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Best Italian Hot Dogs in NJ??

I grew up eating Jimmy Buffs and was wondering if they are still made the same way. Also I remember a very special deep fryer they used. I have never seen one like it anywhere in my travels. Does anyone know who the supplier of that deep fryer might be or where one could be purchased ? Is it totally custom or can they be bought as I remember them?
Ahhhhhhh the grease!! lol

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  1. Kenilworth-small neighborhood place makes the *best* italian hot dogs wit or wit-out thick cut potoes/onions/fried peppers...oh man, what is the NAME of this joint!!

    5 Replies
    1. re: HillJ

      HillJ,
      I believe you are thinking of Charlies in Kenilworth.

      In northern Monmouth County, I like Jersey Joe's in Port Monmouth. And Ricci D's in Keyport.

      1. re: val ann c

        good show, val ann c-Greasy Charlies is the Kenilworth hang of my youth!
        have yet to find one in this area that comes even close...

        1. re: val ann c

          I was going to post that sadly Ricci D's is no more. After reading a little lower someone else has already posted it. I tried to delete this but, I can only edit it. Sorry for wasting your time by posting this much about nothing - by the way Have a great day!

          1. re: val ann c

            Try Hot Dog Bob's in Keyport.. You' le think your back in the old neighborhood up north.. the best italian hot dog in this area..The real deal..

            1. re: bigdaddy1

              I just tried out Hot Dog Bob's a couple of weeks ago. It was pretty darn good.

        2. Ahhh! A subject near and dear to my heart. And stomach. I love hot dogs and nothing beats an authentic north Jersey Italian Hot Dog. Turfguy, which Jimmy Buffs location did you eat at? Because the sandwiches are different depending on which location you visit. Currently there are 4 locations: Scotch Plains, Irvington, West Orange, and East Hanover. West Orange and East Hanover are owned by Jim Raccioppi who is the grandson of the founder of Jimmy Buffs. The other 2 locations are owned by Jim's uncle Mike, nephew of the founder. Mike is not in good health and is looking to sell the Scotch Plains and Irvington locations.

          The sandwiches at Scotch Plains and Irvington have more oils than the locations owned by Jim Racioppi. Many consider the sandwiches here to be too greasy while others actually prefer the extra grease. I prefer the Italian Hot Dogs made at the restaurants owned by Jim the grandson, especially East Hanover. The Italian Hot Dog made here is one of the 3 best in N.J. therefore the world. Pizza bread from a local bakery that is fresh, sturdy, chewy and delicious. Hot Dogs that are fried in soybean oil and topped with good peppers, onions (which I omit) and potatoes sliced thin rather than in chunks like Dickie Dees and the late Frank's Newark Style. You will not find a better Italian Hot Dog anywhere. This location also serves regular hot dogs. The footlong is the best hot dog I've ever had. It is a natural casing 5 to a lb Best's all beef dog. This same dog was served at Syd's and considered the finest dog in the state by many people. It is better here. Heated in the oil, it is then charbroiled on a real charcoal grill (Syd's used a gas grill) to produce a dog with just the right snap and a delicious taste. It's put on a toasted bun and topped with delicious deli mustard. You can also get chili here, which is unique. Meaty, sweet, and with a hint of green peppers, this is not a thin north Jersey Texas Weiner sauce, but a real chili described by some as bolognese style. They also serve a quarter pound Schickhaus dog similar to Max's. This dog is prepared on a griddle, but unlike Max's, it is finished off on the charcoal grill. Excellent.

          The fryer used at all Jimmy Buffs locations is a tilted stainless steel pan. I don't know who supplies it, but other places use it. PeeDeeVee in Bloomfield and Jersey Joe's in Port Monmouth are two others. It can be purchased. By the way, Ricci D's in Keyport closed for good a few weeks ago. They made one of the better Italian Hot Dogs.

          In addition to Jimmy Buffs East Hanover location, 2 other places that make a great Italian Hot Dog are Tommy's in Elizabeth and Attilio's Kitchen in Denville. Tommy's uses extra long, thin 8 to a lb dogs from Best's that are longer than the regular 8's used by others. Their potatoes are sliced very thin and so good they are sold by the cup. Attilio's Kitchen is actually one of the better Italian restaurants in the state. The owners are from Newark and grew up on Dickie Dees Italian Hot Dogs. Their version is better. Bigger dogs (8 to a lb while Dees uses tiny 12 to a lb dogs), good sturdy pizza bread that is similar to what Jimmy Buffs East Hanover uses, plenty of peppers, and tasty potatoes cut in chunks like Dees. Although I prefer them cut thinner like Buffs and Tommy's, these are good.

          I would consider Jimmy Buffs East Hanover, Tommy's, and Attilio's Kitchen the Holy Trinity of Italian Hot Dogs. Then there are others that are good, but a cut below these. Jersey Joes, World's First Italian Hot Dogs (the original Jimmy Buffs location in Newark), Dickie Dees, Joe's Pizzeria in Union, PeeDeeVee, and Mijo's in Colonia are some that come to mind. Concerning Charlies Famous in Kenilworth, they used to be one of the 2 or 3 best but have gone downhill drastically in recent years. And this is coming from someone whose daughter used to work there all throughout high school. The owner is looking to sell the place and is rarely there. Service has sufferred as well as the product. The bread is often frozen and not as good as it used to be. The potatoes are inconsistent and often come out almost black and overdone. They have switched brands of hot dogs at least twice. We (the Star Ledger Munchmobile) went last summer and waited an eternity to be served. What was once one of the better Italian Hot Dogs in Jersey is now one of the worst. I would stay away from Charlies and check out one of the other places named that are close to where you live.

          29 Replies
          1. re: hotdoglover

            hotdoglover, that is the most comprehensive personal account of NJ hot dog dining I have ever read. Bravo!

            1. re: hotdoglover

              John, thanks for posting. I'm sorry to hear that Ricci D's closed.
              By the way, I believe Jim's Burger Haven on Rt 36 in Hazlet serve Best brand dogs. I don't think they make an Italian dog. I love to get their hot dog with just mustard and relish. I think they make a chili dog.

              1. re: hotdoglover

                WOW HDL, thanks so much for such a great response. I use to eat as a kid at the Jimmy Buffs Newark location across from the Newark Resevoir. Then later I lived in Union and went to the Kenilworth location. They had opened it there first. Sounds like they sold it later to Charlies? I am thinking about trying to open a place here but it wont be easy to get the bread or the deep fryer. Thanks again

                1. re: turfguy

                  Turfguy, I live in Union. Jimmy Buffs opened a location in Kenilworth in 1962. A few years later it was sold to Charlie Fiorenza. It became Charlies Famous as Jimmy Buffs has sole rights to the Jimmy Buffs name. Charlie later opened a place in Union right off rt 22 and named it Charlies Sons. The Union location was sold (but the name was kept) to one of the employees, and then later sold to a guy who turned it into a car lot. Charlies Famous in Kenilworth was sold to the father of the current owner and is still in business. The current owner is looking to sell it. You mentioned that you are thinking about opening a place here. Where is here? I know several places that sell pizza bread. I can probably find out where to get the tilted stainless steel pan. In fact, you really don't need the special pan. You can make an excellent Italian Hot Dog using a regular commercial deep fryer. That is what Charlies used (and still uses) when they made a great hot dog. Attilio's Kitchen fries everything in a deep fryer as well. So do other places that serve an Italian Hot Dog. Occasionally I make an Italian Hot Dog at home. I have a Waring Pro deep fryer. I get top quality pizza bread from a local bakery, Best's beef franks, peppers, and potatoes. I don't like onions so I don't use them. I use an instrument called a mandoline to slice the potatoes thin like I prefer. I fry the ingredients in stages in my deep fryer and the result is a custom made Italian Hot Dog that is even better than what I can buy. And much less expensive as well. I've also had good results using a cast iron skillet. I've gotten lazy so I don't make them at home too often, prefering to just run out and buy one, but you can make an excellent Italian Hot Dog at home. Or commercially without the use of the tilted stainless steel pan.

                  1. re: hotdoglover

                    Thanks again for all the info HDL. I grew up in Union. I lived on Colonial Ave for all of my youth. As a side note I was best of friends with the Grandson of the owners of the Galloping Hill Inn. They also made great dogs and understand they still do.
                    I currently live in GA outside of Atlanta and think the population here would just llove the Italian Hot Dogs done the old fashioned way. Thats kinda why I wanted the slanted stainless steel pan deep fryer. I remembered watching the guys make them and putting the potatoes and onions on the side of the pan. It was like watching one of those Japanese chefs cooking at your table. Its part theater which is fun and gives it charasima. Now add a great tasting dog and you really have an experience. I would greatly appreciated if you could give me a lead to find those pans or deep fryers with them, I was also wondering if you had a number to contact the owner of Ricci D's? He might be willing to sell his now that he is out of business? Just a thought. Anyone that can help in my information search is guarenteed free dogs when passing thry Georgia for life!! :)) Thanks one and all. This is a great board with people that know whats good to eat!!

                    1. re: turfguy

                      I only spoke to the owner of Ricci D's once and don't have a number to contact him. I will try to find out from Jimmy Buffs.

                      Jfood,
                      I think I heard somewhere that Kartzmann's closed a while ago.

                      1. re: hotdoglover

                        I look forward for any help HDL. I did try to call Ricci D's but the number was disconnected and no other information :((. Its a shame cause I bet he would love to sell some of his kitchen equipment. I will keep checking the board here.
                        Thanks again,

                        1. re: turfguy

                          Keyport has a Business Alliance -KBA. If you want to track down Ricci D's give the borough hall a call and ask for his present biz information.

                          1. re: HillJ

                            I did try the KBA today to no avail. I also called the tax office several times but didnt get a live person :(( Hopefully HDL will come up with something from his connections. Thanks again all,
                            turf

                            1. re: turfguy

                              Turfguy,

                              I e-mailed the owner of Jimmy Buffs and asked about the tilted steel pan. He said that it was custom made for him by a sheet metal guy. I believe I heard the same thing from the owner of Jersey Joes.

                              1. re: hotdoglover

                                Thank you HDL. That is exactly what I was thinking of having done too. Any ideas on the size of the deep fryers? Width, depth, ? My memory seems to say they are pretty wide, but honestly cant remember too well. Guess old age setting in on my mind. lol I have maybe located a few bread sources. Still checking it all out. Will let you know how I make out.
                                Thanks again,
                                turf

                                  1. re: hotdoglover

                                    HDL and others, what is your opinion of making the Italian Hot Dogs and serving them on a sub roll, piece of Italian bread, etc as opposed to the traditional Pizza Bread???
                                    Just wondering, thanks

                                    1. re: turfguy

                                      There are good sub rolls and bad sub rolls for this. The softer "Subway" style would be horrible IMHO. If you have a good bakery that make "harder" sub rolls, it should work fine.

                                      1. re: turfguy

                                        Although I prefer an Italian Hot Dog on pizza bread, you can make a good one on a quality sub roll. In fact, some prefer it on a roll because it is easier to eat. You can take a bite and get bread, vegetables, potatoes, and meat in the same mouthfull. Most pizzerias use sub rolls because they have plenty on hand for their other sandwiches. Plus they don't always know how many Italian Hot Dogs they will sell since they serve mostly pizza and other food items, so the pizza bread may sit for awhile and the owners will have to order a fresh batch not knowing if that will sit around. Mijo's Pizzeria in Colonia makes a very good Italian Hot Dog using a sub roll. Two big 6 to a lb dogs topped with plenty of peppers and potatoes that are cut in tiny pieces. Everything is sauteed in a frying pan. A big sandwich for only $4.50. I eat a lot of them since this place is fairly close to where I work. Another place making a good Italian Hot Dog using a sub roll is Bruno's on Morris Ave. in Elizabeth. For years it went by the name of Junior's, which is still on the building along with Bruno's. This place also serves french fries instead of the usual potato slices or chunks. But the fries are much better than average. Some pizzerias and other restaurants (Attilio's Kitchen for example) that sell a lot of Italian Hot Dogs usually go with pizza bread since it is traditional and what most people who grew up eating these dogs are used to and prefer. I remember speaking with the owner of Ricci D's. He was located in Keyport, which is south of where the Italian Hot Dog originated and is popular. But since many people from Essex, Union, and Bergen counties moved to this area, they are familiar with it and seek it out. I was told that many people entering Ricci D's for the first time asked what kind of bread was used. After being told pizza bread, they replied that if a sub roll was used, they would have left. These people were looking for an authentic Italian Hot Dog like they enjoyed in North Jersey rather than the kind with the sub roll which is more common in pizzerias and South Jersey.

                                        1. re: hotdoglover

                                          Someone told me about a place in keyport called Hot Dog Bob's which i knew of but didn't think made Italian hot dog's, Boy was i wrong..
                                          They make a wicked Newark style Italian hot dog the same way they do up north. ... pizza bread and all..The wife is italian and probably had relatives in the business,cause they're on the money.and delicious.. .It's a real nice place that you can watch the boats on the water when you eat..

                                          1. re: bigdaddy1

                                            Haven't been there yet, but there was a place called Hot Dog Bob's in that same location before Ricci Dees. And it wasn't that good. Is it the same people? Are you affiliated with this place?

                                            1. re: hotdoglover

                                              I Dont know about prior owners but I know it was a hamburger joint after ricci dees, cause i been there.
                                              it was the best italian hot dog we ever had over the bridge.... we been there a dozen times already.. you just can't get them like this except up north .

                                          2. re: hotdoglover

                                            I am confused. Can you describe for me what an Italian Hot Dog is and how it's made? I'm getting bits and pieces from you guys, but not the whole picture.

                        2. re: hotdoglover

                          OK three Unionites. Stuyvesant Village until i was 5.

                          HDL. Is Kartzmann's deli still around? They made a great SLoppy Joe. Not exactly a hot dog but is on the "A" list of NJ food.

                          TIA

                          1. re: jfood

                            Kartzmann's Deli closed years ago. what a shame, they had such good pastrami and corned beef sandwiches. Sure do miss it.

                            1. re: Barbarella

                              :-(((. Another childhood memory closed. Great sloppy joes as well. BTW I voted for you on Idol.:-))

                              1. re: jfood

                                Hows this for another idea???? Muffaletta bread, it just might work?? Opinions?

                                1. re: turfguy

                                  Touchdown.

                                  Think about saving some olive salad for the dog, might be nice.

                      2. re: hotdoglover

                        I came across this blog quite by accident but the comments rekindled memories of our local Jimmy Buffs on South Orange Ave. in Vailsburg. (Circa 1969) Does anybody remember that one.
                        So its "best hot dogs, custom made stainless steele grill, soy oil for sure but who supplies their italian sausage and what variety of potatos do they use.

                        Copy and paste the link below. I hope it will be interesting for you
                        http://www.roadfood.com/Forums/topic....

                        1. re: hotdoglover

                          I was just wondering you say in here you can purchase that tilt Jimmy Buff fryer would you know where i can get it ? Please let me know . Thanks

                          1. re: tpshoulders

                            You have to go to someone who specializes in sheet metal. There is no one place to get the tilted fryer. This is what I've been told by the people who use one.

                            1. re: hotdoglover

                              HDL,

                              GREAT NEWS!!!

                              jfood just called Best provisions in Newark and yes they sell the Don's HD. They told jfood just walk into the store and ask for the Don's Hot Dogs (about 3-4 to the pound). They sell them all the time. :-))

                              When jfood asked if they ship they old him of course but it is 1,000 order. Even jfood would have a tough weekend with 3,500 dogs.

                              Thank you so much. Can't wait to show these people up in CT what a real hot dog tastes like.

                              Thanks Buddy.

                              1. re: jfood

                                jfood,

                                You can get any of the hot dogs sold at Best. I live only 4 1/2 miles from the plant and go there frequently. I happen to prefer the longer 5 to a lb natural casing frank (Syd's) to the Don's, but they are all available. And you can buy them for much cheaper than you would get them from a distributor. Years ago I could ask for a pound and they would throw loose dogs in a bag. Since 3 people died from eating Sabrett franks that had lysteria, franks must now be sold at the factory in cryovac packages. The smallest package you can buy is 2 lbs. You can also buy in larger quantities.

                                I have friends in other states that have requested franks from Best, but as you said they will not ship unless you have a real large order. I speak with owners of hot dog establishments who have to buy their natural casing Best franks from distributors because Best will not ship directly to them.

                        2. Holy Hot Dog! Try Italian Dogs oin Rt. 1 N in Woodbridge across from the Menlo Mall. Been there forever. Used to be great.
                          Man I'm blown away! Ten minutes and 30 replies! I'm a Jersey transplant in Maine. I posted a request for good Itanian food, hot dogs or hamburgers in Bangor, the second largest city in Maine 4 days ago and got no, I mean no, response. Enjoy the dogs ,look at Hollyeats.com, a whole section on N. Jersey dogs. A great site. I keep a copy in my glove box for the drive to Jersey. Go eat a Taylor pork rolll w/ fried egg on a Kaiser for me.

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: Passadumkeg

                            Man I just got up and looked at your reply Pass and gosh you made me laugh. Its the same here in the Atlanta area. I just asked for good Italian bread and got very little response too. But your Taylor pork roll made my mouth water and I told my gf we need to take a trip to Jersey and just eat!!! Whats your opinion on using a Muffaletta bread instead of a pizza bread for the Italian Hot Dogs??

                            1. re: turfguy

                              Turfguy and Hotdoglover, I'm an old fart traditionalist. I grew up w/ It. dogs nestled ever so gently, in the cut off end of a gorgious hunk of crusty It. bread, gently covered with the patriotic Italian colors of GREEN peppers, RED tomatoes and WHITE onions and spuds. I got the chile dog addiction at a great place in South River called The Greeks as child. My uncle lived in Union and we used to walk to a great hot dog place at the intersection of several roads. At Muhlenberg College, I ate my way through at Yaccos hot dogs on Liberty Street, still there and still great. The closest place for a ripped dog for me is a 2 hr. drive to a small roadside shack in Winthrop, Me, just W. of Augusta. My wife and I turn the 500 mi drive down to Jersey as a quest for the holy dog, often stopping 3 or 4 times. Worked overseas for a long time and loved the dogs and other sausages in all countries. Norway, a polser on a bun smothered w/ shrimp salad; Finland 2 nakki stuffed in a deep fried meat and rice filled pirraka; Bolivia, panchitos topped w/ chicharones(pork cracklin's) and now Korea, an oyster sausage wrapped in a pankake. And it all began at the Greeks in So. River, NJ, 50 years ago!

                              1. re: Passadumkeg

                                ... ever try a coleslaw dog? Very nice.

                            2. re: Passadumkeg

                              "Try Italian Dogs on Rt. 1 N in Woodbridge across from the Menlo Mall. Been there forever."

                              Forever ended. Tore the place down a few months ago (altho' it'd been closed for awhile), for widening that 2 lane bottleneck between Edison and Woodbridge.

                              1. re: JessKidden

                                Bummer, where do you suggest in Middlesex county?

                                1. re: Passadumkeg

                                  I wish I knew. Tommy's opened a branch on Rt. 130 in No. Brunswick (on the old site of the Liberty Diner)- I worked nearby and the "Coming Soon" sign was still up when I left last year and by the time I got up that way again, the place had closed already.

                                  One rec, tho'- DON'T go to the North Brunswick Pub for one! I stopped in once at lunch time and it was on their lunch special menu (and since the "Tommy's - Coming Soon" sign was on my mind), I ordered it. Served on a long hard roll with peppers, onions and TOMATO SAUCE! Ugh...

                            3. I'll probably get blasted BUT...any hot dog startups reading...I'd love to see a bun-less hotdog offered to those of us who prefer a quality dog without bread. Crazy at it may seem, I rarely eat the bread (in any form).

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: HillJ

                                HillJ, I'd like that too. I find bread and fried potatoes to be too much for one meal.
                                It may be as simple as requesting the hot dog on a plate with the fried peppers, potatoes and mustard on the side, and eat with a fork. I'm going to try that next time I stop at Jersey Joes.
                                NJ sacrilege? Perhaps. But delicious. And maybe we have room left for ice cream :-)

                                1. re: val ann c

                                  val ann, you're one step ahead of me...but I'm in delicious agreement!

                                2. re: HillJ

                                  Guys,

                                  Live in CT now and Swanky Franks does just that. You can order a couple of bunless dogs any way you want with all the extras on a plate. Have not found a good italian dog up here yet but the bunless has arrived.

                                  1. re: jfood

                                    Hey… you's guy's:

                                    Does this bring back memories or what...wow! I remember when I was a kid living down the Shore and going to Vinnie's Italian Hot Dogs on Ocean Avenue in Long Branch. Vinnie’s is long, long, gone now as are most of the things I remember as a Jersey youth. Hey, you gotta make room for million dollar condo’s somewhere, but I digress. As I recall one of the best hot dogs ever made were Schickhaus Franks which are still sold today. Mr. G’s Place located on West End Court in Long Branch, makes a very good Italian Hot Dog. If you ever go there, order it with hot peppers…. They’re H-O-T!!! The owner was my Freshman Football Coach in the mid-70’s.

                                    1. re: JerseyGuy62

                                      i live in so cal and wish i could find pizza rolls people have no clue here . or even a recipe

                                3. The original comment has been removed