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1. Adj.: Describing a person born between 1 Jan. 1946 and 31 Dec. 1964
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The Pirates Den, A Year-Round Brigantine, New Jersey Restaurant Tradition

by Suzanne Fluhr on August 25, 2019 · 11 comments

Blackboard specials at the Pirates Den, Brigantine, NJ

In September of 2006, when we made our first ever visit to Brigantine, New Jersey on a barrier island just north of Atlantic City, a local resident recommended we eat at the Pirates Den restaurant. We have been repeat visitors at the Pirates Den several times each year since then.

Note to my Myriad Grammar and Punctuation Nerd Police Friends: The name of the restaurant is the Pirates Den — NO apostrophe. 

Outside dining at the Pirates Den in Brigantine, NJ

The Pirates Den is one of the oldest establishments on Brigantine island, having opened its doors on January 1, 1976. Regulars probably held their collective breath when the Pirates Den was sold several years ago, but the new owner, George DiGrandi, fortunately subscribed to the “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” school of restaurant management.

Pirates Den Brigantine

The Pirates Den has 3 rooms. The middle room is the beachiest.

The beachy decor is unchanged. The underpopulated fish tank is still there, the staff looks familiar, and the menu still has the “down the shore” comfort food people seek, along with some more seasonal and signature chalkboard specials featured by the front door. One change is that the waitresses now have electronic tablets instead of paper pads. (I know it might not be P.C. to refer to “waitresses”, but at the Pirates Den, I have yet to have my order taken by a male.)

Service is generally good and efficient although it can slow down understandably when the Pirates Den is very busy. The restaurant, especially the 2 back smaller rooms can be somewhat noisy, especially if there are large groups or overtired disgruntled babies. However, during my visits, the decibel level has never been so high that I’ve been unable to converse with my dining companions.

Go to the Pirates Den for Breakfast

The Pirates Den opens at 7:00 a.m. Breakfast is possibly the most popular meal of the day, and guests can appreciate it all the way until 2:30 p.m. During the summer high season, there may be a line to be seated, but the addition of outdoor seating under an awning expands the seating capacity during the warm weather months.

All manner of egg preparations and 19 types of omelets are available with traditional hash brown potatoes, toast, and sides of breakfast meats, including ham, bacon, country sausage, and scrapple, a Pennsylvania Dutch “meat product” specialty. (If you really want to know what scrapple is, the Urban Dictionary definition doesn’t mince words — as it were.)

Blackboard specials at the Pirates Den, Brigantine, NJ

Check the black board near the front door for specials.

Most breakfast patrons arrive prepared to do some serious carbo-loading. On one fall visit, seasonal pumpkin pancakes served with maple syrup helped rack up my calorie count for the day week. I could have done even more damage to my waistline by indulging in French toast stuffed with mascarpone cheese and raspberry sauce ($8.00). If I didn’t have an irrational hatred of bananas, Bananas Foster French toast is on the menu. ($9.50). In a nod to the finest American diner tradition, a bottomless cup of coffee is available.

Pirates Den prices are reasonable, especially for “down the shore”, as Philadelphians fondly refer to southern New Jersey beach towns. Many shore restaurants are more expensive than their city counterparts because so many businesses count on earning the lion’s share of their revenue during the busy summer season. However, the Pirates Den has a stalwart year-round local following. The most expensive item on the current breakfast menu is a lobster quesadilla at $14.00. Traditional eggs benedict can be had for $8.00. You can jack up that price to $12.50 by ordering eggs benedict with lox or crab meat.

Pirates Den Lunch

My second favorite Pirates Den meal is lunch, available until 4:00 p.m. My go to choice is a crab wrap served with lettuce, tomatoes, roasted peppers and wasabi mayonnaise, accompanied by a choice of French fries or potato chips. In my case, it’s “hold the wasabi” ($10.50).

I’ve always been happy with my crab wrap, but during a late fall visit, I ordered clam chowder which was pretty much an inedible, gray gelatinous mess. On that occasion, Mr. Excitement and I shared a pizza steak sandwich that was satisfactory. At a recent dinner, our son proclaimed the French onion soup to be “legit”.

During a recent visit, some Philly phriends ordered the house-made lobster crab cake on grilled panini bread with lettuce and tomato, served with cole slaw and choice of French fries or potato chips. ($10.00). They enjoyed the lobster crab cake, and the cole slaw, but the panini bread was over large and was not grilled.

Pirates Den, Brigantine, NJ, No WIfi

The shirts say: “Work Like a Captain, Party Like a Pirate”. Visit the Pirates Den prepared to converse with your companions. There’s no wifi and my phone only has one bar for 4G data on the Verizon network.

Pirates Den Dinner

Official dinner is served starting at 4:00 p.m., but a less expensive, limited 3 course “early bird” dinner menu is available from 3:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Mr. and Mrs. Excitement may or may not have been spotted on occasion dining with the early bird set. As with the earlier meals in the day, the dinner menu is extensive, with perhaps too many choices for the chef to be able to do them all justice.

Dinner is my least favorite meal at the Pirates Den. We have found our entrees to be underseasoned, and pasta cooked well beyond al dente. Portions are large. I’ve never been able to finish what I was served, but I haven’t been inclined to want to take my leftovers home.

pasta entree at the Pirates Den in Brigantine, New Jersey

My sauteed spinach and roasted peppers over linguine entree. If I recall correctly, there was also a choice of chicken or shrimp.

Dinner prices are reasonable for a shore summer vacation town. The most expensive dinner entre is currently $27.00 for surf and turf, consisting of filet mignon and a lobster tail. All entrees come with rolls and butter, and soup or a small green house salad. Except for pasta dishes, entrees (mains) also include two additional side dishes.

The Pirates Den is BYOB

You are free to bring your own adult beverages to the Pirates Den in Brigantine to enjoy with your meal. If you need to stock up on the same, Ocean Beverage is 1.2 miles south on the same street. According to Google Maps, it’s a 3 minute drive from the Pirates Den.

Note: At our last meal at the Pirates Den, our son pointed out that the menu specified that guests are invited to bring beer or wine, but not mixed drinks. He did this while looking meaningfully at the gin and tonic I had brought in an opaque covered travel mug. Fortunately, Mrs. Excitement did not become rowdy enough to arouse suspicion and no one asked what I was drinking.

My advice is to have breakfast at the Pirates Den and dinner at the Brigantine Crab Shack.

If You Go to the Pirates Den in Brigantine

The Pirates Den is located at the extreme north end of Brigantine which is the end the farthest from the bridge onto the island. But, this is a distance of only 4 miles, and according to Google Maps, about a 10 minute drive.

Brigantine, New Jersey seawall and storm clouds

The Pirates Den is across the street from the North End Brigantine Seawall. Having watched these storm clouds roll in from the north, I took this photo when I ran out of the Pirates Den to move our car closer before the storm hit as we neglected to bring umbrellas.

Even independent of Pirates Den, the north end of Brigantine is worth a visit. The Pirates Den is located across the street from the Brigantine seawall, built to protect the area from the ocean waves. That didn’t work so well during Hurricane Sandy in 2012, but it helps with most garden variety n’oreasters.

The sea wall is topped by a quarter mile long promenade and lined by benches. It is a nice walk if you want to see the beach and ocean, but are not keen on getting your feet sandy. Beyond the end of the sea wall are several miles of unguarded, natural beach belonging to the North Brigantine State Natural Area. It’s a nice place for a beach walk. If you bring a towel to wipe the sand off your feet, you won’t be under dressed if you show up at the Pirates Den in shorts and flip flops.

The Brigantine, NJ seawall.

The ocean view from atop the Brigantine seawall on a foggy fall day.

Location

1219 E. Brigantine Avenue
Brigantine, NJ 08203

Tele: (609) 266-1927

There is on street parking. The Pirates Den has a ramp to make it accessible for those with mobility challenges.

Website Link: Pirates Den

Have you been to the Pirates Den? If so, does this review jive with your opinion? Do you have a favorite place to eat on vacation?

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Ken Dowell August 26, 2019 at 4:10 pm

I go to Brigantine once in awhile but have never gone to the Pirate’s Den, most likely because I’m seldom at the north end of the island. I’ll try it next time. My favorite Brigantine restaurant is Andre’s.

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr August 27, 2019 at 1:04 am

If you’re there for dinner, try the Crab Shack, only a block north of Andre’s. If you do go to the Pirates Den, remember– no apostrophe!

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Ed Holmes August 26, 2019 at 4:17 pm

I agree- Breakfast>lunch>dinner

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Jeff & Crystal August 27, 2019 at 8:13 pm

Suzanne, we enjoyed reading about your visit to the Pirates Den. It’s always interesting to find a spot that forces you to forego electronic technology and revert back to human interaction. Those places really help people connect.

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Kemkem August 28, 2019 at 9:34 am

What a nice scrumptious post. I was reading the wall menu and nodding my head. I would love to have a crab wrap. It sounds absolutely delicious. The prices are pretty reasonable too like you say. I cracked up at the “down the shore” because my friends from Philly say that. I also love BYOB places too so l would really like Pirates Den.

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Marilyn Jones August 29, 2019 at 1:51 pm

I lived on the Jersey Shore for five years and loved trying all the locally-owned restaurants. You found a real treasure at the Pirate’s Den in Brigatine, New Jersey!

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr August 29, 2019 at 3:23 pm

Pirates Den. I know it’s tough for writers, but no apostrophe.

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Karen Warren August 31, 2019 at 5:12 am

It’s always good to find a place you like so much that you keep going back there. And I’m glad that I’m not the only one with an (irrational) hatred of bananas!

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Alex Howell September 2, 2019 at 12:49 pm

A memory when I was a child, my mother once took me to this site, I still remember the way from Philadelphia to Brigantine, your article brings me many very pleasant memories. Thank you for your contribution.

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr September 4, 2019 at 4:41 pm

Thanks for stopping by. Those childhood memories are powerful, sometimes even triggered by smells.

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Nan September 5, 2019 at 11:56 pm

All you’ve done to me is make me “homesick” for ocean – sigh. My best visit was when we lived in Vermont and drove to New Hampshire off season – and had the silver dollar or larger SCALLOPS. Ours here are about the size of a nickle, sometimes a quarter. I wanted to move into that restaurant (Kennedy’s) but alas, they closed down sometime during the last few years. This was a great post for taking me on vacation vicariously!

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