By Joan Slowey Dellett ~
As the burgeoning renaissance of Asbury Park continues rolling ahead like a runaway train, another new restaurant or bar seems to open every other week. One of the first establishments to see the potential in Asbury Park continues to flourish and expand in ways uniquely Asbury Park.
Opened in 2009, Bond Street Bar quickly established itself as a favorite for locals. As its popularity grew, owner Pat Fasano looked to expand. So in 2016, he built a passageway from the Bond Street Bar into other properties he owned on Cookman and Mattison Avenues and created “The Complex” – a unique and expansive space located in the heart of downtown Asbury Park comprising of three restaurants and four bars, each with its own distinctive vibe.
Bond Street Bar, between Cookman and Mattison Avenues, proudly upholds its status as a local watering hole. Dark, loud and usually crowded, it harkens back to the good old days of a “gin mill”, a place for drinking and catching up on local dirt, not for seeing and being seen. The menu features their award-winning burgers (widely regarded as the best in town) and grilled cheese sandwiches along with a varied selection of beers.
If you are looking for a change of scene, are in need of a quieter space for some serious conversation or want different meal options, you just need to walk to the rear of Bond Street through the exit door and down the small passageway that opens up to Capitoline.
Capitoline, with its open concept, community tables and roll up windows facing Cookman Avenue, allows superb people watching while enjoying rustic Italian fare like antipasto, meatballs, salads, pizzas, and pasta dishes all while sipping your favorite wine.
Not in the mood for Italian? Move toward the back of Capitoline through another doorway on the left (don’t go down the stairs yet!) and you will find yourself south of the border. Loteria, looking onto Mattison Avenue, is an authentic taqueria, featuring freshly made tortillas, tacos, creamy corn esquites, overflowing burritos and more, all meant to be paired with their specialty cocktails.
Now about those stairs you passed on your way to Loteria. Make it a point to make your way down to the Basement Bar. With a feel of being in someone’s unfinished basement, this spacious room features a bar made from wood from the Asbury Park boardwalk that was destroyed in Hurricane Sandy, a “living wall” of plants naturally lit from above by a skylight built into the sidewalk above it and a wide assortment of games that you probably had in your own basement at some point during your teenage years.
While making your way through the Complex, please sure to take notice of some of the décor. Fasano and his daughter Anna found a way to incorporate pieces they had salvaged over the years from classic city landmarks and had in storage. Among other things, they have repurposed an original pinsetter from the Asbury Lanes into a chandelier, stained glass from a former bank on Mattison Avenue and a cooling tower window from the Paramount Theater.
The Compex’s mantra of “Eat well. Spend little.” is evident in each of its unique spaces. Depending on your mood at the time, it is not hard to find a place that can fill your specific need – even if your need changes several times in one evening!
For more information on all the venues that make up The Complex, go to https://thecomplexap.com/