The Jersey Shore has gotten a bad rap since MTV made a tv show about it. And sometimes people think that the entire shore is like Seaside Heights (where the show was mostly filmed). But in reality, New Jersey has 141 miles of coastline leading all the way south to Cape May, referred to as the “shore.” And the towns are diverse, with some having boardwalks, some catering to families, some extremely wealthy, and some are even dry towns (no alcohol is allowed to be sold within town limits… WTF???).
Point Pleasant Beach is one of my favorite towns down the shore and has one of the best pizza spots in the state of New Jersey. Yes, it’s weird, but people from New Jersey refer to it as going “down the shore” when they come down here. It has a mile long boardwalk, a great beach, and many bars and restaurants to choose from.
These are the best restaurants, bars, and pizza joints in Point Pleasant Beach.
New Jersey has been making a big push over the last decade to make its mark on the national pizza scene. And it’s worked. The super thin bar pie at Star Tavern in Orange and the original great NJ pizzeria Santillo’s in Elizabeth have been around a while. But both Razzo and Bread & Salt up in Jersey City, and now Rosie’s Pizza in Point Pleasant Beach have joined in.
Rosie’s serves 16-inch round and grandma style square pizzas. I lean towards the square pie being the star of the show, with an almost focaccia-like undercrust with a nice crisp to it. It reminds me of one of my favorite spots, Corner Slice in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan but with slightly charred edges. Reviews are mixed on which is people’s favorite though, with seemingly as many people preferring the round or the square. But whichever you choose, I assure you there isn’t a wrong decision.
Joe Leone's Italian Specialties
If you love a great Italian market and deli, then Joe Leone’s is the best around. They offer a full selection of deli sandwiches and then also a rotation of hot prepared food specific to each day of the week. For example, Wednesdays this September include
- Chicken piccata
- Rosemary lamb skewers,
- London broil with red wine demi
- Pappardelle with broccoli rabe (you can check their website to see the menu for the entire month).
Throw in a full market of Italian specialties, and you can probably skip the regular grocery store for weeks. They opened this shop in 1997 and have since expanded to Manasquan and Sea Girt as well. The prices aren’t the cheapest around, but the food is worth it and the sandwiches are big enough to share.
Poached Pear Bistro
Beach towns (especially along a Boardwalk) often have a lot of seafood, fried foods, and plenty of junk food. They don’t always have restaurants from chefs trained at the Culinary Institute of America (Hyde Park, NY). But that’s exactly what happened when Executive Chef Scott Giordano opened up the Poached Pear Bistro in 2014.
He creates appetizers such as beef short rib carpaccio and duck confit ravioli. And the entrees include things like veal vol au vent, duck breast with foie gras, and rack of lamb persillade. And Pastry Chef Teah Evans, won an episode of Chopped on the Food Network. Needless to say, they take their food seriously here. Its BYOB, and reservations are highly recommended, and likely necessary in the busy summer months. This is one of the best restaurants down shore.
Spano's Ristorante Italiano
I’m pretty sure it’s a rule that every town in New Jersey must have an Italian restaurant that could be a location in an episode of the Soprano’s. And in Point Pleasant, Spano’s is that place.
Joseph Spano had originally opened up his restaurant in nearby Jackson in 1989 before moving to Point Pleasant in 2001. With freshly made daily pasta, changing daily specials, and the classic Sunday gravy (Italian sweet sausage, homemade meatball and homemade pork braciole, simmered in marinara served over fresh rigatoni).
In a state with the 2nd most people of Italian heritage (New York has the most), Spano’s is commonly listed as one of the New Jersey’s most loved Italian Restaurants. Reservations are required and make sure to grab some bottles of wine on the way in, because like many of the restaurants here, Spano’s is BYOB.
One of Point Pleasant’s newest restaurants immediately became one of my favorites. When people visit NYC and ask about great local food, I often point them towards the Jackson Heights neighborhood in Queens. This area is literally the crossroads of culture from around the world as it is one of the most ethnically diverse areas in the entire country, and probably my favorite food neighborhood in all of New York City.
But when Eric Lucero moved from Jackson Heights down to Point Pleasant Beach to help run his parent’s Mexican restaurant (Dona Julia, which is just a few doors down from Heights 167) he couldn’t find the same foods he was used to finding in Queens. So he was crazy enough to open Heights 167 in the middle of the pandemic to serve his favorite Latin dishes from Jackson Heights. Some of my favorites are:
- Mexican quesabirria tacos
- Peruvian shrimp
- Cuban Ropa Vieja
- Plantain cups with either brisket or shrimp (based off Dominican Tostones Rellenos)
He also serves a giant paella for 2 on Sundays only.
Surf Taco has become a staple of casual food at the Jersey Shore. I remember having a summer share in my 20s and seemingly every afternoon someone would sneak off the beach early to get some tacos here. The owners describe Surf Taco as “coastal cuisine” and inspired by places they have lived, traveled, and surfed rather than authentic Mexican. The bottomless “Almost Famous” salsa bar offers a selection of four homemade salsas to compliment your food.
Surf Taco has now expanded to many locations down the shore, but the one here in Point Pleasant beach is the original.
Martell's Tiki Bar
Martell’s Tiki Bar could be the defining bar of Point Pleasant Beach. It’s located right on the boardwalk and sticks out on a pier so that you can see along the entire beach in both directions. It’s the kind of bar you go to during the day for breaks from the beach and then again at night for the live music. I can’t say I eat the food here very often, but I definitely spend more time here than anywhere else when I’m in town.
Ark Pub & Eatery
When you want some beers or a meal in a casual atmosphere, then The Ark Pub & Eatery is the place to come. You can’t tell by the generic exterior, but when you walk in the door you step into a cozy pub with wooden plank floors and even a small fireplace.
Their Port Wine Chedder Burger is a local favorite. They don’t have WiFi, so you can’t day drink while trading your crypto, but you can day drink and talk with people at the bar on a rainy beach day and that’s just as good.
The Wharfside Seafood & Patio Bar
For live music and the best place to watch the sunset over the Manasquan River, I come to Wharfside. You can come just to hang out at the large outdoor patio for the music and a small food menu. Or you can dine in the main restaurant, which features a more robust menu with seafood, pasta, and meat entrees. Either way you get the great view (I took the picture above at sunset on my iPhone and it is not edited!)
Hoffman’s Ice Cream: They have been making their own ice cream here since the 1970s!
Klotz’s Kitchen: For the best breakfast, you might actually have to leave Point Pleasant Beach and head inland to Point Pleasant (they are different towns). And when you’re done, stop next door at Fry Brewing Co.
The Beanery: More a cafe than a coffee shop, but it offers coffee and an array of great breakfast and lunch items.
Daniel’s Bistro: For a more refined dinner, Daniel’s is a great alternative to the Poached Pear. Like several of the other spots its BYOB, so make sure to stop at the liquor store on your way.