Hi, I’m DJ. In addition to being a REALTOR here in Monmouth County, I’ve lived in NJ my entire life. I grew up in Bergen County, lived in Essex, Burlington, Ocean and Monmouth Counties. From pizza to coffee to the best beaches, take a trip with me to my favorite places all over New Jersey. I promise you won’t be disappointed! And if you think I missed a place I should know about, send me a text at 201-315-9157!
Michael Duru clothiers, Shrewsbury
Matt & Michael are more than just tailors they’ve become friends. From my daily wardrobe to a tuxedo for a special black tie affair they always seem to know exactly what I want to match my personal style. And the clothes fit exquisitely.
My childhood favorite that’s still operating to this day.
Visit Ronnie’s Bagels
Nothing fancy. Just great bagels and the BEC (bacon, egg, and cheese in Monmouth County)
Visit Bagel Hut
Best Liquor Stores
Bottles By Sickles
This is my go-to for hard to find craft beers and an amazing selection of Mezcal.
One of my staples for it’s bourbon selection. If it’s quiet, ask the front desk if they have any Blanton’s they’re hiding!
Pier Beach, Brown Avenue, Spring Lake
For a day-trip within Monmouth County this is the place. The last beach in Spring Lake, this sits adjacent to a surfing beach, has it’s own bathrooms, and a food truck set up just off the beach!
2nd Street, Beach Haven
Crowded in the summer, this is where Nici and I spent our summers in our 20s and 30s. Her family owns a house on 2nd Street. So, this place just gives us all the ‘feels.
Fiesta Mexico (Mexican)
OK so this is technically in NY, but growing up in Bergen County this was only 15 minutes away. Still, it’s the ebst Mexican food I’ve had in the US outside of Mama Mexico, which has since closed down on the Upper West Side.
Hands down the best Italian food in NJ, and possibly the country. It’s like sitting at a pastaria in Little Italy, but the beach happens to be across the street from you.
Heirloom Kitchen (Best Chef Experience)
Neilly & David have become good friends, but what they have done to elevate fine cuisine in NJ is admirable. Insider Tip*…get a seat at the Chefs island, bring bourbon, and offer some to David (if he’s working). You’ll definitely get special attention!
Delaware Avenue Oyster House (Best Seafood)
This is our local go-to on LBI. Only 10 blocks or so from us, this is an easy bike ride for Happy Hour with some of the best oysters you’ve ever eaten. Don’t leave without trying the Nashville Hot Fried Oysters and the Sidewinders!
Visit Delaware Avenue Oyster House
Triton Craft Beer & Oyster Bar
The perfect summer Happy Hour location for oysters, pizza, and a huge selection of draft beers. And, unlike so many bars in NJ they have everything you’re drinking on tap in the refrigerated cases for purchase to take home and enjoy. If you’re not a beer drinker, they also have rosé and frozé on tap!
Best Vegan-Friendly Restaurant
Having a wife who eats vegan can make special celebration meals a challenge. When we’re in Atlantic City there’s not even a choice though. Amada is not a vegan restaurant. They are a tapas restaurant. But their menu is so enormous that even vegans have more options than they can eat at one meal.
Best Breakfast Joints
Hands-down the best pancakes on Long Beach Island, and a super creative menu of omelettes. And no matter how packed they are, the food will be at your table in less than 5 minutes! It’s worth the wait….and they turn those tables quickly!
Almost Home General Store
The old general store and deli located on the corner of Sunnyside and Everett Road, this location has been transformed. From the cozy, rustic redesign, to their farm-t0-table food options, there’s a reason why this parking lot is always packed (plus it’s a small place). Try the avocado toast here!
The Buttered Biscuit
The Jersey Shore is not known for it’s “chain restaurants”. Small beach towns are dotted with mom & pop shops and eateries. The Buttered Biscuit checks that box and also delivers one of the most satisfying breakfasts in the state, if you can get a seat.
Tony D’s Pizzeria
I might be partial here since this was my childhood pizzeria, and I worked there. Although Dave and his Dad no longer own or run the place, the recipe remains the same. Think if 13 year-old me carrying the bags of flour to the basement when you enjoy a slice here!
Amazingly creative and perfectly cooked sourdough pizzas. And, for the vegans, they have house-made vegan mozzarella and cashew-milk ricotta. My favorite, The Beekeeper’s Lament!
Their Head High IPA has been a favorite of mine, long before it became one of the most highly coveted beers in NJ. So much so that I have it on tap in my backyard…yes c’mon over!
Alternate Ending Beer Co.
In addition to Jenn & Scott being past clients, they are friends. They took the old Regal Cinemas we used to watch movies with our kids in, and converted it to one of the coolest place to both grab a stellar craft beer & a classic film. Oh, and did we mention that Talula’s of Asbury Park handles the food? Whaaaa?
Best Ice Cream
Hoffmans Ice Cream
Enjoying a day at the beach and grabbing a cone or a sundae is part of the Jersey summer experience. Hoffman’s in Spring Lake (plus a few other locations) has been an institution for decades. With dozens of flavors, all handmade, you can’t go wrong. Just look at the line outside to know that this ice cream is great. My personal choice, Mint Cookie. Think cookies and cream but with mint ice cream instead.
A staple for us on Long Beach Island we were turned on to the WooHoo by a friend and teammate of ours, Lindsay Minerva. In addition to great food and great ice cream, this makes my favorite list for one reasons: homemade ice cream sandwiches. These are like the size of a brick and come in 3-4 flavors, which rotate every week. GET ONE!
If you’re from a part of the US where Dairy Queen isn’t a local staple, you’re missing. I’ve been eating DQ since I was a baby and our kids have grown up on it too. We love their ice cream so much we created a tradition in our family called “ice cream dinner” where we’ll skip dinner and get DQ so there’s not argument over calories or eating ice cream before dinner. Everyone wins.
Not just amazing coffee but an icon for Monmouth County small businesses, Rook has built an army of local shops and devoted fans. If you’re up for it and like strong flavors, try a cup of their NOS (New Orleans style).
Another Monmouth County pioneer that has mastered the morning, or mid-afternoon, cup ‘o joe, Booskerdoo has a bit more of the coffee shop vibe. Small enough to not feel commercialized, but big enough to hang out and do a little work or meet a friend to catch up. Plus if you like their coffee, they’ve done a great job of partnering with many local restaurants. So, your favorite restaurant might just be serving Booskerdoo too!
Best Gift Shop
Shop by Salt
Sharing the namesake of her interior design business (Salt Design Co.), this shop functions as both a gift shop for small household items and a peek into the personal style of designer Sarah Brady. Not sure if you’re ready to redesign your kitchen or bathroom, stop in for a candle, a coffee table book, or one of their amazing pillows to give your room a quick refresh. In a pinch on the way to a party and need a hostess gift? This is the place!