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Hamburger Choo-Choo and Eddie's Pizza

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Jim Leff May 15, 1999 11:35 AM

The only other human being who remembers both these pillars of my Long Island youth is chowhound regular Barry Strugatz. But Barry--due to some unimagineable lapse of taste--wasn't enamored of the burgers at the latter (though he did, of course, adore the Sicilian pizza at Eddie's...which was in Ft. Salonga, by the way).

Anyone else out there remember (and properly worship) both these places? If it weren't for my wide-eyed discovery of the potential for chow greatness at Eddie's and the Choo-Choo during my childhood, I might never have become a chowhound.

ciao

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    Renee RE: Jim Leff May 15, 1999 12:07 PM

    There was a great little Hamburger Choo-Choo located
    in Hewlett, Long Island, they also made a great coffe
    freeze, are you familiar with that location?

    6 Replies
    1. re: Renee
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      Jim Leff RE: Renee May 15, 1999 12:24 PM

      No!!! I'm talking about the Huntington one, but I had NO IDEA there were other
      Hamburger Choo Choos! (if "choos" is indeed the plural of "choo").

      were the hamburgers ambrosial, the fries crisp?

      Just think...there might still be a Hamburger Choo Choo out there somewhere, with loose-packed
      beefy burgers and great malts....

      1. re: Jim Leff
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        Renee RE: Jim Leff May 15, 1999 12:38 PM

        Yes, there was more than one Choo Choo Burger, the
        burgers were splendid, the malts, thick and creamy.
        Ah, I feel young again, I can just see that little
        sizzler coming around the track, it sure exceeded
        McDonald's.

        1. re: Renee
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          Amy D RE: Renee May 21, 1999 02:44 PM

          Hamburger Choo Choo was my favorite place when I was little too, But you had to sit at the counter. Otherwise, it was just like any other hamburger joint. My mom, used to take me after my ballet lessons.

          1. re: Amy D
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            tony RE: Amy D Apr 2, 2000 07:33 PM

            y'all make it sound sooo good-nostalgialicious
            I wish that train had stopped in my life too-

            1. re: tony
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              David RE: tony Jun 20, 2003 01:54 PM

              This is YEARS late in coming, but the place referred to in the earliest post was called the "Hamburger Local" run by an African-American gentleman, Mr. Wilson, in Hewlett, N.Y.
              Your burgers and fries arrived in front of you on a toy railroad track that wound around the dining room. They were awesome, with a very steaky taste that was curiously light rather than dense, and the only similar tasting burgers I've ever had since then (the 1960s) are made by the Wisconsin-based Culver's chain called "butterburgers" (the roll is buttered, there's no butter in the burger itself).
              But what I most remember about the Hamburger Local were those delicious "orangeades" the Wilson family used to serve. The owners had a huge, glass-front bin of oranges in front, and they would cut and pulp them fresh for each "ade," always putting a marischino cherry in.
              To this day, whenever I order a screwdriver, I ask the bartender to put a cherry in it, my silly but sincere homage to a truly cherished childhood restaurant memory.
              God bless you and keep you, Mr. Wilson.

        2. re: Jim Leff
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          Alan Divack RE: Jim Leff May 15, 1999 05:33 PM

          Hamburger Choo Choo was the consolation prize for
          behaving on a trip to get dress up clothing at Marsh's
          when I was young. The choo choo made more of an
          impression than the burgers, though.

          My seminal chowhound experience was Hong Wah on the
          Bowery -- esp. the snails, the noodles, and the sweet
          and sour deep fried fish. I may not choose this
          particular type of Cantonesse eating nowadays, but many
          of my attitudes towards food, life and politics emerged
          from deep fat along with that fish.

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        stephen kaye RE: Jim Leff May 15, 1999 02:22 PM

        there's an eddies pizza, I believe its hillside ave, near marcus ave, probably not the same as your eddies, but its packed-round the clock-famous for their thin crust pies. I think its in the town of herricks??

        6 Replies
        1. re: stephen kaye
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          ppace RE: stephen kaye May 16, 1999 09:39 AM

          There is also one in syosset, which tends to be less
          crowded

          1. re: ppace
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            Jim Leff RE: ppace May 16, 1999 01:13 PM

            er, guys, thanks but I don't have some strange obsession with any pizzeria with "Eddie's" in the name!

            Eddie's pizza was a legendary place in Fort Salonga that made Sicilian pies that tasted like nowhere else. We're all eating such crappy slice pizza these days that it's nearly impossible to conceive that cheese, sauce, and crust could taste so good, but no one plumbed the potential of square pies as deeply as Eddie.

            Funny story...long after Eddie's closed, I became a regular patron at Trotta's Pizza in Dix Hills (in the Pathmark Shopping Center at Park Avenue and Jericho Tpk). Their Sicilian pie wasn't great, but the round one somehow reminded me of the late lamented Eddie's. One day, after I'd been going there for years, they put up a photo board showing, pictorially, the history of Trotta's Pizza. There was a snapshot of Eddie's Pizza. I asked the owner about it, and he turned out to be Eddie's son. Amazing.

            Trotta's is now under new ownership, and I have no idea where the scion of Eddie is these days...alas.

            1. re: Jim Leff
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              Dave Feldman RE: Jim Leff May 16, 1999 05:53 PM

              I spent my misspent youth in California, but I have to
              say that "Hamburger Choo-Choo" has to be one of the
              greatest names for an eating establishment I've ever
              heard. Is it possible to be nostalgic for a place
              you've never eaten at?

              1. re: Dave Feldman
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                Jim Leff RE: Dave Feldman May 16, 1999 11:47 PM

                "Is it possible to be nostalgic for a place
                you've never eaten at?"

                Absolutely. In fact, I've thought for some time that English lacks a word meaning "nostalgia for something one has never experienced".

                "Yearning" comes close, but it implies that the thing is actually attainable, and it's a bit melodramatic...

                1. re: Jim Leff
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                  stephanie schandler RE: Jim Leff Jun 25, 1999 08:55 PM

                  i loved hamburger choo-choo. my mother owned sweet
                  temptation which was 2 doors away and i ate there all
                  the time. it was really sad when it burned. my
                  mother sold her candy store (which was the BEST!)and
                  we havent been back to town since. too bad

              2. re: Jim Leff
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                DanialT RE: Jim Leff Jan 13, 2013 06:14 AM

                We used to go to Trotta's on Smithtown Bypass in the late 70s. I wonder if they moved? I didn't know they had a location in Dix Hills.

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            bill, jr. RE: Jim Leff Jul 5, 2000 08:09 PM

            Grew up in Halesite. Hamburger Choo-Choo was a great place. Just being on the sidewalk outside and smelling the place was great.

            And I had Eddie's every weekend in golf season. Both parents golfed, and it was on the way home from the course. They stopped and picked one up one afternoon, and the rest is history. For years, every weekend, whenever anybody golfed, Eddie's. I LOVED that pizza, out of the box, leftover, cold, hot, didn't matter. I even ate it for breakfast. In fact you'd pray for good weather so your Eddie's wouldn't get rained out.

            I thought it was the best around...though up the street from Choo-Choo was an Italian bakery, Marretta's I think it was, across from the library...and he made "Sicilian" one day a week that was pretty darned good.

            All many moons ago, but thanks for the memories.

            1 Reply
            1. re: bill, jr.
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              Jim Leff RE: bill, jr. Jul 6, 2000 01:04 AM

              Other than Barry Strugatz (who uncharacteristically didn't properly appreciate what he was eating at the time), you're the only person I've ever met who remembers both places.

              Funny, growing up I figured everyone had their Eddie's and Hamburger Choo Choo analogues. And they do...only for most people it's places like Swenson's. Who knew that the chow we were ecstatic over as kids truly was world class?

              ciao

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              Bill P Sr RE: Jim Leff Jul 11, 2000 01:38 PM

              My son has already told you about the Pisarras and Eddie`s Pizza but I simply must add my two cents which in my Eddie`s pizza days bought a helluva lot more than it does now. We were so fortunate to have Eddie`s whether the goling was good or bad. I`m 78 looking back and still loving it. I must say about Eddies what I always say about my mother in laws cooking i.e.after all these years I realize why I had five by passes and believe me it was worth it! Thanks for the memory.

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                robert bowe RE: Jim Leff Jul 25, 2000 06:02 PM

                I remember a Choo-Choo Hamburger in Huntington, Long Island. I went there in the mid-sixties.

                1 Reply
                1. re: robert bowe
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                  Jim Leff RE: robert bowe Jul 25, 2000 06:08 PM

                  Bingo!

                  Fond memories, I bet, right?

                  The best hamburgers. And fries, too. And malts. I've got to stop, I'm gonna get bummed out...

                  ciao

                  ps--you also remember Eddie's Pizza over in Ft. Salonga? Sicilian square pies only? Unique herbal tang and incredible crunchy tender crust?

                2. r
                  R. Carter RE: Jim Leff Jul 25, 2000 10:42 PM

                  When I was growing up, if you were born in a good-weather month your third grade birthday party was at Adventurer's Inn; otherwise, it was bowling and Hamburger Choo Choo. In a parallel universe somewhere there are 50,000 restaurants that deliver great chow to you on a model train set, and the one with golden arches burned to the ground.

                  In Huntington — aka "the Paris of all suburbs" — Hamburger Choo Choo was one of the top three tourist attractions, along with the Columbus statue and the two-headed cat at Snyder's. The cat, too, is greatly missed.

                  I don't remember Eddie's Pizza; we got ours from Minetta's or J&J Southside. But as long as we're tripping down Huntington's Memory Lane, do you remember the home fries at Charco Cottage? Were you a fan?

                  12 Replies
                  1. re: R. Carter
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                    Ted RE: R. Carter Jul 25, 2000 11:32 PM

                    Wow, ya gotta love this string about Hamburger Choo Choo. No I didn't grow up in Huntington and don't remember the place but I do remember the Adventurers Inn there (I had my 10th birthday party there actually).There was another Adventurer's Inn between Shea Stadium and Whitestone (College Point?) but the food at both places wasn't particularly noteworthy.BUT, there was a small restaurant on 108th Street near where I grew up in Forest Hills called the Bonfire that also had a model train delivering food. SO THERE!! I was very young when they stopped doing the train thing but my brother and mother used to talk about it all the time. I do remember going there for lunch in the sixth grade and getting lunch specials for 99 cents (soft drink included). Every day was different but I remember the veal parmagian and spaghetti days as particular favorites. We had two great pizza joints (Pizza Den and Joe's) on 108th Street plus two solid Jewish Delis (Band's was one and I don't remember the name of the other) not to mention the luncheon counter at the Woolworth's (food was pedestrian but it was fun to check out the parakeets and fish for sale).Ahhh, those early food memories are so special. And then there's Howard Johnson's (the ice cream in the silver dish with the cookie was sublime), and Jahn's (those humongous ice cream sodas not to mention the kitchen sinks!!!), and Chock Full of Nuts etc. etc. Does anyone remember a place called 4and20 that specialized in pies but also sold hot and cold sandwiches? I think it was a small chain that never caught on. We had one for awhile in the '70s on 63rd Road in Rego Park near Queens Boulevard.Thanks for unleashing some truly wonderful memories.

                    1. re: R. Carter
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                      Jim Leff RE: R. Carter Jul 26, 2000 01:22 AM

                      didn't know Charco cottage, but Adventurers Inn was an indelible part of my youth.

                      They actually had pretty good potato knishes at one point

                      ciao

                      1. re: Jim Leff
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                        R. Carter RE: Jim Leff Jul 26, 2000 11:36 AM

                        Don't remember Charco Cottage on Main Street, down the block from Main St. Stationery? Circa 1974-77, it was THE place to sober up/tame the munchies and otherwise see and be seen at 2 AM. Where did you go: Colonial Diner? Jack-in-the-Box? Or did you settle, as we sometimes did, for the warm cashews from the "Little Nut Hut" machine at Drifter's Reef in Centerport?

                        1. re: R. Carter
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                          Jim Leff RE: R. Carter Jul 26, 2000 12:22 PM

                          In 1974-77, the only thing I needed to sober up from was too much chocolate milk!

                          1. re: Jim Leff
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                            stephen kaye RE: Jim Leff Jul 26, 2000 03:10 PM

                            do you remember the jolly Roger?? sought of a smaller adv.inn. south shore of long island, I forget exactly what town?? massapequa perhaps?? it was in its heyday the early 1960's

                            1. re: stephen kaye
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                              Bilmo RE: stephen kaye Jul 26, 2000 05:11 PM

                              Hey, Jolly Roger! I almost forgot about it. It was a few minutes from where I grew up (Wantagh), on Hempstead Turnpike. I don't know the town. And next to it (I always think of them as the same place) was Nunley's (later Smiley's) Happyland, with rides and games and such. It was literally my favorite place in the world when I was a little kid. I don't remember the food specifics, of course, but it was an assortment of burgers, fries, ice cream, kind of like, for those who remember it, Cook's in Westchester county.

                              Jolly Roger/Happyland is long gone. As is, I think, Zorn's, which was nearby and had wonderful chicken, and a small "zoo".

                              1. re: Bilmo
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                                stephen kaye RE: Bilmo Jul 26, 2000 05:41 PM

                                I believe zorn's is still there??? anyone know 4 sure?? big buckets of chicken !! me too/ jolly rogers, and the brass rings on the merry go round,yankees, giants, worlds fair, yeah those days were fun!!

                                1. re: stephen kaye
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                                  Phil Pace RE: stephen kaye Jul 26, 2000 08:22 PM

                                  I replied in a different place (forgot it was called happy smiley land!) But yeah Zorns is still there, I drive by it on occasion. don't know if they still have the animals in the back. I am going to give it a try again this weekend. I'll report back

                                2. re: Bilmo
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                                  Roadkill RE: Bilmo Nov 13, 2003 11:08 AM

                                  FYI, Jolly Rogers was not Nunley's they were 2 different places. The place so many of us kids called Jolly Rogers was really Smiley's Happyland. That was the name of the amusement park. Jolly Rogers was the name of an attached eatery in front of the park. Being in the front, and with a prominent sign, it's no wonder we mixed it up! Jolly Rogers/Smiley's Happyland were in Bethpage.

                                  1. re: Roadkill
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                                    cj RE: Roadkill Mar 14, 2004 09:59 AM

                                    and zorn's is still in bethpage too, along with satellites in east meadow and possibly bellmore

                                3. re: stephen kaye
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                                  Jim Leff RE: stephen kaye Jul 26, 2000 05:47 PM

                                  But of course. I remember it as somewhat cheesier than Adventurer's Inn (but this was long past the early 60's), though the name "Jolly Roger" always had a certain draw to an eight year old.

                                  hey,while this is most amusing to those of us who remember these places, we're doubtless boring the heck out of everyone else. Can we maybe move this over to the Not About Food board? I'll start a thread there, called "Long Island Nostalgia".

                                  ciao

                          2. re: R. Carter
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                            Bill Pisarra, Jr. RE: R. Carter Jul 26, 2000 11:27 AM

                            J&J Southside! Ever have the Mussels Posillipo? I lived on them for a couple of years in the mid-70's. One of the great chow finds ever.

                            Minetta's - was this a bakery on Main Street across from the library? I remember a bakery that sold great pizza once a week, but I thought it was called Maretta's.

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                            jeanetteemrich RE: Jim Leff Mar 14, 2013 04:08 AM

                            I have been searching for this place forever since I was a child. I don't remember much. mostly the train. My mom and dad william and carol (Sanders) Emrich. took us. I only remeber going once. My family did not have alot of money. I do remeber my grandparents George and Millie Emrich talking about it and I think my aunt Barbara chisling did also. It was so long ago. I wish more places were like this it felt like home to me ad I was very young. Thank you For posting this. You have no idea how much it has meant to me to find a small peice of my child hood. My father was military so we moved around alot and I have been trying to find some fragments of when I was little. This one was important to me. I can never thank you enough for helping me out. sincerely Jeanette A Emrich

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                              jeanetteemrich RE: Jim Leff Mar 14, 2013 04:14 AM

                              just a quick question anyone have pics of the one on longisland would love to have seen it. wanna know if it is what i remember. thanks

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: jeanetteemrich
                                coll RE: jeanetteemrich Mar 14, 2013 04:24 AM

                                This website has a picture of the exterior, but it was the inside with the train on the counter delivering hamburgers that was the cool thing.

                                http://www.bygoneli.com/forums/showth...

                                1. re: coll
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                                  jeanetteemrich RE: coll Mar 14, 2013 04:42 AM

                                  Thank you so much I am so excited. My Parents grew up on Long Island NY Kings Park I don"t remember much about it. I went to accompsite and please forgive me if i spell the school wrong. for a little while. was real young when we moved we used to live on old road where the Giant hill was. There was a farm if you walked through the woods I think its still there my parents used to talk about it. lol funny how things look as a kid and when you go back just how much things have changed. again thank you for your help, jeanette

                                  1. re: jeanetteemrich
                                    coll RE: jeanetteemrich Mar 14, 2013 04:54 AM

                                    My husband lived in Huntington throughout his high school years and Hamburger Choo Choo was all I ever heard. He is a train aficianado and a hamburger lover, so a match made in heaven. Small world; then we met, got married and moved to Kings Park.....but we drove back to Huntington almost every Sunday just for kicks. This was back in the 1970s and there were still lots of farms all over then, in both towns. Mostly cabbage as I recall! Was back recently and shocked to see all the new subdivisions with the McMansions crammed together.

                                    1. re: coll
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                                      jeanetteemrich RE: coll Mar 14, 2013 05:09 AM

                                      I thnk the name of the farm was rochester but its been so long. my dad is still alive so ill ask him. I realy don't know where they went to school. I was told a long time ago that my grandfather Sanders was in Kingspark when President Roosevelt came through. There is supposed to be a picture somewhere of him and the President shaking hads. My grandfather thought he was the greatest president in the world. even belonged to the republican party in town. of course this was Teddy Roosevelt. I think I must be getting old..lol I really had to think to remember all of this.lol

                                      1. re: jeanetteemrich
                                        coll RE: jeanetteemrich Mar 14, 2013 08:05 AM

                                        Kings Park started getting big when they built the psychiatric hospital in the 1800s. It was a very Irish town due to the employees there and I could see politicians targeting it for their own reasons.But since Teddy Roosevelt had a house here in Oyster Bay, I'm sure he was like a local boy made good so I could see him being well regarded.

                                        We lived by a farm and I will try to look up the name (I'm getting old too, to put it mildly). They owned the gas station on the corner of Old Commack Rd and were great people, old timers and just as friendly as they come. Oh it came to me! Hagzan! Their farm field kept getting smaller and smaller and now it's gone. I had a neighbor who was a former farmer, his yard kept getting smaller and smaller as he sold off plots, all he had when we moved were bee hives. The kids used to knock them over for fun. When I went back two years ago, he was gone and a couple of new houses were on his little plot.

                                        Miraculously, Raleigh's Poultry Farm on Indian Head Rd seems to have survived.

                                    2. re: jeanetteemrich
                                      EM23 RE: jeanetteemrich Mar 14, 2013 06:12 PM

                                      There is a thread about Choo-Choo on the Long Island City-Data board. I didn't read through the thread so I can't say if there are any pics, but it may be worth registering so that you can ask if anyone has photos. It is a free website, BTW.
                                      http://www.city-data.com/forum/long-i...

                                      And contacting the library may help. Recently, while looking through my library's digital local history collection online, I found pics of the local 5 and 10 from my childhood, and the long-gone dive bar from my misspent youth (the one my Dad told me he better never catch me in - hah!)

                                      Contact info for the Huntington Public Library http://hpl.suffolk.lib.ny.us/administ...

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