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Biggie's Clam Bar
430 Route 17 South
(201) 933-4000
View Website
Most entrees $15 - $20
Full bar
Open 7 days a week
Credit cards accepted
Family Friendly
Handicapped accessible
Lunch served
Reservations accepted
Take-out menu
Categories key
By Susan Leigh Sherrill; Photos By Ted Axelrod

Bergen boasts its fair share of seafood restaurants, but until Biggie’s Clam Bar opened in Carlstadt this spring, nothing like the casual, boardwalk-style fish and shellfish eateries that proliferate on the Jersey shore had been established this far north. Biggie’s has been a Hoboken landmark since 1946 and two years ago, the fourth-generation owners opened a second location on the boardwalk in Asbury Park. The Carlstadt Biggie’s fronts Route 17 South instead of the Atlantic Ocean, but the vibe inside is classic Jersey. Wood floors, lots of booth seating and brick walls hung with vintage photos set a comfortable, welcoming mood. You can sit at the raw bar and watch the shuckers at work. There’s also plenty of room for mingling and boisterous game watching in the expansive bar – a Biggie’s first - this is not, as you might surmise, a place to go for a quiet night out. The conscientious staff, however, seems eager to make sure that everyone is happy and well cared-for, whether it’s a family out for dinner or a big bunch of friends filling their bellies before an event at the Meadowlands.

Biggie’s helpfully marks its signature menu items with a “B” – making our choices easy. Of course, clams topped our list of starters: raw, they were clean, fresh and tasting like they had just been pulled from the sea; roasted, they were cooked perfectly, but a bit sandy; fried whole bellies were plump and juicy with a crisp, not-too-heavy coating. A crab cake appetizer, while not prepared with lump crabmeat, was nicely sautéed and tasty. Broiled sea scallops were cooked just to doneness - leaving them slightly translucent inside – in my opinion the best way to enjoy them when they are very fresh, as these clearly were. We also enjoyed the Biggie’s salad – romaine, dried cranberries, walnuts and Gorgonzola cheese with a tangy vinaigrette – a huge bowl that was large enough for all four of us to share.

In general, we found that seafood dishes trumped from-the-land fare. Another giant bowl held the signature “Seafood Fiesta,” what must have been a full pound of linguini with shrimp, clams, scallops, mussels, calamari and crabmeat in a lightly creamy, pink sauce flecked with bits of tomato. All of the seafood in the dish was cooked properly, not an easy thing to accomplish and proof that even in this casual environment there is skill in the kitchen. Grilled baby back ribs were tender and moist, but could have used a bit of kick, while another Biggie’s signature, the cheese steak sandwich, was skimpy.

Desserts were of the super-sweet variety, like Oreo pie and one of my favorite guilty pleasures, that chocolate enrobed ball of cherry studded ice cream known as tartufo. But you won’t be coming to Biggie’s for a low-calorie meal, so why not go whole-hog!

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