- Cape May NJ Travel Guide and Vacation Planner Blog

Tag: dining

Pizza Pause

As a typical teenager, I’m capable of eating far more than the average human being. Maybe I can blame it on growing, or maybe I just enjoy the wonderful, always welcoming taste and warming sensation it provides for my stomach and soul. As much as I love to indulge in the world of food, there is only one food that I can eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This versatile meal is a favorite to more than just teenagers. It’s popular among parents on those days when cooking is too much of a hassle, and the kids need something to occupy them for a few moments to get that glorious sound of stillness. That’s right, the one and only, pizza, is adored by many and is the one meal I’m glad to eat at every hour of the day.

Louie's 1

Because pizza is so popular, Cape May is sprinkled with numerous parlors so that you’re never more than a five-minute walk away from one. With countless places to choose from, it can become a difficult choice, but through the haze and smell of cheese, Louie’s Pizza stands clear in my mind. Not only are their slices freshly made and steaming right out of the oven, they’re also approximately the size of Texas, give or take a little. My stomach might not even have room for the perfectly fluffy crust that waits for me at the end of the cheese, but there’s no way I’m leaving out the best part. Every bite makes a fresh crunch as your teeth break through the crust and the delectable cheese attacks the roof of your mouth. Between the size and the taste, Louie’s is at the top of my list.

While I’m openly crazy about food and slightly biased towards Louie’s as a local, I will admit that Louie’s has my heart for reasons more than just the pizza. Over the years I have spent more than enough time not just eating there, but also simply hanging out. Whether it’s walking off the beach for some shade or being in the mood for a late-night slice, Louie’s provides the perfect atmosphere to sit, talk, and goof around. Come ten people or come two, there’s always room to pull up a chair. In the heat of the afternoon I take shelter under an umbrella, armed with a slice and a cold Coca-Cola. It’s a nice pause from the busy traffic buzzing by and the endless rushing of people in search of a final destination.

Louie's 3

Nighttime at Louie’s is an entirely different story. The place is alive and kicking, pumping slice after slice out of the oven. Even if the streets are quiet, Louie’s is not. The majority of the chairs sitting outside usually get sucked into our circle of friends, sometimes managing to pull twenty chairs. We gather up around a table or two, grab some pizza, and are perfectly content in that moment. Good food and good friends with the beach twenty feet away, I don’t see how it gets much better.

Once the night starts to wear on, some people even wander down from Carney’s or Cabana’s to get a slice. You can hear these people all the way down Beach Drive after having a few drinks in them, but it just goes to show that even the sub-conscious drunk mind can’t help but crave a slice from Louie’s. More than just good pizza, Louie’s provides a sense of community to teenagers, kids, and adults alike. Through the years I’ve eaten enough pizza to keep the place running, and I’m sure there are countless more slices to come. More than just pizza, Louie’s is a place to come together with family and friends, and it certainly isn’t one to forget.

Oceanfront and Center


“We were just looking for a beach house,” Armando Pelaez, co-owner of The Peter Shields Inn & Restaurant, recalls. He and his wife, Cathy, and her brother and sister-in-law, ended up buying an historic beachfront property instead. Two years later, their family “beach house” is home to a top-ranked Zagat-rated restaurant and luxury boutique inn.


Chef Carl Messick

Converted into a bed and breakfast in the 1980s, The Peter Shields Inn & Restaurant has upped its game under new owners and a new Executive Chef. With its panoramic views of the Atlantic, stately Georgian Revival architecture, and fine dining, The Peter Shields has stood out from the sea of restaurants historically. Recent changes have accentuated the positives. However, today there is a new sense of adventure in the kitchen. A more relaxed vibe in the atmosphere. A lighter touch in the décor. The Peter Shields also has made front-porch entertaining more fun. No small feat in a town known for porch hospitality.

I had dinner with friends on the front porch the day it opened in May. We had our choice of menus – the main one offering a variety of selections a la carte and a four-course Chef’s Tasting Menu. Going with the former, we ordered two appetizers to share – the Roasted Beet and Maine Lobster Salad with red and yellow beets, lobster, mache lettuce, carrot shavings, fennel, and lemon oil and the Crispy Calamari with micro cilantro and a lemon chili and vinegar reduction. The salad was a winner. The fried squid could have been crispier.

I had the Pan Roasted Free Range Chicken Breast next. It was served on a bed of spinach, prosciutto and oyster mushrooms in a rosemary shallot jus with potato gnocchi on the side. It was an excellent dish and I plan to return for seconds. One of my friends ordered the 10-ounce Grilled Rib-Eye Steak and Jumbo Crab Cake, served with asparagus risotto and sautéed arugula, which she praised. The other ordered the Seared Scottish Salmon with spring succotash and roasted fingerling potatoes, and raved about how nicely it was seared. We passed on dessert but turned in unison when a waiter carried the Chocolate Lava Cake with raspberry coulis and vanilla ice cream past us.

Carl Messick is the new Executive Chef who is re-invigorating The Peter Shields’ kitchen. Hired by the new owners in February, 2011, he shares his bosses’ goal of making The Peter Shields the best restaurant in South Jersey. Carl worked as Executive Chef at the Ebbitt Room at the Virginia Hotel and the White Heron Grill in Stone Harbor before joining The Peter Shields. Growing up in Cape May Courthouse, he gained an appreciation for local seafood and farm produce. His cooking today in deeply rooted in those lessons.


Carl recently ate dinner in the restaurant to experience dining from the guests’ perspective. “It’s helpful being on the other side of the table,” he says. “I usually see something I think we can do better. We’re always trying to perfect things.” He now encourages his staff to eat in the dining room.

The Peter Shields has added two new things to its plate this summer. It began daily lunch service in June that runs through Labor Day. It also launched boxed lunches for guests of the inn and Angel by the Sea next door. One of the owners hints that if boxed lunches take off, the service may be expanded throughout the neighborhood. I’d certainly be neighborly and take a ham and brie sandwich to go to the beach with me.

The Peter Shields Inn & Restaurant is named after the building’s original owner, one of the founders of East Cape May. The eastern end of Cape May was mostly marshland in the early 1900s. Peter Shields, a wealthy businessman from Pittsburgh, and other investors formed the Cape May Real Estate Company in 1903, to dredge Cape May’s harbor and fill in the marshes with the dredged sand. Peter Shields built his home on firm ground in East Cape May in 1907. historic-endmark

Join us for Cape May Restaurant Week, June 2-9! Find all participating restaurants at

Oopa! for George’s Place


You know you’ve found the right place when a stranger, waiting on the sidewalk for a table at a restaurant, tells you, “You know, this is the best place in town.” George’s Place is a small 10-table Greek restaurant in Cape May that looks like a diner during the day and feels like a taverna at night. “Oopa!”– Greek for “Cheers” – is spoken here.

George Tsiartsionis opened George’s Place in 1968, and has been serving breakfast and lunch for 34 years. He sold it in 2002, to his son-in-law, Yianni Karapanagiotis, who felt dinner service had potential and added it to the menu. Today, Yianni and his “kid” brother, Pete, own three restaurants – George’s Place, offering Greek food; YB (“Younger Brother”), specializing in New American cuisine; and Pano’s, a coffee shop on the Washington Street Mall they opened with their cousin.

A friend and I had dinner at George’s Place earlier this summer. We made reservations, which I strongly recommend. The restaurant takes same-day dinner reservations only, starting at 5 p.m. It caps reservations at 30 per night, so anyone hoping to eat there had better start speed dialing then or put their name on the list in person. To its credit, George’s is precise in setting reservation times, which minimizes waiting. Fair warning, though, late arrivals may need to search out another restaurant.

We arrived seven minutes early for our reservation. Yianni greeted us warmly at the door, welcomed us inside, and pointed to a clock on the wall, politely suggesting we return in seven minutes. Yianni is the big Greek personality who sets the tone for the restaurant. He is funny and irreverent and fond of saying to regulars, “Now don’t give me a hard time,” which they clearly delight in doing.

Our sidewalk enthusiast also gave a hot tip on an appetizer. “Get the flaming cheese,” he suggested. “It’s amazing, my wife and I get it all the time.” Sold, we ordered it. Saganaki is a popular Greek appetizer consisting of grilled kefalograviera cheese doused with ouzo, then set on fire. It’s served with grilled pita. The dish was wonderful, but the “fireworks” was the show-stopper. When the cheese is lit, the staff erupts in “Oopa!” and many of the diners from nearby tables, which is practically everyone in this smallish restaurant, join in. Ours was a five “Oopa!” night. It gets crazier, apparently.

“Once one is lit, the whole dining room says, “I want that,’” Yianni says, creating the potential for a 30- “Oopa!” night!


I had the Roast Pork Tenderloin next, Sliced Medallions of Meat marinated in lemon and peppercorns, with Eggplant Orzo (a rice-shaped pasta) and Greek Salad. The pork was tender and flavorful, but, served over a bed of orzo and salad, suffered somewhat of an identity crisis. My friend chose the Lamb Chops, five “lollipop” lamb chops, served with Eggplant Orzo, Tzatziki, a cucumber yogurt sauce and Greek Salad. He loved it. It’s also George’s most popular dish.

We went back to the restaurant a week later for breakfast. There was a 15-minute wait for a table and there were more families with young children on this visit, but, otherwise, our food was just as enjoyable and the service was just as friendly as before. We ate well. I had the Homemade Chipped Beef on whole wheat toast with hash brown potatoes. (I actually search out restaurants for chipped beef, which is not a pastime many of my friends share.) My friend ordered the Breakfast Quesadilla, with two eggs, turkey sausage, peppers, onions, cheddar cheese and tomatoes and mildly spiced salsa on the side. Both dishes were excellent and meal enough for the day.

George’s only accepts cash, so come prepared. We hadn’t known, but were impressed when our waitress graciously told us we could eat first and pay later, and pointed us toward the ATM next door at Uncle Bill’s Pancake House.

Word of Cape May’s small corner of Greece spread to The Food Network in 2010, which featured the restaurant on the show Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. The buzz has put even more people on the sidewalk.

“Instead of 40 people lined up at 4:45 each day, there were 100,” Yianni says. Just imagine a 100-“Oopa!” night.


George’s Place is located at 301 Beach Avenue. It’s open year-round for breakfast and lunch from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. In season, it’s also open for dinner from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. on weekdays and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends. In winter, it’s open for dinner on weekends. The restaurant is BYOB. Call (609) 884-6088 for reservations.

Lucky Bones Backwater Grille


In their more intimate moments, male horseshoe crabs hang onto their mates with hook-like claws attached to their front legs. Back in Cape May’s whaling days, superstitious watermen considered the claws good luck charms, and often took them to sea for protection. They called them “lucky bones.”

The Craig family, long-time restaurateurs in Cape May, invoked the luck of the claw when it opened its newest restaurant, Lucky Bones Backwater Grille, in 2006.  They infused a new spirit into Cape May’s increasingly sophisticated restaurant scene.  In a town full of fine-dining establishments, outdoor eateries and landmark bars, Lucky Bones carved out a culinary niche by serving gourmet fare in a fun, casual setting.

You know that when a restaurant is two-thirds full on a cold Tuesday night in February, it’s doing something right. Obviously, Lucky Bones has charmed Cape May’s year-round residents.

That night, my meal began with steaming-hot Butternut Squash Soup that was creamy and satisfying. My main course was Grilled Cuban-Spiced Rubbed Pork Chop, a specialty of the house that was lean, tender, and tantalizingly Caribbean. It was served with whipped sweet potatoes and red wine jus.  My friend started with the Rocket Salad, a mix of fresh arugula, olives, brick-oven roasted vegetables, shaved fennel, and fresh mozzarella, tossed in a green vinaigrette. Next she ordered the Seared Ahi Tuna, which she described as “scrumptious” and “cooked to perfection – not too rare and not too well done.” Steamed vegetables and lightly seasoned couscous accompanied the fish.

I also paid a visit to Lucky Bones last summer. Typically, there’s a wait for tables in summer, so I sat at the bar instead. Lucky Bones is at its most laid-back in the bar, particularly if there’s live entertainment.  While the bar and restaurant share the same menu, Lucky Bones’ comfort foods, which like the rest of its menu are made from scratch, taste particularly good when eaten at the bar.


Lucky Bones’ Oven-Roasted Creamy Spinach and Artichoke Dip, which comes with generous slices of home-made pita, is a great dish for breaking bread with friends. The Hand-Cut French Fries are sliced daily from Silver Creek Idaho potatoes, and are served hot and crispy. The Lucky Bones Burger is molded by hand from a half pound of USDA Choice ground beef; grilled and topped with bacon, mushrooms, and onions.

It’s Lucky Bones’ Margherita Pizza, however, that steals the show.  The tomato sauce, basil and fresh mozzarella pie rivals pizza at many of South Jersey’s dedicated pizzerias. On a busy summer day, the restaurant’s brick oven regularly turns out more than 120 Margherita pizzas.

Patrons should consider washing down their pizza with one of the 14 beers Lucky Bones has on tap. The restaurant added a popular new beer last summer, Honey Porter, made from clover and wildflower honey collected from beehives in Cape May County.  Lucky Bones is one of the very few restaurants to serve this specialty beer produced by Cape May Brewery. It sells out every week.

The vibe at Lucky Bones is fun, casual, and easy-going. However, there’s nothing casual about how the staff is trained to deliver quality service. Taryn, our waitress on our winter visit, epitomizes the staff’s professionalism, and elevated a great meal to a fabulous dining experience.

Lucky Bones’ staff and owners work hard to keep the restaurant fresh, a mindset that led to the introduction of an extensive gluten-free menu in June, 2010.  The gluten-free menu is nearly as large as the restaurant’s regular menu, and even includes two gluten-free beers.

Lucky Bones is also considering starting its day earlier. While a final decision hasn’t been made, the restaurant is contemplating adding breakfast service this summer from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

With new and old ways to enjoy Lucky Bones’ charms, the restaurant is gaining a loyal and growing following, which includes 5,000 members in its Lucky Loyalty Card Program.  Cardholders receive one point for every dollar spent on food and beverages, which can be redeemed for meals and prizes. One lucky loyalist accumulated 50,000 points  – the equivalent of buying 5,714 Margherita pizzas – which won him a trip to California’s wine country.

Clearly, the “lucky bones” revered by Cape May whalers have not only brought good fortune to their namesake restaurant but also to Cape May’s residents and visitors.