House Subs, 2301 Arctic Ave. and 1000 Boardwalk, A.C.; WhiteHouseSubShop.net
Anchorage Tavern. When Guy Fieri featured the Anchorage Tavern on "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives," the Somers Point pub earned celebrity status. “People come from all over to eat here,” says Don Mahoney, chef and owner. “They love Guy Fieri, and they go everywhere he goes. It’s like a cult. People drive for miles and miles to our place. It’s great.”
The tavern has been in business for 137 years; Mahoney took over the restaurant in 1997 and says the pub is known for its seafood — flounder, scallops, crab cakes — and Italian specialties, including shrimp fra Diablo and scallops parm. “So many local people know us,” says Mahoney, “and we love them. We’re here for the customers.”
The Anchorage Tavern, 823 Bay Ave., Somers Point, AnchorageTavernRestaurant.com
Shrivers Salt Water Taffy and Fudge. Nostalgia and salt water taffy go hand-in-hand at Shrivers, which has been in business since 1898. This fourth-generation candy store on the Ocean City Boardwalk brings the perfect blend of past and present to patrons, who enjoy the sweet treats that have made Shrivers a legend. The candy shop sells its famous salt water taffy and fudge, along with chocolate-covered strawberries, caramel apples, macaroons and more.
“Quality and consistency are very important,” says owner Meryl Vangelov, whose great grandfather was a confectioner in Germany. “Our products have the same great taste they’ve always had.”
Tradition is also important; the candy boxes are virtually the same as they were 50 years ago. And so is the spectacle of watching salt water taffy as it's being made. A machine is near the window so all can see the process, and experience its benefits. The candy maker often proffers a free piece of salt water taffy to spectators, just like the olden days.
Shrivers Salt Water Taffy and Fudge, 852 Boardwalk, Ocean City, Shivers.com
Other Legendary Spots:
Irish Pub — Perhaps the most famous pub, Irish or otherwise, in A.C.
164 St. James Place, Atlantic City
Charlie's Bar & Restaurant — Come for the wings, beer, game and locals' crowd.
800 Shore Road, Somers Point
Manco & Manco — For many, this is the first name (OK, last name) in pizza.
8th Street and Boardwalk; 9th Street and Boardwalk; 12th Street and Boardwalk, Ocean City
Ocean Height Shopping Center, 319 New Somers Road, Somers Point
James’ Candy Co. — A sweeter shop is hard to find.
1519 Boardwalk; Marketplace at Tropicana, Brighton Avenue and Boardwalk, Atlantic City
255-96th St., Stone Harbor
3400 Boardwalk Ave., Wildwood
Fralinger’s Salt Water Taffy — Much more than A.C.'s famous taffy.
1901 Boardwalk Ave.; Tennessee Avenue and the Boardwalk, Atlantic City
1100 Boardwalk, Ocean City
2714 Boardwalk, Wildwood
324 Washington Street Mall, Cape May
Kohr Brothers — Soft-serve ice cream served with a smile.
601 Boardwalk; 644 Boardwalk; 820 Boardwalk; 986 Boardwalk, 1140 Boardwalk, Ocean City
274 96th Street, Stone Harbor
2518 Boardwalk, North Wildwood
3014 Boardwalk; 3500 Boardwalk, 305 Rio Grand Ave., Wildwood
512 Washington Mall, Cape May