Part of our trip took us to New Jersey over the weekend. We figured that there was not much to do in Lancaster County on Sunday (as it is the day off for the Amish, and virutally everything in town is closed), so why not head over to Jersey to indulge in a few favorites and go to the shore and get some good fresh seafood.
If you ask around, everyone has a very strong opinion on where to go for the best crabs in South Jersey. I heard a lot of differing opinions – Mike’s in Sea Isle, The Lobster House in Cape May, but the one name that kept on coming up over and over again was Crabby’s on Rte. 50 in Belcoville near Mays Landing. You would think that a seafood restaurant would be located right on the water – this one isn’t; it’s located in the middle of nowhere in the Pine Barrens. It doesn’t look like much on the outside, hell it doesn’t look like much more than a dive bar on the inside (with a bunch of picnic tables and a few regular tables around a huge bar), but I think that just adds to the atomosphere and the anticipation of what’s to come. If they don’t focus on decor, that must mean the food is really good, right?
We were welcomed like old friends (with a hearty “glad to see you”) by a woman whose bubbly personality and heart was as big as her hair. We were seated at a little table by the window, and huge pieces of brown paper were put in front of us on the table. We were there for one thing and one thing only: crabs. We started with a bowl of he-crab soup (which didn’t photograph well, unfortunately), a creamy sherry-based bisque with chunks of blue-claw crab. Down to business. I got the crab sampler ($33.95), which had a little bit of everything – blue claw, king crab legs, dungeness, and snow crab. It was presented in a huge pile that made me wonder how I’d even begin to eat this much:
The thing about crabs (and eating them out of the shell) is that it is hard work. The amount of effort you put into cracking the shell to bits to get out a little nugget of crabby goodness is almost (note I say *almost*) not worth it. So I spent the next couple of hours tearing my fingers to shreds on the sharp shell to liberate as much crabby goodness as humanly possible. I got full about halfway through (though the seasoning, their own blend, was awesome!), and just started putting my crab bits on top of my husbands linguine for later consumption. I figured it was better to do that there than in the hotel room. Two hours later, were were on our way, after one hell of an experience. But if you’re going to eat fresh crabs, cracking them yourself is the only way to go.
They routinely offer specials – the one that was active on the Sunday afternoon we went was all you can eat Blue Claws for $29.99. Considering it took me nearly 2 hours to make my way through the items I had, I so wouldn’t have gotten my money’s worth unless I was planning to stay there half the night. But other, more expert crab eaters were chowing down with wild abandon.
I’d prefer it if they had more sides (I would have killed for some corn on the cob), but they do what they do very well. If you go, dress casual, be ready to leave smelling like crab, come ready to drink some beer, and have a good time. They won’t settle for anything less.
If you’d like to go: Crabby’s, 1413 Route 50, Belcoville, NJ, 609.625.2722