Joseph Romanowski, Chef of the Bay Avenue Trattoria, died Monday of cancer. He was 52. He and his wife Maggie Lubcke owned Joe and Maggie’s Bistro in Long Branch from 1991 to 2005, and then Bay Avenue Trattoria in Highlands. The Trattoria was destroyed by flood waters during super-storm Sandy and never reopened.
Lubcke said her husband was tired after 14 years of running a busy restaurant in Long Branch, they sold the bistro at the height of its popularity and bought a small pizzeria in Highlands. They eventually took out the pizza ovens and focused on rustic, regional Italian cuisine.
He and his wife planned to rebuild in Highlands with the hopes of getting a federal disaster loan. But Lubecke said Tuesday that money never came through and the cancer had spread. They could only fight one fight at a time.
RIP Joe, the Trattoria will be missed.