When the average New Jerseyan thinks of the shore, popular towns include Belmar, Asbury Park, Point Pleasant, Seaside Heights; the restaurants that crop up in and around these areas have special places in people’s hearts.
In Bradley Beach, tucked away between Ocean Grove and Avon, Del Ponte’s Coal Fired Pizza is an Italian restaurant that boasts the best coal fired pizza around.
It is a causal BYOB eatery that serves fresh ingredients daily supplemented by baked goods and gelato from the Del Ponte’s Bakery, which is attached to the restaurant.
The restaurant and bakery are staples in town for anyone who wants a sweet treat or other baked goods, as well as fantastic Italian dishes. Owned by the Del Ponte family, the restaurant features indoor and outdoor seating, with options to sit in the shade or, at the end of the restaurant, to spend time in the sun.
Reservations are not accepted, and even though parties can call ahead to alert the staff, there are no guarantees that a party of 10 on a busy night will be seated at 7 p.m.
The main appeal of the restaurant is the pizza it advertises in its name. The thin crust pizza is nothing like Pete & Elda’s located on Rt. 35 in Neptune City, with more body to it and slices of mozzarella placed on top of the pizza instead of shaved overtop.The menu features pizza, paninis, salads, pasta and calzones, with a separate dessert menu that offers cannolis, gelato, espressos and other coffee.
The best pies are the classic margherita, the Vinny pie, which features “fresh mozzarella, tomato sauce, ricotta cheese, basil pesto and homemade Italian sausage,” according to the restaurant’s website, and the pancetta pie, which has “fresh mozzarella, tomato sauce, sautéed mushrooms, caramelized onions and crispy pancetta.”
Other stars in the restaurant are the salads, which are anything but boring. All are enough to share with more than one person. The warm goat cheese salad features “mixed greens, red onions, dried cranberries, fresh strawberries, candied pecans tossed in a homemade wild berry vinaigrette topped with warm goat cheese,” and is incredibly filling.
Another salad that is similar to it but still stands on its own is the apple pecan salad, with greens, red onions, apple slices, dried cranberries, candied pecans, goat cheese and a white balsamic vinaigrette.
The paninis are another standout as well. The eggplant parm panini is delicious, with “breaded eggplant, fresh mozzarella, tomato sauce, garnished with Parmigiano Reggiano cheese,” as is the grilled chicken panini, which is topped with "fresh mozzarella, roasted peppers and basil pesto sauce."
Its atmosphere is warm and inviting, and the servers are incredibly quick on their feet. They handle busy nights with a packed restaurant very professionally with an ease that comes from repeated nights of the same conditions.
Although the wait can be long on warm summer nights, the food and inviting atmosphere makes it worthwhile.
Further information can be found on their website, http://www.delpontescoalfiredpizza.com.