Big Joe’s Favorite NJ Restaurants and Their Signature Dishes

I have had the opportunity to dine all over the world and at many restaurants here in New Jersey and New York. New Jersey has some of the best restaurants in the country and most of these exceptional restaurants don’t get the recognition they deserve because they are located here in New Jersey.

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One of my all-time favorite restaurants is Drew’s Bayshore Bistro in Keyport. Drew and his exceptional staff serve Cajun American dishes that will leave you wanting more. Go with few people so you can sample some of its excellent dishes.

Here’s a little sneak peek from Drew’s with their signature Jambalaya recipe, Oh c’est bon!

Drew’s Bayshore Bistro

Keyport, New Jersey

Chef/Owner Drew Araneo serves Cajun cuisine like no other in his hometown of Keyport, NJ. In my many trips to his restaurant, I have had the opportunity to taste all but a few of his dishes and have been blown away by his infusion of spices, his menu selections and his specialties which become favorites client.

Chef Drew’s talent has been duly recognized with numerous awards, including being named a semi-finalist for the prestigious James Beard Award for Chef of the Year in the Mid-Atlantic region. Chef Drew also had fun with chef and TV personality Bobby Flay serving his signature dish VooDoo Shrimp and came away with the win. Chef Drew was a big influence and honed his craft working with legendary Jersey Shore chef and my good friend, the late Joe Romanowski.

Joe had an excellent Bay Avenue Trattoria restaurant in Highlands, NJ which became the starting point for many of the great chefs who are in this book. Hurricane Sandy came and wiped out Bay Avenue Trattoria and sadly Joe Romanowski died of cancer soon after.

Like so many businesses in Keyport and the Jersey Shore were wiped out in Hurricane Sandy, so was Drew’s. Chef Drew and his wife Tracey banded together with hard work and resilience and moved the restaurant to higher ground where it stands today on Church Street.

You have to go to Drew’s. Try the VooDoo Shrimp, Gumbo when available, the duck, pork dishes and desserts are exceptional! All desserts are homemade including ice cream!

I’m thrilled that Chef Drew is sharing his famous Jambalaya recipe with me for this book. Drew’s is a great place to go with friends and family; servers are friendly, knowledgeable and have a long life with Chef Drew. Bring your favorite wine or beer and bring your appetite, then you’ll see why Drew’s Bayshore Bistro is on my top 5 list and soon on yours.

Regional Food Jambalaya


Drew’s Bayshore Bistro Chicken, Shrimp and Andouille Jambalaya

¼ cup canola oil

1 lb of andouille sausage (sliced)

1 lb Tasso ham (sliced)

1 onion (diced)

3 celery stalks (diced)

1 green bell pepper (diced)

1 red bell pepper (diced)

¼ cup minced garlic

Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the andouille sausage and cook until it begins to melt.

Add vegetables and garlic and cook until vegetables begin to soften. Then add:

½ cup Cajun seasoning (recipe follows)

1 tablespoon cayenne pepper (optional)

2 tablespoons brown sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

Stir the seasonings into the vegetables and cook for about 2 minutes to “wake up” the seasonings. Then add:

2 pounds chicken (diced)

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce (or more!)

2 cups diced tomatoes

4 cups of chicken broth

2 ½ cups converted rice

Bring the Jambalaya base to a boil over low heat. Let simmer for 12 to 15 minutes and incorporate:

2 lbs shrimp (peeled and deveined)

Cover, return to low heat, 5 minutes, then turn off the heat and let sit until the rice is cooked. Garnish with chopped parsley and green onions

The above post reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 weekend host Big Joe Henry. All opinions expressed are those of Big Joe.

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