Paul Negro’s mom Letitia was a chef for many years. She was the one who started the first Tisha’s Home Cooking that opened in Wildwood back in 1988.
The family lived in South Philadelphia but had a summer home in Wildwood Crest.
Negro helped his mother any way he could, filling in as a waiter for a few seasons, eventually working alongside his mother in the kitchen.
In 1993, Negro bought the restaurant and all the equipment from his mother and moved it to Cape May, where it flourished first behind the convention hall then later moving to it’s present location on the Washington Street Mall, as Tisha’s Fine Dining.
His latest venture, along with wife Jennifer, is the 5 West Pub in North Cape May, a casual restaurant with great food and plenty of craft beer on tap. And just as he learned at his mom’s side, the food here is still “made from the heart.”
Tisha would be proud.
Now living in the North Cape May area, Negro recognized the need for a place offering a pub atmosphere, with reasonably priced food, where the locals could come and hangout to get something to eat without having to go all the way to Cape May. The only restaurants around seemed to be serving cheese steaks, pizza, or Chinese food.
“There is really not anything like this around,” says Negro. “We thought there was a definite calling for it.”
When the property housing the former CJ’s came on the market, Negro jumped at the chance to provide something new.
5 West Pub has already built up a regular clientele, mostly based on the family’s reputation in the area.
The menu is large, offering something for everyone.
Buffalo shrimp fritters ($11.95) are “really going over big,” says Negro. Instead of a frozen product, the kitchen beer batters them fresh, dropping them into the frier for a crispier product, served with spicy blue cheese and celery sticks. Negro describes the kitchen at 5 West Pub as being an “absolutely from scratch kitchen.”
Salad selections include a caesar ($8.95); wedge ($9.95); and a Jersey tomato ($10.95). Add grilled chicken to any salad for an additional $4, salmon for an additional $5.
Margherita ($8.95) made with San Marzano tomatoes, is the biggest seller among the 12 inch brick oven pizza. Other popular choices include the chicken gorgonzola ($10.95); Popeye ($8.95); and the barbecue shrimp ($11.95).
All pies are from fresh dough made daily.
Negro says his crab cakes ($18.95) are the most popular menu item and are made fresh daily using plenty of jumbo lump crab meat. Lobster mac & cheese ($19.95), made with a three-cheese blend, is another big seller.
“People just flip out over our crab cakes— they can’t get enough,” says Negro.
The flat iron steak ($17.95) goes over big and the flounder Franchaise ($17.95) is made using local catch.
More entrees will be added to the menu in the fall. Entrees are served daily after 4 p.m.
A local butcher provides the fresh ground meat for the 10-ounce sirloin burgers including the 5 West ($9.95) made with sauteed onion, jalapeno peppers, bacon, and real cheddar cheese wiz; the Rajun Cajun special ($8.95) is made spicy with slaw, swiss cheese, and Russian dressing; and the Big Blue ($9.95) with bacon, Gorgonzola cheese, pickle, and hand cut fries.
House specialties include a variety of different sandwiches. Served with a choice of fresh cut fries or a spring mix salad, choices include a fried flounder sandwich ($10.95); blackened mahi mahi ($9.95); Italian pork ($9.95) with broccoli di rabe and sharp provolone; and of course, a crab cake sandwich ($10.95).
Desserts are prepared by the pastry chef from Tisha’s, and include a flourless chocolate cake ($5.95) and key lime pie ($5.95).
Even the drinks are special — the orange or grapefruit crush drinks are made with fresh fruit squeezed to order.
“It makes a huge difference,” says Negro. “We are (also) really getting into the craft beers right now.”