Just Beclaws is the seafood shack that Jersey City has been waiting for. It’s not your hole-in-the-wall type of seafood shack, but more of a modern take on the seafood shack with multiple flat-screen HDTVs and an overall clean, modern look. The owners describe it as a Cajun/Vietnamese/Seafood restaurant. Truth be told, it’s the only restaurant in the downtown area that specializes in seafood. (Excluding Maritime Parc, which offers a more upscale take on seafood).
The restaurant is currently BYOB, although they do have a nice bar/counter in the middle of the dining area once the liquor license kicks in. In terms of food, Just Beclaws’ menu features po’ boys, lobster rolls, gumbo, and a wide assortment of fried seafood. You can also purchase crab, crawfish, clams, and other types of shellfish by the pound. (If someone in your party doesn’t like seafood, they can always fall back on the chicken tenders and southern fried chicken wings.)
The restaurant was moderately busy the night I went and it’s been busy every time I’ve walked by. However, be warned that you might experience some delays with your order. As I sat by the counter waiting for my food, I overheard some confusion between the wait staff and the kitchen. Apparently a table never received their order although the kitchen swore the order had been picked up. Personally, I didn’t have any trouble with my (small) order, but it’s natural for a restaurant this young to go through its trial and error stage.
For my first visit, I started off with the Louisiana gumbo, which was filled with shrimp, okra, and sausage. It was thick, delicious, and filling, though I wouldn’t have minded a little extra spice. (I’d also love to see them offer an all-seafood gumbo). At $18, the lobster roll had generous portions of claw and tail meat and I love that they let the lobster meat speak for itself. Meaning you won’t get globs of mayo or butter covering your lobster. My only complaint was that the roll was a little soggy.
Does it beat the lobster rolls I’ve had in Maine and Rhode Island? Unfortunately, not, but those restaurants sometimes catch and serve their lobsters within hours, so they have an unfair advantage. A better comparison would be Lobster by the Pound and all the other lobster truck venues you see in Manhattan, which in my opinion Just Beclaws beats hands-down.
Although I didn’t try a dessert, Just Beclaws offers banana pudding, lemon cheesecake, and vanilla/chocolate ice cream. I’ll have to save that for my next visit, which I’m already planning.
Just Beclaws | 280 First Street (btw Newark Avenue & Jersey Avenue) | www.justbeclaws.com