Like the tides, attractions come and go on Long Beach Island. This year there are some new additions to be excited about. There’s also cause to pour a bit of White Claw into the sand for the Island landmarks that met (or have a date with) the wrecking ball.
The Island is changing … rapidly. Dom’s Drive-In, La Spiaggia, Fred’s Beach Haven Diner, Kubel’s Too and the Surf City Laundromat—all favorites for generations—have been relegated to history to make room for more vinyl-sided homes.
But there’s a good bit to be excited for. Starting at the top in Barnegat Light, literally LBI’s most northerly town, is the new Agnello Market (1801 Central Avenue), a nice improvement from the location’s former gas station/convenience store. Agnello is a year-round artisan deli and grocer with a menu of made-to-order sandwiches. They’ve also gotten the pumps running again, after the North End went years being nine miles from the closest gas station.
After a decade, Christopher Sanchez and Ashley Pellagrino moved their acclaimed Black Eyed Susans across the street in Harvey, renovating the site formerly known as the Plantation to a stylish tavern with pizza and a restaurant featuring seasonally available ingredients. Last year’s soft pandemic opening at the new Cedars location (7908 Long Beach Boulevard) didn’t lend much to a celebratory occasion, but the pair and their staff are now welcoming diners inside and out with creative bar offerings and entrees sourced from local docks and regional farms. There’s also an event space on the second floor.
Meanwhile, Birdy’s Café and Artisan Market, a minimalist artisan-style, all-day brunch spot with fresh-pressed juices, has sprouted at the former Black Eyed Susans location (7801 Long Beach Boulevard). It’s said that a ghost—the friendly kind—haunts the upstairs apartment in the historic landmark building.
Also opening its doors last year to muted fanfare was Maristella’s Luncheonette, located at the Ship Bottom Circle (816 Long Beach Boulevard). Maristella’s serves American-style comfort food for breakfast or lunch, including the best tater tots around.
Opened last fall in Ship Bottom, Topsail Steamer (2608 Long Beach Boulevard) does Carolina-inspired seafood steam-ups. Part of a small national chain (with additional NJ locations in Ocean City and Sea Isle City), Topsail invites you to choose a signature combination of shellfish and sides, like the Low Country Boil. Or, create your own combo, then take it home and steam it yourself; the largest size can feed up to five seafood lovers.
For coffee lovers, the LBI area has a few new java options, one being the stylish Mermaid Room in Ship Bottom, a boutique barista counter selling coffee, lite bites and drinkware within Beach Barn Boutique (1920 Long Beach Boulevard).
Back on the mainland, the Reynolds Garden Shop and Floral Market in Manahawkin (201/227 East Bay Avenue) has created the ambitious new The Café at Reynolds, offering high-end baked treats, pour-over coffees, espressos and iced beverages.
Just east down East Bay Avenue from Reynolds are Anna Bananas Bakery and Living on the Veg, both in Manahawkin Shoppes (657 East Bay Avenue). The former is a fun, creative new bakery where everything is made on-site; the latter is a second location of LBI’s longstanding and beloved vegan spot, which does breakfast and lunch, plus a new seasonal dinner menu year-round and a Sunday vegan brunch.
If all this coffee doesn’t revive you, check out Well IV Hydration in Beach Haven (11101 Long Beach Boulevard). Certified nurse practitioner Kelly Toffoli’s new wellness center does healthy vitamin replenishments, infusions and mobile IV hydration.
Down on the South End, the newest Beach Haven development is the extension of Bird & Betty’s (529 Dock Road). The nightclub and music venue with hip dining and wood-fired pizza, which opened in 2019, has expanded the deck for more outdoor eating, drinking and sunset gazing.
Also new to Beach Haven is Quincy’s Original Lobster Rolls (806 North Bay Avenue). A group of friends started Quincy’s after a trip to Maine, where they were inspired by the simplicity and freshness of the local lobster rolls. Their LBI location follows five in Cape May County. The menu is simple, highlighting the delicious lobster roll on a buttered toasted roll.
And if you’re around in the magic season after Labor Day, ChowderMonth is taking place throughout September, culminating in a free two-day festival in Beach Haven October 2 and 3.Click here to leave a comment