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Aqua Blu to Open in September at Former Nick the Greek Site

Bar and restaurant with banquet hall coming to Route 37 at base of bridge

The large building taking shape at the base of the Mathis Bridge to Seaside on is Aqua Blu, the bar and restaurant with a banquet hall at the former home of Nick the Greek.

Owner Cathy Varriale expects to unveil Aqua Blu in mid to late September. The establishment hopes to soon select an executive chef, and finish the interior once special-order items arrive.

Varriale is working closely with an interior decorator to create a distinct ambiance in each of Aqua Blu’s dining rooms.

“Nothing in town is similar,” Varriale said.

Each room has a unique feel, incorporating its own shade of blue, Varriale said.

The bar area is trendy. The banquet hall is beach themed. The restaurant holds a distinguished, stately feel. Varriale referred to it as having a Ralph Lauren feel.

“It’s really beautiful; it’s gorgeous,” Varriale said.

Patch spoke with Varriale in March. Varriale was hoping to open Aqua Blu in July. The delay is due, in part, to a wait on special order items.

“The interior is ready,” Varriale said. “We are waiting on kitchen equipment.”

Varriale was negotiating a contract with a chef at the time of the interview. She will disclose the name of Aqua Blu’s head chef once a contract is signed, she said.

Varriale and her husband, Enzo, are also owners of . Varriale said a 17-year employee of Caffe Italia will co-manage Aqua Blu with her.

The opening of creates employment opportunities for local workers. Varriale expects to hire around 50 new employees, she said.

“Everywhere I go, people are like ‘when are you opening’,” Varriale said. “We’re very excited, we can’t wait,” she said.

Corinne Kaas January 08, 2012 at 02:40 PM
She gave us our menu’s; which were in a Bali motif may I add…more confusion as to the atmosphere and the feel they are trying to achieve..Never asked or brought water - The menu had a nice selection and was reasonably priced with the exception of the Oysters $2.50 a piece??? The wine list needs a bit of help the selection was very poor. Our server eventually came back and we ordered two cocktails which were very good. We were eventually asked if we had any questions, which I did in reference to the oysters – “How are they prepared” , her reply, I don’t know I don’t eat them, but I think they have vinegar on the side – I decided to pass on those, since they were expensive to start off with . We started off with roasted romaine which was very good. My husband order the hanger steak and some fries, I had a small pizza. We ordered a half a bottle of Chianti –
Corinne Kaas January 08, 2012 at 02:40 PM
Our dinner was served minus the fries and the wine. The wine came when we were completed with apologies that the wine on the menu was no longer available, but they did not have a chance to change the menu as of yet, but this is the replacement wine. I reminder her to take the fries off the bill as they never arrived. Toms River restaurants can never achieve the entire package deal of good food, beverage and service and atmosphere. To have one server, inexperienced, with lack of knowledge on a Saturday night in the bar area makes no sense at all. The final experience was that our car was blocked in the parking area…as we choose not to have our car parked by valet….I was reminded why we don’t spend our money at restaurants in Toms River.
1stcav January 08, 2012 at 03:34 PM
Was disappointed with Luna Rosa ( Derosa) this past summer, they went the wrong way with service and food, they used to be good... They seem more interested in Family & Friends at the bar then in the customers sitting and spending their money for dinner & service...it's a who you know now for good service....but prices didn't go down they went up.... with the new look and added space... SAD !
T.R-Foodie January 23, 2012 at 09:00 PM
1stCav You hit on a problem with many Italian restaurants down the shore. They fuss over family and friends and ignore the bulk of their business. They figure the bennies will come no matter how you treat them. Thus the lose the local customers.
Minden Yo January 23, 2012 at 09:42 PM
Very disappointing! My husband and I are reduced to only a few restaurants, that are consistent, most located on Fischer Blvd! Our experience: server couldn't place our orders into the kitchen until we knew all we wanted to order; food came out way too fast; server didn't explain menu correctly; noisy; expensive; no utensils with our appetizers or side dishes. After that, I don't remember if I liked the food or not! We'll try again in a few months (before the summer) to see if they figured it out, yet. Otherwise, this place DOES belong to the Bennies. They can have it!

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