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An architectural rendering gives a glimpse of the new Anthony's restaurant on the first floor and upscale condominiums on the top two stories. (Image from Zillow.com)

By Donald Wittkowski

The owner of the popular Anthony’s Ristorante in Drexel Hill, Pa., is coming to the Jersey Shore this summer with a new Italian eatery in the already restaurant-rich Sea Isle City.

Anthony Foster received approval Monday from the Sea Isle Planning Board for his restaurant at the corner of Landis Avenue and 44th Street, in the heart of the downtown business district.

The restaurant will occupy the first floor of a new three-story complex Foster is developing that combines commercial space with six upscale condominiums on the top levels, according to an architectural rendering of the project.

Barbara Boeshe, a Sea Isle real estate agent who is selling the condos for Foster, said excitement is building over an Anthony’s Ristorante at the shore.

“The reaction is, ‘We always go to Anthony’s. We love their food,”’ Boeshe said of the people she has spoken to about the restaurant.

Foster could not be reached for comment, but Boeshe said he has been pleased with the community’s early response to the eatery.

His new place will add to Sea Isle’s array of drinking and dining options – from casual, old-school bars and taverns to gourmet waterfront restaurants

“We have great restaurants,” said Mayor Leonard Desiderio, who owns the Kix-McNutleys bar and nightclub complex on 63rd Street.

In 2008, Sea Isle’s governing body approved café-style outdoor dining at bars and restaurants to help showcase the city’s culinary scene to summer tourists. Outdoor dining has since become a big hit.

Developer and restaurant owner Anthony Foster’s project is under construction at the corner of Landis Avenue and 44th Street.

Sea Isle is often called “Delco East” in the summer because of the throngs of vacationers from Delaware County, Pa. Foster, who has a vacation home in Sea Isle, is expected to capitalize on his Drexel Hill, Delaware County, customer base to generate traffic at his new restaurant.

“Most everyone in Sea Isle is from Delco,” Boeshe said.

Foster’s project is located in a prominent spot directly across the street from St. Joseph Catholic Church, Sea Isle’s largest religious sanctuary. In summer, St. Joseph’s services are heavily attended by vacationers.

In addition to Foster’s development, another mixed-use project is under construction on Landis Avenue, this one at the corner of 42nd Street

A&L LLC, the owner of the project at 42nd and Landis, is developing 12 condos on the top two stories of the building, but has not yet revealed what type of commercial space is planned for the first floor. A sign at the construction site says the project will open this spring.

Both new projects on Landis Avenue will dramatically transform a two-block stretch of the downtown district. They are compatible with a 2008 change in Sea Isle’s zoning law that allows businesses to rebuild commercial properties while adding more residential space.

The idea behind the zoning change was to encourage businesses to stay put in town, rather than seeing them disappear to make room for even more housing. The mixed-use projects include commercial establishments such as bars, restaurants and retail shops operating on the street level, while the top floors feature condos or apartments.

This mixed-use development under construction at Landis Avenue and 42nd Street is an example of Sea Isle’s trend for projects that combine commercial and residential space.

Three projects built in the past three years in the Townsends Inlet section of Sea Isle followed the commercial-residential model to revitalize Landis Avenue between 85th and 87th streets. They combined restaurant, retail and condo space in three-story buildings known as the Dunes, the Cape and the Cove.

An upscale restaurant, Doc Magrogan’s Oyster House, served as the anchor attraction for the Dunes the last three years. However, Doc Magrogan’s is pulling out of Sea Isle and will be replaced by a new restaurant and bar called the Beachwood at the Dunes.

Beachwood at the Dunes will be operated by Lucas Manteca, who is already a well-known restaurateur at the shore. He owns Quahog’s Seafood Shack in Stone Harbor, the Red Store in Cape May Point and the Taco Shop at the Cape May County Airport. He formerly operated the now-closed Sea Salt Restaurant in Stone Harbor.