By TIM KELLY
Best of the Press Awards are important to Mike Monichetti because of what it takes to win them. They demand loyalty and action from customers, qualities Mike and the staff are proud to have achieved.
Monichetti is the third generation owner of Mike’s Seafood and Dock Restaurant, located at 4222 Park Road, in the heart of historic Fish Alley in Sea Isle City. His establishment is the reigning two-time “Best Seafood Restaurant” champion – and is aiming for his third consecutive title.
“We wouldn’t have the success we have without the loyalty of our customers and employees,” said Monichetti. “Positive word of mouth is the best ingredient for success. We’re ending one of our best years in 2021. I’m grateful that our customers are spreading the word to their friends and that our amazing, amazing workers provide great service and a great customer experience. The best of the press reflects this.
Mike said he hopes to generate winning numbers again this year in the contest, a “reader’s choice” contest, which pits hundreds of Jersey Shore businesses against dozens of categories.
Press readers named their favorites in the first part of the competition. The top five moved on to the ballot, which began on September 1 and continues until September 19. The winners will be announced on October 31.
“We hope for another strong performance as we achieved in 2020 and 2019. Our customers have already given us solid numbers,” said Monichetti of the competition, which covers a geographic region of four counties and seaside resorts. extending from Brigantine to Cape Town. May.
The original building housing the business, an otherwise nondescript hangar, is still on Mike’s premises to remind staff and customers of the history of Mike’s Seafood.
“I’ve had quite a few people my age (baby boomers) say, ‘I’ve been coming here since I was little,’” said Monichetti.
Monichetti also owns Mike’s Seafood in Ocean City at 208 E. 55th Street.
In addition to “Best Seafood Restaurant”, Mike’s Seafood was also in the top five and is under consideration in the “Best Restaurant on the Water” and “Best Crab Cakes” categories.
For more details on the contest and to vote, visit the Best of the Press website: https://pressofatlanticcity.com/news/local/voting-for-2021-best-of-the-press-is-now- open / article_49460eda-0783-11ec-ba41-ff5166be3b78.html
The gold plaques and medals are great recognition, said Monichetti, but his real prize is maintaining the Mike’s Seafood tradition.
“I am very fortunate to continue the tradition that my grandparents started 110 years ago,” he said. “We are doing our best to live up to the standards they would like us to maintain.”
“We sell freshly caught seafood every day,” Monichetti said in a previously published article. “We buy our seafood from our friends whom we have known for 25 years and who moor their boats just behind our restaurant.
Customers can see inventory come in, see it prepared, and see it displayed for on-the-go purchase. Such transparency leaves no doubt about the freshness and local flavor of almost every item on the menu.
According to Monichetti, there are other elements that work in favor of his restaurant.
“It’s consistency,” he said. “People come with expectations and we are able to give them what they want. “
That doesn’t mean Mike’s Seafood is standing. “We are constantly evolving to keep up with customers and an evolving restaurant industry,” said Monichetti.
Sit-down meals include old favorites like crabcakes, bacon-wrapped scallops and more, and evening specials. On the takeaway menu you’ll find a long list of winning choices such as steamed clams, mussels to die for, five different shrimp dishes, and a wide range of soups and chowders.
Along with great food and fun, Monichetti is a civic leader and longtime Sea Isle booster. He is sponsoring a Sea Isle Polar Bear Plunge weekend run that raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for autism awareness. The annual February event also draws more visitors to Polar Bear Plunge Weekend who might not be inclined to run in the cold Atlantic Ocean but still spend money in town.
The company was founded in 1911 after Monichetti’s grandparents Lodovico (Dewey) and Rosina made the courageous decision to leave their homeland, the island of Ischia, off the coast of Naples, in Italy.
They embarked on a journey “on a rickety old ship that leaked and could barely stay afloat,” according to the Mike Seafood website, “for a new and better life in America.”
After surviving the stressful trip and treatment on Ellis Island, there was another big case to come. The couple needed to find a place to settle down and pursue the American dream.
“They got to the station and it was difficult because my grandparents didn’t speak or understand English,” Monichetti said in an oft-repeated story. The ticket inspector saw this and made a hand gesture indicating “North or South?” Lodovico and Rosina looked at each other and answered at the same time: “South!”
Lodovico pulled all the money out of his pocket, which determined how far the train would take them. It turned out to be Sea Isle City, Monichetti said.
Which begs the question: What would upstate New York or Sea Isle look like today if they had said “North?” “
Luckily for Jersey Shore residents and visitors who enjoy the freshest, locally caught seafood, the couple gave the right answer.
For menus, photos and more history and information, please visit Mike’s Seafood website, www.mikesseafood.com.