1960 Rt. 35 Ortley Beach; go to SeawaspNJ.com.
Throughout my seafood snacking adventures over the last two summers, one particular item has been somewhat elusive at the Jersey Shore — the Connecticut style lobster roll.
For those of you used to the mayo-based Maine style roll, let me let you in on a little secret: Connecticut’s warm, butter-soaked version beats the pants off its more common Northern cousin, which is basically a glorified lobster salad sandwich. My search for this regional treat had yielded one or two along the way, but none that really knocked my socks off. Until I stopped in at Seawasp — a roadside seafood shack located in a section of Toms River known as Ortley Beach, which offers a note perfect version. Finally, I can sleep at night.
Seawasp (named for the particularly lethal box jellyfish) offers up fresh seafood (along with burgers, sandwiches, fries and more) on the site of a former gas station on Route 35. Inside, a laid-back fast-casual vibe awaits — order at the counter from a chalkboard menu, grab a drink from the cooler and take a seat.
Outside a lineup of colorful picnic tables stand, all studiously patrolled by a squad of hungry seagulls, each of which do enough squawking, staring and divebombing to intimidate you into keeping your guard up throughout the meal. Get distracted for a second and you can be sure that plate of clams you were enjoying will be swarmed and ransacked like a broken piñata at a 6 year old’s birthday party.
The Connecticut style lobster roll: In case you missed it in the first paragraph, this was the big winner of the day. A buttered and grilled hot dog bun piled with fresh lobster meat and doused in butter and lemon. Incredibly delicious, even if it was a bit on the small side.
Fried whole belly clams: While everywhere from Friendly’s to your local diner serves clam strips, this whole belly version can be much tougher to come by. Seawasp has them brought in from Maine every morning. The extra crunchy breading serves as a wonderful balance to the softness of the clam. The briny flavor is just about perfect when paired with a dunk of their homemade taratar sauce.
The cod sandwich: Perfectly battered and fried cod on a brioche bun with tartar sauce, tomato and greens. It’s been done before and for good reason. It’s delicious.
Throw it back:
Fried seafood combo I love a good seafood combo, and this version, while not bad, didn’t stand out in any way. And the scallops were a bit chewey for my taste. I wouldn’t come running back for this combo anytime soon. Save your money and splurge on a second lobster roll. You will be so happy you did.
Connecticut style lobster roll