Tonight I made what can only be described as a memory meal. For those of you familiar, the Italian Hot Dog is like the Philly Cheesesteak of the Jersey shore.
Being “half Italian” (yes, the good half) and growing up in NJ, this as well as its cousin, sausage peppers and onions are summer time staples. It’s either this or a gigantic slice of 3 Brothers from Italy pie. That’s where you would find me and my fellow guido’s spending our weekends on the boardwalk. Our Camaro/Trans Am (me) parked on the strip.
I only make these about once a year and every time I do with the first bite I’m brought back to 1987. Air smells like confectionery sugar and salt air, I hear The Boss blasting in the distance behind bells, whistles and buzzers.
Some pierogies ( because I’m being healthy, they aren’t deep fried) and the best $1.15 boxed Kraft Mac n cheese. ( ok I cheated and added some shredded Mexican blend I had in the fridge)!!!
What are some of your favorite food memories?
I won’t disrupt your NJ love fest, but I think RI memories are not far behind (albeit from my non-Italian POV).
OMG that looks delicious!
Three NJ food memories jump to the forefront for me… the first is going to Harrison to Spanish Pavillion. The neighbors thought my parents were INSANE. “You’re going to (GASP) Newark for dinner?!? And taking the KIDS??” And of course, we kids loved everything about it. Many years passed before we went to the Ironbound, but we always went back to SP.
The second one was Oriental YumYum, which was in the Morris County Mall. I was probably about 9 when we first went there and my father ordered something called Moo Shu and announced that we WOULD try it. Lo and behold, it was delicious! As was the duck that we watched the waiter assemble at the table - and we were all hooked on ‘real’ Chinese food while others were eating Egg Foo Young and Chicken Chow Mein.
And finally, my #1 NJ food memory that I can (and do) still get is… ice cream at Denville Dairy! When I was in my teens, we’d all pile into the HUGE convertible ('68 Pontiac Lemans) that was only driven in the summer; the dog (a 100lb+ shepherd mix) would lie on the boot, and we’d head up Rt.53 to Denville. At the time, DD was a tiny free-standing building - a pair of walk-up windows - an old bank drive-thru where 53 and Bloomfield Ave. met. We’d stand around not caring about the huge lines. Real small-town Americana scene with families, dogs, etc. DD moved to Broadway to a huge store that’s still as nutty as every on a summer night, and the ice cream is always as good as I remember.
All great memories, and all of these eating experiences stick with me today!
Ice cream from (in my earlier years) Guernsey Cow at the intersection of Asbury Ave. and Green Grove Rd., and (in my slightly later years) Scoops in Oakhurst.
Pizza from Attilio’s on Rte. 35 in Ocean.
Frozen Stouffer’s eggplant parm, but it had to be the ~3 AM purchase from the all-night A&P on (I think) Rte. 36.
The pierogies look good, but where are the rest of the fried onions and the sour cream? (When we have pierogies, it’s three chopped fried onions and a couple of scoops of sour cream for about a dozen pierogis.)
I grew up in Massachusetts, and my food memories are Soo’s Chinese Food in Westfield (no longer there) and later, Kraft Mexican Macaroni cooked in a dorm room (KMM doesn’t exist anymore either). Plus of course my mother’s rice and beans, and also her spaghetti sauce.
Two that jump right out. Grew up in NY but the NJ state line was bout 2 football fields away from the house so in NJ a lot.
First one: a new deli had opened up-- the “Wedge Deli” (now long gone) & I had a foot long roast beef wedge (sub). It looked HUGE to me but I must’ve been starving-- ate the whole sandwich.
2nd one: Americanized Chinese food! The restaurant was “King Yum”. First time trying a “pu pu platter” with its teeny hibachi. Beef teriyaki, shrimp toast, spare ribs, fried wontons.
My grandparents ran a little lunch counter / newsstand in Passaic from WW2 until the late 80s or so. Full array of Country Club brand ice cream. Fond memories of towering ice cream sodas with metal stands and grilled cheese sandwiches, along with candy bars you don’t see anymore like skybars, milkshake bars and such, to go with comic book reading. Our visits down there would always include Rutt’s Hutt which I am glad is still there and we would bring back up to Massachusetts paper bags full of bagels to fill the freezer. My parents would love these sloppy joe sandwiches they got down there - still do - basically deli meats like pastrami corned beef tongue turkey layered between crustless rye bread triangles with cole slaw and mustard. Way too goopy and mayotardy for me!
Ha! You just reminded me that we once traveled with a huge duffel bag filled w bags of dozens of bagels when we went to visit our east coast cousins who moved to Louisiana.
I suspect the best bagels in Massachusetts and Louisiana are still the ones from Jersey.
Staying overnight in Piscataway after a business meeting I went with a few associates to “La Cucina”, an Italian restaurant, for dinner. At one point I saw a waiter exit the kitchen with a towering architectural creation on a plate. I chuckled and wondered aloud who the unlucky person was who would have to deal with that. He put the plate down in front of me! Can’t remember what it was I had ordered.
On another occasion, same restaurant, I ordered osso bucco (a favorite), as did another person at the table. He left the marrow, even though I told him it was the best part. I didn’t let it go to waste.
I always wanted to go to the Fromagerie, but never made it.
(plus Goldbelly is insanely overpriced)
That is totally understandable. The bagel game down here is still lacking. A new place just opened that looks good, I am swinging by there Saturday morning as soon as the open to grab a couple. We drove by the other day and there was a line about 50 people long, so either they are really good or people here still don’t know a good bagel
With regards to the sloppy joe, specifically the NJ version, I once went into a diner and saw they had sloppy joe on special, so I ordered expecting the sloppy joe I grew up on and the NJ version came out, I was slightly disappointed
La Cuchina on Rt 22 In Bridgewater? If so, I use to go there frequently. In the 90’s straight up till about 2010-ish. They closed within the last 5 years.
One time a buddy and I drove from Millburn NJ to Boca Raton with a cooler filled with 10 assorted Millburn Deli Joes and ate them all by Georgia. Probably for the best. The Friday Joe was getting a little squishy.
Yes, that was it. I always enjoyed the food there.
I now live in Louisiana. Can confirm!
I will give you an update after Saturday morning if my wife approves of the bagels from Flour Moon Bagels.
They actually had a special two weekends with Taylor ham
I’ve had them. No. Also Leo’s Bread, Bagel Boy (now defunct but got a lot of press when he was in business), and pretty much every other bagel in town. St. Coffee on St. Claude gets par-baked bagels shipped from NY, and those are the only real bagels I’ve ever had in Louisiana. All the others are just round bread.
bagels and ham, hardiharhar!