For a business to operate successfully in Bay Head year-round it must appeal to a large, discriminating, local following. Mueller’s Bakery and the Bay Head Cheese Shop are two perfect examples of charm, service and outstanding products coming together to make that work. Another is Theresa’s South in Bay Head, a creative, Italian influenced restaurant which occupies the corner of Main Ave. and Mount St. We were there last Saturday, for an early 6PM reservation for two, and within 15 minutes of our arrival, the house was already bustling.
We had been to Theresa’s South a couple of months back, when the crowds were here and we were lucky to get a parking place on the street. This visit we got the same spot but we had a choice of several. Upon entering we were seated immediately by the hostess at a window table in one of the two dining rooms. I would describe the decor as charming and contemporary with an added coastal feel created by the many large multi-light windows. This night, strings of white holiday lights bedecked the walls and windows of the interior.
Our lovely server, Taylor, promptly delivered a wine bucket and opened our bottles. She proved to be an exceptional server, pointing out popular menu items, at my request, and explaining preparations.
We began our our dinner with two first courses. The first, a special salad of warm goat cheese, walnuts, baby spinach. strawberries, cranberries, orange slice in a vinaigrette. This was the second amazing salad we have enjoyed here. Equally as pleasing was the yellowfin tuna ceviche with avocado, scallions, ginger and cucumber. It was a spiffy presentation with a cylindrical mound of ceviche topped with avocado and surmounted with several thin and delicate tortilla chips. The flavor of ginger and scallion melded perfectly with the delicate tuna. It was It was hard for me not to opt for the crab cake I enjoyed before, but I would have missed out on this perfect appetizer.
Another difficult decision awaited me. On my last visit, I had the pappardelle with lobster which is what a pasta and seafood lover, like me, dreams about. This evening I had a rare hankering for red meat, so I chose the gorgonzola encrusted filet of beef which was served with a green peppercorn, port wine demi-glace, smashed potatoes and fresh broccoli and greens beans. I you are not a lover of strong flavors you may not like the powerful gorgonzola on your filet, but for me they were perfect together and my pinot noir helped to keep the marriage harmonious. The steak was cooked just shy of medium the way I ordered it and was very tender.
The other dish we tried was a risotto with shrimp, grape tomatoes, mushrooms and broccoli rabe and a pesto oil. Unfortunately, this dish did not work for either of us. I love a good risotto and so does my wife and feel the creamy rice dish is a culinary art form and deserves to at least share the spotlight, if not be the star. In this dish, there was too much happening and it was happening right on top of the risotto where it was a challenge to recognize it. There was nothing wrong with the dish regarding taste, it was just not to our personal liking.
Despite a nice choice of desserts, we chose to return home and work on all the leftover decadence from Thanksgiving, but we will at least order the crème brȗlée the next time. And there will be a next time. We love this place.
Theresa’s South is located at 530 Bay Ave. in Bay Head. They serve upscale Italian cuisine with an eclectic flair. It is BYOB and dinner prices are moderate with entrees ranging from $22 – $33. Parking is either on the street or in a municipal lot off Bridge Ave with a cut though over a foot bridge. They are opened for dinner only. You can view the dinner menu here but it is subject to seasonal changes. Dress is casual