Spectacular new listing in Apple Ridge, Wall Township!

Driven by the belief that a wish can make life a whole lot better, Make-A-Wish grants wishes to children with life-threatening diseases. The Jersey Shore Specialist and I were honored to attend the NJ Chapter of Make-A-Wish’s 13th annual Beach Ball at Bar Anticipation in Lake Como (Belmar).

Make-a-wish beach ball 2013

They offered food, drinks, a live band, a silent auction, and a whole lot of fun for a great cause. A number of area restaurants – including Harpoon Willies, Remington’s, Fratello’s, and Due Amici, to name a few – were lined along the perimeter of the outside bar, serving up a phenomenal buffet of chicken Marsala, penne Bolognese, barbecue ribs, and so much more. The food was delicious, and the atmosphere was excellent.

Beach Ball was held in the back of Bar Anticipation, aka Grotto Beach. The venue was perfect. Live palm trees, towering rocks, sand, and an authentic Grotto complete with fire and waterfalls created the ambiance. Beach ball wasn’t the only thing Grotto Beach offered. Cool, open cabanas dotted the sand, and an outdoor dance floor invited guests to come rock to the Billy Lawlor Band.

There were great gifts to bid on for the silent auction. A signed Lou Holtz helmet, a framed and signed picture of Springsteen and Bon Jovi, and a guitar signed by James Taylor were just a few of the offerings.

We will definitely be at next year’s event, and hope to see you there too! Bar A is a great time, and Make-A-Wish is a perfect cause. After all, what could be better than an organization that grants wishes!

If you would like to volunteer or donate, you can do so at any time by going to wish.org.

As we headed into the last official summer weekend, a bunch of our family and friends decided we needed to go out to dinner one more time before the vacation ends and the kids go back to school. We were looking for a kid-friendly, local place. We decided on Maria’s on Main Street in Manasquan.

There were about 14 of us (just a small contingency of our larger, closely-knit, extended family), so we needed a big table away from the rest of the restaurant. They sat us in the back area at a long table with plenty of room. The waitress took our drink orders as we perused the extensive menu. Appetizers were the first order of business. Whenever my daughter is involved, fried calamari is a must. We also ordered some sauté calamari, mussels, and eggplant rollatini, all of which were excellent and plentiful. Just when we thought the apps were done, out came 2 huge bowls of shrimp and clams, courtesy of the owner! They were just awesome. I actually could have stopped there and would have been satisfied.

Being that we were so many people, we ended up sampling quite a few different items on the menu. I was in the mood for pasta and went with the shrimp fra Diablo – made extra hot. Out came a big plate of linguine and a generous portion of shrimp in a spicy red sauce. It was heaven. I thought I couldn’t eat another bite after so many appetizers, but I suddenly got a second wind when my pasta got there. I ate every bite. It was that delicious. Also at the table, we had a couple of orders of linguine with clams, veal Milanese, baked ziti, and a steak. Everyone loved their meals.

The time had come for coffees and desserts. They offer all the quintessential Italian desserts, as well as ice cream. This is where I had to stop myself. I couldn’t eat another bite, although I was tempted by the cannoli. I settled on a cappuccino – a perfect way to end a great meal.

What a tremendous local family restaurant. The owner, Mario, is a great host and it’s located right in the heart of town. The service was excellent and so was the food. If you’re looking for a kid-friendly place with an atmosphere that the whole family will love, give Maria’s a shot. You’ll be glad you did.