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Our Favorite Restaurant in Brigantine, New Jersey – The Crab Shack

by Suzanne Fluhr on October 6, 2018 · 8 comments

Dungeness crab at the Briagntine Crab ShacK

(Updated August, 2019)

Every summer, I escape the heat and humidity of Philadelphia by decamping “down the shore” to Brigantine, New Jersey. Brigantine is the first barrier island north of Atlantic City. Brigantine can be hot and humid too, but there’s something about being next to the ocean that makes it seem tolerable. (The central air conditioning helps too). Our Brigantine house has a full kitchen, but at least once each week, one of us suggests having dinner at our favorite Brigantine restaurant, The Crab Shack, a/k/a The Crab Shack Ristorante and Seafood Market.

Brigantine Crab Shack

Brigantine’s Best Crab Cakes

Actually, in our opinion, the best crab cakes in the world! We discovered the Crab Shack at least 10 years ago. There was a seafood restaurant closer to our Brigantine house (now out of business), but we were willing to drive all the way to the other end of town (admittedly, only about 2 miles) for what we still consider the best crab cakes in the world. That might sound like hyperbole, but Mr. and Mrs. Excitement honestly have tried crab cakes wherever they’re available when we travel, and the Brigantine Crab Shack crab cakes are still our crab cake gold standard. We’ve been to six of the seven continents, so that’s saying something. (Trying crab cakes in Antarctica is on my bucket list.)

Brigantine Crab Shack crab cakes

Broiled crab cakes at the Crab Shack in Brigantine are the best. Almost all crab with very little “cake”.

The Crab Shack is a family owned business run by Pete and Denise Caprio with help from their kids during school vacations. Unlike some businesses in Brigantine, it’s open almost year round.

Judging by the high season lines, the Crab Shack has been discovered by both Brigantine residents and shoobies. It has a small restaurant and a retail business for take out raw fish and seafood to cook at home, or cooked to order to go.

Brigantine Crab Shack retail display

Fish and seafood at the Brigantine Crab Shack can be pricey, but it is good quality. Pete says it’s all wild caught, not farmed.

Over the last two years, Pete and Denise have expanded the restaurant which is still small, but seats 20 people comfortably. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner. It has a decidedly beachy vibe and decor. You won’t be asked to leave if you’re wearing shorts and flip flops. In fact, if you show up in a suit, you’ll look decidedly out of place, but you still won’t be asked to leave, I think. 😊 We discovered the Crab Shack after our sons were grown and flown, but children seem welcome and all the wee ones we’ve experienced there have been uniformly well behaved.

There’s an upgraded sound system, playing appealing Boomeresque music at a decibel level that does not interfere with conversation. In fact, even when all the seats are taken, you can still hear everyone at your table. Yes, I have become my parents. I find most other restaurants to be annoyingly noisy.

Brigantine crab shack interior

The Brigantine Crab Shack restaurant decor is suitably nautical.

In addition to the crab cakes, this summer a lobster bake was added to the menu, definitely Mr. Excitement’s go to choice. It includes a one pound lobster, 6 steamed clams, and six u-peel shrimp, served with corn on the cob and cole slaw. It’s a good value at $29.00. (We may be probably are corn on the cob snobs, but we find their corn on the cob usually to be overcooked. However, you can substitute one of the other vegetable choices of the day.)

Brigantine Crab Shack Lobster Bake

The Brigantine Lobster bake platter.

I’ve become a devotee of steamed Dungeness crab ($27.00 for one pound).  Although the Crab Shack advertises that all its seafood is fresh, never frozen, I’m assuming this crustacean from the waters off the northwest coast of the United States and Canada might have been frozen at some point in its journey to my plate. For those more appropriately aware of their carbon footprint, local blue crabs are available in season.

Dungeness crab at the Briagntine Crab ShacK

My favorite, steamed Dungeness crab.

Both the lobster and crab are also served with melted butter and cocktail sauce and/or tartar sauce. The appropriate utensils (a cracker and little fork) are brought to the table along with a bowl for shells. Some of us most definitely need the provided extra napkins and wet wipes.

All the fish and seafood, including the crab cakes, are available broiled or fried. Platters come with a choice of 2 sides. There are also large combo platters suitable for sharing.

If for some inexplicable reason, you’ve chosen a seafood restaurant when you’re actually craving meat, barbecued ribs and pulled pork sandwiches are also available.

You can choose a soda or iced tea from the refrigerator as you enter the restaurant or you are welcome to bring your own adult beverage. Ice water, served in red Solo cups, is available upon request. They’ll open a bottle of wine and will provide wine glasses and a bucket with ice. There’s no corkage fee. Yay! If you forget to bring a libation, Ocean Beverage Discount Liquor store is on the next block, 315 feet away according to Google maps. They sell chilled wine and beer. (Note: Brigantine’s finest will nab you for going even a few miles over the speed limit, especially if you have an out of state license plate. If you bring an already open bottle of wine, it’s probably best to hide leave it in your car trunk while on the road.)

The Crab Shack does not usually serve dessert. However, during the summer, ice cream and water ice treats are available within easy walking distance, across the street at Joe’s Seaside Market.

Because this is a restaurant review, I’ve started with the in house dining, but the Crab Shack also does a brisk business in raw seafood to cook yourself and everything on the menu can be cooked to order for take out.

The restaurant does not take reservations. When we don’t feel like playing “can we get a seat in the restaurant?” roulette, we choose the take out option. You can also order your food prepared for take out and enjoy it on the outdoor picnic tables behind the building. To get to the indoor restaurant area, you walk past the retail counter which might mean having to politely ask people standing in line to move so you can pass. The restaurant now has beepers so you can wait for a table outside. We often take a stroll on the beach if we have to wait for a table.

The Crab Shack does not accept take out orders for a time certain — i.e. you can’t call at 4:00 pm and ask to pick up your food at 6:00 pm. You also cannot order on line. During the busy summer season, you might have trouble getting through by telephone to leave an order. If you show up and order in person, you may have to wait for up to 40 minutes. However, there are shaded places to sit outside the restaurant or plan to walk a block and a half to the beach to whet your appetite. During the busy summer months, if you want to avoid a wait, it is best to order take out by 5:00 p.m.

Brigantine crab shack inside monkey

I’m not sure how this little monkey guy fits with the nautical decor, but he’s adorable. Being only 87 miles from Philadelphia, I’m giving Pete and Denise the benefit of the doubt, and I’m assuming that’s not a Dallas Cowboy star. #flyEaglesfly (8/25/19 update. Tonight, the monkey was missing! I forgot to ask what became of him.)

Details for the Crab Shack Restaurant in Brigantine, New Jersey



1112 Brigantine Avenue
Brigantine, New Jersey  08203

Telephone: (609) 266-3009

Opening hours:

Sunday – Thursday: 11:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Friday & Saturday: 11:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

If you are visiting during the winter, call first to check the opening hours.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Jeff & Crystal Bryant October 8, 2018 at 7:35 am

What a fun and cozy spot you nabbed in Brigantine, New Jersey. We have only had the pleasure of visiting the western side of the state, but your article compels us to travel to the opposite side.


Sue Reddel October 8, 2018 at 12:22 pm

This is definitely our kinda place Suzanne. If we get out your way we’ll meet you there, for sure.


Doreen Pendgracs October 8, 2018 at 10:18 pm

I would love to visit the Brigadine Crab Shack! Preferably with you, Suzanne! It looks like a fun and very satisfying place for us seafood lovers.


Irene S. Levine October 10, 2018 at 10:58 am

Never been to Brigatine but the Crab Shack looks like a reason to visit! How far is it from NY?


Suzanne Fluhr October 10, 2018 at 1:48 pm

2 hours from Brooklyn. You take the AC exit off the Garden State.


Patti Morrow October 15, 2018 at 9:54 am

I have really enjoyed your social media posts about down the shore Brigantine. I can now why you love spending your summers there — for one thing, the sunsets are unrivaled. And of course, there’s the ocean, my happy place. I’m not a huge fan of getting crabs out of the shell, but I adore crab cakes, especially when they are more crab than cake, so I’d definitely eat there!


Judy Freedman October 18, 2018 at 5:01 pm

Suzanne, I love the Crab Shack Restaurant. There crab cakes are the best! I also used them when I had company and ordered from their catering menu. The food was delicious and everyone enjoyed the seafood, especially the crab cakes.


Robin July 30, 2019 at 8:18 pm

I had the flounder stuffed with crab meat tonight-so fresh I would have thought it was just caught, scaled, cracked and cooked. No sauces or butter for this delicious dish. Two hours later and I want to go back for more!


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