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Sep 9, 2001 10:47 AM

"Newark Style" Italian Hot Dogs?

  • t

The topic came up on Fri night over a few fine ales---what is contained in a "Newark Style" Italian Hot dog? Specifically, is the main ingredient Hot Dog or Italian Sausage? I say Hot Dog, but my friend Alan says Italian Sausage. We agree on the round bread and fried potatoes, etc.--but I think Alan is all wet on Sausage thing. However, he is a highly regarded foodie in the greater New Brunswick area. Also, I was born (and partially raised in Newark) and Alan in Woodbridge (way down in Middlesex County)---perhaps he is used to some local mutant variant of the original....Please help us settle this little dispute...I think the wager was a drink.

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  1. g
    Gene De Lisa

    Italian hot dogs have believe it or not: hot dogs!

    Many of the "famous" NJ italian hot dog places also serve italian sausage with the same stuff on top: fried peppers, fried onions and fried potatoes on italian bread or rolls. Some places make the "roll" from pizza dough.

    16 Replies
    1. re: Gene De Lisa

      I love Italian Hot Dogs, and they are, indeed, hot dogs; although most of the places sell sausage sandwiches; most notably Tommy's in Elizabeth. An authentic Italian Hot Dog is served on pizza bread rather than a hoagie roll, and with a spicy, all beef hot dog (preferably Best brand) and thin sliced deep fried potatoes rather than french fries. A lot of places south of Union and Essex Counties sell the bastardized version (hoagie rolls and fries) with the exception of Jo Jo's in Toms River.

      I've tried most of the places that specialize in Italian Hot Dogs, and my opinions are:
      Jimmy Buff's the original and some say the standard. Good, but too greasy. Everything fried in a stainless steel pit and potatoes and vegetables lay in there until needed.

      Dickee Dees better, but the potatoes are clumps rather than thin sliced, and the sandwich isn't as big as the places that follow. Located in Newark. Jimmy Buff's is in Irvington, Scotch Plains, West Orange, and N.Arlington.

      Charlies Son, Union big sandwich, everything deep fried in bins rather than left in the grease; one of the best.

      Tommy's, Elizabeth also one of the best, very good potatoes

      Charlies Famous, Kenilworth, the best in my opinion, they give a lot of vegetables, and have a lot of red and green peppers which are better than the other places, as well as a unique, homemade mustard. I've gone to this place so many times that I got my daughter a job there.

      1. re: John Fox


        I've read several of your other posts on dogs and I want to say it's great to find someone else who is as much of a maniac as I am :)

        Would you know where one can actually buy dogs made by Best Provisions? Sometimes I'd like to make a dog at home.

        1. re: Gene De Lisa

          The hot dogs used by all the Italian Hot Dog joints that I know of are produced by Best Provisions. I don't know where you are from; I'm assuming N.J. or close to it. You can get this brand at almost any supermarket; Shop Rite always has them. They are the only brand sold at Quik Check. But if you come across them, make sure to get the longer 8 to a lb rather than the 10 to a lb package. I go to Best in Newark occasionally when I want to get the natural casing franks. The plant in Newark is the only place you can get these. The 8 to a lb with natural casing is the same ones sold at Jerry's in Elizabeth. The 5 to a lb are the ones that are sold at Syd's in Union.

          It's fun to make Italian Hot Dogs at home. To make an authentic one, it helps to have a deep fryer and access to a bakery that makes pizza bread. I know I'm a maniac when it comes to hot dogs, and I get a lot of flack from my wife, but she knows there are a lot of worse things I could be doing. Ciao

          1. re: John Fox

            Thanks for the info John; you're the guy! Time to make a shop rite run...

            I moved from Central NJ to Haddonfield (south of Cherry Hill) 20 years ago. Right now I'm watching the Phillies on tv and wish I had a dog. :) I cannot find a decent dog house around here. My friends are still up north so I usually make a dog run. I think you said Syd's was your favorite? I'll give them a try next time.

            Someplace else you mention Usingers. I went to their web site and asked for their catalog. Which dogs did you like? (they have a zillion of em)

            1. re: Gene De Lisa

              Good Luck, Gene; I hope they have Best brand in South Jersey; if not, Nathan's would be a good substitute. Watching the Phillies, hey? I sure hope they beat out the Braves this year. I am a die hard Mets Fan, and we sure lost a tough one to Atlanta on Sunday. I go to the Vet every year rather than Shea because we go on a bus trip and the Phils offer us better seats. The Phils are my second team and I watch them when I can even though we don't get the Phillies station up here.

              As for Usinger's, I would stick to one of the all beef kinds. The Angus come in 1/4 and 1/8 lb size. Both are great, and the best dog you will taste; too bad they are skinless. The all beef (non Angus) dogs taste very similar (I can't tell the difference, except the Angus are jucier) they are spiced exactly the same as the Angus. These are the ones that won a nationwide taste test. I get the all beef wiener (7 or 8 to a lb) and the all beef frank (5 to a lb) The difference here, other than size, is that the smaller wiener has a more tender sheep casing, wheras the larger frank has a tougher, hog casing. I would also recomend their summer sausage and bratwurst.
              Let me know how you make out.

              1. re: John Fox
                Gene De Lisa

                Thanks John.

                Sure enough Best hot dogs are available in Shop Rite in South NJ. (On sale too). They have 10/1 and 8/1; I got the 8/1. I ate them the last time the phils won. I ate other stuff the past 2 night and they lost. maybe some strange cosmic thing.

                I was a Met's fan back when the players had names like kranepool, seaver, agee, staub, gentry etc. but I only went to shea once. Tough getting there from central NJ. Since Im 9.5 miles from the Vet parking lot I can see a lot more games.

                Does anyone have favorite ballpark food? For me it's dogs of course. I *still* remember the dogs at Yankee stadium back in the 60s when they were cooked on those steel roller things. They're nothing special right now. Same with the regular ($2.95) Philly frank at the vet; I might get one on a dollar dog game. However this season I got there early and walked around and found a place on the bottom floor that grills them (for about $4.50). They were decent.

                John, I don't know how old you are but.. but back in the early 70s I commuted from old bridge nj to hawthorne 5 times a week. (I was in a drum and bugle corps). I remember stopping at a dog house around clifton that deep fried their dogs. The also had signs for miles advertising them. Has the Rut Hut always been called that? Or was there another place lost to history...

                1. re: Gene De Lisa

                  Just turned 42 and was a Mets fan since I went to my first game May 8 1969 when Tom Seaver beat the Houston Astros 3-1 and Cleon Jones hit a homerun. Funny you should mention Rutt's Hut. They have been in Clifton since 1928 and are still there. I love their deep fried dogs. I wanted to make them at home, so I found a Thumann's distributor and got him to deliver a 5lb package of their special dogs for deep frying to my favorite pizzeria. These are the ones used at Rutt's and contain soy protein and semolina to aid in deep frying. I throw them into my deep fryer, and voila! the same dogs you get at Rutt's in the convenience of my own home. These dogs are not sold at the supermarket. You can get them at Rutt's for $5.00 per lb, but if you know a pizza place/sub shop that buys Thumann's meats, maybe you can talk the owner into ordering a bag of them for much cheaper.

              2. re: Gene De Lisa

                you can get Best dogs at many Shop Rites. I buy mine at the Shop Rite on Aramingo Ave. in the Port Richmond section of Phila.

                1. re: Gene De Lisa

                  If for any reason you find yourself in Atlanta, go to Mike's near Emory. Great dogs!!!!

                2. re: John Fox

                  Anyone that would even conSYDer a skinless hot dog should be GRILLED. Being somewhat of a maven, when it comes to hot dogs, let me be FRANK with you. There is nothing WURST then a skinless puppie. It burnes on the outdoor grill and blows up in water. It becomes waterlogged when you boil it. I recieved my P.H.D. (plain hot dog) when I weas five years old and have been eating at least four foot six inches weekly since, and not weakly.

                3. re: Gene De Lisa

                  I recall Dickey Dees (Newark) being a better product than Jimmy Buffs - An Italian Hot dog was always made with a hot dog, but you could get the alternative sausage...

                  Thumans makes a special hot dog for deep frying - to withstand the intense fat temperature. They are great, but you do need a terrific brown mustard and a variety of different relishes (catsup based, the traditional bright green, etc) because the dog, by itself, is quite bland. Almost like a baloney in taste.

                  What's real interesting is they partially cook them first and then when you order one, they blow right back up - I use to work in a place that had a great deep fried hot dog in Ft. Lee

                  1. re: Chuck
                    victor lieberman

                    I am interested in chowing on a deep fried dog on my upcoming trip.

                    My itinerary is this:
                    to McLean
                    Montgomery to Towson
                    Towson to King of Prussia
                    KOP to Freehold
                    Freehold to Short Hills
                    Short Hills to Paramus
                    Paramus to Newark Airport.

                    Any deep fried dog, fried clams, or other chowhound experiences of the shack variety to be had?


              3. re: Gene De Lisa

                Italian Hot dogs,Jimmie Buffs serving them for 60 years or so, also the sausage.. grew up on them in the 50'S

                1. re: bob saraceno

                  Don't know if it still exists... but there was a Newark-style Italian hot dog stand on Rte. 1 in Edison, New Jersey, just south of Menlo Park mall at Grandview Ave. on the northbound side.

                  1. re: PRSMDave

                    The place in Edison has been demolished, they are making Rt. 1 wider in that location.
                    I was born and raised in Newark. When you are talking Newark Hot Dogs you are talking about Jimmy Buffs. They are by far the best. There is one in Irvington,There is one on Rt.22 next to Bow Craft.I think there is still one in West Orange and one in Hudson County.I don't know where they buy their hot dogs.

              4. a
                Allie D'Augustine

                I agree w/ Gene... and I don't buy the Middlesex county variant excuse, either--I grew up next door to Woodbridge and it's still a hot dog.

                Allie, now regretting the fact that she never worked up the courage to enter the little scary-looking hot dog shack on the side of Route 1 in Metuchen

                1. As one born in Newark I can tell you that a real italian hot dog is made with a hot dog...typically Best Foods brand of dog.

                  1. I will wait for CH named hotdoglover chimes in as i think he is the absolute expert on HDs in NJ. But from Jfood from Elizabeth, first it's not a "Newark Style" anything. It's an Italian Dog. It's a deep fried hot dog on a hero type roll but the bread is more dense than a sub sandwich and describing it as Pizza dough style is pretty accurate. Then there are onions, grilled on a griddle and then there are potatoes that are normally deep fried right next to the dog.

                    It is about as greasy, fatty and delicious a way to eat a dog. :-))

                    On the deal with Best HDs. There are Bests and there are Bests. Several great dog vendors in NJ, in particular Dons in Short Hills (defunct) and Syds in Millburn (now Springfield), used Best variety but they are soooooo faaaaar better than those you can buy at SR.

                    Hotdoglover please chime in as you are the absolute expert on this subject.

                    1. The sandwich known as the Italian Hot Dog was first sold in the early 1930's in Newark by a man named James Racioppi. He was known as Jimmy Buff by his friends. Many places in New Jersey call their sandwich a Newark Style Hot Dog because this is where the sandwich originated.

                      It is a Jersey original and can be found all over the state, but mostly in Essex and Union Counties. What I call an authentic Italian Hot Dog is one (or more commonly 2- a double) all beef franks (usually from Best Provisions) that have been deep fried or sauteed, placed in a half loaf of Italian Pizza Bread (similar to a pita) or a quarter loaf for a single, and topped with deep fried or sauteed peppers, onions, and potatoes. The potatoes can be cut in chunks or sliced thin. I prefer thin.

                      Most of the authentic places like Jimmy Buff's prepares the ingredients in a slanted stainless steel rectangular pan. There is oil towards the bottom. The ingredients are kept to the other side and placed in the oil as needed. This makes for a sandwich with more oils. Some consider this too greasy; others like the extra oils. Other places put all the ingredients in a deep fryer.

                      Italian Hot Dogs are also made and served in many pizzerias, but most of the time they are not what I consider authentic. Meaning that instead of using circular pizza bread, they use a sub or hoagie roll. Instead of sliced potatoes, they use french fries. And many of these places don't even use an all beef dog, which is essential for this type of sandwich. I call these versions "bastardized" or inauthentic.

                      This past summer I was on the Munchmobile S.W.A.T. Team, where we reviewed over 100 different hot dogs. We named the best in 5 different categories (grilled, deep fried, dirty water, chili dog, and Italian Hot Dog). There were eight people and we voted for top 3 in each category. I didn't always agree with the rest of the members, but I did when it came to Italian Hot Dogs. #3 was World's First Italian Hot Dogs. This place was the Original Jimmy Buff's. It was later sold and renamed Lou's. Sold again and is now known by the current name. #2 was the West Orange Jimmy Buff's. There are 4 Buff's restaurants; this one, one in Irvington, one in Scotch Plains, and one in East Hanover. #1 was Tommy's in Elizabeth. Best Italian Hot Dog. They opened a new location on rt 130 in North Brunswick which I visited yesterday. Same great product.

                      Tommy's has actually improved its product by using 8 to a lb rather than 10 to a lb dogs. 8 is the perfect size in my opinion. The 10's are a little small. You also get more peppers on your sandwich now. In the past they were inconsistent. But the best thing about Tommy's is their potatoes. By far the best and tastiest potatoes of any place serving an Italian Hot Dog.

                      Other places serving an authentic Italian Hot Dog are Jersey Joes in Port Monmouth, Dickiee Dees in Newark, JoJo's in Toms River (originally from Iselin) Joe's Pizzeria in Union, and Charlies Famous in Kenilworth. Charlies Famous used to be my favorite, but they have gone downhill. The owner is looking to sell the place and is hardly ever there. The people working there used to be exceptional as was the service, but it is no longer so. When we went as a team the service was horrible and slow. What I expected to be one of the best Italian Hot Dogs didn't even place. They refreeze the bread, switch back and forth between Best's and Sabrett, and the potatoes are sometimes black. A shame too, since this used to be Jersey's premier Italian Hot Dog. They have gotten worse while Tommy's has improved. I would stay clear of Charlies and would recommend Tommy's or the West Orange Jimmy Buff's. I haven't been to the East Hanover location, so can't comment on it. West Orange and E. Hanover are owned by the founder's grandson, Jim Raccioppi, while the Irvington and Scotch Plains locations are owned by Jim's uncle (the original Jimmy Buff's nephew I believe). The difference is that the Scotch Plains and Irvington locations serve a sandwich that has more oils than the west Orange location. Some people like it that way. I prefer the less greasy version at West Orange.

                      When I'm in the mood, I like to make an Italian Hot Dog at home. At the risk of sounding like I'm bragging, I prefer mine to any that I can buy. I get fresh pizza bread from a bakery that used to supply most of the places named above until the guy stopped making it in large quantities. He makes 5 or so a day for his customers. I also use the Best 8 to a lb dogs. Red and green peppers, and thin sliced potatoes with the help of a mandoline. I omit onions. I fry everything in a deep fryer in stages. The result is an Italian Hot Dog cooked to my liking for much less than what I pay for one. I suggest that you try it yourself if you have a deep fryer. If not, a cast iron skillet will do.

                      Forgive the long post, but you hit on a subject I love to talk about. An Italian Hot Dog may be my favorite thing in the world to eat.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: hotdoglover

                        HDL u r the best w dogs in NJ. I forgot about the shape of the bread. Yup, must be round and a single gets the pie shape the double gets a half moon. You have made a gloomy looking Friday a shiny day with this post.

                        May have to drive to the Big E (that's what us natives call it) to get a Tommy's this weekend. Maybe combine with Spiritos and do the Daily Double.

                        1. re: hotdoglover

                          where do I get the bread ? I want a dog at home as close as possible to the real thing

                          1. re: hotdoglover

                            I know this is an old thread, but I want to try. I also grew up in Newark in the 50's not far from the original Jimmy Buffs on 14th Ave. I make my own Italian Style Hot Dog, and it's somewhat healthier. I also bake my own breaad and was looking all over the Internet for a recipe for Pizza Bread, but no luck. I do make something very similar using pizza dough in a 9" pie pan. I think the dough for "pizza bread" is more enriched, similar to our white bread. It's such a good loaf of bread, and yet, I'm able to get bread recipes, but none about pizza bread. Outside of NJ people do not know of this. I am inquiring about this bread , and as such, making it known as it should be part of the bread bakers world. Any comment or feedback about what you or anyone else might think this recipe is for "pizza bread" or how it's baked, please reply, thanks!

                            1. re: taurus30

                              I see what you mean, taurus. I tried a search, too. Most of what I found was you asking for the recipe for pizza bread. :)

                              Found this, though. Maybe it'll help:


                              1. re: MarlboroMan

                                Thanks Marlboroman, it's another addition to what I was thinking that the bread is an enriched pizza dough. I did try basic pizza dough, but it seems to rustic and pizza bread seems to be more toward a white bread dough. In all the searches I've done, this thread was about the closest.