Nailed to a wooden post out front, colorful directional signs give distances to beachy destinations (“Barbados, 2,072 mi”). These set 2nd Jetty’s playful tone. Fortunately, if you’re looking for simple, satisfying seafood, you needn’t budge. You won’t find a lobster roll in Maine quite like 2nd Jetty’s, the meat bound with melted butter rather than mayo. Other standouts include halibut tacos, seared corvina on chunky potato “risotto,” and, not to worry, short ribs and a burger. All you need is patience; 2nd Jetty went into hibernation for the winter and will reopen in March.
140 Ocean Avenue, 732-224-8700.
Named for his half-Sicilian mother, Angeline is chef Michael Symon’s first fully Italian restaurant, and a stylish and persuasive one at that. Its unabashed, old-school, red-sauce menu is well executed, and its portions and service are commensurate with its primo casino prices and glam design. Symon, a James Beard award winner and co-host of TV’s The Chew, is a Cleveland native, but his chicken parm will pass muster with any Jerseyan.
The Borgata, 1 Borgata Way, 609-317-1000.
Legend has it that Sinatra had bread from this bakery’s huge coal oven sent to him wherever he was. If Ol’ Blue Eyes were still around, it might warm his heart to know the old oven is still roaring, thanks to filmmaker and Hoboken native Joe Castelo turning Antique into a bar/restaurant. You might call chef Paul Gerard’s food hipster Italian, as in treats like beef cheek parm with smoky mutz. The decor is one part Rat Pack retro, three parts tattooed millennial.
122 Willow Avenue, 201-683-7029
The name is the same, but this BYO is virtually a new establishment under new owners. And despite its French name, A Toute Heure remains—as it always was—primarily New American under Alex Gomes, its new chef. Gomes has broadened ATH’s flavor profiles, drawing on his Portuguese culinary roots to create what he calls “a more Mediterranean vibe.” Look for Moroccan and Iberian spices, as well as a welcome freshening of the dining room. The beloved Parker House roles remain. (Read review here.)
232 Centennial Avenue, 908-276-6600
In 2016, when Luca Valerin and Robert Pantusa closed Osteria Giotto after a packed 12-year run, devotees mourned. In October, their long-awaited, tiny café finally opened a few blocks away. The byo’s bare brick walls and handcrafted charm will make you want to hang out there all day (until closing at 6 pm); their primo baked goods, panini, frittatas, soups, coffee and espresso seal the deal. Best of all, Giotto’s luscious lasagna, with beef-pork-and-veal Bolognese, is back.
42 Church Street, 973-746-0111