Let's eat!

Wine, dine and play at our Hot 10 Shore restaurants

Posted: May 18, 2007

MECHANICAL BULLS, giant burgers, waterfront views, to-die-for pizza and a little Georges Perrier.

These and more gastronomic adventures await at an impressive new roster of Jersey Shore restaurants this summer.

The Daily News scoured Atlantic City, Ocean City and Somers Point and more to bring you to the hippest, coziest and most fun eateries debuting for the 2007 season.

Casinos are still feverishly trying to catch up to the Borgata and The Quarter at the Tropicana, forgoing buffets and senior-focused specials to cater to 20-and 30-somethings with edgy, funky and hip restaurants. And in the Shore's family-friendly towns, eateries are scrapping formal dining rooms and pricey fare for more casual atmospheres and menus.

Here's our Hot Ten places to visit this summer for good eats, Jersey Shore-style.

Mia

You'll think you're in Vegas when you visit this towering, backlit gem, the latest collaboration from Georges Perrier and Chris Scarduzio, partners at Philly's Brassier Perrier.

The restaurant, which takes center stage in Caesars' lobby, mimics a columned Roman building outside and a romantic, dimly lit Italian piazza inside. There's a two-story wine tower, befitting of the restaurant's high-end, nine-page wine list.

While it's not Le Bec-Fin (it's manned most of the time by chef Jeremy Duchut, not Perrier), diners will recognize Perrier's signature touches on the menu, from the butter-poached Maine lobster with braised artichokes and saffron vinaigrette to the roasted salmon with mushroom fricassee, parsley pearls and rhubarb glaze.

Caesars Atlantic City, 2100 Pacific Ave. 609-441-2345, www.miaac.com. Open 5:30-10:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 5:30-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday. Lounge open 5:30 p.m.-1 a.m. Friday-Saturday.

Dune

Tucked in a tony residential neighborhood at the corner of Ventnor Avenue and Madison Street, this 70-seat jewel features gourmet dishes by young CIA grad Jason Hanin, who crafts everything himself, from fresh seafood to pastries. We love it because roughly 95 percent of his dishes are organic, and his specials and desserts change weekly. (Beg for his banana or black grape sorbets.)

The restaurant, which opened in April and will remain open until December, is fast becoming a favorite with Philadelphians who make reservations early in the week to snare a weekend table.

9510 Ventnor Ave., Margate, 609-487-7450, www.dunerestaurant.com. Open 5 p.m. daily, except Tuesday.

Daddy O

Step back in time at the hippest new addition to Bryant Beach on Long Beach Island. The first boutique bed and breakfast of its kind on the island, Daddy O's retro dining room harkens to a 1940s supper club with its red leather and dark wood. The 55-seat bar overlooks an impressive wine room.

The new summer menu is a modern surf-and-turf dream, from sesame-crusted calamari to lump crab cakes served with a (to-die-for) chipotle corn puree, to Szechwan meatloaf or Kobe beef sliders.

4401 Long Beach Blvd., Long Beach Island, 609-494-1300, www.daddyorestaurant.com. Open daily for lunch, 11:30 a.m., and dinner, 4-10 p.m.

Freeze, Burger & Candy

If you're jonesing for a fix this summer, night or day, head to this heavenly trio that spells bliss on Trump Taj Mahal's new Spice Road "promenade."

The simple names suit the simple fare at these addictive eateries: Freeze serves frozen daiquiris, margaritas and shooters; Burger features more than a half-dozen types of mouth-watering ground meat and several versions of fries; and Candy has, well, candy in bulk - just what everyone needs late at night after losing a bundle at a blackjack table.

Trump Taj Mahal, 1000 Boardwalk and Virginia Avenue, Atlantic City, 609-449-1000, www.trumptaj.com.

Game On!

We're not sure if Game On!, the name of this trendy new hangout, refers to the sports-themed menu, bar and lounges - or its popularity with the singles set.

Either way, you can get your game on at this 300-plus-seat adult playground, complete with mechanical bull, closed-circuit PlayStation access, "skyboxes," special areas with TVs and refrigerators for private parties.

The menu is bar-friendly and designed for adult kids - or inebriated folks - with heavenly New England lobster rolls, Pittsburgh Strip District sandwiches, PB & J banana splits and cheesecake pops. Get there early on weekends to grab one of 60 hot seats at the main bar.

The Pier Shops at Caesars, Third Floor, 2100 Boardwalk, Atlantic City, 609-289-4200, www.thepieratcaesars.com, 11:30 a.m.-2 a.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11:30 a.m.-4 a.m. Friday-Saturday.

The Inlet

When this sprawling waterfront restaurant was called Sails (as recently as last season), it attracted locals looking for high-end meals in a more formal atmosphere.

This summer, the monstrous eatery and entertainment center will be resurrected as The Inlet, a casual seafood restaurant focused on simply prepared, fresh seafood and live entertainment on its sprawling deck every night.

We especially like the menu, crafted by former Moshulu chef Adam Delosso to include simply grilled options with a choice of a starch and veggies, lighter salads, sandwiches and "Shore Classics" like steamers.

998 Bay Ave., Somers Point, 609-926-9611, www.inletrestaurantnj.com, Inside: lunch, 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. daily; dinner 4 p.m.-10:30 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 4 p.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday. Outside deck: noon-2 a.m. daily. Bar: 11:30 a.m.-2 a.m. daily.

The Trinity

Our second pick in the spanking-new Pier Shops at Caesars' is this authentic - down to the imported ceiling tile and floor boards - Irish bar, The Trinity. This newcomer has nine beers on tap and live Irish music Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

This is definitely Caesars' answer to The Quarter at Tropicana's Ri Ra Irish Pub, with its cozy - and in-demand - fireplace seating and shelves and bookcases lined with real Irish pictures, antiques and books.

The food is also pretty authentic, including a yummy Dublin Coddle, a vegetable casserole, as well as a carving menu featuring half-a-dozen manly meats like prime rib and rib-eye.

The Pier Shops at Caesars, Third Floor, 2100 Boardwalk, Atlantic City, 609-289-4200, www.thepieratcaesars.com. Open 11:30 a.m.-2 a.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11:30 a.m.-3 a.m. Friday-Saturday.

Finestra

If you delight in lingering over three-hour dinners in South Philly, savoring antipasta and homemade pastas, do we have a place for you. You'll get all the gourmet cheese, baked pasta and clams oreganata you can eat, only you'll have a view of picturesque Farley Marina, not Passyunk Avenue.

Finestra, this new Trump property, named after the Italian word for window, is awash in cool blue tones, a two-story window the length of the dining room and food that tastes like grandma's - if she made seven different pasta and risotto and nearly a dozen antipasti platters a day.

The special antipasto bar will leave you wishing the selections were entrees - especially if you're sampling the young octopus.

Trump Marina Hotel & Casino, Huron Avenue and Brigantine Blvd., Atlantic City, 609-441-2000, www.trumpmarina.

com. Bar: Sunday-Thursday noon-midnight, Friday-Saturday noon-2 a.m. Antipasta Bar: Sunday-Thursday noon-10 p.m., Friday-Saturday noon-midnight. Restaurant: Wednesday-Thursday 6-10 p.m., Friday-Saturday 6-11 p.m., Sunday 5-10 p.m.

Sonsie

"Luck, Love and Life" is the theme at Sonsie, this adorable open-air cafe and bistro. Designed in the style of some of Las Vegas' notable indoor restaurants - including Emeril's at the MGM Grand - Sonsie serves breakfast and lunch at "outdoor" tables by day, and a French-inspired dinner menu at leather banquets by night.

The menu shifts three times a day, from jumbo lump crab eggs Benedict to lunchtime brick-oven pizzas, and finally to an extensive surf-and-turf dinner menu.

If you're too late for dinner, the Parisian bar with its intricate mosaic floor is romantic and fun, and a sit-down lounge with sexy leather seating features a late-night menu.

The Pier Shops at Caesars, Third Floor, 2100 Boardwalk, Atlantic City. 609-289-4200, www.thepier

atcaesars.com. Meals served daily 8 a.m.-11 p.m. Bar: Sunday-Thursday until 2 a.m., Friday-Saturday until 3 a.m.

Scully's Asbury Cafe

& Pizzeria

This family-style gem replaced the old Panini Grill in the heart of Ocean City. New owner Kevin Scull seems to be aiming for a Hymie's feel with his exhaustive, gourmet-deli-style menu. The welcome mish-mash of comfort food hops from Asian tuna salads to "The Paisano," a chicken cutlet wonder, to handmade pizzas.

Have the food delivered or to bring the crew to the warm and informal terra cotta-washed dining room that's packed on weekends already.

955 Asbury Ave., Ocean City. 609-391-1111. Open 11 a.m.-8 p.m. weekdays, 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturdays, 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Sundays.

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