Tommy's Tavern + Tap
The Jersey Shore Dining and Drinking Hot Spot with a Big Heart
By Elana Knopp
Tommy’s Tavern + Tap may be the hottest spot on the Jersey Shore.
A family-owned business, the chic and trendy sports bar and restaurant has already won awards and accolades—but the standing-room-only crowds speak for themselves.
The tavern boasts 73 rotating taps, a separate whiskey bar with the largest selection of whisky on the Jersey Shore, and three separate kitchens—one for regular menu items, one for sushi, and the last, of course, for Tommy’s famous pizza.
Tommy’s has nine different menus, including a full tavern menu, sushi menu, pizza menu, and beer, wine and Happy Hour menus.
The tavern is spacious and airy, with a knockout view of the bay and huge outdoor eating and playing spaces. Sumptuous leather booths and bar stools, wainscoting wood design, imported frames and mirrors from Italy, over thirty big screen televisions and, of course, Tommy’s famous ceiling lights, help to create a one-of-a-kind experience.
Every detail has been lovingly attended to, down to a black pipe that wraps around the bottom of the bar for extra foot comfort.
Located on a stunning strip of shore in Sea Bright, the Bonfiglios opened Tommy’s in 2014 after many successful years in the food industry.
Tommy Bonfiglio, the tavern’s namesake, along with his wife Yvette, are former owners of the Dockside restaurant in Sea Bright and Tommy’s Coal Fired Pizza, where they grew the popular restaurant into four successful locations
Christina Bonfiglio, daughter of Tommy and Yvette and human resources and marketing director at Tommy’s, told JerseyShoreVibe that the Bonfiglios made the decision to open Tommy’s after their kids were in college.
“Yvette and Tommy always discussed opening another restaurant, but when and where?” Bonfiglio said.
The couple chose Sea Bright, said Bonfiglio, a Superstorm Sandy- ravaged town with vacant buildings, flooding and the word “hope” surrounding this beautiful beach town.
The Bonfiglio Family-Yvette, Christina, Tommy and Andrea
“Each day they would drive past what is now Tommy's Tavern + Tap – an old building damaged by Sandy, yet standing tall almost looking indestructible,” Bonfiglio said. “The building spoke to Tommy and Yvette – would they be crazy to take it on, was the risk to high? It seemed like something their spirit, passion and amazing strength could take one.”
The Bonfiglios decided to go for it, and they made the move to purchase the land and building.
The historic building was originally a hotel in the early 1900s and, after a fire, had been converted several times before becoming home to a post office, a café, and several apartments.
“When Tommy and Yvette decided to take the building on, they had no idea what they would uncover,” Bonfiglio said. “Unsure of what they would find, their team broke through sixteen layers of walls to find the original brick from the late 1800’s construction-- beautiful, red, fourteen inch thick brick, unharmed and just beautiful.”
As restoration work continued, more was uncovered, like burned ceilings from the 100-year-old fire. Instead of demolishing it, the Bonfiglios decided to salvage what they could through sanding and retouching.
“The wood they did plan on throwing away was reconstructed and turned into the beautiful whiskey bar where you can see the detailing in all the recovered wood, staining with balsamic, sanding, polishing and bringing it back to life,” Bonfiglio said.
Tommy Bonfiglio’s vision was to create a place that people could visit any night of the week to enjoy great food, cold beer, and friendly conversation.
“Tommy's Tavern + Tap was born with beautiful design, two bars, awesome food and drink concepts," Bonfiglio said. "But most importantly, it was built on the love and passion of the Bonfiglios. They poured their heart and soul into this place and today you feel that love as you walk inside. There isn't a single inch of the building that doesn't represent the dedication and work put into it.”
But Tommy’s is not the only thing that the Bonfiglios have dedicated their time to.
The Bonfiglio Family and Tommy’s Tavern + Tap is also involved in community and charitable initiatives.
Tommy’s hosts their own in-house charity called “Tommy’s Kid of The Month,” where Yvette “adopts” a family with a child suffering from pediatric cancer and raises funds for them.
During the month, the family is also invited for dinner at Tommy’s, and to make pizza and sushi with their chefs.
“Yvette truly becomes a part of each family she adopts,” Bonfiglio said. “This in-house charity is partnered with The Francis Foundation, a pediatric cancer foundation which supports families and works closely with Yvette and her actions.”
According to Bonfiglio, Tommy’s has also just partnered with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for a new campaign called “Round Up and Give Hope,” where patrons at Tommy’s can round up their final dining bills, with the proceeds going directly to St. Jude.
The Bonfiglio family was also the recipient of the American Red Cross, New Jersey District, 2017 Clara Barton Humanitarian Award.
“They humbly accepted the award in March of 2017 and will continue to work with the American Red Cross,” Bonfiglio said. “They were honored due to their support, passion and helping presence in the community.”
Last year, Tommy’s they hosted “Make Some Noise,” a pediatric cancer awareness event where local foundations come together to raise awareness and support each other. In addition, the Bonfiglios held an event to raise money for an employee’s family for medical treatment, along with a Christmas Campaign to kick off their “Toys for Tots” campaign.
“We had Santa come as well as a “Tommy’s Kid of the Month” come sing for all those who joined us,” Bonfiglio said. “During this event, Yvette partnered with “Kick Cancer Overboard” and donated cruise to a family which was a tear- filled moment for many. Since, Yvette has given two cruises to two of her 'Tommy’s Kid of The Month' families.”
Tommy’s menu boasts a vast array of dining options including Tommy’s Original Coal Roasted Oven Wings, Stromboli and calzones, Signature Sushi Rolls, burgers, sandwiches and soups, inspired salads and mouthwatering desserts.
Tavern menu items include Coal Fired Garlic Flat Bread, Tavern Taquitos, House-Made Veggie Burger and Triple T’s Cheeseburger.
The tavern’s specialty menu runs during the fall, winter and spring seasons, with menu choices changing every few days.
“The true reason behind it is because our customers love it,” Bonfiglio said. “It is a great way for our regular customers who come between one and four times a week to not get bored of the menu. This menu also helps us create new items for our actual menu based on popularity and demand for a re-run of the item.”
The masterminds behind the popular specialty items are Operations Manager, Brian and Beverage Director, Tim, alongside Tommy’s head chefs, said Bonfiglio.
“They take their creative cooking skills and put together these one of a kind mouth-watering dishes,” Bonfiglio said.
Some examples of specialty items, said Bonfiglio, include Bison Sliders with asiago cheese and jalapeno, Wild Boar Sandwich, Coal Roasted Clams baked in a coal-fired oven with sausage and Seared Pork Belly Tacos.
Tommy’s is open seven days a week all year long.
Tommy’s Tavern + Tap is located at 1030 Ocean Ave. in Sea Bright. For more information visit www.tommystavernandtap.com/ or call 732-842-5044.