Home Scandal and Gossip $32 Asbury Park restaurant codfish (crawling) worm dilemma

$32 Asbury Park restaurant codfish (crawling) worm dilemma

Jennifer Morzano and Jim Guinee
Pictured NJ couple, Jennifer Morzano and Jim Guinee
Jennifer Morzano and Jim Guinee
Pictured NJ couple, Jennifer Morzano and Jim Guinee

Jennifer Morzano and Jim Guinee post video of a crawling worm in a $32 codfish dish at an upscale Asbury, New Jersey restaurant only for Stella Marina Bar & Restaurant to up the ante.

A New Jersey couple have been accused of seeking to ruin the reputation of an upscale Asbury Park restaurant after posting finding video of a crawling worm in a $32 codfish dish. 

The claim follows Jennifer Morzano dining with her boyfriend Jim Guinee and several of his relatives at his aunt’s 80th birthday party when she discovered the worm in her cod.

Guinee, a lawyer, decided to post video (see below) of the worm at the Stella Marina Bar & Restaurant, with the video soon after going viral. 

Footage revealed an apparent worm wriggling about in the half-eaten $32 ‘Merluzzo’ dish, which included cod, cherry tomato, olives, capers, and arugula risotto. 

A fork is used to lift up the worm to avail viewers with a better view as it blends in with the color of the codfish. 

From there (cause gritty and grim can never be enough…) the worm is placed directly on the cod, showing off the morsel’s long squiggly twisting body….

Jennifer Morzano and Jim Guinee post video and social media takes a life of its own…

Told the shocked restaurant goer via NJ.com, ‘I just videotaped it because, one, I thought it looked pretty gross, and we weren’t sure what it was,’ 

Stella Marina responded by cutting the couple’s bill by a third (not a full refund?) along with wait staff being ‘extremely apologetic’. 

And it would have stopped there- save for the fact of Morzano’s video now going viral.

Compelled to reckon with the fallout, Stella Marina responded by posting a statement saying its seafood purveyors sent the cod and missed the ‘small worms that were found by two of our guests, located in the center of their fish’.

Continued the restaurant’s statement, ‘We immediately halted serving this dish. We also compensated the family of eight generously and expressed our sincere concern and apologies that one of our guests had anything less than an amazing experience at our restaurant’.

But there was more to come.

Jennifer Morzano and Jim Guinee
Pictured, Jennifer Morzano $32 codfish with squiggly worm.

Did Stella Marina Bar & Restaurant go far enough (or too far?) in smoothing frayed nerves? 

Stella Marina in its statement went on to take exception with Guinee for having shared video of the faux pas dining experience.

Continued the Asbury Park restaurant statement:

‘Ownership, Management, and Employees are very surprised at the callousness and irresponsible reaction of an attorney of law to attempt to destroy our reputation and possible livelihoods due to something that could have happened to anyone, whether cooking at home or in a restaurant,’

‘We are extremely disappointed that a professional who depends so much on research chose to post this before researching the matter.

‘As always, our customers remain our highest priority and we will stop at nothing to continue offering the highest quality of fresh, not frozen, food and stellar service.’ 

Stella Marina, which won a Diner’s Choice award from Open Table this year, then included research noting that parasitic roundworms are ‘frequently found in the guts and in the flesh of fish’. 

It also notes that the ‘correct cooking or freezing’ will kill all parasites in the worms.  

Responded the flummoxed couple, ‘It wasn’t meant with any ill-intent. We definitely didn’t think that many people would view it, and we just didn’t want them to keep serving the cod.’ 

Social media responds to Asbury Park NJ restaurant crawling worm codfish video:

Restaurant owner Joe Cetrulo later released a statement saying, ‘Stella Marina, which means star of the sea in Italian is an award-winning rustic yet classic Italian restaurant located on the boardwalk in Asbury Park, NJ. The taste of Stella Marina comes from quality ingredients sourced from our gourmet purveyors and highly trained kitchen staff. We proudly offer fresh, never frozen, seafood on our menu that is delivered daily.

‘Stella Marina is dedicated to ensuring that our guests enjoy a safe and delicious experience. For the past ten years, we have proudly served thousands of customers without incident until this past weekend and for that, we apologize.

‘Out of an abundance of caution, cod has since been removed from our menu.

‘The safety and happiness of our guests is our highest priority and we are proactively working to further guarantee our kitchen maintains the rigorous standards we are known for.’

A cursory regard of Stella Marina Yelp reviews showed upward of 400 reviews of the upscale outlet, eking out a mixed ranking of three out of five stars. Some reviewers described having delicious meals with exceptional service, while others note the presence of dirty plates and silverware.

And then there were these reactions on social media which caught this author’s attention, see what you think?

‘No one in their right mind would excuse them for not cooking the fish properly. Award winning restaurant should know better. Gross!’

‘They served undercooked fish with parasites and then blame the customer for shedding light on the problem. Obviously not recommended.’

‘If the manager apologized and generously compensated you, why would you feel the need post this?’

Common or not, I wouldn’t have paid them a penny and we would have left immediately.

‘The restaurant should be mad at themselves… not the patron.. sheesh…’

‘Try the salmon….’