Spiaggia e Luna, Barnegat NJ (Part II)

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

4 Responses to “Spiaggia e Luna, Barnegat NJ (Part II)”

  1. Tommy V says:

    Regular Guy,

    You missed your calling, you should of been a restaurant reviewer. Perhaps in the future as you do a real good job expressing yourself. Never have eaten at this establishment, so I can’t really comment on it. However, this seems to a trend in alot of eateries. I’ve notice that even our local diner, which is still very good, they have cut down the portions. They used to stack a French Dip, now it’s rather ordinary. Items like club sandwiches, although tasty, are not what they used to be. The problem is like most things, they charge more but give you less. Lokk at the size of one my favorite snacks, Entemanns chocolate covered doughnuts. They used to be huge, now just a regular size. Yet they have gotten more expensive. I don’t expect any company to keep their prices the same forever, but at least be consistent in size,flavor, and so on. I’m not trying to compare a doughnut to a nice restaurant,but it’s just an exmple on how things seem to be done.
    Take care,
    TV

  2. enyaw says:

    Great review. I also, had enjoyed each and every meal at this place. The quality and quantity had really dropped. I think the owner has lost his touch for customer satisfaction. The sauces are so-so. Portions are much smaller and the prices have gone up. Seems once he got a following he decided it was time to make more money. If you hear the owner made his rice pudding….it is awesome! There are better places to go and pay these prices……Hopefully, John reads these reviews and gets back to his main purpose……wonderful meals..

  3. Frank Weag says:

    Dear regular guy,
    I couldn’t disagree with you more, My wife and I have been going to this restaurant for quite a while now, at least 8 times in the least year and a half. Each time we have found the portions more then ample, often allowing us to switch left overs the next day to try each others dishes. The sauce in my opinion is great, my wife too as she occasionally gets heartburn from other restaurants sauces, being to acidic. As for the salads and the dressing they too are quite enjoyable and flavorful. The prices and portions seem to be on par with other establishments we frequent as well. Please keep in mind I am no food critic, but I do really enjoy each visit to Spiaggia.
    Thanks,
    Frank

  4. admin says:

    Hi Frank
    Thanks for the comment and thoughts. I am wondering what your age is. I am 50 yrs old and still have big appetite. That’s not to say that I expect portions big enough to get two meals, but when Spiaggia first opened I left with a full stomach on just the entree. I have eaten there on many occasions with friends that also sense a change.

    You misunderstood my comment about the sauce. The sauce is quite good but as a fra diavolo it needs more spice. I just recently ate in a restaurant while visiting the 1000 island region of NY, and I had chicken and shrimp fra diavolo. The sauce was spicy and had a medley of peppers as an addition. The peppers were the deal maker and the thing that is missing in Spiggia’s version. As for the salad, I too like it and the way it is presented but the dressing seems different, not as flavorful as I once remembered. Maybe I was so impressed by it the first time that my expectations were too high on my return trips. And finally the pricing. On average, entree pricing seems to be in line with what most restaurants are charging ( I was referencing the price of certain entree’s in my second review) but the appetizers, in my opinion, seem to be overpriced.

    In closing, we are all food critics. After all we eat where we enjoy our meals and service. If you weren’t critical of such you would eat just about anywhere. Thanks again…

    The Regular Guy

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