Sunday, November 29, 2009

Seafood, seafood, seafood -- and pizza

Splash in Long Valley has an impressive list of foods on its menu, from buffalo shrimp to clams and lobster. And . . . pizza?

"We have a raw bar, so people can get oysters, clams, shrimp, and lobster," floor manager Talia Morzan says. "We also have a brick oven, where we make pizzas. It actually uses wood, too, so that's really good. We make some awesome pizzas, so we can make you all different kinds. I don't know if you've ever had a Margherita pie before, but it's my favorite, and it's so good."

Many varieties of pizza may not seem like what you'd expect at your typical seafood restaurant, but that's because Splash Seafood & Pasta isn't typical.

"It's affordable for families," Morzan says. "Seafood is expensive, and there's no other seafood place around, and that's what's good about this place. But at the same time, kids can get pizzas or pastas here. So maybe the parent wants seafood, and they're saying, 'I really want a lobster.' They can get their lobster dinner while their kids can get the brick-oven pizzas that we make, so it works out just great."

Pizza chef Alex Maygar, who serves the fresh pizzas here, agrees. But he thinks that, because a lot of people don't expect to find great pizza at a seafood restaurant, he has to work extra hard to make sure that his pizzas are the best around.

"People can't walk in here, and say, eh, 'The food's good, and the pizza's OK,' " Maygar says. "They have to come in here and say 'That's the best pizza I ever had.' "

But to talk only about the pizza at Splash would be doing the restaurant a great disservice: This is definitely a seafood lover's restaurant, too.

"A lot of people just come for the raw bar," Morzan says. "They love the oysters and they love the clams."

Morzan doesn't forget to mention how good the pasta is, either.

"Sometimes, people just want a good old chicken parm, and you can never go wrong with chicken parm. But we do have certain specials that we run in seafood, too," he says. "We're running a scallop special that people absolutely love. It's pan-seared scallops in a roasted red pepper aioli sauce with avocado relish and seasonable vegetables. The avocado relish is something special. The regular scallop platter will come with a baked potato and seasonal vegetables."

Morzan also adds that the price is right at Splash, too: "You can have seafood, and you don't have to spend a ton of money."

Some of this seafood that Morzan refers to is a lobster with a baked potato, a seafood platter that's either broiled or fried and scallops, which also are either broiled or fried, each for under $20.

"We usually have a catch of the day," Morzan says, "It depends on what kind of fish we get in for that week. We also have a kids menu. We have kids' pasta; we do burgers, chicken fingers and fish sticks."

Besides the stellar food, one other thing that will appeal to a great deal of patrons is the underwater-theme decor. Fish cover the walls, blue lights linger on the ceiling, and a very large, old-time mannequin diver stands in a corner, all giving the place a particularly marine feel.

Much of this is because of the new management. Splash is just re-opening with a new vibe. The previous decor was said to be a little darker than the new set-up. Mathew Saleeby, the owner of the property on which Splash is sited, is looking to create a whole restaurant district in the area, with Splash being one of its focal points.

"I think he's added a lot more," Morzan says. "He's trying to make it more fun, and maybe not as serious as it used to be. He's trying to make it fun for the kids, like adding the fish tank. Kids love to look at the fish."

The one thing Morzan likes most about Splash, though, is how well it complements the area.

"Long Valley is a cute little town," Morzan says, "and Splash is adding to that whole curb appeal."

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