Posts Tagged ‘Spiaggia e luna’

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

Spiaggia e Luna, Barnegat NJ

Monday, April 26th, 2010

Bring a bottle of wine and make your choice. Spiaggia is two restaurants in one. Feel like having brick oven pizza or Chilean Sea Bass. I have visited Spiaggia a half a dozen times now and whether I choose to dine on pizza or some of their gourmet dishes, I always leave satisfied.

On the one side you can enjoy a full menu with some well known and some of Spiaggia’s own signature dishes, all with an Italian flair. Start your dinner with the Scallop appetizer and you won’t be disappointed. Follow that with the dinner salad and fresh house dressing, which is very light and tasty. There are too many choices for an entree to pick a favorite but I have had the Linguini with Clams, Shrimp and Scallops in a Fra Diavolo sauce, twice. The sauce is veerrryyy good and nice and spicy.

Side two of this restaurant features the same menu as side one, but also Brick Oven Pizza. The atmosphere is the complete opposite so be prepared for a somewhat noisy experience. Sometimes in fact it can be a little too much as some employees “hang out ” there while not working which interferes with the servers attention span. The noise is created from the staff itself, who tend to yell things to each other from across the dining room. Its okay if you don’t mind hearing all about the staffs lives and what they have been doing of late but otherwise I feel it should be controlled. After all, it is a business and should be more professionally run. Other than that, I have to say that the Pizza is delicious. There are examples of different pies on the menu but I always like to make up new ones each time. We tried Grilled Chicken, Spinach and fresh Tomato with a sprinkle of crushed red pepper baked into the pie. It was zingy hot, crispy and good but we didn’t realize it wouldn’t have Tomato sauce under the toppings which tended to make it dry. No problem though, because we asked for a side dish of sauce to add to the pizza.

All in all, Spiaggia rarely disappoints and often surprises me with their consistently flavorful dishes. Spiaggias prices are somewhat average to high, mostly because of the cost of the appetizers. Entrees on the other hand seem to be more moderately priced. As of now, Spiaggia is still a bring your own bottle which helps offset the cost of a night out.Call ahead for reservations as they are very busy, especially weekends between 6pm -9pm.

Regular Guy rating * * * 1/2

Spiaggia e Luna

696 E Bay Ave

Barnegat NJ

609-660-2000