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:
The bagel (not the standard configuration, but our choice this one time) is most unorthodox. Nonetheless, this was an excellent NJ pork roll, egg and cheese sandwich.
New Jersey is the land of diners, and in the land of diners, Mastoris is king. An enormous place with many dining rooms, this is one of the busiest restaurants we’ve ever seen. It’s a gold mine! During normal dining hours, a wait is not uncommon. Waiting for your table, however, provides you with an opportunity to browse the bakery cases (and, if you’re lucky, sample some of the broken cookies the bakery often puts out on the counter). The bakery cases are stocked with all sorts of good-looking pastries and cakes which, unlike the baked goods at many diners, are generally good-tasting too.
A short stack of cheese bread French toast is probably all you want. The bread’s sweet cheese filling makes this a very rich dish.
Diner may not be the proper term for Mastoris, as locals treat it as the place for a special occasion, with large tables of happy families occupying large tables. There is a dark lounge, airy sunny patios, and even one room that looks like a traditional diner: booths opposite a counter with stools.
The pie is filled with large juicy two-or-three-bite chunks of chicken, and just enough gravy to keep everything moist.
Mornings are our favorite time to visit, weekday mornings in particular, as Mastoris plates some terrific breakfasts accompanied, if you wish, by fat, taut breakfast sausages or that local mid-NJ passion, pork roll. Pork roll comes in thick slices, and is kind of like a supercharged bologna. It’s always grilled or fried, and is usually served in a sandwich with eggs and cheese, but it also makes an enjoyably porky breakfast meat.
The large chef’s “salad” is one of the meatiest items on the long menu!
The omelets, sided by good potatoes, are well-made and come in innumerable varieties. Ask for toasted sunflower bread on the side. There are breakfast sandwiches, pancakes, waffles and French toast galore, and probably anything else you might dream up to eat for breakfast (including breakfast pizzas and potato skins). We’ve also had some nice club sandwiches and open-faced hot turkey sandwiches here (although we aren’t fans of the mashed potatoes, real as they are).
Pork roll and egg (no cheese on this one) comes garnished differently at lunch, but it’s still the same great Jersey sandwich.
One more thing: before all meals, including breakfasts, they serve cheese bread and cinnamon bread, one small loaf per person. These are soft, warm white bread-based loaves filled with either a cinnamon-sugar filling (good) or gobs of Italian cheesecake-like filling (extraordinary). Many people leave the breads untouched, and bring them home for tomorrow’s breakfast, but we usually find it hard to resist tearing into them right away. Larger versions of these breads are available for purchase in the bakery.
Bordentown NJ 08505
Barely detectable before cutting into them, these flapjacks are chock full of fresh strawberry and banana slices. We think they are the best pancakes in the house.
These classic diner-style pancakes are loaded with fresh blueberries. This is a short stack – can anyone really eat a full order?
LAF TRAK: Zero
BEST THING TO EAT: Cheese bread
Mastoris’ omelets are first-rate. This one features lean Italian sausage.
You can, of course, get your egg sandwich (or any sandwich, for that matter) on the bread of your choice, but this “sunflower bread” isn’t listed as such on the menu. You just have to know about it to order it. We think it makes a great vehicle for egg breakfasts.
In this close-up side view of the cheese bread, you get a glimpse of the sweet vanilla cheesecake-like filling.
This is a short stack of cinnamon raisin French toast. The bread is thick and sweet – syrup not necessary, but go ahead if you like it super-sweet.
We’re always drawn to Mastoris’ pork roll in the morning.
Scrapple is a Delaware Valley specialty. Many people like it with syrup. Mastoris’ version is too livery for our tastes.
Pork roll is unique to New Jersey. An order at Mastoris consists of three generous slices (one slice was already snatched from the plate before the photo). Something like a cross between bologna and Spam.
If you see the homemade chicken pot pie on the menu, we urge you to order it. It’s fantastic!
Mastoris has a selection of personal-sized pizzas. This one, called Barcelona, includes feta, sun-dried tomatoes, and artichoke hearts.
If macaroni and cheese is a side dish the day you dine at Mastoris, we recommend placing an order.
Note the crusty potatoes. Ask for them well done, with fried onions.
Mastoris’s vegetables of the day, like this baked acorn squash, would do a Southern cafeteria cook proud.
Most Mastoris sandwiches are best ordered on the homemade Sunflower Bread, buttered and grilled if possible.
Somewhere under that pile are thick slices of good meatloaf.
The baked sweets at Mastoris are generally very good, if unsubtle.
Breakfast pizzas pile an assortment of breakfast ingredients atop a tomato sauced pizza crust.
This omelet is filled with Swiss cheese.
Seen from above, this looks pretty much like a pile of melted cheese, but underneath that are breakfast meats, an omelet, sliced tomatoes, and potato skins.
A cup of soup comes with dinner, if you’d like. The seafood chowder is light on seafood but high on flavor.
Various dips and breads make up the Mediterranean Sampler appetizer, which also serves as a fun meal.
French onion soup looks good but it needs a good, rich onion broth, not this watery-tasting version.
Technically a salad, but topped with two pounds of chicken breasts in barbecue sauce as a “garnish”
The photo doesn’t show it, but this is one huge diner.