Left at the Fork

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Category: New Jersey (page 1 of 5)

Checking in at: Villa Barone, Robbinsville NJ

The place was absolutely mobbed Saturday night! Never seen it this busy. Villa Barone has a tendency to be a noisy restaurant — there’s no carpeting — but when it’s filled to the max, and there are people waiting for tables, it is absolutely deafening in here. They were running a bit behind — although we had a reservation we still had to wait almost half an hour for a table. We didn’t really care much about that — we’re pretty easygoing — and what can you do if folks linger? Continue reading

Dinner in the Vineyard, Wagonhouse Winery, South Harrison NJ

REVIEW

A very pleasant surprise! We really didn’t know what to expect from a dinner hosted by the South Jersey Wagonhouse Winery when we signed up, but certainly not one as enjoyable and accomplished as the one prepared by Chef James Malaby. Chef Malaby’s own restaurant is named blueplate (lower case theirs), which can be found about five minutes up the road from Wagonhouse in the community of Mullica Hill. Continue reading

Ernie’s Tavern, Robbinsville NJ

REVIEW

Most residents of current-day, rapidly growing Robbinsville have barely an inkling of what their town was like pre-1980. For one thing, it was called Washington until voters decided in 2007 that it is better to be unique Robbinsville than one of six Washingtons in New Jersey. But more significantly, this was a low-key little farming town of a couple of thousand residents with a handful of businesses to serve them. One of those businesses (since 1859!) is Ernie’s Tavern. Continue reading

Tony Luke’s Adds Cheesesteaks to Rowan Curriculum

Glassboro, NJ, home of Rowan University, is the latest town to receive a brand-new, shiny Tony Luke’s restaurant, and the students are thrilled. The sandwich shop is open until 3 a.m. on weekends, which sounds like a smart decision — we can’t think of a more appropriate 2 a.m. campus snack than a Pork Rabe Italian. Glassboro is something of a homecoming for Tony Luke himself, who raised his kids in this South Jersey college town.

America’s 32 or 33 Best Pizzerias

Thrillist does this once a year — compiles their rundown of America’s top pizzerias — and they’ve just released their fourth edition. The biggest news has to the absence of Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana of New Haven, CT. They did include Sally’s Apizza, Pepe’s down-the-block and up-for-sale rival, on their list, where they note that Pepe’s was dropped because of their continued expansion and resulting inconsistency. Sally’s the only pizzeria in New Haven to make the cut? And only two from the entire state of Connecticut (the best pizza state in the U.S.)? Continue reading

Jersey City’s Best

New York City food hipsters may not take kindly to the idea that the trip across (or under) the Hudson River for something to eat is worthwhile (judging by the comments) but we, and gothamist, know better. Here they present some of the best of Jersey City, including two of our favorites: Eddie Cotto, Jr.’s full-flavored Puerto Rican-inspired dishes at ME Casa (see the LAF review) and the tropical frozen treats that taste so perfect on a hot summer day in the city, dished out by Torico Ice Cream (see the LAF review). Gothamist touts much more in the city, including pizza, Portuguese, and artisan beer and coffee. Check out the story and the city – you might be surprised.

Tony Luke’s Expanding Down East Coast

Gotta admit, when we first started making regular visits to Tony Luke’s in South Philly in the early ’90s, we never imagined it would ever expand to a second Philadelphia outlet much less become franchised up and down the east coast. The roast pork Italian and Uncle Mike sandwiches had us thoroughly seduced, as did the very scruffy, bare-bones location, alongside a barbed wire encircled “parking area” beneath rumbling Interstate 95 next door. Continue reading

Beef & Garlic, Spice & Smoke

We’ve long maintained that Harold’s New York Deli in Edison, NJ serves New York’s most consistently delicious pastrami. In the latest issue of Saveur, Laura Hoffman takes a closer look at the famed Jersey deli, and its owner Harold Jaffe. What strikes first-time visitors immediately are the comically large portions. What surprises most of those fressers is how the quality surpasses the size. The great pastrami is made and smoked in-house, the matzo balls are as light as they are enormous, and even the coleslaw is top-notch. Continue reading

America’s Top 21 Hot Dogs

A best hot dog list apparently is released on a daily basis. Why? Because people love ’em – hot dogs AND best lists. We read them not only to see what they have to say about our favorites (the yellow-relish-topped deep-fried rippers from Rutt’s Hut of Clifton, NJ appears on today’s list in question) but to pick up on the new, unfamiliar joints (Luscher’s of Dallas, TX, from a fancy-pants chef). You’ll also find coneys, Sonoran dogs, half-smokes, and dogs topped with SpaghettiOs on the list. Have at it!

New Jersey Isn’t Boring! And Neither Is Daphne’s Diner

Gotta agree with the name of the blog: New Jersey Isn’t Boring! (exclamation point theirs). They paid a visit to our local favorite Daphne’s Diner in Robbinsville and proclaimed it “a great diner experience with excellent food.” We always take houseguests to Daphne’s for breakfast (Cap’n Crunch French toast, anyone?). It seems dinner can, as well, be recommended. Have a look.

Woody’s Towne Cafe, Allentown NJ

REVIEW

Breakfast out for us has, for years, meant Mastoris Diner in Bordentown. We’ve moved on from Mastoris and now do our morning dining out at Daphne’s of Robbinsville and another choice breakfast spot nearby: Woody’s Towne Cafe in Allentown (that’s the small town in New Jersey, not the city in PA). Continue reading

Wonder Seafood, Edison NJ

REVIEW

We have nothing against modern, chefly dim sum restaurants, any more than we object to fancy-pants chefs’ takes on Italian cuisine, say, or beachside cuisine. We often enjoy the upscale, pricier stuff made from carefully sourced ingredients, artfully plated. But sometimes we want a perfect plate of simple, homey lasagna, or an overflowing basket of fried belly clams with o-rings. Or, more to the matter at hand, old-school dim sum served from rolling carts in a frantic, bustling, hyperventilating weekend morning scene. And there are none in the North Jersey area (and few, for that matter, in Manhattan’s Chinatown, across the river) the equal of Edison’s Wonder Seafood. Continue reading

White Rose Diner, Linden NJ

REVIEW

Sue places a breakfast order for a Taylor Ham, egg, and cheese sandwich. She does not like runny yolks.

SUE: How do you do your eggs?
COUNTERMAN: Well… when I get here in the morning I turn on the grill and let it heat up. Then I get the eggs out…
(Laughter from the working men dining at the counter, almost to a man with work pants riding down low enough to expose butt cleavage)
SUE: I get enough smart-ass answers from my husband.
(More chuckles)
BRUCE (to counterman): I think she’s falling in love with you.
(Further laughter from the pew)
COUNTERMAN: It happens that quick, does it? Continue reading

Vito’s Deli, Hoboken NJ

REVIEW

For most of the 20th century, Hoboken, NJ was primarily an Italian-American enclave. Like many other Northeast industrial cities, Hoboken fell on hard times from the 1950s forward, losing over half its population, until late-century gentrification took root. Throughout it all, some of the classic Italian bakeries and delis, such as Fiore’s, survived, and others, like Dom’s bakery, sprouted with the city’s rebirth, carrying on this Hudson River city’s Italian heritage. In the latter category is Vito’s Deli, one of Hoboken’s premier sandwich makers. Continue reading

Tommy’s Italian Sausage & Hot Dogs, Elizabeth NJ

REVIEW

North Jersey is well known for its great hot dogs, but the fine Italian sausage of the region should not be ignored. We present as example Tommy’s Italian Sausage in Elizabeth, a take-out only storefront that makes its own sausage and serves it up in the same classic configuration as an Italian hot dog, in a split loaf of what’s called pizza bread (like a cross between pita and Italian bread) with fried potatoes, onions, and peppers. The sausage is sliced open and grilled to crustiness, then slipped into the fresh bread. The predominant flavor of this sausage is pork rather than spice, with a satisfying coarse-ground meaty texture. Continue reading

The Little King, Hamilton Square NJ

REVIEW

The Little King is the quintessential Central New Jersey sandwich shop, whose motto is, “Where a Sandwich Is a Full Meal.” Walk in to the strip mall eatery and head to the counter to place your order. It is there you’ll be confronted by dozens of signs touting special sandwiches, as well as a few dozen more to be found on the menu board on the wall. If you suffer from menu panic syndrome, simply step out of line and read to your heart’s content. Continue reading

Stewart’s Drive-In, Vineland NJ

REVIEW

We’re always on the lookout for great root beer (our current favorite bottled RB includes Virgil’s and Hank’s). Even more thrilling are drive-in root beer stands, like the small NJ-based chain called Stewart’s Drive-In. Frank Stewart opened the first Stewart’s drive-in, selling his specially formulated root beer and salty, thirst-inducing popcorn, in Ohio in 1924. Over the years, the chain expanded and contracted, and ownership changed and changed again. Today, the chain is based in New Jersey, and most of the drive-ins are in the Garden State, too. Continue reading

Midway Steak House, Seaside Heights NJ

REVIEW

There’s a scene in an old Woody Allen movie, Love and Death. Woody, playing a Russian peasant, is pointing a gun at Napoleon:

Woody: You’re a tyrant and a dictator and you start wars.
Napoleon: Why is he reciting my credits?

That’s how we feel about the Midway Steak House on the boardwalk in Seaside Heights: they use knockoff Cheez Whiz, the meat’s chewy, and there’s not much of it. And those are Midway’s credits! Continue reading

Mastoris, Bordentown NJ

REVIEW

Everyone seems to have done their best to keep this fact hush-hush but Mastoris was sold a couple of years ago to Jimmy Manetas, owner of their neighboring diner, Town & Country. Unfortunately, the new ownership has not, in our experience, been good for Mastoris. The most readily visible sign of change is in those cinnamon and cheese breads at the start of the meal. One, they don’t always arrive if you don’t ask for them and, two, they have been made smaller. More importantly, we’ve had some problems with the food since the transfer, serious enough that we have stopped going to Mastoris, at least for the time being. Here’s hoping that they straighten things out and return to their former glory. What follows is our review of the pre-sale version of Mastoris: Continue reading

Maruca’s Tomato Pies, Seaside Heights NJ

REVIEW

There are still many Trenton-area tomato pie aficionados who get misty-eyed at the mention of the long-departed Maruca’s. De Lorenzo on Hudson Street (now in Robbinsville), De Lorenzo on Hamilton Avenue (now in Hamilton Township), Papa’s (also now in Robbinsville), Joe’s (closed), Maruca’s: those were the Big Five. Maruca’s opened a branch at the Jersey shore and eventually closed up shop entirely in the city. Today, Maruca’s shore reputation may surpass its capital city rep. Many people claim that Maruca’s serves the best slices on the shore. We tend to agree with them. Continue reading

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