Master Chef Anthony Bucco’s ‘Coastal Cuisine’ Honors New Jersey: ‘It Gets Right to the Point’

Ultra-fresh dishes celebrating our state's seafood and farm-to-table riches are delighting diners in Jersey City, Ridgewood and Warren.

A dish of fresh seafood topped with strawberry and radish slices
Chef Anthony Bucco's "Coastal Cuisine" is as original and surprising as our state. Photo: Courtesy of Landmark Hospitality

Anthony Bucco has long been one of New Jersey’s most influential kitchen wizards. Currently the tippy-top chef at Landmark Hospitality’s 13 restaurants and wedding venues, he has created a vibrant style of New Jersey dining that he calls “Coastal Cuisine.” Below, he tells us all about it.

NJM: Chef Anthony, your new “Coastal Cuisine” direction at Landmark Hospitality is intriguing and very New Jersey. How do you describe it?
Chef Anthony Bucco: New Jersey boasts 130 miles of coastline and untold acres of farmland. These blessings have shaped who we are: our lifestyles, our commerce, our recreation, our food and wine. Coastal Cuisine is a new approach that marries the ocean to the farm, just like we have. And this food style mirrors us in another way. Like us, it gets right to the point. And that’s flavor.

Chef Anthony Bucco

Landmark Hospitality culinary maestro Anthony Bucco Photo: Courtesy of Landmark Hospitality

Is Coastal Cuisine a personal statement or a mission?
It’s both. I’m a Jersey boy through and through, and I’ve believed for a long time that we’re evolving our own approach to food. Since I became an executive chef at age 27, I’ve wanted to help build a distinctive, healthy restaurant culture in New Jersey. A style that would combine what we love about food: the communal warmth of social eateries, the fun of Jersey classics like pizza, the freshness of farm-to-table, the magnificence of our fish and seafood. Coastal Cuisine is right for our time and place.

Could Coastal Cuisine happen anywhere else?
No chance. The Garden State is blessed with so much: the Atlantic Coast, a blazing agricultural scene, a wave of flavor-fanatic chefs and restaurant-loving diners, like New Jersey Monthly readers. These elements are the foundation of Coastal Cuisine, the new way of dining that showcases New Jersey’s culinary riches.

What’s truly innovative about Coastal Cuisine?
Well, diners are tired of overly complicated food with muddied flavors. Coastal Cuisine refocuses on Planet Jersey’s gifts, not cooking tricks. It’s very unfussy, ultra-fresh, clean and simple, yet alive with individual tastes and textures. Every bite is different depending on what your fork catches.

Is this the “intentional” cooking I’ve been hearing about?
Exactly, and it’s always been my approach. For me, and for the dynamic Landmark chefs I now lead, nothing in a dish can be same-old or random. We use fewer ingredients, but they’re the right ingredients. Coastal Cuisine’s intentional simplicity produces layers of flavors.

How is Coastal Cuisine different from Mediterranean cuisine?
They’re both good for you and seafood-strong. But Coastal is less dependent on grilling, and the overall taste is bright rather than salty. Plus, Coastal won’t have potato or rice on every plate.

Coastal is better date food! Can you single out some dishes on Landmark menus?
Maddy Rose in Jersey City has our most Coastal menu. Crispy calamari is zesty with green herb aioli and cherry-bomb relish. Beer mussels, in a bowl with lager, are vividly seasoned with chili, cilantro and fennel. We introduced Coastal Cuisine at Maddy Rose first because the restaurant is sunny, contemporary and flirtatious, like the dishes. You can order Coastal at Stone House in Warren, Felina in Ridgewood and Felina Steak in Jersey City, which offers Coastal seafood tartare, ceviche, crudo: so many spanking-fresh seafood variations that you can compose a meal like you would at a sushi bar. But Coastal is more novel and exciting.

How have your diners reacted?
Their posts and reviews describe Coastal Cuisine as fresh, delicious, healthy. [The words] pure, honest and beautiful crop up, too. Some of them point out Coastal Cuisine’s you-never-know quality—its micro-seasonal changeability that reflects what’s peaking in the fields or swimming in the ocean that day, week or month. For our kitchen teams, the ultimate executive chef is Mother Nature.

We New Jerseyans now have a cuisine that’s as spirited, sophisticated and in the moment as we are.
Bingo. That’s the Garden State charisma of Coastal Cuisine.

No one knows New Jersey like we do. Sign up for one of our free newsletters here. Want a print magazine mailed to you? Purchase an issue from our online store.

Read more Eat & Drink articles.