8373 Patey Woods Rd.
Newark, Md 21841
Newark, Maryland is a quiet little hamlet about 25 minutes south west of Ocean City, Maryland on Rt.113 about half way to Snow Hill (the County seat). This sleepy burg is home to one gas station, a post office and one of the best down-home soul food restaurants I have ever had the pleasure of frequenting. The building started as a general store where everything from hardware and fertilizer to clothing, meat and groceries were sold. In 1950 Robert and Betty Barbely bought the property and it has remained in the Barbely family ever since. A good deal of the business was transacted in trade; eggs and chickens for groceries, and the lunch counter became a popular place for both men and women working at the Mason’s Tomato factory. In 2006 daughter and son-in-law Donnie and Janice Shockley started turning the general store into a restaurant and in 2007 opened Barbely’s Restaurant to the good fortune of everyone on the Eastern Shore.
Driving up to Barbely’s Restaurant you would swear you were going into an old fashioned general store in Mayberry. Walking into the restaurant only reinforces that feeling of stepping back to a time when everyone was friendly and life moved at a calmer pace. The walls are lined with shelves and the shelves are cluttered with bric-a-brac of all kinds, from board games and tin toys to colored glass bottles and china. There are colored lights in the ceiling and a small Christmas tree stands on the back dessert counter all year round. The tables and chairs are wooden, the same as you would find in your moms or grandmothers kitchen and everyone is friendly and welcoming.
All that being said the food is where the real retro experience starts. First things first, Barbely’s is only open Thursday, Friday and Saturday and only seats from 4:30pm to 8pm. There is also no alcohol served on the premises but the Birch Beer and the excellent Iced Tea are a good compromise. Also be aware that nothing about Barbely’s says modern restaurant; when you walk in it is more like eating at your Aunt Mae’s or a church social only with a menu.
To start your meal I would suggest either of the home-made soups or 1/3 rack of BBQ Baby Back Ribs. Yes, you read that correctly, Barbely’s has BBQ Ribs as an appetizer! If you know nothing else about this restaurant that should be enough to make you stand in line to get in. The soups are home-made, of course, and the ribs are fall off the bone tender with a sweet southern style glaze and sauce. Also, if you are fortunate enough to be at Barbely’s on a night where they are offering the Oyster Fritter do not pass go, do not collect $200, just order it immediately. It is an Eastern Shore style fritter which means it is a savory pancake loaded with plump, juicy oysters; I cannot recommend it enough.
The entrees change at the owner’s whim but the Cornmeal Crusted Rockfish was fresh, tender and sweet as only fresh fish can be. Also, The Liver and Onions is cooked grandma style and just smothered in sweet caramelized onions. The one item that is always on the menu is also their best; Barbely’s Fried Chicken! It is no exaggeration to say that it is the best I have ever had on the Eastern Shore and that is saying something considering we are in “chicken land”. The Chicken is crisp on the outside and juicy and flavorful on the inside. It is brined perfectly so the bird is well seasoned all the way through. I go in and knock down the 4 piece dark meat plate with joyful abandon. The sides, of which you get a choice of 2 with every entrée, are classics as well. My favorites are the turnip greens which are smoky and tangy and Bruce’s corn pudding which is soft and sweet with lots of corn kernels for texture. Please be aware that you will not find a crunchy vegetable in the place. The greens and green beans are cooked and served in their own “pot liquor” so just enjoy.
Finally, but certainly not least, are the home made Barbely’s desserts. The Apple Dumplings are large and crusty with an intense apple filling; I would suggest ordering a la mode. The Meringue Pies are just an insanely delicious slice of heaven. The fillings are creamy and the crusts are light and flaky and if that wasn’t enough, the meringue is piled high and wonderfully browned and light. During strawberry season the fresh Strawberry Pie is enough reason to make the drive from Ocean City, Md but take heed, they only bake so many per day so call ahead and reserve your slices.
Barbely’s is a wonderful step back in time. So, after a day on the beach shower up, pile in the car and make the drive to Newark. I promise, Barbely’s Restaurant will become a tradition like Thrasher’s Fires, just remember to make reservations for your seat and your dessert.