The Diving Horse
2109 Dune Drive
Fine dining—the light, summery kind—is presented in a nautical atmosphere appointed with eclectic vintage finds. The menu emphasizes seasonal produce, just-caught fish and sustainable meats. Reservations are essential; ask about outdoor patio seating. The Diving Horse was awarded three stars by New Jersey Monthly in 2012.
Quahog’s Seafood Shack
206 97th Street
It’s no wonder Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives decamped here. Quahog’s has totally nailed the downscale seashore dining experience, from its shack-like exterior to its expansive patio dining area and moderate prices. Then there’s the seafood. Dishes like lobster taquitos and moqueca (a Brazilian fisherman’s stew) benefit from chef Carlos Barroz’s Latin roots. Don’t miss the extraordinary BBQ Pacu Pacu Fish Rib Dinner. No reservations.
9800 Third Avenue
The name means “little beach” in Italian, but this spacious downtown trattoria has made a big impression since opening in 2012. Chef Marco Tarantino’s authentic regional Italian dishes include octopus salad, branzino over citrusy polenta, panko-crusted Jersey fluke, and pappardelle with lime-marinated shrimp. Pastas come from Tarantino’s mother-in-law, who hand-makes them daily. BYO.
Water Star Grille
9601 Third Avenue
Executive chef Tim Hamill joined from the Stephen Starr Organization, and last summer introduced a shared-plates concept designed to accommodate the large crowds attracted by this bayside hotspot. Go for a drink at sunset or reserve a table on the deck for dinner and enjoy dishes like tuna tartare nachos, lobster cobb salad, pocket cut whole branzino and kobe beef sliders.