Brian Sabarese and his younger brother Paul have worked together on and off for the past 20 years.
Originally from Forked River, the brothers have worked in Philadelphia restaurants and fine dining establishments on the Main Line, often working in the front of the house together.
Both brothers came to the shore around a decade ago to help open the Plantation restaurant on Long Beach Island. They again decided to join forces to open The Arlington at the location of the former Bayberry Inn when they decided it was time to do something on their own.
Over the years, Brian Sabarese has gravitated to the kitchen while his brother remains working the floor. It might have something to do with the Easy Bake Oven he requested as a child, the first thing he ever asked for.
“This time around it happened that I ended up in the kitchen,” Sabarese says.
Self- taught — not professionally trained — but having cooked a lot, Sabarese did some cooking early on in his career.
Along the way he discovered that it is a good thing to familiarize yourself with “every hat in the restaurant business.”
Having looked for a property of their own for a few years with some potential deals that just didn’t pan out, the brothers settled on a property that housed restaurants for 50 years, most recently as The Bayberry Inn for the last 30 years, and one of the first establishments on Long Beach Island.
“Being on LBI for 10 years, we knew what to expect as far as the seasonality of the business and what kind of business to expect,” Sabarese says. “We knew the people and liked the island and thought it would be a good move for us.”
Negotiations began in August 2012 then the storm hit. Superstorm Sandy set back their plans for a while, and by the time they got back into the property the damage was done.
Purchased in May 2013 the building was gutted and renovated with new insulation, floors and sheetrock. The Arlington opened for business just five weeks later.
Their next project was to create a new identity and go in a new direction from the colonial motif of the former restaurant.
First was a new name — a homage to the former town known as Beach Arlington — then Ship Bottom Beach Arlington finally shortened to Ship Bottom. Next was a change to a new American menu with a focus on local ingredients whenever possible such as the scallops and swordfish from nearby Viking Village, to the craft beers that are offered on tap.
During the summer, The Arlington uses a farm co-op composed of smaller, local farms that typically don’t distribute their product on a larger scale.
Now going into their second summer, the brothers have turned The Arlington into a place to go for great food, beer and cocktails. All it took was 40 years combined experience and the determination to make it happen.
“This is what we do and how do we do it on our own,” Sabarese says.
Several items are marked gluten free for those with specific dietary needs.
“We try to cater to gluten free since so many people come in and ask,” Sabarese says.
A menu notation gives customers the ability to see which items are gluten free at a glance.
Boquerones ($5) are a larger anchovy, not so typically salted and held in vinegar, more flavorful and meatier, served with a lemon oil. Raw bar selections include local oysters year round, with a West Coast choice added in the summer. Sabarese says that while they go through around 5,000 oysters on the half shell each week in the summer. During the winter, they still sell around 1,000 oysters a week.
During happy hour The Arlington has $1 oysters on the half-shell.
Seafood paella ($25) is among the most popular entrees. Made with head-on shrimp, mussels, clams, Andouille sausage and saffron rice, you can add a lobster tail to the dish for an additional $14. Korean BBQ shortribs ($25) are seared and braised for almost 12 hours until falling apart tender and paired with baby bok choy and homemade fermented kimchee.
Sabarese says the seared duck breast ($27), put on the menu as a fall dish, is so popular they might keep it on year round. In its current form, Long Island duck breast is marinated and served with a ginger carrot puree, salt roasted rutabagas, roasted carrots and charred scallions and a bourbon maple glaze
Among the sandwich selections, the two most popular choices are the lobster roll ($18), which uses cold water Maine lobster, and the double cheeseburger ($14) with thousand island dressing, made from a special blend by a local butcher.
For their porchetta sandwich ($14) the kitchen rubs pork belly and center cut pork loin with a citrus-herb blend, roasts it then slices it down for each sandwich.
Most desserts are made in-house.
For brunch, the Arlington serves their regular menu plus additions such as a chef’s daily omelette ($12) with home fries; hazelnut crusted french toast ($12) with banana and Nutella; a classic eggs Benedict ($12) with Canadian bacon, poached egg, and Hollandaise sauce; and a breakfast burger ($12) made with fried egg, pork roll, burger patty, cheddar cheese and siracha ketchup.
Bottomless mimosas and Bloody Marys are $10 for the first then $1 for each additional drink. Other options include a Bloody Maria ($8 made with tequila and a Aperol spritz ($8) with Prosecco,
Dark woods and brick abound in a room with a fireplace that seats around 30 guests and a “U’ shaped bar that accommodates 25 to 30 patrons.
Seafood, meat are popular choices at The Arlington
Among the most popular dishes are the pan-seared scallops ($13) with truffled lobster risotto which has been on the menu since they opened the doors. Slow cooked pork belly ($11) is cured and roasted in-house. Although the set up changes seasonally, it is presently served with sweet potato grits and a black pepper glaze.
Steamed mussels ($10) are cooked in thyme, shallots and beer and utilize wild mussels.
The daily board ($16) is a meat and cheese plate that always includes several in-house cured products such as guanciale or bacon. The kitchen is developing their own Andouille, too.
Several items are smoked in house such as mushrooms, bacon and the tea smoked chicken taco ($7). Char-grilled oysters ($9) are listed under snacks and use Delaware Bay oysters and Cape May Salts.