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Real New Jersey experience

e
ejohn Jun 28, 2011 09:55 PM

From Philly to New York we are stopping for tomato pie in Trenton, which I gather from this board is a 'real New Jersey deal.'

Driving from New York, sort of down the coast to Cape May in September, then over to Wilmington. Are there food experiences that are signature to New Jersey, foods/beverages/food stands we shouldn't miss?

We will have lunch and dinner along the coast, I see praise for Red Bank and Asbury Park where we could eat lunch. What about south to Cape May? Packaged foods we should take home to the west coast? We want the full New Jersey food experience! Thank for any help.

  1. njmarshall55 Nov 21, 2011 01:49 PM

    I always thought the NJ experience was getting blotto and sobering up in a diner at 3:00 in the morning. And I'm from Jersey.

    1 Reply
    1. re: njmarshall55
      h
      Heatherb Nov 21, 2011 03:53 PM

      FTW:)

    2. s
      SharaMcG Nov 17, 2011 12:34 PM

      The Jersey experience for me would have to include DeLorenzo's (I prefer the Hamilton Ave version, but most say the Hudson Street version is the truer tomato pie--same family, different owners and styles). Definitely get the pork roll and cheese (and egg if you like) on a kaiser roll. A sub from White House subs in Atlantic City is a hoagie gold standard in NJ (no mayo please, get it with oil and vinegar). Spend a day at the beach by one of the major boardwalks (Wildwood Crest or Seaside Heights for me). Start with a Kohr's fresh-squeezed OJ, then sausage and peppers on a torpedo roll or a mega slice of pizza then maybe back to Kohr's for frozen custard or an order of zeppoles from a pizza place. Take home salt water taffy.The are too many great hot dog places to mention and an Italian hot dog, a ripper or a Texas weiner are all great. If you find a Stewart's Root Beer stand get your pork roll sandwich there with an icy mug. And have at least one meal at a typical diner. My favorite is Mastoris in Bordentown where the menu is massive and every meal starts with delish individual loaves of cinnamon bread and sweet cheese bread. Also ditto on Jersey tomatoes and Silver Queen corn from farm stands. I agree these are best in August and early September. Finally if you find a good mom and pop purveyor of bagels or Italian Water Ice you are in Jersey heaven!

      5 Replies
      1. re: SharaMcG
        c
        cke25 Nov 18, 2011 04:42 PM

        Interesting thread. Brings back a lot of good memories of growing up in NJ. Here's my take on a "real" NJ experience:
        If you are driving the coast, you must take the GSP. Stop at Point Pleasant or Wildwood (family) or Seaside Heights (singles) to walk the boards and take in the sights. Seaside Heights was much more family oriented in the '70s when I went with my family and we would get pizza at 3 Brothers Pizza, then custard cones at Kohr's. Back home, my foundest memories of pizza was from Spiritos in Elizabeth. North of Point Pleasant is Belmar, where one can hop on a party boat for a day of fishing, then up to Pete & Elda's for thin-crust pizza. Not one of my favorites (I still prefer Spiritos style), but still a NJ landmark. Further north (GSP exit #117) is Jersey Joes Italian Hot Dogs. Guaranteed authentic with their daily delivery of the proper roll from Brooklyn and custom-angled fryer. For live entertainment, I would have suggested the Garden State Arts Center at exit #116 on the GSP, but since becoming the "PNC Bank" Arts Center, it's just another commercial arena, not the nice theater I went to as a kid. My favorite place that has NOT changed for the worse in 25 years is the Stone Poney in Asbury Park. Love the feeling of history in that place. And I would have recommended going to Howard Johnson's for an ice cream sundae on the boardwalk after the show, but some guy McCloone has his restaurant there now. If you happen to be on the NJ Turnpike for the Northern part of you journey, Rutts Hut is a must stop for foot-long hot dogs and the Bayway Diner in Linden has the juiciest burgers around. For late-night greasiness to satisfy your appetite after the bars close, White Rose or White Diamond will serve up a pork roll, egg, and cheese or burger on a kaiser roll that will give you gas for the next two days. If you make it through this obstacle course and finally get to Cape May, NEVER stay at a hotel. The finest bed and breakfast places in NJ are in beautiful old Victorian homes in Cape May. But after eating this menu, plan on spending a lot of time in the bathroom!

        -----
        Spirito's Restaurant
        714 3rd Ave, Elizabeth, NJ 07202

        Jersey Joe's
        712 Port Monmouth Rd, Port Monmouth, NJ 07758

        Garden State Restaurant
        287 Central Ave, Jersey City, NJ 07307

        Pete & Elda's Bar
        Highway 35, Neptune, NJ 07753

        3 Brothers Pizza Restaurant
        Cookstown-Wrightstown Rd, Cookstown, NJ 08511

        White Diamond
        1208 E Grand St, Elizabeth, NJ 07201

        Howard Johnson
        1630 N Albany Ave, Atlantic City, NJ 08401

        1. re: cke25
          f
          ferventfoodie Nov 22, 2011 04:22 PM

          Can't believe no one has mentioned Chicken Savoy a la The Belmont Tavern in
          Belleville or Stretch's in Livingston. Never seen it anywhere outside Essex County,
          though was once served what seemed to be Goat Savoy in Corsica.

          -----
          Belmont Tavern & Restaurant
          12 Bloomfield Ave, Belleville, NJ 07109

          1. re: ferventfoodie
            Anonimo Nov 30, 2011 01:23 AM

            "Stretch's in Livingston."

            I've walked and ridden by there many times. What's that place like? What is Chicken Savoy?

            1. re: Anonimo
              f
              ferventfoodie Nov 30, 2011 09:31 AM

              Haven't been there in years as I'm living out of state part-time now. Was never
              anything fancy - at one point I believe it as a deli during the day and morphed
              into Stretch's at night.

              Chicken Savory is chicken parts cooked at high temp with red wine and herbs -
              it's one of those love it or hate it dishes. I was of the love it camp - and
              the restaurant is on my list of those I want to get to before I move
              permanently.

              They also do a good Chicken Murphy - we liked those two dishes so much
              that I don't recall trying anything else in the way of entrees!

          2. re: cke25
            tommy Nov 23, 2011 01:42 AM

            Lots of good advice hear. But I'll note that Rutt's Hut does not serve foot long hot dogs.

            -----
            Rutt's Hut
            417 River Rd, Clifton, NJ 07014

        2. j
          jiffypop Jul 21, 2011 06:43 PM

          My goodness! we are an opinionated group! and that got me thinking - it's interesting how north and south jersey interpret 'the basics.' up here in the north, for example, every blessed sub I ever ate had oil, vinegar, and a sprinkling of oregano. perfect! but down south - below NJ's Mason-Dixon line, ya gotta add pickled peppers [either sweet or hot, or a mix]. way different taste, but really good.

          pizza is different, too. jersey tomatoes - I personally don't count any tomato in a grocery store as a 'jersey tomato' even if it's part of the 'jersey fresh' program. Those tomatoes are trucked in from commercial farms. they don't come from lovingly tended small patches or small farms that don't' grow enough to supply chain supermarkets.

          But, there are farm stands all over the place, and even some enterprising home gardeners who'[ll set up a little table at the end of their driveways [honor system! be kind!]. there are farmers markets every day of the week somewhere in the state, and if all else fails, a stop at the Paterson farmers market on a thursday or friday will work, too. i remember getting bushels of those gorgeous plum tomatoes to put up for the winter. but i gotta add a PS here - i have an idea that the tomatoes grown in the south - by the shore - are a smidge sweeter than the northern jersey ones. Maybe it's because i grew up spending large parts of the summers down the shore and it's just the combined memory of those wonderful times. but i also remember my dad saying that it had something to do with the salt air and the cooler nights.

          a not to be missed joisey food? corn, tomatoes. a sub sandwich on really good bread [not flabby white bread - and definitely without mayo!!!!]. steamed clams. definitely steamed clams.

          6 Replies
          1. re: jiffypop
            r
            radiogrl1 Jul 22, 2011 09:44 AM

            Tommy, you seem to think there is (or should be) some government entity which designates which tomatoes are called Jersey tomatoes. It's not that cut and dried. Any tomato grown in New Jersey is by definition, a Jersey tomato. What makes them superior? The soil, the climate - it doesn't really matter.
            For my money, the best tasting local tomato is the Ramapo - it is deeply flavored, very meaty. It is also delicate, so tends not to be the kind that shows up in most farm stands. Samahas in Matawan has carried them in the past; I hope they carry them again this year.
            In my garden, you will find beefsteak, the green Mr. Stripey, Russian Purple and the Mortgage Lifter. Each and every one a Jersey tomato.

            1. re: radiogrl1
              tommy Jul 22, 2011 10:45 AM

              Well actually it's very cut and dried. As you state, any tomato grown within the political borders of NJ, regardless of variety, soil, climate, farmer, is a Jersey tomato. And they are superior to the ones grown in, say, Bethlehem PA, or Suffern NY.

              Thanks for the clarification!

              1. re: tommy
                r
                radiogrl1 Jul 22, 2011 02:35 PM

                "As you state, any tomato grown within the political borders of NJ, regardless of variety, soil, climate, farmer, is a Jersey tomato." Yes, and by virtue of that fact it is superior to those tomatoes grown in Suffern or Bethlehem. It's that Jersey exceptionalism you've heard so much about :)

                1. re: radiogrl1
                  s
                  Sdenred Sep 23, 2011 12:50 PM

                  .

                  1. re: Sdenred
                    h
                    hotdoglover Sep 24, 2011 04:06 AM

                    You haven't eaten Jersey until you've had an authentic Newark style Italian Hot Dog. The kind served at a place specializing in them; not a pizzeria or sub shop. Although Big Blues in Linden is primarily a sub shop, they serve one of the best, if not THE best Italian Hot Dog. A definite exception to the rule. Authentic is served on pizza bread (round circular bread cut in half resembling a pita) not a sub roll, and with fried or sauteed beef franks, peppers, potatoes, and onions. A whole meal and a real treat.

                    1. re: hotdoglover
                      f
                      Fungiphile Nov 14, 2011 09:46 PM

                      Cannot forget JJ's "Dirty Water Dogs" Two chilli cheese with a Choco-cow for $3 beans, can't beat that..

          2. i
            I love Jersey Jul 8, 2011 02:12 PM

            Chef Vola in Atlantic City..BYOB, very Jersey, very delicious!

            1. equal_Mark Jul 8, 2011 10:08 AM

              BLTs in August and September...

              27 Replies
              1. re: equal_Mark
                g
                GrOlive Jul 8, 2011 01:07 PM

                Oh....heaven is a Jersey tomato on soft white with Hellman's sandwich. Pity the rest of the country who will never taste a true Jersey tomato.

                1. re: GrOlive
                  tommy Jul 8, 2011 01:50 PM

                  Where do you get these jersey tomatoes?

                  1. re: tommy
                    i
                    I love Jersey Jul 8, 2011 02:13 PM

                    at any farm stand at the shore, nothing beats them!

                    1. re: I love Jersey
                      tommy Jul 8, 2011 02:20 PM

                      Are these the tomatoes from the Jersey Fresh program that I see at local farmers' markets (and supermarkets)?

                    2. re: tommy
                      equal_Mark Jul 8, 2011 06:05 PM

                      Yer just Yankin' chains, right?

                      1. re: equal_Mark
                        tommy Jul 8, 2011 06:15 PM

                        Not at all. I want to know where to get them. Surely shop rite isn't the place.

                        1. re: tommy
                          equal_Mark Jul 8, 2011 07:08 PM

                          I guess you'd actually have to live in or near to NJ to know. Any NJ Farm stand or neighbor with a garden can provide seriously good tomatoes. It's not a major mystery. I was under the impression that you were somewhat of a self proclaimed authority of things culinary in NJ, and am not sure of the point you are trying to make here.

                          1. re: equal_Mark
                            tommy Jul 9, 2011 06:10 AM

                            There's a theory that one thinks he sees in others what he can't see in himself. If I'm trying to make a point, I come out and make it. I don't play games.

                            It seems to be more of a major mystery then people think, because no one has told me where to find these, other than "my backyard" and "at any farmstand." I've also asked if these tomatoes are the ones found at farmer's markets in boxed labeled "jersey fresh" and received no response. These are non-answers.

                            Thx.

                            1. re: tommy
                              Passadumkeg Jul 9, 2011 07:02 AM

                              Nepotism here. My cousins have a farm stand in East Brunswick, just off Rt. 18, on Cranbury Rd., just after the fork w/ the Milltown Rd. I drive down just to take a load of tomaters back to Maine.

                          2. re: tommy
                            m
                            Meg Loves to Eat Jul 8, 2011 07:37 PM

                            And you can't get a real Jersey tomato before mid-July. Even if you buy it at a farm stand. It's not hot enough, long enough, till mid-summer to grow a proper tomato. And if you grow it in a hot house, even if the hot house is in NJ, it's not a Jersey tomato.

                            1. re: Meg Loves to Eat
                              tommy Jul 8, 2011 07:59 PM

                              So farm stands often sell sub-par jersey tomatoes? Well that sure can't help their cause.

                        2. re: tommy
                          g
                          GrOlive Jul 8, 2011 06:45 PM

                          Fortunately for me, my dad's backyard. A farm stand will suffice if you don't have any friends or neighbors with an over abundance that they're wiling to share. Speaking of farm stands, anyone up in the area of Route 15, know if the stand right where the road comes down to two lanes is open ye...it must bet.....Summer Berry smash pies....a pie made from a mixture of berries...hmmm, thats a taste of summer right there.

                          1. re: GrOlive
                            tommy Jul 8, 2011 07:09 PM

                            I grow tomatoes in my yard. Are those "jersey tomatoes"?

                            1. re: tommy
                              g
                              GrOlive Jul 8, 2011 07:44 PM

                              Yes! As Meg said above...they aren't ready until mid-July. The first ones are the best, but the rest are still amazing. A combo of Jersey soil and weather gives them a taste that I don't think you get anywhere else. Stock up on bread and mayo.

                              1. re: GrOlive
                                tommy Jul 8, 2011 07:57 PM

                                Yes? If you think the soil in my yard and the tomatoes I grow are the same as the tomatoes that are generally called "jersey tomatoes" then you are sorely mistaken.

                                Again, where can I get these incredible "jersey tomatoes" other than farm stands? At the farmers' markets when the box says "Jersey Fresh"? Mid-July is next week. I look forward to your response.

                                Thx!

                                1. re: tommy
                                  t
                                  tom246 Jul 9, 2011 06:29 AM

                                  Tommy, start here with this link and for the next several weeks drive around a bit and enjoy the season.
                                  Soil does not matter as much as variety and climate (rain or dry).

                                  http://www.state.nj.us/jerseyfresh/in...

                                  If you have the right variety of tomato and climate, you can grow great tomatoes anywhere.

                                  1. re: tom246
                                    tommy Jul 9, 2011 06:46 AM

                                    thanks tom.

                                    so it sounds like the only places to get them retail are at farm stands and farmers markets. I wonder where all of the people are talk about jersey tomatoes get them from? I can't imagine these are farm stand types.

                                    i have many markets around me and look forward to doing a taste test of these tomatoes with other varieties.

                                    1. re: tommy
                                      t
                                      tom246 Jul 9, 2011 07:13 AM

                                      For the past several years, many (not all) of the chain supermarkets do get local produce in season. Tomatoes are a good example.
                                      You would need to call (or stop in) your local store and see their produce sourcing policy. You likely know all that.

                                      Of course, this doesn't mean you will get a great tasting tomato, just that you will get a "local Jersey" tomato.
                                      See my criteria above for a great tasting tomato, knowing of course that taste is totally subjective.

                                      1. re: tom246
                                        tommy Jul 9, 2011 07:19 AM

                                        The only criteria you mention that one would have any control over (or knowledge of) is variety. My impression was that "jersey tomatoes" were all of the same variety. If they're not how can anyone make claims of their superiority without specifying the variety? And why are the varieties not noted in the supermarkets, where plenty of "Jersey Fresh" labeled tomatoes are sold?

                                        1. re: tommy
                                          t
                                          tom246 Jul 9, 2011 07:33 AM

                                          Wrong impression, Jersey tomatoes are not the same variety.

                                          Anyone can claim "superiority", there is no law against that.

                                          Don't know about supermarkets but most of the stands in the link I provided you with do list the varieties being sold. Try asking the supermarket you buy from, maybe they will tell you.

                                          If you really want to learn about local tomatoes and a whole lot more, start here.

                                          http://njaes.rutgers.edu/

                                          1. re: tom246
                                            tommy Jul 9, 2011 07:37 AM

                                            There's no law? What I do realize now, given that there are many varieties, is to ignore claims unless they include the variety.

                                          2. re: tommy
                                            f
                                            fourunder Jul 9, 2011 07:51 AM

                                            My impression was that "jersey tomatoes" were all of the same variety.
                                            ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

                                            Besides various Heirloom Tomatoes, the two varieties most readily available are *Beefsteak and/or Plum*. Sometimes, I'll see some *Cherry* tomatoes for sale as well.....

                                            This would be at the Korean owned Farmers Market Group...17.46. 22, New Bridge Road and Giant.

                                            When the tomato season gets into full stride, you can purchase real wood crates and bushels of New Jersey Beefsteak and Plum Tomatoes @ Corrado's Family markets....along with full lines of canning supplies. The stores will also have loose tomatoes available for sale by weight.

                                            BTW....my idea of a *Jersey Tomato*, is a Beefsteak.....best if picked off the vine of a plant grown in my backyard garden, or by one of a family member or friend.

                                            1. re: fourunder
                                              tommy Jul 9, 2011 08:00 AM

                                              What are the heirloom varieties that fall under the "jersey tomato" umbrella?

                                              1. re: tommy
                                                f
                                                fourunder Jul 9, 2011 08:09 AM

                                                Either the Rutgers University website or the link below are more qualified to answer your specific queries, especially if you are looking for a name.

                                                I purchase 1/4-1/2 pound size tomatoes when i see them under a sign simply marked *New Jersey or Locally Grown Heirloom Tomatoes*.

                                                The different colors of tomatoes available are usually red, yellow, orange, purple and light green.

                                                http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/lo...

                                                1. re: tommy
                                                  p
                                                  Picnicchef Jul 9, 2011 01:40 PM

                                                  Tommy,
                                                  If I am not mistaken, the gold standard of Jersey Tomatoes were always beefsteaks. Big, round, perfect or imperfect. Up by my lake house is a guy who has been running his small farmstand since the 30s. You want a tomato, he picks it off the vine for you. Beets, pulls them up for you. Basil, digs up the plant and hands it to you...and if he is not there, a scale from the 40s, a pencil and a tin can to pay with the honor system. That, man, is a Jersey tomato to me. That is what it tastes like, fresh off the vine and still warm.

                                                  1. re: Picnicchef
                                                    tommy Jul 9, 2011 08:38 PM

                                                    Sounds like a lot of the people who talk about jersey tomatoes aren't talking about what your bud is growing.

                                                    I think I have my answer.

                                                    Thanks everyone.

                                2. re: GrOlive
                                  f
                                  Fungiphile Nov 14, 2011 09:43 PM

                                  Rt15 and Berkshire Valley rd? By the dreadful New Orleans steak house and Picatinney Arsenal? I think its called Lanakin's or something akin to that....

                                  Just remember anything south of exit 98 on the parkway, isn't really Jersey, its just rehashed Philly...=)

                          2. m
                            MattInNJ Jul 8, 2011 09:12 AM

                            Gonna have to throw the Sloppy Joe out there.
                            Rye bread, meat (Turkey, Ham, or RB) , swiss, slaw, russian dressing.
                            One of the best sammich designs ever (IMO of course)
                            Also the Taylor Ham egg and Cheese is about as Jersey as it gets.

                            Just remember to gas up in NJ to get the full experience, we live a pampered life.

                            1. c
                              cmarie Jul 7, 2011 05:27 AM

                              If you make it over to Atlantic City definitely stop for some salt water taffy and then head over to White House sub shop for sandwiches. They are fantastic!
                              I agree a pork roll, egg & cheese sandwich is very NJ.

                              Another great stop for boardwalk pizza is Mack & Manco in Ocean City. huge slices and a fun stop.
                              Have a fun trip.

                              -----
                              Mack & Manco
                              920 Boardwalk, Ocean City, NJ 08226

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: cmarie
                                c
                                cmarie Jul 7, 2011 01:11 PM

                                a few other stops... Mustache Bill's is a great diner on Long Beach Island if you are in the area. Maui's dog house in Wildwood for hot dogs.
                                Fwiw, I would skip Red Bank and hit Asbury Park for a more unique Jersey experience. A little more on the gritty side but more fun if you ask me :)
                                also, Pete & Elda's in Neptune(right next door to Asbury) is another fantastic pizza place. Super thin crust and really delicious!

                                -----
                                Pete & Elda's Bar
                                Highway 35, Neptune, NJ 07753

                              2. briansnat Jul 6, 2011 08:08 AM

                                For real NJ, not necessarily the best, but good and authentic:

                                Hot dogs at Rutts Hut and/or The Hot Grill in Clifton
                                Italian hot dogs at Dickie Dees in Newark or Jimmy Buffs (several locations)
                                Burgers at White Manna in Hackensack and/or White Rose in Highland Park
                                Pizza - Reservoir Tavern in Parsippany
                                Family eats - Allendale Bar and Grill, Allendale
                                Bagels-Hot Bagels Abroad (several locations incl Clifton)
                                Drinks-Johnny's Tavern in Boonton, Tierney's Tavern in Montclair
                                Jewish Deli - Eppes Essen in Livingston
                                Deli (subs, etc.) - A Taste of Reality in Kinnelon
                                Diner - The Egg Platter in Paterson, Summit Diner in Summit

                                -----
                                Dickie Dee's
                                380 Bloomfield Ave, Newark, NJ 07107

                                Tierney's Tavern
                                136 Valley Rd, Montclair, NJ 07042

                                Reservoir Tavern
                                90 Parsippany blvd, Parsippany, NJ

                                Eppes Essen
                                105 E Mount Pleasant Ave, Livingston, NJ 07039

                                Hot Grill
                                669 Lexington Ave, Clifton, NJ 07011

                                Summit Diner
                                1 Union Pl, Summit, NJ 07901

                                White Manna
                                358 River St, Hackensack, NJ 07601

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: briansnat
                                  The Professor Jul 9, 2011 08:48 PM

                                  Good choices, although if you want Jewish deli in Livingston, I'd choose Irving's over Eppe Essen any day.
                                  Not that Eppe is bad, not at all...it's just that Irving's is better.

                                2. h
                                  Heatherb Jul 2, 2011 10:20 PM

                                  Get some corn and tomatoes. Grill the corn. Make the tomatoes (preferably Romas) into bruschetta and have on crusty bread toasted on the same grill as the corn. And that's dinner.

                                  1. a
                                    azkaevolution Jul 1, 2011 02:54 PM

                                    you can't say you've been to NJ without stopping at a true NJ diner. the ones people consider best depend on what area of the state you'd like to visit. mastoris, near exit 7 of the turnpike is an institution. there's the americana diner in east windsor (near exit 8 on rt 130), skylark diner (near exit 9 on rt 1), which are some of the bigger ones. i'm sure there are plenty of smaller joints elsewhere in the state that would fit the bill.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: azkaevolution
                                      huiray Jul 1, 2011 03:09 PM

                                      Further north, four that I went to off-and-on back in the day were
                                      Tick-Tock Diner (281 Allwood Road, Clifton, NJ 07012)(Nifty Art-deco place);
                                      Lyndhurst Diner & Restaurant (540 Riverside Avenue, Lyndhurst, NJ 07071)(Neat place to have a bite after staggering back from NYC at 3 am);
                                      Colonial Diner (27 Orient Way, Lyndhurst, NJ 07071)(recently renovated & expanded; used to be much more of a blast from the 50's), I had 'heart-attack' breakfasts there :-) , and
                                      Nutley Diner (372 Centre Street, Nutley, NJ 07110)(dropped by here only once in a while)

                                      -----
                                      Nutley Diner
                                      372 Centre St, Nutley, NJ 07110

                                      Colonial Diner
                                      27 Orient Way, Lyndhurst, NJ 07071

                                      Lyndhurst Diner & Restaurant
                                      540 Riverside Ave, Lyndhurst, NJ 07071

                                      Tick-Tock Diner
                                      281 Allwood Road, Clifton, NJ 07012

                                      1. re: azkaevolution
                                        h
                                        Heatherb Jul 2, 2011 10:19 PM

                                        The Claremont in East Windsor is right by the Americana and is also pretty good.

                                        1. re: azkaevolution
                                          c
                                          ChowJon99x Jul 6, 2011 11:03 PM

                                          yes, I agree, diners are very NJ. Maybe some other people know of the best ones. Union has two good ones...the Huck Finn on Morris Avenue and University Diner down by Kean University. I think University Diner is just over the border into Elizabeth. Just good, classic diner food, well done. University Diner, in addition to the great food, is actually very cheap in price. I guess they keep it low for all the college students....

                                          Tick Tock is a classic NJ diner, right out there on Route 3....haven't been there in about 10 years, but was always good. I would say the food at the two Union area diners above are a bit better than Tick Tock was 10, 12 years ago.

                                          -----
                                          Huck Finn
                                          2431 Morris Ave, Union, NJ 07083

                                          University Diner
                                          580 North Ave, Union, NJ 07083

                                        2. Curlz Jul 1, 2011 01:55 PM

                                          All of 1.5 miles off the Parkway (exit 148) in Belleville is The Belmont Tavern. I doubt that anyone will argue that it's anything but real deal New Jersey!

                                          Do NOT miss the Shrimp Beeps.

                                          -----
                                          Belmont Tavern & Restaurant
                                          12 Bloomfield Ave, Belleville, NJ 07109

                                          1. fershore Jun 30, 2011 08:30 AM

                                            Second Seal's recs for Jersey-fresh corn and tomatoes and for Delicious Orchards. I would bring home apple cider donuts, maybe apple cider for dunking.

                                            1. p
                                              Picnicchef Jun 29, 2011 12:05 PM

                                              Head, for an hour or two, to the boardwalk at Wildwood. Have a fresh squeezed lemonade, a slice of pizza and hit the log flume on one of the piers (perhaps before you eat) finish up with zeppolis or funnel cake. Now, that is a Jersey afternoon! And, as other posters mentioned, and I frequently do, clams, oysters and cocktails on the boat at the Lobster House in Cape May.

                                              -----
                                              The Lobster House
                                              906 Schellengers Landing Rd, Cape May, NJ 08204

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: Picnicchef
                                                huiray Jun 29, 2011 12:14 PM

                                                The Cape May Salts oysters are the ones to get - in the restaurant proper sitting down or at the Oyster Bar, not sure about the boat/schooner; the raw bar on the docks serves mid-Jersey oysters. Cape May Salts...get them. The Lobster House has its own oyster beds so has these year-round.

                                                -----
                                                The Lobster House
                                                906 Schellengers Landing Rd, Cape May, NJ 08204

                                                1. re: Picnicchef
                                                  m
                                                  Meg Loves to Eat Jul 5, 2011 09:30 PM

                                                  I have to agree that you should see the boardwalk in Wildwood . There is no place like it in the world, althought we may not all agree on the reason it's so unique! Mack's pizza is the gold standard, although I prefer Sam's. Douglas fudge is the absolute best - not sugary like the competitors. Ride the giant ferris wheel for an incredible view.

                                                  1. re: Meg Loves to Eat
                                                    j
                                                    Jerseygirl111 Nov 15, 2011 01:15 AM

                                                    Harry's Corner on the Wildwood boardwalk for the BEST. GYRO. EVER. Truly.

                                                    -----
                                                    Harry's Corner
                                                    3420 Boardwalk, Wildwood, NJ 08260

                                                2. ttoommyy Jun 29, 2011 11:35 AM

                                                  I've lived in NJ for all my 50 years and I don't think I've been to one place mentioned in this thread! lol

                                                  I have had some of the foods mentioned though, just not at the places cited.

                                                  1. a
                                                    albinoni Jun 29, 2011 07:55 AM

                                                    This is a really thought-provoking question. New Jersey is a mid-Atlantic state, but it's almost impossible to find any places that reflect that part of our culinary history anymore (the Cape May Lobster House comes to mind). I think the best of NJ cuisine is really wrapped into the diverse ethnic groups that have made the state their home, and, as is almost always the case, it's regional. So, while much of Jersey cuisine is identified with pizza and red-sauce, which is found state-wide, and great places can be found wherever you go if you know where to look, I think the signature NJ experience depends on where you are: the Newark/Elizabeth area for Portuguese and Spanish, Edison/Woodbridge for Asian (including Indian, Chinese and Korean), and Paterson/Clifton for Turkish and Arab, to name but a few.

                                                    -----
                                                    The Lobster House
                                                    906 Schellengers Landing Rd, Cape May, NJ 08204

                                                    1. m
                                                      Mr. Bingley Jun 29, 2011 05:19 AM

                                                      You have to have a fried pork roll, fried egg (over easy, natch) and cheese on a lightly buttered kaiser roll sandwich or your journey will be sadly incomplete.

                                                      12 Replies
                                                      1. re: Mr. Bingley
                                                        c
                                                        coldsolderjoint Jun 29, 2011 05:54 AM

                                                        In addition to what has been said:

                                                        Grease Truck Sandwich from Rutgers
                                                        "Sliders" from White Rose
                                                        Italian Hot Dog (I personally like Jersey Joe's in Port Monmouth the best)
                                                        Stop at Bill's Gyro in AC

                                                        -----
                                                        Jersey Joe's
                                                        712 Port Monmouth Rd, Port Monmouth, NJ 07758

                                                        1. re: Mr. Bingley
                                                          g
                                                          GrOlive Jun 29, 2011 05:56 AM

                                                          I agree with Mr. Bingley, but have it with Taylor Ham ;p
                                                          Also, NJ pizza....better than anywhere else.

                                                          1. re: GrOlive
                                                            riverman18 Jul 1, 2011 01:56 PM

                                                            +1 on "Taylor Ham". I think it's a regional (north vs. south) thing?

                                                            www.jerseyporkroll.com

                                                            1. re: riverman18
                                                              tommy Jul 1, 2011 04:03 PM

                                                              I recall calling it "pork roll" when I was growing up in central/south jersey. Then I recall suddenly calling it "taylor ham" when I moved to north jersey. I think it is a north/south thing.

                                                              1. re: tommy
                                                                b
                                                                bakersma Jul 1, 2011 05:26 PM

                                                                Interesting....I always heard it called "Taylor Pork Roll" by Monmouth & Middlesex county folks. Makes sense, I guess....LOL

                                                                1. re: bakersma
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                                                                  GrOlive Jul 1, 2011 06:55 PM

                                                                  LOL...definitely a regional thing, which my daughter and her college friends love to argue about. I think one of them even research the name calling difference and it had to do with a mistake in packaging at one point. Chalk it up there with those that go to the beach or down the shore :)

                                                                  1. re: GrOlive
                                                                    t
                                                                    TomDel Jul 3, 2011 02:35 AM

                                                                    From Wikipedia, "Taylor originally called his product "Taylor's Prepared Ham", but was forced to change the name after the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 was passed, since the product did not meet the new legal definition of "ham". The new name was "Pork Roll" and it was marketed as both "Taylor's Pork Roll" and "Trenton Pork Roll". Competitors marketed products with similar names like "Rolled Pork" and "Trenton style Pork Roll" and were sued by Taylor. A 1910 legal case ruled that the words "Pork Roll" could not be trademarked."

                                                                    For some reason, Taylor Ham stuck in North Jersey while the rest of the state calls it Pork Roll without necessarily meaning made by Taylor, e.g., Case Pork Roll.

                                                                    1. re: TomDel
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                                                                      GrOlive Jul 3, 2011 12:21 PM

                                                                      Thanks for looking that up and posting it. Interesting!

                                                                  2. re: bakersma
                                                                    j
                                                                    jarona Nov 17, 2011 12:10 PM

                                                                    We just refer to it as Trenton Pork Roll. Maybe that is a Pennington thing.

                                                                    1. re: jarona
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                                                                      fourunder Nov 17, 2011 12:31 PM

                                                                      Trenton Pork Roll is also made by Taylor Provisions Company, makers of Taylor Ham or "Pork Roll". Trenton Pork Roll is a milder version of Taylor Ham..

                                                                    2. re: bakersma
                                                                      w
                                                                      wereboar Dec 9, 2011 05:21 AM

                                                                      Growing up in Monmouth County, my dad used to eat it almost every morning for breakfast, and we always called it pork roll. I didn't hear anyone call it "Taylor ham" until I went to school down in Rowan and ate breakfast with my girlfriend's family.

                                                                      1. re: wereboar
                                                                        h
                                                                        Heatherb Dec 9, 2011 06:31 AM

                                                                        Unsurprisingly, in the Trenton area when I was growing up, it was just called "pork roll" - never heard anyone call it Taylor ham.

                                                            2. seal Jun 29, 2011 04:42 AM

                                                              Agreed on Delorenzo's as one of the ultimate NJ food experiences. Can't visit us without eating some red sauce.

                                                              Also agreed on Lorena's being the best restaurant in the state, with Nicholas just a hair behind. But, although either place is a worthy rival for the best of any other area, fine dining is not what NJ is all about. If that's the kind of meal you want though, make a reservation early.

                                                              Not so much about Keyport Fishery. True, NJ seafood can be as good as anywhere short of the coast of Spain, but the best in the state may be closer to Cape May than NYC. Go to Dock's in Atlantic City for your fish and check out the boardwalk for some salt water taffy too. My experiences at KF were both mediocre at best.

                                                              Also, they don't call us the garden state for nothing. Jersey heirloom tomatoes and sweet corn are not to be missed. For the freshest ones, visit one of our excellent farmer's markets or go to Delicious Orchards (their apple crumb cake is to die for too) or Sickles. Or go to Red Bank early on a Sunday and get your tomatoes at the market near the Galleria and your corn Mexican style at nearby North of the Border.

                                                              One other thing to eat here is a hot dog. There are many fine posts here about NJ dogs by many fine critics, but I like a good ripper from Rutt's Hut.

                                                              Fyi, we are not just red sauce anymore. We have great and authentic asian food, first rate bbq, fine dining, a pastry shop to rival any in the world, real Latino cuisine and more. Eat what you like, I'm sure you will enjoy.

                                                              -----
                                                              Rutt's Hut
                                                              417 River Rd, Clifton, NJ 07014

                                                              North of the Border
                                                              176 Monmouth St, Red Bank, NJ 07701

                                                              Delicious Orchards
                                                              State Route 34 S, Colts Neck, NJ 07722

                                                              1. c
                                                                ChowJon99x Jun 29, 2011 12:23 AM

                                                                I don't know about "Jersey" foods, but I know of some decent places to try...

                                                                Lorena's in Maplewood, 5 star place. tiny, out of the way, very high ratings, and deserved. Elegant French food...contact early to get chance for reservation....only about 15 seats. We ate at Bobby Flay and Wolfgang Puck in Atlantic City. Lorena's was a full step above those. Absolutely 5 star (and rated one of best restaurants in nation, not just Jersey).

                                                                http://www.restaurantlorena.com/

                                                                +++

                                                                Best Israeli - Elizabeth, NJ - Union Co.

                                                                Jerusalem Pizza
                                                                150 Elmora Ave # B,
                                                                Elizabeth, NJ - (908) 289-0291
                                                                www.jerusalem-pizza.com

                                                                Local place, not gourmet, just fun and very good. Falafel is very good, pizza, all vegetarian and Kosher as well

                                                                but it is the best baba ganoush and humus I've ever had

                                                                +++

                                                                here's a Jersey experience

                                                                Jersey Shore (Keyport) - Amazing Fish

                                                                Locals know all about Keyport Fishery:

                                                                http://www.keyportfishery.net/

                                                                Dating back to 1936, these folks had a booth up at the Fulton Fish Market in NYC. That is how my Dad learned about them.

                                                                This tiny little "fried fish" shack, served just about some of the best seafood anyone has ever tasted. Scratch that. Just about the best food anyone has ever tasted. Just that good. People would literally drive down from Connecticut just to get some.

                                                                Unfortunately the original owners finally sold the place. The quality of the food dropped. But we just went back. I don't know what changed, but it is back to very very tasty stuff. Not quite what the original owners had, but still probably the best fried fish you will ever taste.

                                                                I would particularly recommend the fish cakes, the crab cakes and the scallops. The fish cakes are just about as good as they used to be. Basically, until you have eaten these, you have never eaten a fish cake. They shouldn't even call it a fish cake, because it is just something else entirely.

                                                                They also have tons of fresh fish if you want to buy.

                                                                No seating! Buy some stuff, walk across the street and eat the food sitting right by the bay, like we regulars have been doing for years (me since the mid-60's). It may not sound like gourmet, until you take that first bite of the single best scallop (fried or otherwise) you have ever tasted.

                                                                +++

                                                                Atlantic City now has some good places. At Borgata, there is both Bobby Flay and Wolfgang Puck. I would recommend taking a reservation at a more off hour...beat the crowd and have quieter experience.

                                                                +++

                                                                The boardwalk at Jenkinson's is a bit touristy...but pleasant. You can eat at a restaurant on a pier, overlooking the water:

                                                                http://www.jenkinsons.com/

                                                                there are other locations in Jersey that have that, restaurants right on a pier on the ocean..always very nice.

                                                                +++

                                                                NJ Monthly Magazine has done features about the best food in NJ. You might want to look up some old issues. My take on that is the lists tend to be the places with the best connections. But you still can find some good places through their lists.

                                                                http://njmonthly.com/sections/restaur...

                                                                +++

                                                                there definitely are amazing places to eat in Jersey, brain not working that great here at 3AM, but keep trying and you should find some great places.

                                                                Enjoy!

                                                                -----
                                                                Keyport Fishery
                                                                150 W Front St, Keyport, NJ

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: ChowJon99x
                                                                  huiray Jun 29, 2011 12:17 PM

                                                                  'Fraid I did not have a good impression of Keyport Fishery but perhaps you may have a better experience.
                                                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7875...

                                                                  -----
                                                                  Keyport Fishery
                                                                  150 W Front St, Keyport, NJ

                                                                2. m
                                                                  mickeygee Jun 28, 2011 11:59 PM

                                                                  I'm not sure of an exact Restaraunt, but you should stop at a diner and have am order of disco fries (fries with cheese and brown gravy). Personally, I like it with American cheese, but my husband goes for provolone.

                                                                  As for taking back, I think of salt water taffy, (although not uniquely NJ). I'm blanking on other ideas right now but I remember finding a bunco of jersey themed foods on the knot chat boards when I was planning my wedding.

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