From left, Kim Santoro, Missy Ennis, Joe Ennis and Rick Santoro of Margate and Ventnor savor the food at Ventnor’s Chef’s Night Out, Sunday, May 21, 2023.


VENTNOR – The city’s Beautification Committee hosted its 10th annual Chef’s Night Out Sunday, May 21, where Ventnor eateries showcased their favorite culinary delights.

Twenty-five establishments, including restaurants, liquor stores, bakeries and ice cream parlors, offered delicious tastings from 4-8 p.m. in front of their shops to kick off the summer dining season.

“I think it’s a really cool way to start off the season,” Stella restaurant co-owner Vincent LoBianco said. “It’s a good blend of all of the locals, as well as our summer guests who come down. We get to have a nice, fun – almost – block party before the summer really gets going next week.”

There was something for every kind of eater. Restaurant samples included sushi rolls, paella, pasta, and seafood assortments. Eaters could also sample wine at Community Liquors and White Star Liquors. For sweet-toothed folks, ice cream and baked goods were also available.

The event, which is spearheaded by Beautification Committee Chairwoman Shelley D’Orazio, was sold out. Participants purchased $45 tickets and were assigned a starting point. From there, it was up to them how they got around. Some rode bikes while others hired jitneys to chauffeur them from place to place.

Volunteers were stationed at every stop. Diane Birkbeck, a longtime Ventnor resident and Chef’s Night Out volunteer, relishes meeting all of the restaurant hoppers and witnessing the excitement.

“It really gets local people out to try restaurants that they might not go to,” Birkbeck said.

Joan Glick of Ventnor Heights has participated since the first year.

“We’ve gone back to places that were really good at this event,” Glick said. “It’s a great way for the restaurants to showcase what they can do.”

Along their route, Ventnor resident Eileen Skiffington and her husband were looking forward to their dessert. Sasscer’s Cheesecakes was set to be their last stop, but there was just one problem.

“We’re full already and we haven’t even gotten halfway through,” Skiffington said.

The two could not decide on their favorite stop. Isabella’s delicious Mexican spread and The Red Room Café’s famous eggplant Parmesan were some of their top contenders.

For those who needed a break from eating, there were vendors stationed along the route selling everything from fine art to hand lotions. Musicians of varying styles set the mood for the diners.

The night was particularly special for White Star Liquors’ new owner Elisa Hankins who said Chef’s Night Out gave them great exposure.

“We are so happy to be part of the community,” Hankins said. “We have been very well welcomed throughout all of the winter, and we love the new faces coming in, so this has really been a nice night for us.”

The event sparked appreciation among Ventnor residents and visitors who were amazed with what this tiny town can produce.

“I do believe that we are really a foodie town, and we should be proud of all of our little local cafes,” Ventnor Heights resident Paula Stryker said. “They are just delicious.”


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Nanette LoBiondo Galloway

Award winning journalist covering news, events and people of Atlantic County for more than 20 years.