PHOTOGRAPHY BY KYLE GRONOSTAJSKI
For 27 years, Stefano’s owners, Jane and Steve DiPietro, have strived to build a family business that is part of the Long Beach Island tradition for tourists and locals alike. The Stefano’s you see today has come a long way from the Stefano’s of the 1980s and 90s, evolving into an Island staple, boasting award winning chowders and elevated summer classics.
About 15 years ago, the DiPietros expanded the Stefano’s family with the California Grill in Beach Haven Terrace, creating a year-round go-to for crispy pizza, juicy burgers, and Stefano’s prized clam chowders. Eight years later, the DiPietro’s family of restaurants grew once again, with the opening of Blue Water Café in Haven Beach, which serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, focusing on seaside classics like lobster rolls and Stefano’s chowders. While the Stefano’s family has expanded over the years, the original value of creating a dining experience worth remembering has stayed with the DiPietro’s and their ever-growing staff.
After the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, the Dipietros were faced with extensive damage to all of their businesses; Stefano’s being hit the worst hit, with over five feet of water inside the building. The first priority was to open the California Grill. Within two weeks, the eatery was open for first responders, volunteers, workers, and homeowners to refuel during days of demolition and rebuilding. Turning to locals and friends Leonetti Construction and Mark and David from Wyndcrest Home, Stefano’s was open in the Spring with a complete remodel they are proud of today.
From the beginning, Jane and Steve have embraced their role in the Long Beach Island community - being a Chowderfest competitor and champion for nearly 20 years was an obvious direction. Each year the island is brought alive for one final weekend to celebrate Chowderfest in Beach Haven, and Stefano’s has competed in both the red and white chowder categories, being named Grand Champion consecutively in both categories. Four years ago, the Dipietros took their winning New England clam chowder north to Newport, Rhode Island, to the World Championship of Chowder. For three consecutive years, Stefano’s chowder was named world champ, and retired into the Chowder Hall of Fame alongside restaurants from America and Europe. Though Stefano’s chowder has expanded to other competitions, the Stefano’s team always looks forward to Chowderfest Sunday in Beach Haven for continuing traditions and making new memories.
After their 27th summer, Stefano’s ever-growing focus on fresh, local seafood like pan-seared Barnegat Light sea scallops over crab risotto have become standout dishes amongst the expansive menu. For land lovers, the lamb chops over homemade garlic mashed potatoes and finished with a mushroom merlot sauce is the perfect choice. Simply serving Italian classics alongside more modern dishes has been a formula for success and Stefano’s is proud to remain a Long Beach Island tradition and hopes to become a part of your family’s summer.