I was a bit wary of DiNardo's and their claim to having "famous crabs". I've spent my summers growing up down the shore in Sea Isle and I wasn't sure how DiNardo's would compare to Mike's or Busch's or Marie's. But- DiNardo's was an entirely different experience. We walked in and I immediately felt like I was transported back in time. I highly doubt that DiNardo's has changed their decor since it's grand opening. Red cushioned seats and wooden--well everything. Their main choice of decor were fishing lures.... I am going to go ahead and say that they spend most of their time focusing on their food, not their ambiance. We sat at the bar for a drink while waiting for a table. The bartender was, I hate to say it, awkward as hell. Avoided taking our order until I literally flagged him down, and then while answering Steph's question about their beers, looked at me the entire time. He was probably too entranced by my beauty, or too scared of Steph's, I couldn't tell.
We finally got to our table after a 10 minute wait (with a reservation). Monday night is all you can eat crab night, so that's what we attributed the crowdedness to. We sat in a tiny booth that reminded me of a diner. Actually a lot of DiNardo's reminded me of a diner- the booths, the menu, the house salad, the soup.
At first our waiter made me a little nervous. The beads of sweat on his forehead made me think "how is that not getting into my food?" I will have to refer to Steph's comment about him: "Our waiter was of African American origin. His skin the color of Columbia coffee and his demeanor as sweet as the complimentary chocolate cake". All I can add is- yes. Two free crabs, one piece of free cake, this guy was great.
Food time. We went big, because, why not. I mean it was, Monday. Steph started off with a house salad and steamed clams. The salad was pretty standard, the clams were pretty standard. I tried some and have had better. But, I guess that is why they are known for their crabs. I started with New England clam chowder, and again unimpressed. Now that I am on gift card #10 I am allowed to be snooty about my food- right?
God must have read my mind about the appetizers and blessed me with an amazing entree. Crabs. I got 3 Sauteed Garlic Crabs & Steph got 3 regular Steamed Crabs. Holy moly. My garlic crabs were a MESS. I am not sure if I am just not used to Maryland crabs or because of the amount of garlic and herbs on my crabs, but I was having major difficulty finding the meat at first. I was getting mouthfuls of more shell than meat and was super frustrated. My fingers and hands were disastrous and I was feeling defeated. I wanted my dad there to help me crack the shells and get this meat. But, eventually I got the hang of it and by my 3rd crab I was a pro.
Steph was already a pro. She knew all the tricks to breaking the shell and knew just where to find the meat. Since she was so thorough with her crabs, it took her a bit longer to finish them. I think I was done with my 3 crabs before she had even started her 2nd. Luckily our amazing waiter brought me over 2 more crabs so that I didn't have to sit and watch her eat. At that point I couldn't fit anymore crab meat in my system, but it was a nice gesture.
After we were finished, as if we weren't full enough, our waiter brought over a piece of chocolate cake. I hated him and loved him at the same time. There is always room for dessert, I guess.
I have to say that DiNardo's crabs were a lot of work, but the return was totally worth it. I definitely suggest the garlic crabs- wow. Out of this world. Really like nothing I have ever tasted before. I will probably stick to my shore restaurants when I want really good seafood, but this place was an adventure for sure. Overall, the crabs were great and the staff was amazing. When giving my gift card with the bill, the staff flocked over to our table to ask about my Restaurant Week prize and all of the details.
My hands still smell like crabs, so there's that. Thanks DiNardos for making #10 and my Monday so enjoyable!