SEA BRIGHT: DIVE BAR DIVES RIGHT BACK IN
A bright and colorful interior to Dive into in Sea Bright. Below, the vegetarian black bean burger. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)
By SUSAN ERICSON
Dive owners and newlyweds Christina DiIorio and Steven Graniero start and finish one another’s sentences.
“We called it Dive so people would feel comfortable to come here,” Graniero said. “Diving into Sea Bright, diving into the food, and just diving into the new place,” DiIorio added.
After Hurricane Sandy, Dive – which had been open only two years – was closed for 20 months. In that time, the couple worked on refurbishing the restaurant and got married. “We opened Dive on out honeymoon” in early July, DiIorio said.
They hired Sea Bright locals, Kyle Hopfensperger as executive chef and Daniel Ciameroni as sous chef. Both 29 years old, they have restaurant experience in the area, and either ride their bikes or skateboards to work. They have also been friends since they were two years old.
The buffalo chicken burger, a popular menu item at Dive. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)
The food at Dive has been brought to gourmet status by the inventive kitchen staff. Everything is made in-house, from the crudite and pickles to the freshly ground chicken for the burger shown above. Like a deconstructed chicken wing platter, the perfectly cooked, juicy burger is served on a buttermilk swiped lower brioche bun. It is topped with house – made buffalo hot sauce and blue cheese, and served with pickled jicama, red onion and tomato. It does indeed taste like a buffalo chicken wing, only so much better, and less messy.
Dive has Sunday specials including a menu of Bloody Marys, ala carte brunch dishes and a spectacular bacon jam waffle. There is a sign attached to one of their decorative surf boards that reads, Have you tried our bacon jam? You should make it a point to try the bacon jam. It is a non-salty, non-processed sweet porcine delight, and the chef’s will not divulge any information about this recipe.
Dive also has a Sunday football menu. When some customers complained that they wanted nachos while watching the game, the dynamic kitchen duo came up with “Macho Nacho’s,” made with shredded beef short ribs.
Finding such serious food in a most unserious setting reminds one of the axiom, “You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.” Dive has risen above the waves, and is doing it in grand style.