Archive for August, 2011

Sum, Sum, Summer time Music

Sunday, August 28th, 2011

The Jersey shore is a great place to listen to outdoor concerts during our beautiful summer nights.

Listening to music when combined with the cool breeze off the bay water and the warm summer night, makes for a great way to spend an evening. Grab a cooler, some beach chairs and a couple of sandwiches and head out to boogie to some of the local talent while enjoying the outdoors.

I can’t get enough of these concerts but sadly we only get to experience them for a couple of short months here at the shore. It is hard to imagine why we don’t have these from May through October, because the weather here is great during this time of year. I figure that local politicians cant find the money to fund this series longer  or they haven’t got a clue as to how enjoyable it is for the community. Either way, our town should be able to take advantage of this for at least two seasons a year.

Recently we listened to  Jimmy and the Parrots, who are a local cover band that plays a lot of Jimmy Buffet and easy listening classics. Although I have seen them in years past and thought they were pretty entertaining, this evenings vocal performance was terrible. I cant remember their singing being so off key. Not surprisingly and even with the bad vocals coming from the stage, the audience cheered and sang along with the band until the very end.

Summer has now moved into its last leg with autumn being a few cool nights away. That’s too bad, because it’s a sign that the best of the summer music will be fading away even sooner. For those who are lucky enough, it’s almost time to head to warmer weather down south, grab a chair or two, get outside and pick up on where the music has left off.

The Regular Guy

Spiaggia e Luna, Barnegat NJ (Part II)

Monday, August 15th, 2011

Back in April of 2010 I reviewed this restaurant and as I have come to understand, Spiaggia is now celebrating their 2nd Anniversary, which seems to be a good reason to revisit one of my favorite places.

Consistency of food  is perhaps the hardest thing to achieve and maintain in a restaurant. More times than not I have dined out and had a great experience on my first visit only to return another time to be disappointed. Over the last two years, I have eaten here at least a dozen times between both the pizza side and the restaurant side.  My first three visits to Spiaggia and the restaurant side, were consistently great but it seems that since that first year, portion sizes have gotten smaller, prices have risen and the once flavorful dishes have now become just so-so.

My favorite dish has always been Fra Diavolo Festa because I love the combination of seafood in a hot and spicy tomato sauce. Originally this was the reason that I returned time and time again and on this visit it would be my test dish to see if things are still great here at Spiaggia. What I found was that the portion of pasta below the medley of seafood is no longer too much to finish and the spicy sauce is just slightly above marinara on the tomato scale. What once was a wonderful  experience is now just an average dish, one that you might find in a pizzeria restaurant. I will say that I asked to sub shrimp for the scallops and I did have enough shrimp to satisfy. What is lacking is the spicy zip that you should taste in every bite from the Fra Diavolo sauce. It seems to me that the sauce is nothing more than Marinara with some crushed red pepper.  Not the dish that kept me coming back for more.

My wife ordered the Spiaggia Land and Sea( Filet Mignon and Lobster Tail) and for $30 you should be wowed in a every bite. Served with white rice, she asked if they would sub the vegetable risotto that came with another dish in its place. This was a good move because the risotto was creamy and cheesy and helped to make the meal better than its white rice counter part might have. The filet was just like you would make on your outdoor grill and the lobster tail was just broiled and served.

The thing that seems to be missing here is the little something extra that puts some restaurants over the top while others are just okay.  A case in point could be made for the house salad. The greens are served chilled and the house dressing used to be one that made you want seconds. The homemade Lemon vinaigrette wasn’t as tangy, lemony and tasty as it used to be. Something has changed here, whether it is the chef or the recipes due to higher costs and/or different quality of ingredients.  Okay dinners are fine if you are in a pizzeria and the pricing reflects that. But with the prices of appetizers averaging around $12 each and entree prices average or higher than neighboring establishments, you expect the WOW factor every time. Someone at Spiaggia isn’t paying attention to details like they used to when they first opened. The portion size, seasoning and finishing touches that make the difference and were once noticeable, are now missing.

Two years in, one great year and now one good year. Not the way to be heading especially when people are in a struggling economy and they are cautious where they will be spending their hard earned dollars.

Regular Guy rating * * *

Spiaggia e Luna

696 E Bay Ave

Barnegat NJ

609-660-2000