Jimmy Steal

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SEASIDE HEIGHTS, NJ - MAY 04: Dominick Maruca opens his pizza store on the newly rebuilt boardwalk after it was damaged six months ago by Superstorm Sandy May 4, 2013 in Seaside Heights, New Jersey. Seaside Heights Mayor Bill Akers said parts of the two mile long boardwalk are completed and he is confident its entirety will be completed when the beaches opens on Memorial Day weekend. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

     The Rat has had the pleasure and privilege of rocking the Jersey Shore for 26 years now. While that not a lot of time in the grand scheme of things, it has been long enough to fall in love with certain businesses, only to see them go away for various reasons.

Nothing lasts for ever except the memories. Memories of a great store, or bar, or restaurant that held a special place in the hearts of you and your family. So as we begin the early stages of the holiday season, with the calendar turning to November I’d like to take a warm stroll down memory lane an revisit some of the places that made an impact on myself and the Rat Pack. Hopefully some of these were your favorites too!

Today I’d like to start off by saluting some of the local restaurants I had the pleasure of visiting over the past 26 years, that are now only a memory. Today, Monmouth and Ocean Counties have so many great places to dine and unwind, it’s a shame that these places didn’t last, because I guarantee each and every one on this list was a winner in it’s own special way. From diners, to delis, taverns to seafood places, they all did it right. In the end, their only real enemy was time, and in some cases money, public domain, or fire.

However, I don’t want this to be somber. I want this to be positive, and as I said, a salute to these legendary places that fed the good people of the Jersey Shore, and made a long lasting impression, at least on this fellow! I hope as you go through this week long journey of local places we miss at the Jersey Shore, you have at least one or two “Holy cow, I forgot about that place” moments, like I did when researching for these lists. I’d like to thank Carl Craft for helping me remember some of these joints, and giving me the inspiration to come up with these lists.

Remember, these are just a few of MY memories.. I’d love to hear about yours. Now let’s go back in time and chow down!

  • Wolfie's Restaurant 199 Route 37 Toms River

    Now home to the very popular Burger 25, Wolfie’s was a sitdown deli for over 50 years, finally closing in 2019. Man, that pastrami, those pickles…And that slogan, as seen here on the old delivery van!

  • Havens and Hamptons 618 5th Avenue Belmar

    Closed since 2010, and now home of Riverwalk condo complex. Great lobster bisque, and flounder.

  • The Circus Drive In Rout 35 Wall Township

    Now a new strip mall is being finish in the spot of the place so historic it has it’s own Wikipedia page! From 1954 through 2017 they were known for their onion rings, fried oysters, and that lobster roll on a Friday afternoon! Oh and that sign…that glorious sign.

  • Old Time Tavern Route 37 and Lakewood Road Toms River

    Open since the 60’s and closed in 2008, the Old Time Tavern was a staple for generations of Toms River families. I can honestly say I have had the best steak and the worst steak ever both at the Old Time Tavern. Now? It’s a B-Dubs.

  • Southern House 501 Washington Avenue Point Pleasant

    Now it’s a bank. But it used to be the best damn bbq and wings and fried chicken at the Shore. Ask anyone who ate there. Burned to the ground the morning of January 26, 2003. Luckily the bbq man opened Hickory Hog on Bridge Ave in town, and that old taste is still alive!


  • Red Heads Bistro 613 Hope Road Eatontown

    First place I ever had sushi! The Rat used to do a good amount of football gigs at this place in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. In 2011 they changed names to Bogarts Bistro. Last I saw it was a shuttered pre school center, a convenience store and Chinese food take out place. Oddly enough the pool hall across the hall is still there, surviving all these decades. Check out this commercial for Red Heads I found. The food still looks amazing, but the song will make you lose your appetite!

  • Joshua Huddy Brew Pub 1250 Hooper Avenue Toms River

    Currently the site of a B2 Bistro, the Huddy, as it was known, came to be after the building was a Ground Round that my wife worked at in High School! I loved this place when my kids were small. Always something for them to do, like spin the wheel and see how much their meal was going to be! It’s true. Also they had these $8.99 Sunday dinner specials like meatloaf and pot roast. So perfect. Just have dinner out and still watch Sunday football! I miss that place maybe the most!

  • Vesuvio Pizza 705 10th Avenue Belmar

    Great thin crust pizza and of course the “everything but the kitchen sink” Jim Salad. Closed in 2013. Now open as Federici’s On 10th, the owners still honor the old place with the Jim Salad on their menu!