Time, dedication, a unique vision and a two-person collaboration were the ingredients needed to make this waterside restaurant transform from a dream to a reality.
Reels at Pier 281, located on Princeton Avenue in Brick, is tucked away from the roadway and is perched on the Metedeconk River.
“The history is between me and Jessica Hayes,” explained Executive Chef and co-owner Anthony Ingoglia. “She and I have collaborated on this restaurant for two-and-a-half, almost three, years now.”
The team wanted to strike a balance between the earthy natural setting and a refined menu of fine cuisine.
“So as far as someplace that wasn’t going to be too over elegant or anything, we like the casualness to it, but we want fine food … so we tried to create a place that has all those elements,” he said.
And that is just exactly what the pair did. Although Reels is only a few years old, Ingoglia is no stranger to the business. This is his fourth restaurant and he even notes that a few menu items are staples that have traveled with him from one establishment to the next.
“We try to be casual, but elegant at the same time and make people feel welcome and not put off by the ultra elegance of some restaurants,” said Ingoglia. “We just tried to [create] that restaurant that was different in this area.”
FRESH AND FINE FARE
Reels is currently open Wednesday through Sunday for dinner from 5 to 9 p.m. weekdays and 5 to 10 p.m. on weekends. During the summer months the restaurant will be open seven days a week.
According to Ingoglia, the nature setting of the restaurant’’s waterfront location is reflected in the menu as well.
“We don’t have an abundance of items on our menu,” he said. “We probably have eight fish and eight meat dishes and then we have appetizers and soups and things like that.
“But we try to do the things that we do perfectly. I don’t want to do 20 items and do five of them really good. I want to do eight items really great so if you want that ‘diner’ menu, we’re not that place.”
Some menu must-haves to note from the appetizers include the Mussels & White Wine, which are steamed in white wine, garlic, shallots, bacon and butter and served with parmesan toast point as well the Four Cheese & Pear Tortellini served with blue cheese sauce and walnuts.
And then there are the aforementioned dishes that have traveled with Ingoglia from restaurant to restaurant. The Peppercorn Crusted Tuna is Ahi tuna with tri-colored peppercorns that are ground into the sides of the tuna and then seared quickly. The rare tuna is served over wasabi mashed potatoes and has a grainy mustard cream sauce that goes lightly on top.
“Everytime I seem to take that off the menu or give it a break, it’s like ‘You don’t have the tuna? You’re not doing the tuna anymore? You stopped doing the tuna?’ So it goes back on,” said Ingoglia.
Another staple is the Rack of Lamb, which is lamb encrusted with pistachio and grainy mustard served with mashed sweet potatoes, sauteed spinach and seasonal vegetables.
Guests can currently enjoy a Dinner for Two special for $60 that includes two cups of soup du jour, two house salads, a choice of any two of Reel’s delicious entrees and a chocolate lava cake and vanilla gelato dessert.
PLAN A PARTY
Reels delightedly hosts parties such as bridal showers, baby showers, birthday celebrations and even weddings.
Parties can be held any afternoon before the restaurant opens. Since the restaurant is BYOB guests can save a little money on the party by supplying their own alcoholic beverages.
The parties don’t have to be huge in numbers. According to Ingoglia, they will host parties for 30, 40 people without hesitation. Once the weather warms up guests can also enjoy dock and dine and outdoor dining.
For more information on Reels at Pier 281, visit reels281.com.