Tonio’s Seafood Shack Avalon NJ

This delicious and upscale eatery is nothing of the shack sense, 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. 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, coleslaw and a salad, as well as a broiled seafood combo ($25.95), which consisted of flounder, shrimp, scallops, crab cake, coleslaw, 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 a 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 apposed 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
609-368-8862
http://toniosseafoodshack.webs.com

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The Parlor Pizzeria Phoenix AZ

Meh, i’ve experienced better….to bad the delicious food had to suffer the wrath of the horrible service on more than one occasion! On one of our visits our server brought us the wrong Pizza, which was a build your own. We ordered 3 items on each of our pizzas, both were ladden with Jalapenos; which one would hope would garner a check back at least one time during the meal. But no matter how much extra heat was packed on by the clueless chef, the server didn’t return until at least 15 minutes after someone else took another 15 minutes to bring me a refile of iced tea. I understand that if the refill was free it wouldn’t be a priority, but the pizza for one was $9.00, my salad was $12 (a horribly unseasoned ceasar salad that tasted like it was dressed in plain mayonaise) and my sisters pizza was $14, so we didn’t expect such a horrible experience. There wasn’t a warning on the build your own pizza menu that made us aware that by ordering jalapenos on our pizza it would be served suicide style. This day in particular only had a handful of patrons too. Our server not only sucked majorly, but he lacked the traits of a mediocre server, poor guy, poor parlor. If his section is the only one open next time, i’m goin to california pizza kitchen or mama mia’s, maybe even le grand orange.

Even with the horrible and pretentious servers I definitely recommend the Funghi pizza, as it is a blend of roasted wild mushrooms, Goat cheese, truffle oil and chives (but I have them hold the chives). Its a tad bit oily, but very tasty. The spinach salad made with applewood smoked bacon, tomatoes, white cheddar, avocado, hard boiled egg and topped with a white balsamic vinaigrette is fabulous as well! A great appetizer to start the meal off right is the caponata bruschetta made with sweet & sour eggplant, roasted peppers, pine nuts, currants and an herbed ricotta spread.

The parking is hard to come by during meal times, so if you can wait; I recommend enjoying this restaurant after popular meal times.

the parlor pizzeria
1916 E Camelback Rd
Phoenix, AZ 85016
602-248-2480
http://theparlor.us

W Hotel Scottsdale AZ

What a phenominal resting place, and an even better party place. Oh my luxuriously comfortable bed! I could have slept all day. Only wish the light wasn’t peeping through the bathroom window at the crack of day (especially after partying all night, then going for a late night swim after the club was closed 24hr pool for guests is awesome!). The shower was great, but the sink was HORRIBLE. I shouldn’t have put on my clothes until after I brushed my teeth, because the square shallow sink splashed all the water back up every time I rinsed.

They have a nack for making it up to you when their service lacks. We paid for our room a month before, asked for adjoining rooms but when we arrived, they didn’t have one reserved for us. Since it was my birthday, sister mentioned it and asked why they would promise one, if they only have three of the type. I happed to walk up at the time, said it was okay and I was chill with it. They upgraded us to a bigger room, delivered half a dozen chocolate covered strawberries and gave me all the wrist bands I needed (7- normally $25 each) , for the 944 magazine party held roof top at the pool. It was probably the fact that I didn’t over react or act like a jerk, I killed them with kindness, as always, and they delivered! I will definitely stay there many more times.

The club is very scottsdale and trendy with house music. I like the fact that the pool is open 24 hrs. We sat on the stadium seats and people watched. Luckily 944 had lots of stuff going on too.

I think this place is great for the price and the rooms are so much fun! If your a vouyer this is the place for you. If your a partier this place is for you (your VIP at the club and the security doesn’t act in their normal douche bag demeanor when they see your band) only complaint is when the security doesn’t see your wrist band, they are A – – – – – – S the biggest kind. They act like they work in Beverly Hills or Hollywood and the world is trying to steal their star. So if your looking for a place to party and sleep, stay here, but remember if you leave the hotel, upon your return, hold your hand up high at the door and your all good.

W Hotel
7277 East Camelback Road
Scottsdale, AZ 85251
480-970-2100
http://www.wscottsdalehotel.com

Chart House Cardiff CA

Floor to ceiling wall windows that overlook the ocean, plus food prepared to perfection! The last time I was there was right before the Comicon in San Diego, but much to my surprise this location is not considered San Diego. Its located just outside on South Coast Highway 101, a nice drive along the water front too.

My meal began with the Lobster Bisque ($8.99) which was exquisitely creamy and ladden with bits of lobster. I’m a big fan of Lobster Bisque, but rarely is it created with such a precise blend of each ingredient. I highly recommend it!

I then had the Chopped Spinach Salad ($8.50) served up with chopped egg, bacon, radishes and mushrooms over chopped spinach of course, topped with a warm bacon dressing. Yummy! My taste buds were jumping for joy with each bite of this sumptuous salad, which could have been a meal in itself.

My entree was a fabulous cut of Filet 8 oz ($31.99), served medium rare. The Filet was perfectly cut and grilled. There wasn’t one bit of fat on it anywhere. They grill their steak with a dab of butter and season it just right. I also had a side of the Sizzling Mushrooms ($7.99) which were the perfect pairing for each bite of my pink in them middle Filet. I love this place; every dish they prepare is done with skill and pride.

The service was superb! Very attentive and anticipatory. Not one need was ever unattended, and not one thing had to be requested. Everyone was spot on!  The hostess, the food runner and the server must have been trained in a 5 star academy because each was pleasant and very customer oriented. I totally recommend this place for everyone looking for a special place to share with that special person.

Chart House
2588 South Coast Highway 101
Cardiff, CA 92007
760-463-4044
http://chart-house.com