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Aug 25, 2007 12:41 PM

Back from New Jersey with some out-of-place cravings...

As a proud Jersey girl who just got back from a long, delectable stay there (with a suitcase loaded with bagels), I'm wondering if a couple things I'm already craving again are available anywhere here, more than just decently replicated. I've lived in L.A. for nine years, and while I accept and adore L.A.'s various chow strengths, I'm still hoping to find the following:

1. A sandwich known in North/Central NJ as a sloppy joe (not to be confused with the "Manwich" variety, which I grew up totally mystified by): meat, such as roast beef, cole slaw, and russian dressing on rye bread. (Langers could do this probably, right? I've just never had roast beef there.) Or any good sandwiches with russian dressing, which are so common at NJ delis.

2. A red-sauce Italian place with really, really delicious food, not expensive at all. I suddenly find myself dying for stuffed shells! I've tried different places over the years (such as Palermo and Anna's) that just didn't cut it for me.

I'm on the Westside, so greater L.A. area would be ideal; I can't imagine driving more than an hour for these types of things, though maybe I would if I got desperate.

If there are any ex-NJ hounds who have some ideas to share, I'd be more than grateful. Most of the time I graciously acknowledge that not being in NJ means not getting NJ specialties, but I still hold out hope...

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  1. You could try Barone's for the Italian. Very Red-Sauce Italian!

    1. The original comment has been removed
      1. Jerry's Deli has it (cole slaw and russian on rye) under Sky highs. Growing up in Philly that was my favorite Deli treat, we called them Specials (i.e. Roast beef special). Every deli out here will give you a side of slaw and russian or Thousand Island (russian with relish) I've done it at Brents. I know what your talking about with the red sauce, just was in Philly, went to the most famous middle of the Italian neighborhood place Villa Roma. Haven't found that style out here, good luck.

        3 Replies
        1. re: LuigiOrtega

          Yes, Philly has a lot of the same great stuff!

          I haven't been to Jerry's Deli since I first moved here, thought it mediocre back then. How's the quality of their ingredients for the Sloppy Joe/Special? As you know, that makes a tremendous difference!

          1. re: Epicure

            Owning a restaurant I don't like to put down others. Use the search engine and your judgement about Jerry's. Usually most of the Delis out here will make the sandwich that way. I just prefer to order coleslaw and russian dressing on the side and make it the way "I" like it since it's something they just don't do everyday.

            1. re: Epicure

              i ONLY go to jerry's for egg white omelettes, but my uncle likes their meats, and apparently, the way to get the best meats/experience is to order everything ultra lean.

              Concur with Brent's.

              You might also try Nate'n'Al's.

              Second the below rec for Alejo's. Also try:

              Vito's in Santa Monica for good classic red sauce
              Bruno's on Ocean
              Carmine's II

          2. hey!

            ive never posted before, so i hope this is helpful (im from nj, born and raised, i just go to college out here)--i live in eagle rock, and as far as im concerned we've got the only sandwich place in LA county that rivals anything on the east coast: dave's chillin-n-grillin. sloppy joes aren't on the daily menu (tho im pretty sure ive seen them as the "special" in the past), but dave (a boston dude) is just about the nicest guy in the world and if you went in and talked to him (and mentioned that you were from back east--just dont tell him if youre a yankee fan; hes the guy in the sox cap) im sure he could whip something pretty good up for you. if nothing else he will understand your cravings!

            as for "red-sauce italian," we also have casabianca here in ER, which is beloved by everyone ive talked to but i think of as pretty overrated. but in all likelihood im just spoiled! its definitely reminiscent of any number of checkered-tablecloth-type places back home, even if the food is only slightly above the NJ average.

            i know eagle rock is far east but dave's, and maybe casabianca, is certainly worth a trip out here!

            2 Replies
            1. re: maxreax

              Mmmm, far east? East of what? Almost due north of Civic Center. A bit west of that, actually.

              With all the displaced East Coasters here, I'd think someone would open a place to cater to their tastes, like any other ethnic group. You know, Thai, Peruvian, Yucateco, Argentine/Brazilian parillada, Carribean, several kinds of Chinese, Carolina BBQ, Jersey, Philly. If there's customer support how hard could it be?

              1. re: maxreax

                Thanks for the information about Dave's. Does he have russian dressing? I mean, that's a major component in making the sandwich so distinctive.
                I agree with you about Casa Bianca being overrated. I thought it was okay but not really worth driving across town for. Like many such places, it would not make it in NJ.

              2. jersey girl here too. been here 11 years. but i too crave these things. haven't found them yet. infact, i argue with my l.a. native husband often about what a sloppy joe is. i crave them from eppes essen in livingston, nj. not gonna happen out here.

                but or the red sauce and stuffed shells maybe try san genero cafe in brentwood or alejo's on lincoln.

                5 Replies
                1. re: woofer

                  imho, the red sauce at alejos is on the poor side of mediocre.
                  (i'm a transplanted new york girl)

                  1. re: westsidegal

                    So what do you do if the craving strikes? Even though I just returned two days ago, perhaps *because* I just returned two days ago, it's hit me hard. I've given up on bagels and pizza, but I just can't believe there can't be great stuffed shells, manicotti, eggplant parm and the like somewhere out here!

                    1. re: Epicure

                      Do not give up. Try Hoboken on Westwood between Olympic and Pico. The best eggplant parm for my money. It is actually baked, not just a deep fried chunck of undercooked eggplant witha dollop of sauce and melted cheese...(yuch!). See below for posts regarding this place. I agree that Alejo's is probably not what you are looking for. And try Vito's for pizza. I live in So. Bay and drive to Westside for both Vito's and Hoboken.

                      1. re: Epicure

                        Try Bagel Nosh on 16th and Wilshire in Santa Monica for bagels -- he's from my hometown (Woodbridge, NJ) and in fact had his first store in Woodbridge Center.

                        Also, if you're ever in OC, go to Marri's on Chapman and West in Garden Grove -- stick with the red-sauce stuff (because, let's face it, Mexican "managawtt" is a brain aberration waiting to happen) and you'll be a very happy camper.

                        1. re: Das Ubergeek

                          Stupid idiot, me. It's Carolina's I'm thinking of, though Marri's (at Katella and West) is also tasty.