Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Weekend in Margate: Luciano Lamberti's Sunset Marina & Restaurant

Two years ago, when some family chipped in to get a shore house in Margate, we went to Lamberti's (Luciano Lamberti's Sunset Marina & Restaurant if you're not into the whole brevity thing) a lot. First of all, they had a lovely view of the bay. Second, they had a happy hour that, while a little bit erratically applied by the staff, lasted from noon to 7 and gave you half off of appetizers. Third, they had Sierra Nevada Pale Ale on tap for cheap. And finally, they made a darn good penne arrabiate. Well, I'm happy to report that we went there again this weekend, and all of those statements remain true.

To set the scene: We are in the house of our aunt and uncle. Quality time with family is always great, but every once in a while you just NEED TO GET OUT (even if it is sweltering). Saucy Jr. was down for a nap, but not quite in the mood for sleepy time. He was making a redonkulous amount of noise. A hoped for (dreamed for? longed for?) offer of a babysitting was not in the cards, so it was decided that we (myself, Spicy, and one-half of Elio Totino) would take the baby for a walk and see if he would fall asleep in the stroller. It turned out that this was just the remedy because the little guy was soon snoozing like a patient being prepped for a root canal. At this point, the only thing to decide was where to go.

All options on Margate's Amherst St. section were duly considered. Tomatoes? No. Too swank. And, well, too closed since we went at lunch. Maynard's? No. Too loud, too rambunctious, and too someone-will-hit-on-your-wife-as-soon-as-you-go-to-the-bathroom. (And maybe too not-a-fan-of-pissing-in-a-trough.) Remember! We needed a place that would not wake a sleeping child. Junior's Donuts & Dogs? Too artery-clogging. And no booze! This was out. Steve & Cookie's? Sofia's? No thanks! We wanted to leave the town with some money and the older set would probably take to a child in their restaurant, like they would a cluster of cockroaches. After all this consideration, it was decided that Lamberti's was the only option. We walked to the end of the strip, carried the stroller up the steps, and prepared for a mid-day dining experience.

Walking into a place that was somewhat dead never made us feel so wonderful. Without noise from fellow diners, we felt sure that we would make it through the meal with our lil' buddy's slumber uninterrupted. So we were understandably nervous when we discovered that there was no seating available at 1 p.m. We would have to sit at a section in the proximity of the bar, which was, of course, drawing in noise from the blenders, the calling out of orders, and cheers from folks watching the Phils. Also nerve-wracking (these are the concerns of the recently parented) was the fact that a DJ was scheduled to show up by 2 p.m. Yikes! We placed our order hoping for a speedy yet enjoyable lunch.

The drink specials were in abundance. Informed that there was a special on Sailor Jerry products, I took a moment to a) figure out what Sailor Jerry was - a spiced rum - and b) figure out what sort of drink I wanted. I went with something called an Old Fashioned Sailor Jerry. It was serviceable, but a little short on flavor being based with club soda, so for my second I went with a mojito with Sailor Jerry rum. This was a major improvement for my tastes and it was made in a pint glass, which I quite enjoyed. Nothing is worse than a drink that is in an ice-filled small glass that you finish in five pulls on a tiny straw.

For our meal, I ordered the penne arrabiate as I intimated earlier. It was very good. The pasta was perfectly cooked, the spicy sauce copious and filled with peppers. My only regrets were the absence of bread accompanying it, and probably the fact that it was a lunch portion. I should have just splurged and had them make me a dinner version so I could have more of this scrumptios morsel. Wifey ordered the calamari, which was quite tasty with an ample delicious marinara sauce on the side. They also make their calamari with peppers and sweet potato bits. It made for a perfect light bite, especially at half-price.

The third member of our party did get the worst of what I think might be the biggest drawback of Lamberti's: slightly spotty service. She ordered something called Linguini Zianna, a light pasta in a rose-colored cream sauce, and she bolstered it with shrimp. Only she did not get the shrimp. When I clarified this with the bartender, he was cool enough to give me my mojito for free, thus ensuring a proper tip. Then again, if they (two separate individuals) had been a little more attentive, that would have been my third drink and not my second plus the wife would have gotten another one. It's tough when you are working the bar and the side section, I know. But the place was slow and big gratuities are generated by extra effort (I now recall that I had to go to the bar to get my second, which is kind of weak, bars being in the business of making money and all).

To close, the tying of some bows: The view was still spectacular. We got out before the DJ showed up. And the little man doesn't know what he missed. He slept the entire time!

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