There are two types of Italian restaurants in New Jersey: casual pizza joints with formica booths and pitchers of beer, and slightly fancy, white-tablecloth dining rooms fit for a The Real Housewives showdown. Brando’s falls into the second category, and that’s not a bad thing. This is the type of Italian restaurant you go to when you want a heavy, comforting meal of ricotta meatballs, gnocchi in Alfredo sauce, and veal Milanese. Also, a lot of wine.
Set in a Victorian house overlooking the lake that divides Asbury Park and Ocean Grove, Moonstruck is both upscale (white tablecloths and waiters in ties) and casual (this is the Jersey Shore, after all). The multi-story space is split into separate dining areas and lounges, so you can partake in the full Mediterranean menu of pasta, seafood, and grilled meats, or just stop in for wine and the live piano music often playing downstairs.