So I’d forgotten all about this lively Italian BYOB, tucked away across the Dorset Avenue bridge in Ventnor Heights, until a visit to the Margate farmer’s market, where I came across an impressive array of fresh pastas for sale produced by the Red Room’s current owners, Jack and Maria Gatta.That was all the temptation I needed for a revisit, and I wasn’t disappointed with toothy nubs of ricotta cavatelli tossed with broccoli rabe, sausage, and bread crumbs, or the silky ribbons of pappardelle coiled around hearty beef Bolognese.The spice-dusted whole crabs are a draw, and crispy fish tacos are also popular.But the daily grilled fish specials — tuna, swordfish or cold-water John Dory — are the real highlight not to be missed.They were destined for a hot date with some blackening spice and a griddle worked masterfully by Bright’s wife, Michelle.And while .95 a platter might sound like a lot for a roadside fish shack, this luscious hunk of prime-grade tuna is actually a bargain.The quality of the seafood, much of it sourced from fishing boats docked nearby (Capt.Bob, Maryanne) is fresh and plentiful, if not always cooked with finesse.
And the prices are undeniably fair, even for a mega-platter like the “Patio Paul,” a three-pound-plus feeding frenzy of lobster, crab legs, and shrimp for .99 named in honor of the mountain-size regular who used to polish it off solo every night during his weekend visits. And chef-owner Ryan Allenbach’s small menu is built around fresh local catch put in simple but smart modern poses — grilled swordfish over navy beans ringed by a tart blood-orange vinaigrette, big seared scallops with sweet corn risotto, or a superbly tender anise-tinged short rib, or a gingery carrot soup topped with sweet crab.Too often, eating at a Shore restaurant feels like a compromise.They’re handicapped by a short season that goes from idle to full-throttle on Memorial Day, and challenged by staffing and high food costs inevitably passed on to diners.The old-school deviled clam, with a chowder-like creamy stuffing beneath its deep fried crust, is my new favorite. Chef/owner Ryan Allenbach’s pan seared local scallops with a seasonal risotto, Jersey asparagus, roasted lemon beurre blanc at his One Fish, Two Fish in Wildwood.The shrimp and scallop linguine could have fed two. ELIZABETH ROBERTSON/Staff Photographer On the other end of the seafood spectrum, the cozy and quiet BYOB called One Fish, Two Fish seems like an upscale fish out of water amidst Wildwood’s carnival hub-bub, perched across Pacific Avenue from Duffer’s “undersea” mini-golf and ice cream parlor.
A small lobster steamed to oblivion beneath a fistful of dry crab was a lowlight.