LBI diners looking to indulge in a nice, big, crusty steak have to look no further than 414 Seafood and Chop House in Surf City. The new restaurant, which has taken over the site of the former Cafe Aletta Italian eatery on Long Beach Boulevard, uses a high-intense broiler that cooks at about 950 degrees, caramelizing the steaks from the top down. Most of the steaks and chops are served bone-in, from the 28-ounce ribeye to the twin 8-ounce T-bone lamb chops.
|Photo via Google|
414 is one of the only restaurants in
Surf City that offers outdoor seating.
“I don’t think there’s any other place on the Island to go get a nice, beautiful steak,” said Ricky Brennen, who co-owns the restaurant with local chef Greg Mann. “We thought the Island could use a great, little chophouse with fresh seafood.”
Other steaks and chops offered at 414 include an 18-ounce New York strip steak, double-cut pork chop with garlic herb butter, 12-ounce filet mignon at $48, and steak-frites with a 10-ounce flat iron and parmesan pomme frites.
The seafood menu ranges from coriander-crusted tuna with sautéed spinach, tobacco onions and lemongrass ginger demi glaze to Barnegat Light day boat scallops with summer vegetables, sweet potato hay and beet chive vinaigrette as well as grilled swordfish with spinach, roasted tomato, kalamata olives, feta and preserved lemon, and Jail Island salmon with braised fennel and fresh dill cream sauce. Jumbo shrimp, baked clam, lump crab cake at $21, oysters, New England clam chowder and mussels are also available as appetizers.
“If you want seafood, I think we have some of the best seafood to offer,” Brennen said.
Though many of the area’s foodies enjoyed the Italian fare at Cafe Aletta, Brennen and Mann, who owned and operated the restaurant for eight years before closing it after last season, said they wanted to revamp the menu and try something different.
“You can go to several places and get good Italian,” Brennen stated. “It seems like every year there’s less and less commercial property down here, so if it’s flooded with Italian food, we just felt that, in our eyes, a chophouse would be on the money here.”
Customers will be happy to know that a few of Cafe Aletta’s popular dishes have been kept on the menu, including the bone-in chicken parmesan and bone-in veal parmesan as well as the eggplant and fresh mozzarella salad with beefsteak tomato, arugula, basil and balsamic glaze.
|Photo via Market|
The owners also operate Market, a casual,
Italian bistro down the street from 414.
Patrons craving more of the former cafe’s Italian specialties can head over to Market, Brennen and Mann’s other restaurant located just a block away from 414. Market opened last summer offering breakfast, produce and fresh juicing. But this year the owners brought in a brick-oven for casual dining such as pizzas and paninis, to revamp the eatery into a beachside Italian bistro.
“The Market was more of a market, but we realized we’re not really grocers,” said Brennen. “We like food, so this year we changed Market’s identity a bit.”
People can stop by wearing a T-shirt and flip-flops, grab a seat at the high-top, communal tables and chow down on a hot sandwich, pasta, shellfish or various homemade salads for lunch or dinner.
“By moving the food down here, we didn’t lose it,” stated Brennen. “People still like it. They get upset when they pull up and Cafe Aletta’s not there anymore, and then you tell them that it’s here and they come in and buy the pre-made sauces and meatballs that we make homemade that were at Cafe Aletta. So it’s still living. People think that it’s gone, but the talent’s still here.”
“It’s family-friendly,” he added. “Go with your kids, grab a pizza and pastas, slurp down some clams. It’s casual, grab-and-go, or you can eat-in, chill out.”
Local delivery is also available as well as customized catering for customers who want help planning a lunch or dinner.
“The glory of it is Greg can make anything,” said Brennen, noting “anything anyone wants” can be provided with proper notice.
Mann, who runs the kitchen at both eateries, also owns and operates Yellow Fin restaurant in town. He started learning the chef business in New York City restaurants owned by Robert DeNiro and then worked at many other types of eateries, including Italian, French and Asian food restaurants.
“I like Italian products,” said Mann, who uses caputo flour imported from Italy, which he considers the finest in the world. “I like making pizzas; I enjoy it. It’s fun because you get to see them cook right in here. I’ve been at Yellow Fin for 20 years, so it’s been a long time since I’ve worked anywhere else.”
The goal is to serve quality food and build a successful brand, Brennen said, noting he’d like to set up a mainstay restaurant up north with a full staff on hand year ’round so it’s easier to function during summers at the shore.
“Our passion is food. We like it, we like the business,” stated Brennen. “You don’t come down here just to stay for one year. It’s a lot of money, a lot of time invested. It’s a lot of sacrifice away from your family. So you come down here, and you try to bang out the season and make it last as long as you can. Mother Nature controls that. It wasn’t a very good June, weather-wise. It felt like it was winter in June. So we hope for a good September. September and October can be great months.”
414 is open seven days a week from 5 to 10 p.m. Market is open every day from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. For more information, visit lbi414.com and marketlbi.com, or call 609-467-7436 or 609-494-3400.
— Kelley Anne Essinger
This article was published in The SandPaper.