THIS MONMOUTH BEACH RESTAURANT, BORN OF THE POST SANDY REBUILDING BOOM, MAKES THE MOST OF ITS ENVIABLE SITE
BY JESSICA JONES GORMAN • PHOTOS BY AMESSÉ PHOTOGRAPHY
With its expansive raw bar and seafood rich menu offerings (think jumbo lump blue crab cakes served with frisee salad and Tabasco butter, salt crusted branzino, and ale battered fish and chips), Beach Tavern in Monmouth Beach makes the most of its marina setting.
“The views are really beautiful here; this whole marina overlooks the Shrewsbury River,” noted George Chrysanehopoulos, who owns and operates the restaurant with his brothers Michael and Alex. “So when the chef designed the menu, we really wanted to play on the waterfront location.”
Open since 2014, the business literally rose out the destruction wrought by Hurricane Sandy. “Our family has owned this marina for years,” Chrysanehopoulos said. “We’re road builders by trade we construct highways and bridges. My father owned a few diners, though we never really had much experience in the restaurant industry. But when Sandy came through and completely wiped out this whole area, we took it upon ourselves to rebuild.”
The clear first step was to replace all of the marina’s docks. But when the family looked a little closer, they could see potential in a battered building that once housed a restaurant.
Chrysanehopoulos and company decided they would knock down the structure and build a new dream from scratch.
“It really was a labor of love,” the restaurant owner said. “We did all the work ourselves, designed a spot where we’d like to dine and bring our families.”
The result of this vision is a bright, airy nautical themed space whose floor to ceiling windows take full advantage of the view and fill the interior with natural light.
“We wanted to create a vibe here that was beachy and casual but still had some formal type of design,” Chrysanehopoulos said. “We also ended up taking over a catering hall on the property, as well as a tiki bar that’s open during the summer. It really is a beautiful space.” Chrysanehopoulos says he wanted a menu that was accessible, with dishes guests could enjoy several nights a week, not just on special occasions. So he filled it with homemade pasta, fresh pizza, prime cuts of steak, and plenty of appetizers.
“Our chef is a local guy who is very in touch with what our customers like,” Chrysanehopoulos said. “He creates a lot of seasonal dishes, follows a new American theme, and maintains a strong focus on seafood, which is, of course, very appropriate for our setting.”
There are unexpected offerings, too, like fried chicken served with hot honey, butter milk biscuits, and cole slaw, and the always complex Beef Bourguignon slow braised short ribs swimming in mush rooms, pearl onions, red wine, and potato puree. Then there’s the Jersey Shore Lobster Roll, served with celery, apples, and chives, and a fennel dusted tuna with cannellini beans and a muffuletta vinaigrette.
Appetizers range from warm olives dressed in orange and rosemary to warm burrata served with crispy sage, hazelnuts, honey, and toast. There’s also the Korean BBQ Tempura Broccoli, topped with sesame and coconut cream, and roasted beets served with avocado, grapefruit, fennel, and chili oil. Each weeknight features a different special. On Monday, the Beach Tavern offers half price pasta; Tuesday’s special is steak. Wednesday is sushi night, and lobster and half priced wine by the glass are served on Thursday.
“We have happy hour every day except Saturday during which oysters are only $1,” Chrysanehopoulos said. “During the o season we have some type of entertainment in the dining room each week.” The restaurant, which is open year round, seven days a week, also has a room for private parties that can accommodate up to 70. Outdoor dining in the summer, taking full advantage of this enviable location, is one of the main attractions.
“Whether it’s for date night or a family dinner,” the owner added, “we have a lot of great options for everyone to choose from.”
33 West Street, Monmouth Beach
beachtavern.net / 732.870.8999