In restaurant years, THE GOAT by David Burke – now six months old – is just a kid. Nonetheless, Chef Burke’s latest restaurant is killing it and gaining new fans every day making it the hottest spot in the Bayshore region, busy even on traditionally slower nights.
In addition to the flourishing restaurant business, the clientele is also eating up the entertainment. Each of the five monthly Comedy Supper Club nights in the upstairs private dining room have been sellouts.
“We love THE GOAT,” said Donna Bonk, now a regular with her partner Todd Kwitchoff. Bonk, a pharmaceutical sales rep and mom of two teens residing in nearby Keyport is thrilled at long last to have a quality dining establishment close to her home.
In addition to the menu and service, Bonk raved about the discounted happy hour.
“We love Lou the bartender and the happy hour cannot be beat. It doesn’t pay to go anywhere else. We get the best food and drinks for an amazing price! And my kids love the pizza cooked in the wood-fired oven!”
THE GOAT is the newest of Chef Burke’s seven New Jersey restaurants and it’s a step in a new direction: the location is on busy State Highway 36 in Union Beach rather than in an affluent, established town; and it has a more casual setting and approachable Italian-American menu.
While the concept is more laidback, it doesn’t sacrifice the renowned celebrity chef’s reputation for a world-class menu and topnotch service. THE GOAT is exactly what this Bayshore area was craving – a dining spot that is fun, sassy with superior food, serious beverage program and outstanding service that rivals New York City restaurants.
The Happy Hour is Tuesday – Friday 3-6 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday noon – 6 p.m. serving an extensive bar menu (all dishes are $10) and ½ off specialty drinks, select wines and beers. But even without the discounted happy hour, THE GOAT has a reasonably priced menu and nightly specials. The restaurant is open for lunch at 11:30 a.m. and dinner at 4 p.m. Tuesday – Saturday and brunch at 11 a.m. on Sunday. It is closed Mondays.
While some skeptics were questioning the wisdom of Chef Burke’s investment in the overlooked Bayshore region, he went on to buy yet another business, the historic Dixie Lee Bakery in nearby Keansburg.
Chef Burke, a Hazlet native, grew up in what was the traditionally blue-collar area – his parents still live in his childhood home – and he saw firsthand a new wave of people moving in: young, urban, food savvy professionals – like Bonk, who moved from Edison to Keyport – snapping up homes in the area.
“There’s a soft spot in my heart for THE GOAT,” explained Chef Burke. “It’s so close to where I grew up and I had a vision to open a restaurant on this underserved stretch of highway.
“I get a lot of joy from our clientele who often express their thankfulness and appreciation for having a place closer to home where they can get this kind of experience. Union Beach and the Bayshore community have been very welcoming and receptive to our efforts. We anticipate a long journey there and to developing more restaurants in Monmouth County and surrounding counties,” he promised.
“The food is fantastic and THE GOAT has been very good for our town,” said Union Beach Mayor Charlie Cocuzza. “THE GOAT provides jobs for locals, it’s brought attention to our town, offers a new reason to come here.”
Cocuzza noted that the ongoing renovations and improvements to homes and businesses after Hurricane Sandy attracted an influx of new homeowners from North Jersey and New York City eager to scoop up properties that were comparatively more affordable with larger sized properties than their former urban areas. He said pre-Sandy average home sales were about $300,000, now they are $600,000.
THE GOAT has added to the variety of dining spots in the town and is yet another attraction, he said.
When creating the concept for THE GOAT, Burke’s vision was to make it a “go-at-it” one-stop, fun restaurant, an easy choice for a local spot where guests have quickly become regulars visiting several times a week. He nailed it, agreed both Cocuzza and Bonk.
“We dined at Red Horse by David Burke in Rumson several times,” said Bonk. “But what we like about THE GOAT is it is close to our home and we can get a good quality dinner in a casual atmosphere for a reasonable price without sacrificing quality. The food, wine, cocktails and service are at the same level as Red Horse but the price is more reasonable. Now I’m here several times a week. I bring my friends and my kids. We are food people, we love to cook at home. But we really appreciate Chef Burke and we are thrilled he is here in our neighborhood!”
So, it appears Chef Burke – known for his creative culinary spirit and business acumen and was named EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2021 – has found the recipe for success in the untapped Bayshore region.
There is outdoor dining available and online ordering available with delivery by Doordash and Slice.
Special nights include Tuesday and Wednesday Burger Nights. Three-course prix fixe $35 with $5, $8 wine $12 cocktails all night. There is live music Wednesdays in Chandelier Room.