This delicious and upscale eatery is nothing of the shack sense except for the plating, but it’s in their name. We found this place entirely on accident, as our first choice, the Oceanside Seafood restaurant, was a hot mess thanks to Kids Day. Lucky for us it was a quick walk from Dune Drive.
When we entered Tonio’s I wasn’t so sure that the food would be up to par, as the dinning room was barren. But the decor was so contemporary and romantic we stayed. Usually I gauge the freshness of the food on the amount of people, the less people-the lower the turnaround on the food=the less fresh. However I am glad to say I was WRONG! Thank goodness we stayed, as after sitting for less than 5 minutes at our table, at least 3 different parties approached the counter to pick up To Go orders. Throughout the evening there must have been at least 15 different pick up’s, and after tasting my dish I understand why!
We had a pleasant server who promptly opened our BYOB wine and brought us water, before we asked-a sign of a fabulous server in my book! They did not charge a corking fee, which was a good thing; as we brought 2 bottles of wine. We ordered the shack bake ($35.99), which consisted of a whole lobster, shrimp, scallops, mussels, clams, steamed corn on the cob, cole slaw and a salad, as well as a broiled seafood combo ($25.95), which consisted of flounder, shrimp, scallops, crab cake, cole slaw, baked potato and a salad. The plating was a little “shack-ie” as the sides were served in plastic containers; but the taste and freshness more than made up for this laziness of the plating.
I must say that this was the most tasty and freshest seafood in Avalon New Jersey. I’m so glad we decided to share both dishes because they were equally delicious. The shack bake seafood was baked directly inside the lobster shell on top of the lobster, melding the flavors of the lobster, shrimp, scallops, mussels and clams, intertwining them beautifully, while creating a melt in your mouth blanket of sumptuous tastiness. I’m usually not a big fan of scallops but they tasted absolutely divine! So divine that I will make it a point to taste them every chance I can. The mussels and clams were cooked to perfection as well. We ordered the broiled seafood combo, as opposed to the fried seafood combo, which was a pleasant surprise-as each piece of seafood was absolutely soft and tender. The flounder was so delicate it melted in my mouth like straight butter! The crab cake was out of this world, tasty and flavorful-filled with crab and not too much filler. The steamed corn on the cob was so sweet and probably fresh of the farm! The salads were a generous portion and tasty, topped with a house vinaigrette. The baked potatoes were presented with the butter squares pushed down inside the cut opening to heat it up, which was clever; however I’m not sure if this was very sanitary.
Since it was my birthday we also had desert. But I must say that after finishing off our plates, we only had room to share the ice cream ball, which was a wonderful treat. I winced a bit at the description when the server said it consisted of papaya, mango and orange sorbet, but was delighted that there wasn’t a hint of papaya.
Lucky for us we happened to be the only patrons in the entire 8 table dinning room. It was a quaint and cozy place, with two TV’s, contemporary furnishing and not too bright. I would definitely recommend Tonio’s to anyone looking for fresh seafood without all the craziness that comes with most shack’s, as this one is nothing of the kind-except for the plastic and plating techniques.
Tonio’s Seafood Shack & Fresh Fish Market
2475 Ocean Drive
Avalon, NJ 08202