Jimmy Buff's, East Hanover, N.J.
Yesterday I went to Jimmy Buffs E. Hanover location for the first time. This is the newest of the 4 Jimmy Buffs that are currently in operation. East Hanover and West Orange restaurants are owned by Jim Raccioppi, grandson of Jimmy "Buff" Racioppi, founder of Jimmy Buffs and inventor of the Italian Hot Dog. The Scotch Plains and Irvington locations are owned by Jim's uncle Mike.
The Italian Hot Dog at Jim's 2 locations don't have the excessive oils that his uncle's restaurants are known for. It's a matter of taste. Some people like their sandwich with extra oils. Jim's are more to my liking. Just the right amount of oil without being what many consider too greasy. The East Hanover Buff's also has a bigger menu selection than the other 3. Here you can get an Italian Hot Dog, footlong, (the same 5 to a lb natural casing dog served at Syd's) pushcart, (the same 8 to a lb natural casing dog served at Jerry's) and a giant quarter pound Schickhaus dog. This is a beef and pork dog that is very popular. Served at Max's and other hot dog restaurants at or near the Jersey Shore. You can also get hamburgers, cheesesteaks, shrimp, fish and chips, homemade soup, and many other items. Check out the menu at http://www.jimmybuff.com.
On this visit, I stuck to hot dogs. First I had a single Italian Hot Dog. It was excellent. Good fresh pizza bread that was hard and chewy. Each location gets their bread fresh from a local bakery. This bread was perfect for an Italian Hot Dog. The dogs are from Best, as are all of the beef dogs used here. But you have a choice of getting yours skinless or with natural casing. The peppers were plentiful and prepared perfectly. The potatoes were tasty and fresh. Not in chunks like Dickiee Dees, but sliced fairly thin, although thicker than Tommy's. I would have to say that this dog and Tommy's are the 2 best Italian Hot Dogs I've ever had. To make a comparison, I would say that I like the bread and peppers better at Buff's. The dogs are equal, while I prefer the potatoes sliced very thin like they do at Tommy's.
I also had a footlong. This is the same dog used at Syd's, which happens to be my favorite hot dog. Natural casing, 5 to a lb with a prefect snap and blend of spices. E. Hanover Buffs is the only place I know of that serves this dog other than Syd's. The popular gourmet grilled cheese restaurant in Jersey City called Melt, also used this dog before they closed. The footlong is prepared a unique way here. It is sauteed in oil like the dogs that are used for the Italian Hot Dog sandwich. Then it is taken out of the oil and put on a charcoal grill. The dog is then put on a toasted bun and topped with a tasty deli mustard. The result is a dog, that if you can believe it, is even better than Syd's! It's the same dog, and while similar in taste, the frying plus char grilling really brings out the flavors and spices in this dog. The dark char marks give the dog an attractive appearance. The grill is a charcoal grill, while Syd's uses a gas grill. I was going to sample the Schickhaus dog, but the footlong was so good, I had to have another one.
As I mentioned in other posts, this is my favorite dog to have at home. I buy them from the factory. And on occasion I get one at Syd's. Voted best grilled dog by the Munchmobile, this was the favorite overall of the S.W.A.T. Team. I didn't think that this dog could be made any better. But Jim Racioppi has proved me wrong. The combination of this dog, prepared the way it was, with the toasted bun and delicious deli mustard, makes this the best hot dog I've ever eaten. I was just blown away. Had the S.W.A.T Team gone here, I would have voted it best dog. It goes for $3.25 tax included. Syd's is $3.48.
You can get any of the dogs here made the way you like. If you ask for a footlong, it comes the way I described it. You can also get it boiled, then grilled, like Syd's if you wish. Or just boiled. They have a griddle as well, so you can have it that way. Next time I'll try one of the Schickhaus dogs. Again, you can get it the way you want, but if you just order it without specifying how you want it prepared, it gets cooked on a griddle and finished off on the charcoal grill.
The footlong was so good, I had both of mine with just mustard. But I sampled the homemade chili on the side. It was unique and very good. One of the best that I've had. Meaty, with a nice sweet flavor and a touch of greeen pepper.
Service was quick and efficient. You place your order at the counter and it comes out from the back. If you want to eat in, you pick it up at a side door which leads to another room where there's tables and a long counter with stools that used to be a bar. This sure beats having to go through the hassle of being waited on like at a Diner and having to wait again for your check like you have to do at Syd's. There is also a game room in the back that is available for private parties.
Tuesday's are called Fat Tuesday's. All double Italian Hot Dogs are sold for the price of a single. I highly recommend this place. I've been to other hot dog restaurants that try to do more than one type of dog. Rarely are they all done well. Jimmy Buff's is an exception. All the offerings are top of the line. The only negative part of my experience is realizing what I have been missing these couple of years since they opened this location.
Jimmy Buff's is located at 354 Rt. 10 West in E. Hanover. Best way to get there is Parkway to exit 145, 280 West to exit 4a. Make a right at the first light onto eagle Rock Ave. then make a left at the next light onto River Rd. Make a left into the strip mall just before River Rd. runs into Rt 10. You may or may not prefer Buff's method of frying, then charcoal grilling. But if you don't, you can still get your dog prepared like Syd's; boiled then grilled. Except that at Jimmy Buff's, it is a real charcoal grill rather than a gas grill. And you are served much quicker. The dogs were always served hot at Syd's, but the one time I had one at their new location, (Tony's Place), it wasn't served hot enough. Seems like they're still working out the kinks. According to a friend of mine who has been there recently, they still haven't added Syd's fries to the menu or their coleslaw.
I grew up in West Orange and had many a double combo with the works (sausage and hot dog) at Jimmy Buffs. What a nostalgia trip - haven't had one in 20+ years.
Speaking of Syd's, did it close? I drove by on Vauxhaull not too long ago and it looks like they redid that strip mall and didn't see Syds' sign.
I was at Jimmy Buff's East Hanover location yesterday. Although it's been mentioned here before, it bears repeating that every Tuesday is Fat Tuesday with double Italian Hot Dogs 1/2 price. This is at the West Orange and East Hanover locations. I had an excellent sandwich yesterday. Every ingredient was extraordinary and the bread is easily the best that I've had on an Italian Hot Dog. Delivered fresh every day from a nearby bakery and never frozen.
Jimmy Buff's will be having a Cardboard Cutout Contest at their East Hanover store. Strike a pose eating a Jimmy Buff's hot dog. Pictures will be taken every Sunday and posted on http://www.jimmybuff.com to be viewed and voted on. The winner will have a life size cardboard cutout displayed in the store. The winner will be anounced in July.
AFTER CLOSE TO HALF A CENTURY AN INSTITUTION IS GONE !
It's nice to know that as some Jimmy Buff locations close other one's spring up, so the franchise will never really die out completely. Locations have closed in North Newark; Vailsburg, Newark; North Arlington; Caldwell; and recently Irvington (all in New Jersey). Rt. 22-Scotch Plains; Washington Ave.,West Orange; and the relatively new one on Rt. 10, East Hanvoer (which I've never been to yet) are the only current survivors.
The Irvington location closed in the summer of 2007 after 45 years of operation, and quality-wise it was the best of all locations. It was also in my hometown and was the most convenient. A perfect location for the weary,tired, fatigued, local on their way home from work, who doesn't relish the thought of slaving over a hot stove that night. It featured wonderful custom made rolls, excellent potatoes, peppers, onions, and outstanding sausages. Add salt, pepper, mustard, and ketchup it wasn't the ideal fare if your blood pressure was running a little high. If some people have sweet tooths, then Jimmy Buff's was the hangout for those with the equivilentof a Salty Tooth. I thought the hot dogs were maybe a grade below the sausages at the Irvington store. My regular order was a single sausage with the works, and if I was really starving a double sausage. (You wouldn't eat another bite that night after a double and maybe even skip the next day's breakfast since a double was THAT filling). By late February or early March '08 the store had been reduced to rubble as someone attempts to start building a house or store on the old Buff's corner location of Grant at Elmwood Aves. I'm a little down about its closing. Change is good, but some things you don't expect to ever change. After 45 years Jimmy Buff's in Irvington was an institution that you never thought would see the wrecking ball. Sadly, it didn't work out that way.
Rest In Peace, Jimmy Buff''s - Irvington, NJ (Spring 1962 - Summer 2007).
Dog Gone It - (Dennis Orlandini) - April 2008.
Went over the weekend to East Hanover. First - Italian Dog was great.
The place was pretty bad though. It was a weird setup. The heat didn't work. They had a jar of hot peppers that was empty. I asked for more and they said they were out. I am all about ambiance. A good greasy spoon is just as good as a five star sometimes, but this had no appeal. Kind of disappointed. Obviously the took over another restaurant in the same location and didn't do any redecorating.
Dog with kraut was really good, but I have had better. Stick with the Italian (double) and you wont be disappointed.