Many years ago my aunt took me to visit a woman who lived up the hill from her in the Highlands. She was prize winning pie baker. Since then I have never tasted a pie crust that was a flaky and lardy as hers
– until now. I heard a lot of buzz throughout the Jersey Shore food realm about a place called Sunburst Pie Co. that had opened in May of this year at 150 Main St. Manasquan. The owner, from the information I gathered, was named Jay Mack who tended bar at Harpoon Willy’s and made pies at the place as a sideline. He received many raves from customers who said he should open a baking business. Well, lucky for me, and the rest of the people living in or visiting the area, he did just that. His talent as a baker along with percolating creativity, coupled with his interpersonal skills, is the perfect combination to successfully operate this bakery and cafe.
Like everything else, it took me too long to try this place. However after out a couple recent visits I will never stop going back. The colorful blackboard menu, written every day, tells visitors and passers what pies and breakfast and lunch treats are offered that particular day. They are only a portion of what you will find once you enter. There are large and personal size pies of all kinds, like mixed berry, bourbon pecan, strawberry rhubarb, key lime and many more. The selection seems to parallel whatever fresh fruits are in season. The small peach pie I tried first was definitely made from fresh sliced peaches. Then there are the hand pies. They contain sweet or savory fillings that are unique and ethnically diverse like chorizo and black bean, pork roll egg and cheese, pulled pork with caramelized pineapple and an East African empanada as examples. Then there are the scones – all sorts of them. I tried a raspberry cardamom with pistachios and a rose water glaze which was an incredibly sumptuous combination of textures and flavors. Others I saw were a date nut, peach, blueberry with lemon glaze; far more than I can remember. There are also some unusual cookie choices. Narrowing down ll this to a few selections can be challenging to say the least. There are plentiful samplings to help you.
There is ample seating both inside and out front at Sunburst Pie Co. You can grab a personal pie and a cup of coffee and indulge at anytime. Or you can enjoy one of the breakfast or lunch items suggested on the blackboard. There are plenty of choices and I am sure they are are all good. They also offer a substantial discount to seniors.
Now let’s talk about that empanada. Just look at it and you can almost taste the flaky, lardy crust (did I say flaky, lardy again?) You cannot begin imagine what that filling tastes like. To quote my wife, “OMG! There are no words…” The empanada is filled with fine ground beef, olives, raisins and plantains that are seasoned exotically. There is a sweetness and spiciness that meld perfectly creating layers of different
flavors that come though as you bite into that melt in your mouth crust. My only issue was that I had to share it. The next time, there will be no sharing. So, do you think I liked it? I just added it to my list of best things I ever ate. Get there early as they sell out fast, It was early afternoon and there were only two left. I missed them completely on my first try.
Sunburst Pie Co, is aptly named after the signature style of vent slits cut into the top of the covered fruit pies. They form a design exactly like the company logo. The cafe is located on the right hand side traveling west on Main St from RT 71. Once you turn onto Main try to diagonally park right away as the store comes up fast. It you pass it, make the first right and there is a lot to your right with an alley that cuts through next to the shop. Be careful not to park in the assigned spaces for Remington’s.
Sunburst Pie Co. is a great addition to Main St. in Manasquan, one of my favorite streets to walk. It fills a niche with its inviting storefront and a friendly staff that I can tell truly enjoys interacting with the customers. Providing an awesome product is always important but so is creating a memorable experience. Sunburst Pie Co. excels in both areas. See you soon.