I looked for a recent review of this place and could find nothing newer than 2008. So here is my experience today.
My wife wanted to take me out for to someplace nice with a view, and we decided to give Asbury Park a chance. Once there we decided upon Stella Marina for lunch.
First and foremost, I was extremely disappointed in the preparation of the saltimbocca. I do not know where the chef trained, but classic Roman saltimbocca do not have piles of spinach and tomato on them. They also require fresh sage. The chef needs to invest in a ticket to Rome to find out how to prepare these. What was served was a crapped up American culinary school improvisation on the dish.
Secondly, the restaurant was empty. Yet when I requested that they substitute pasta for the potatoes on the Saltimbocca the chef refused to do this. Quite frankly, I found this arrogant and unsatisfactory. If they had oodles of customers and the restaurant was busy I could understand no substitutions. But under the circumstance they had staff sitting around doing nothing, and I would think that they would try to please those customers they did have. To add injury to the insult, the fingerlings were overcooked mush which I am guessing were not freshly prepared and merely reheated.
My wife had the carbonara, which was a similar miss. They used bucatini which are typical for al amatriciana. Carbonara must be always made with spaghetti. Then they put thyme and snowpeas in the sauce, which should only include egg, bacon (guanciale) , black pepper & sheeps milk peccorino with perhaps a debatable kiss of cream. Again a crapped up American culinary school version of the dish. Edible but memorable only for its shortcomings.
The food was not bad, but the attitude and execution sucked. Maybe I'm crazy, but I think one should expect more for a $ 50 lunch in Monmouth county. I can only imagine what this place must be like in season. I won't go back voluntarily.
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