Caribbean Comes To Hampton Beach

By Patrick Cronin

Hampton Union, Tuesday, July 11, 2006

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]

HAMPTON -- A new restaurant with a Miami feel, has opened up where Kennedy's Restaurant used to be on Ocean Boulevard.

Ocean 931 is the creation of Angela Titone, who also owns JB's Bagel on King's Highway.

"We wanted to bring something different to this part of the beach," Titone said. "This is not your typical New England fried food type of restaurant. It's a little fun and edgy."

And the fact that it isn't like any other place around town with its Island meets Caribbean feel is what makes it stands out, Titone said.

"We want this place to be your favorite spot at the beach," Titone said. "We want it to be a bit Island and also a little bit metropolitan. We want you to dress casual and if you want to come over in your bathing suit and flip-flops that's OK."

The restaurant, which is open Tuesday through Sunday during the evening hours, opened in May.

Walking into the restaurant it's hard to believe it is the same place where Kennedy's used to be.

"I think the better question is what haven't we changed," Titone said. "The entire place is completely redone. The only thing left from the old restaurant is one wall."

Titone said when she heard Kennedy's was closing, she immediately thought about opening up another breakfast establishment similar to JB's Bagel at the location. But that idea turned to a full-fledged restaurant because she thought it would be more fun.

That is when she hired Diana DeRosa, who has had experience in opening up restaurants, as the restaurant's general manager.

"We just sort of brainstormed on what we would like to see in a restaurant," DeRosa said. "I think we all agreed that we didn't want to be like everyone else around here and that we wanted the prices to be reasonable."

The two, who have frequented many restaurants around the country, said they stole what they liked from other places, but made it their own.

The name of the restaurant came from its location at 931 Ocean Blvd.

"You could probably name any name and we probably came up with it," Titone said. "We thought about calling it everything from The Cove, The Sandbox to the North Beach Grill. We always liked Ocean 931, but we thought it sounded too Miami. But we decided to go with it anyway."

Titone said the menu is the creation of chef Simon Lanford.

"I like to eat and I wanted to make a menu that people, if they wanted to, could come here three nights a week," Lanford said. "I didn't want to go beyond your everyday fare but I wanted it to be nice and original."

"Simon didn't want to do things like everyone else," Titone said. "When I asked about putting Coconut Shrimp on the menu, he said, we could, but we have to do it different.' And then we brainstormed ideas on how we could make it different."

The menu is varied and includes grilled steak tips, vegetarian delight and pork chops. It also includes New England staples such as baked haddock and clam chowder.

And if you're looking just to have a drink on the patio and enjoy an appetizer, it probably has your favorites and some items you have probably never tried like Mediterranean hummus and Bang Island mussels.

Titone said she is most proud of the bar that is made out of sea glass.

"Anyone can get a granite bar or stone bar," Titone said. "This was an experiment to use sea glass and it came out wonderful."

The bar area also has a plasma television tuned to sporting events such as Red Sox games and the World Cup.

Titone said the response has been unbelievable so far.

"It's been so well received," Titone said. "We already have our regulars."

As for expanding the hours, Titone said that will come in time.

"We are still trying to perfect everything," Titone said. "When we first started this we said we will not open until we are ready and we're not going to take the next step until we are ready."