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.

Joe L August 20, 2011 at 11:17 PM
I am happy to hear all is moving ahead with this project. So many projects start and fail! I wish her the best and look forward to the touch of class this venue brings to our town!
Arlene August 21, 2011 at 03:04 AM
Finally that 'eye sore' of a restaurant is gone...this could be' the place to go"--Hoping so, TR has lots of places to 'eat', but sure would be nice to have somewhere to "dine'--ala Atlanice Bar & Grill--but right here in good old Toms River! Best of luck--get a great chef..you will shine!
Ed Hayes August 21, 2011 at 05:14 AM
Best of Luck with your new restaurant, I hope it becomes a local landmark and serves excellent food which I am sure is your goal. May it serve the public for many years to come.
. August 21, 2011 at 05:24 AM
Can we pull up and dock the boat for dinner or drinks?
. August 21, 2011 at 11:51 AM
Let's see what happens. Caffe Italia was once a nice restaurant and it has turned into nothing more than a glorified pizzeria with all of their advertising for take out. A good restaurant needs no advertising.
. August 21, 2011 at 06:15 PM
I meant Caffe Italia. Don't know what Cafe' Italia you are talking about. If it is the spelling you are questioning, read the article above and you will see the correct name.
Joe L August 22, 2011 at 02:08 AM
Lol @ the mob comment. You don't like Italians running businesses and being an integral part of the local economy maybe the jersey shore is not somewhere you should live. Or anywhere in the greater northeast, west coast, florida, etc. Have fun in Boise Idaho! Hhaha
Bruce CASHMAN August 22, 2011 at 07:48 AM
where did you pick the colors of the building, maybe to much drinking.....
Joanne September 10, 2011 at 02:25 PM
Anyone know when Aqua Blu hiring?
. October 06, 2011 at 07:50 PM
Did this place ever open yet?
. October 06, 2011 at 09:33 PM
They were open for a few weeks but closed up two weeks ago.
. October 14, 2011 at 10:42 AM
Is that it? Closed for good? All of these stories and it flopped? Just curious.
Martin October 14, 2011 at 11:17 AM
Hey, Patch -- it's time for a follow-up story! Is Aqua Blue gone to the wild blue yonder? The owners must really have the blues. (If so, I hope the mayor didn't put the restaurant in his re-election brochure as a claim to revitalizing Rt. 37.)
Catherine Galioto (Editor) October 14, 2011 at 11:34 AM
Yes, we have a reporter assigned to it.
Mike Hunt October 14, 2011 at 11:42 AM
Not a problem.Aquq Blue will soon reopen as "The Golden Arches" With 24/7 drive in
Martin October 14, 2011 at 11:50 AM
Now, that's in keeping with the mayor's vision of a revitalized Rt. 37!
Mike Hunt October 14, 2011 at 11:57 AM
George October 14, 2011 at 12:20 PM
Sad, but true... Toms River, the eyesore to the shore!
Mike Hunt October 14, 2011 at 01:07 PM
I have traveled 37 E thousands of times to the beachs....and never noticed it was an eyesore.Your rite....it's a dump East and West !!!!
Minden Yo October 21, 2011 at 01:27 PM
I agree with Joanne, we are so devoid of an upscale, high-quality, nice atmosphere place in Toms River. Luna Derosa across the bridge is great, but Toms River is in desperate need of a mature, comfy, metro atmosphere, with great food. Let's hope for success, and let's get out and support this new restaurant in the East end of town. Best of luck to you!
Corinne Kaas January 08, 2012 at 02:39 PM
We normally do not dine in Toms River Restaurants as we have been continuously disappointed. Last evening I talked my husband into going to the Aqua Blue on Route 37 East. We had watched the development of the restaurant all summer and I was curious. It was a Saturday night at 6:30 and the restaurant was filled with people…Good sign. We were not able to sit in the dining room, but had a high top table on the outside of the bar area. The noise level was pretty high, in that area. As I sat waiting for a server, I glanced around at the décor, there seem to be some inconsistencies as to what atmosphere they were trying to create – between rustic distressed beams and basket weave wire mesh lighting – to the metro look of chocolate brown and black leather seating…..and why would you not have a bar area with no view of the water??? There are surly signs of décor confusion….. we were finally greeted by a server.. Continue on next comment
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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