A sweet little corner restaurant nestled in the small adorable beach town of Carlsbad. From the moment you walk in you know you are in a family establishment. Here all of the staff is family, every one of them working here over the course of many years. Their stories will truly warn your heart, and it’s all part of the overall ambiance. My beautiful, charming hostess, Ashley Hayden, has been working at Jay’s for over 20 years. At age 21 she started as a hostess, she left for a bit but came back, and really loves her job.
They are all so close that Ashley’s best friend Courtney got her job at Jay’s through Ashley. Courtney ended up marrying owner Jay Meotamedi, and they have been married for 10 years now. Ashley’s other friend Shelly also met her husband at Jay’s, which happens to be Jay’s brother Johnny. A true family affair, but even the customers are made to feel like family when they are dining at Jay’s. Jay has had many other restaurants in adjacent cities, but recently closed all of them and puts all of his energy into his one special original restaurant.
Eddie Garcia is the prep chef, and he does all of the homemade fare: like their wonderful meatballs, soups, sauces, and all of their delicious salad dressings. He also makes their bread dough from scratch. Customers know when Eddie is not there, they can tell because things taste just a bit different.
Here is What I Tried:
Fresh Clams in a red or white wine garlic sauce. Oh my goodness, these calms are so huge, with plump tender flavors of garlic and better, a true keeper.
Soup & Salad:
Minestrone Soup: Home made tomato based soup with fresh vegetables, beans & pasta. I always know that the food is going to be great by the soup, and this minestrone soup doesn’t disappoint.
Clam Chowder: New England style with corn and bacon. A nice creamy rendition with added oregano for a real added Italian flavor.
Seafood Salad: Shrimp, salmon, calamari and scallops over house salad, with creamy Italian or vinaigrette dressing. The seafood is served warm, so it’s got its own unique flavors on top of what the dressing adds as an extra creamy zest. Hands down I would have to order this salad every time I would come to Jay’s. It has got everything you would want in a seafood salad.
BBQ Chicken Pizza, with chicken and red onion. This pizza has a very crispy crust, with lots of BBQ sauce and moist chicken – it’s a real winner.
Veal Marsala: Veal and mushrooms in a Marsala wine sauce, with side linguini in meat sauce. The veal is cooked very tender and the mushrooms are large and fruity, the Marsala sauce just took my breath away.
Cioppino: New Zealand mussels, clams, salmon, jumbo shrimp, halibut and crab in a savory marinara sauce with linguini. The mussels in this cioppino are huge and incredibly meaty, and the sauce is very delicate. All in all it’s a great Cioppino.
Fresh Jumbo Scallops with Sea Scallops sautéed in a white or red wine garlic sauce with spinach and fresh tomatoes over linguini. A very light garlic sauce enhances the simple taste of the scallops. If you’re a scallop lover like I am, order this dish – it’s amazing!
Meat Sauce, with home made meatballs or sausage. The meatball has such great consistency and flavor, very much comfort food.
Pasta Ala Pesto: Pesto, Romano cheese, sun dried tomato, and pine nuts over pasta. This is so different then what you would expect. It is a creamy pesto, and the sauce is not super green like a typical pesto sauce, but that doesn’t matter because it is terrific.
Crème Brulee: Nice little fresh raspberries make this one the best of the best list. It is remarkably creamy and delicious.
Triple Chocolate Cake: Layers of rich chocolate goodness make this an extremely decadent dessert that Jay’s offers. Try it, you will be very happy.
Normally I do many wines as pairings with my meal, but since this was a daytime tasting and I had to drive 2 hours directly after, I ordered a simple glass of Chardonnay. However, they do have a nice variety of wines to choose from.
The atmosphere is funky, clean and cozy, kind of like a home away from home. Surfboards adorn the walls, with a fun chalkboard describing their desserts. They have no refrigerators because everything is fresh every day. You can taste how fresh the food is with every glorious bite.
On any given day you will see celebrities – they come in to eat and get away from the craziness of Hollywood, but still do get noticed. John Cena has been seen eating a great seafood meal here.
Customers are locals, as well as tourist folks who come here from Arizona; they come to escape the heat. They also get many people from the close-by Carlsbad Hotel.
Ashley talked about how the neighborhood has changed, and that 6 new restaurants have recently opened. But, she says that her base customers go and try the new kids on the block, but always come back for Jay’s perfect seafood menu items.
I just loved this little Gem in the heart of Carlsbad. It has everything you would want from an Italian Seafood Restaurant, including heart, fantastic food, and charm. It will become one of my staples when I am visiting North County, San Diego.
Jay’s Gourmet Pizza & Seafood
2975 Carlsbad Blvd.
Carlsbad, CA 92008