With the name Jersey Girl Kitchen | Bar, this newly renovated eatery in Wildwood has some big shoes — or rather flip-flops — to fill.
“We didn’t want to be just another fine dining establishment, or the latest hot spot, or really any other easily classified restaurant,” says Owner Jack Morey, who also owns Morey’s Piers. “We chose the ‘Jersey Girl’ brand because we wanted to stand out, and it’s provided us the opportunity to imbue the food, the drinks and the entire location with a little extra love.”
The CraftLike a true Jersey Girl, this restaurant defies standard classifications.
“We’re always evolving, but at our core, we’re a fusion of Jersey Shore classics and fresh, Greek fare,” Morey says.
“With a distinctly crafty, modern take,” adds General Manager George Mallous.
A perfect example of how Jersey Girl brings these flavors together is their Shrimp and Scallop Saganaki ($29) with local scallops and shrimp prepared in a traditional Greek way.
“Saganaki refers to a two-handle frying pan that’s used to cook the dish,” Mallous says, adding the scallops and shrimp are sautéed in a white-wine sauce and served over rice pilaf with spinach, San Marzano tomatoes, pepperoncini, imported crumbled feta cheese and garnished with scallions.
Last winter, the restaurant underwent a complete renovation which included a total overhaul to the menu. While the physical renovations were underway, Mallous and his brother, Head Chef Argie Mallous, created the new menu.
“We use the Greek phrase ‘meraki,’ that translates ‘to do something with soul, creativity, or love; to put something of yourself into your work,’” Mallous says.
A glance at the menu reveals a lot about the Mallous brothers. Their parents both immigrated from Greece to Wildwood and opened several restaurants. The brothers grew up in Wildwood and in the restaurant business, and as they got older, they wanted to take their skills to the next level, so both decided to attend culinary schools: George went to The Culinary Institute of America; and Argie went to Johnson and Wales University.
Their talents are on full display at Jersey Girl with creative dishes that blend the classic Jersey Shore flavors of their childhood with the Mediterranean flare from their heritage, prepared in the innovative ways of their education. Dishes such as the Mad Greek Salad and the blackened salmon demonstrate their distinctly modern take on heritage dishes.
The Mad Greek Salad ($14) is one of Jersey Girl’s most popular dishes.
“It has no lettuce and is actually based on what the Greeks call a peasant salad,” says Mallous, who notes the salad features tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, peppers, kalamata olives and crumbled imported feta cheese, topped with a Greek vinaigrette.
Their other signature dish, the blackened salmon ($26), features flattop-blackened salmon served with smashed potatoes, greens and asparagus and topped with a mango salsa.
While Jersey Girl is an homage to Jersey Shore cuisine and Greek heritage, it also pays tribute to the women and families that make this state so wonderful. From motorcycle-racing females to beach beauties, the walls feature black-and-white portraits of the many women that grace the Jersey Shore. You’ll also find George’s daughter managing the front-of-house operations.
“We’re a family-friendly restaurant on every level. We’re really a family business, in addition to my brother, both my son and daughter work here. And we really want to drive home the fact that our restaurant is very family-friendly,” Mallous says.
In addition to a kids menu, Jersey Girl features several crowd-pleasing dishes like their fried kalamari (spelled the Greek way, $14) that is gluten-free and coated in rice flour, flash fried and served with pepperoncini, lemon, and marinara sauce; and the blackened mahi mahi sandwich ($18) served on a telera roll with lettuce, tomato, onion and topped with a Greek yogurt and avocado spread and served with fries.
Currently, Jersey Girl is open for brunch and dinner through the fall. They will close this winter to complete the final stage of renovations, which will bring a three-season room to the location, as well as linking it to a full-service hotel – Morey’s Boardwalk Bungalow.
“This is the place for people that want to stay right in the middle of the action in a nice hotel,” Morey says.