|Fort Hancock is part of the Sandy Hook National Recreation Area on the New Jersey Shore.|
Editor's note: In 2016, The Fishery in South Amboy was no longer in business.
By VICTOR E. SASSON
We drove down to Sandy Hook on Saturday for an open house at American Littoral Society headquarters and stopped on the way home for an early dinner at The Fishery in South Amboy (though I've always thought it was in neighboring Sayreville).
The squat building housing a fish market and restaurant on Route 35 has only 22 seats amid a simple decor of white tile and oversize fishing lures, but there's table service and a full menu of fresh and frozen seafood, including one-pound Brazilian lobster tails and colossal shrimp.
Most of the interior is taken up by fish cases and the open kitchen.
Me, my wife and our son started with one dozen, steamed Little Neck clams ($9.95) in a broth with chopped tomato and parsley that I sopped up with garlic bread and scooped up with empty shells.
Then, we each tried a different soup: lobster bisque, Maine lobster and corn chowder and Maryland crab and corn chowder ($3.50 or $3.95 for a cup). All were terrific.
Mateo, the Greek chef who bought The Fishery from the original owner about a year ago, buys his fish at the relocated Fulton Fish Market in the Bronx. He said so many different items are coming in now, after a lackluster winter, he feels as excited as a little boy shopping there.
But he excels in the simple grilling of fresh fish, and does less well when he tries something like the monkfish scampi with linguine I ordered off the specials blackboard ($14.95).
My wife had some of my fresh fish and pasta -- which needed seasoning -- and also shared my son's selection, a platter of beautifully fried red snapper with Buffalo fries -- spicy potatoes under a blanket of mozzarella cheese (also $14.95).
We enjoyed a side order of simply sauteed fresh spinach ($3.95), but wish the portion was larger.
As we were leaving, I noticed a whole red snapper nestled in ice I missed on the way in. That would have been terrific grilled with a Greek-style oil, lemon and oregano sauce on the side -- as we've had whole fish there before.
I also wished I had room for the baklava or rice pudding.
One change we noticed on this visit was a printed menu with the South Amboy address, rather than the familiar Sayreville, which separated from the former many years ago. Sayreville and the Raritan River are considered the start of the Jersey shore by many.
At the American Littoral Society open house in Fort Hancock, I got my first taste this year of fresh clams, but the man shucking these sweet mollusks said they were from Chesapeake Bay, not New Jersey. They were no less delicious.
The Fishery, 1812 Route 35 north and Midland Avenue, South Amboy, N.J.; 732-721-9100; open seven days.
You may be able to bring your own wine. Please call ahead.