I am so happy to have discovered this awesome restaurant and bar with gorgeous views and fantastic food and atmosphere. And it's on the water!

(Photo by Liz Jeressi)

I took my boys out for a wonderful dinner at The Marina at Oceanport (10 Riverside Avenue, Oceanport) this week and it exceeded all expectations.

From the outside, it's hard to tell how beautiful this place is until you get inside, and I didn't even know that there was a body of water (the Oceanport Creek) leading to the Shrewsbury River so close to the old Ft. Monmouth!

I can only imagine how amazing this place will be to hang out and watch the sunset over a drink and great food from the deck once spring arrives, but in the meantime, I will certainly be back to hang inside at the hip, chic bar and restaurant...and eat some of the best food ever!

(Photo by Liz Jeressi)

The decor is modern yet warm, with a view of the water that is so serene. Chef Nicola Lini, who I have known for years, is phenomenal with his menu and dishes. I mean, we all have seen the same old things on menus around town, so to find Mussels Marinara and Arancini (Italian rice balls) listed among the appetizers made me one happy girl before I even looked at the dinner entrees!

(Photo by Liz Jeressi)

Our dinners were delectable, too, from Chicken Bacon Cheddar Sliders to specialty sandwiches like the Chicken Cotaletta, to my Orange-Glazed Wild Atlantic salmon -- I loved every mouthful! And don't miss (when it's available on the dessert menu) Chef Nico's family recipe for Tirimasu.....it's to die for!!!

(With the owner, Mario, photo from Liz Jeressi)

The service is top notch. Our server was attentive and courteous every step of the way. The managers, Steve and Craig, are super kind and helpful. This family-owned and run restaurant appeals to me especially because the owner has solid family values and believes in treating his employees and customers like friends of the family. Mario Criscione is frequently on premises giving hugs and exchanging kind words with all who walk through the door. And his daughters (Jess and Deanna) and grandchildren are sweet and supportive. They are active around the Jersey Shore and are super involved in their dad's restaurant and clientele.

(With Jess, Mario's Daughter, photo courtesy of Mario)

When you walk into a restaurant and are treated like you really matter, and when are made to feel like you're among friends, it totally enhances your dining experience. The place just feels good!

There is also lots of fun to be had at The Marina at Oceanport...it's a great gathering spot for you and your friends for Trivia Tuesdays and Karaoke, special events such as celebrating Valentine's day with your girlfriends or your significant other, aka Gal-entine's Day, and  talented bands and singers on the weekends.

(Photo by Liz Jeressi)

Be sure and take a peak into the hidden room in the back that has a cozy fireplace for you and your friends (you might have to make a reservation for a spot in that room!)

And I can't wait to experience the popular outdoor deck on a spring or summer evening...a popular gathering spot to enjoy the water view over drinks, dinner, and live entertainment.

Let me know when you're going...I may try to join you!  In fact, come out and join me there on Friday night, March 8th!  (The entertainment for that evening is the jazz band Iced Water.)

(Photo by Liz Jeressi)
(Photo by Liz Jeressi)