One Fish, Two Fish brings new flavors to ‘restaurant row’

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The heirloom tomato stack appetizer at One Fish Two Fish is an example of the chef’s focus on local seasonal produce. The heirloom tomato stack appetizer at One Fish Two Fish is an example of the chef’s focus on local seasonal produce.  A new Wildwood Crest restaurant is putting a trendy spin on some dining classics.

One Fish, Two Fish Restaurant at 5290 Pacific Ave. had its “soft opening” a few weeks ago.

“We’re creating dishes people are familiar with, but with a little twist,” said chef and co-owner Ryan Allenbach.

For example, the surf and turf is what Allenbach called semitraditional – it’s a play on scallops wrapped in bacon, but instead of bacon the seared scallops are served with pork belly, which is taken from the same cut of meat, he said. But what sets it apart is the sauce, which is aerated to produce a light, foamy sauce.

The smoked tomato marinara served with the crispy calamari appetizer and the gulf shrimp cioppino entrée, is made with tomatoes that have been smoked on the stove top, Allenbach said.

“No one is making their marina sauce like that,” he said.

The restaurant, which is named after the children’s book “One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish” by Dr. Seuss, reflects the restaurant’s imaginative dishes, Allenbach said.

“It’s playful, and I think a lot of our food is playful,” he said.

In the restaurant’s “deconstructed cocktail sauce,” for example, the tomato and horseradish are separated on the plate, and patrons can mix the two together to their desired taste.

“I have no problem with playing with your food,” the chef said.

Allenbach said that while many of his dishes play with different textures or unexpected flavors, his touch is more delicate than techniques involved in molecular gastronomy, a modern style of cooking that uses technical innovations to create transformed dishes.

“We’re subtle,” Allenbach said. “There’s no tank of liquid nitrogen in the back.”

Allenbach said he is also taking advantage of the fresh produce and seafood common to South Jersey.

“We have great produce and great seafood in this area,” he said, “and that is what will make a dish great.”

Everything on the menu, including the desserts, vinaigrettes and sauces, is homemade, he said.

“Nothing comes through the kitchen door that isn’t made from scratch.”

Allenbach met his partner, Brian Schroeder, when they were pumping gas together in high school.

Both are from Medford and went on to become chefs, but this is their first cooking venture together.

Allenbach said fine dining is uncommon in Wildwood, where many restaurants are focused on family dining. But despite some of his concerns that the food would be “too out there” for Wildwood, he said the response has been “positive so far.”

The good reception could be in part due to the efforts to revitalize Pacific Avenue, particularly with regard to dining. Restaurants such as Juan Pablo’s Margarita Bar and Gia Ristorante have become staples on Pacific Avenue, while new restaurants like Goodfish Grille and Cattle ’n Clover have helped the strip live up to its nickname, restaurant row.

“Wildwood is no joke in the food scene,” Allenbach said. “We’re right there with Cape May.”

One Fish, Two Fish is open 4-10 p.m. daily. For information or to make a reservation call 609-522-5223.

Surf and turf at One Fish Two Fish features an air-emulsified foam sauce, which the chefs say is a personal twist on a classic. Surf and turf at One Fish Two Fish features an air-emulsified foam sauce, which the chefs say is a personal twist on a classic.

Chefs Ryan Allenbach and Brian Schroeder are the operators of Fish Two Fish in Wildwood Crest. Chefs Ryan Allenbach and Brian Schroeder are the operators of Fish Two Fish in Wildwood Crest.


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