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Favorites - Three categories - Statewide - Pizza, Burgers & Bagels

OK. I know it's kinda goofy, but if any of you have any interest in submitting your personal "Best in Class" for Pizza, Burgers, and/or Bagels, I'd like to see 'em. Please, if possible, no more than just a short explanation why (coming from a rather long-winded 'hound, I hope you can appreciate the tad of irony).

To start it off, at this point, I see it this way:

Pizza - Vesuvio's (Belmar) - it's very good and just a bit different than any other pie in the Mon/OC.
Burger - Harpoon Willy's - the place is close to home, the patty is thick, and I can watch them cook it rare* (this is the toughest category of all for me since chefMd is no longer at Trinity cranking out that crazy burger he used to make)
Bagel - Bagel Oven (Red Bank) - properly sized, crispy outside, tender inside - my favorite foodstuff in RB.

*The bar, if you've never been there, is basically Barnacle Bills south - on the water, kinda funky, burger cooked behind the bar, etc.

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  1. Loving this post, MGZ!

    Mr. Pizza Slice (Red Bank) and Nunzio's (Long Branch) tie for my favorite pie. A slight edge to Pizza Slice for the bonus of those delicious fries served with a toothpick.

    Burger is def Jack's in Long Branch. Best burger, best value, most fun on trivia night!

    Bagels, of course, is the Bagel Oven. I feel all other bagels are rolls or huge balls of dough. Crispy outside! Yes!!!

    1 Reply
    1. re: MichelleM131

      Thanks. I thought the idea of a little bit of fun with something purely subjective like "favorite", as opposed to something more objective like the never-ending quest to define "the best", might be interesting on this board. Plus, maybe it'll be a thread that I can remember (or call up on an iPhone) when I'm out of my comfort zone and looking for something simple.

      In retrospect, I think I was just jonesing for a bagel when I posted it, otherwise I might have gone more "Jersey" with the third category being "Pork Roll Sandwich". For me, that's the Seabreeze Deli, Spring Lake Heights - "PR, Egg, Cheese, 'chup, lite S&P" kept in the foil wrap until I either get home or get to the beach. EVERYONE* should have a chance, once in their life to bring a PR,E&C to the beach some morning and sit eating it with the sun lifting out of the Atlantic (fishing poles and/or bathing suits optional - as is coffee or a Bloody Mary).**

      *Please note, in all these years posting my ramblings here, I have never used all caps for a word before - that's how deeply I feel about this notion.

      **And I said I wasn't going to be long-winded . . .

    2. Al Santillo's in Elizabeth....having your pie made in a 100 year old oven while talking to the owner Al, makes all the difference in the world.


      Dinallo's in River Edge......Best Bacon Blue Cheeseburger with Fresh Cut Fries.

      Toss up between.....River Road Hot Bagels in Fair Lawn or Palisades Hot Bagel in Palisades Park.....both have nice skins and just the right amount of chew ...toppings are well balanced

      1 Reply
      1. re: fourunder

        Do you know if the S/R Hot Bagels is owned by the same peopel who run Saddle River Road Hot Bagels in Fair Lawn? Find it strange there's two in the same town with the same name!

      2. Pizza, Tony's Oak Tree Road South Plainfield. (It's what I grew up on) if not Grimaldi's in Brooklyn (yes I know I just cheated Brooklyn is NOT in NJ).

        Burger, not my thing but I'll say Pour House since it's local and I love that cheese sauce.

        Bagel, Bagel Masters in Shrewsbury....I'm ashamed to say I have no idea where Bagel Oven is can you please share. I will also tell you this....The Tinton Falls Deli use to get bagels brought in that were large crisp outside doughy inside and were FANTASTIC.....I don't know where they were getting them from but they switched about 5 years ago. Wish I knew the origins of those bagels.

        11 Replies
        1. re: jrvedivici

          Bagel Oven is a rather nondescript place on Monmouth Street in Red Bank - close to Elsie's Subs. Unless the world has changed more than I realized in the past twenty-five years, your RBC kids know about it.

          1. re: MGZ

            Interesting.....Elsie's subs is of course legendary and I know my kids go there......they have never mentioned Bagel Oven but now I'm going to ask!! Thanks for the tip!

            1. re: jrvedivici

              Oh Man . . . at 15,16, late for school, walking up from the train station on a cold morning . . . I'd part that creaky, ill fitted door and just utter, "Is anything hot?" Then I'd savor whatever they handed me as I slowly finished my trek to be rewarded with my scolding (and demerits).

            2. re: MGZ

              I am happy to report things have not changed in the past 25 years.......you are correct my RBC kids do know of The Bagel Oven and so does my wife it seems I am the only odd man out on this location. My son said he was just there with 2 friends and they couldn't get any service so they wound up leaving........and my wife said the place is small and "dingy" and she hasn't stepped foot in it for years. All of which means I'm going to have to check this place out!

              1. re: jrvedivici

                Well then, I suppose you need to go in the morning and just ask "anything hot?" Eat it completely unadorned - like a pretzel. If you're truly lucky, it will be a egg-everything that's still so warm . . . mmmm. I'm going to RB myself tomorrow, and now I've decided. Start with a little swing by the Farmers' Market, perhaps a beer at Tommy's, stroll up to the Cheese Cave for some toppings after I pick up a dozen bagels, and them march on up to Mom's house for some family football time.

                Oh, and, yes, it's dingy, but . . . quite often, so am I!

                1. re: MGZ

                  Under the "man of my word" category I had to drive one of my kids to school today so I decided to take this opportunity to check out Bagel Oven. It is VERY unassuming and if it weren't for the Elsie’s reference I would have never seen or found this place. “Dingy” is perhaps a little too harsh of a description……I will just say it is completely incognito. If not for what I believe was a hand written sign in magic marker that said Bagel Oven anyone from the street could assume this was a bodega, dry cleaners, pawn shop, vacuum store or perhaps a pet store.

                  Anyway…..very nice staff short line but steady stream of people coming in and out. I got a multi grain with cream cheese. The bagel is excellent texture I like very crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. My only disappointment is it’s size! They are on the small side for me.......I would say baseball diameter if you were to ask me and I prefer my bagels to be more softball diameter. Other than that it was very good, thanks for the tip!

                  1. re: jrvedivici

                    Next time try the pumpernickel/rye everything board with just a little cream cheese.

                    1. re: Papa Bing

                      "board"? You mean like a flagel? I just looove the everything flagels at Fairway!

                      1. re: MGZ

                        Yeah.....come on man I just lost 25lbs to drop back to 300......I can't start my day off with all those carbs.....so I did the multi grain!!

                        1. re: jrvedivici

                          Fine, but remember, you can't judge a story by it's weakest character, or an album by it's lamest song . . . .

            3. Too many of these type places around for me to declare somebody the best in any category. But it has me thinking, does anybody serve pizza burgers on a bagel?

              6 Replies
              1. re: ebchower

                There's no "best" just what at this moment in time, given your location, tastes, whim, and inclination is your favorite in any or all of the categories. And, yes, my friend, a pizza burger on a bagel is a good idea (I've done pizza bagels and bagel burgers, but never have I tried for such a wonderful tripler. Hey, what if we put some pork roll on it too???)

                1. re: MGZ

                  Seeing a lot of Red Robin commercials watching the MLB playoffs on TBS. They are advertising their Octoberfest burger which looks to have some kind of ham/pork roll stacked on it. It doesn't look like something I would opt for on a burger.

                  1. re: ebchower

                    I think it is ham but porkroll on a burger is delicious (if you like porkroll)

                    man, this is a tough category. I break down pizza/burgers kind of by what style I am in the mood for so one clear winner is tough...let me think about it.

                    1. re: ebchower

                      Hell, the "Jersey Burger", which invariably has pork roll and cheese as toppings, is a staple of just about every bar here at the Shore. Personally, I like to put three slices of PR, American cheese, roasted Hatch chiles, raw onion, and a gently fried egg on an indulgent burger at home.

                      1. re: MGZ

                        Oh man, I am not going to be much help here, but here's my input:

                        Pizza. Someone above said burgers aren't their thing. Well, pizza isn't mine. I just don't care. :) But, if I had to pick one, it would be Pete & Elda's. Yes, I know it's not "traditional", but that's the point. Honorable mentions go to Pizza Hut pan pizza, and a garbage pie ("the works") just about anywhere.

                        Bagel. I don't care for dense bready objects. 'Nuff said. Again, not much help. Sorry, if I'm going to eat that many carbs at once, let me eat cake.

                        Burger. My vote STILL goes to "25 Burgers". I've gotten it medium rare every time (though I'm sure they would do rare), and it's consistently delicious. A quality product at a more than fair price (Considering they charge $6.50 for a large burger, and a chain like Friday's charges a minimum of $9.99 for something not even close. Oh, sure, it comes with Fries at Friday's, but really, so what?)

                        Oh, and I love their baked in-store bread. Especially the Miami onion roll. Bready, yes. Dense? No.

                  2. Pizza--Maruca's in Seaside Park.

                    1. Pizza: http://deninospizzaplace.com/
                      Burger: http://cheeburger.com/home2/index.asp
                      Bagels: http://www.gemsbagels.com/
                      I know Cheeburger, Cheeburger is a chain and there is alot of variation from store to store, but the location in Holmdel is doing it right.

                      1. Bagels - The Hot Bagel Bakery, Oakhurst
                        Pizza - The Brothers, Red Bank (LOVE that thin crust)
                        Burgers - Barnacle Bill's, Rumson

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: jbsiegel

                          Those are some fine looking bagels (http://www.hotbagelbakery.com/index.html) How I've been driving around Monmouth County for over 25 years and never seen or heard of this place amazes me.

                          1. re: MGZ

                            Place really is great! Used to go to a dentist that directly and ALWAYS stopped on the way home for bagels.

                        2. Pizza: The Venice (Bayonne) - great thin crust pie

                          Burgers: Krug's Tavern (Newark) - dive bar with great food, big portions, great prices

                          Bagels: Hot and Toasty (Bayonne)

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: mbd106

                            Venice and Krug's -- two of my picks! Agreed. Both excellent.

                          2. Pizza - Frankie Fed's sausage pie in Freehold.
                            Burger - Trinity in Keyport.
                            Bagel - Bagel Oven in Red Bank.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: seal

                              Never been to Trinity, but it looks a tad on the fancy side to go for just a burger.

                              1. re: ebchower

                                It is, but they have a great bar and nice snacks too. When they have the Trinity Burger with the foie, get it, but otherwise they do a beautiful cheddar and bacon burger w fries for $16. It's huge too - a half pound I think.

                            2. Pizza is kind of a big category. Gotta split this one. Absolutely-Real-Deal Brooklyn-style: Dabuscos East Windsor; General: Santillo's in Elizabeth.

                              Burger: Since Don's Drive-In on South Orange Ave in Livingston closed 20 years ago, I've been searching for anything that comes close, with no success.

                              1. Pizza - a tossup between Vesuvio's in Belmar, Denino's in Matawan and Frankie Feds on Route 9.

                                Bagels - Hot Bagels in Oakhurst (try getting a bialy on Sunday - though theyr'e usually gone by 9:30).

                                Burger - Stage Left, New Brunswick. Locally for me and which I will go to more often than SL - Bond St. Bar, Barnacle Bills, Jack's in West End.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: JustJake

                                  Stage Left -- yes, very good burger.

                                2. In my neck of the woods.

                                  Pizza- Star Tavern, Orange (Runner-up Frank Anthony's)

                                  Burger- Tierney's, Montclair (Runner up Pal's)

                                  Bagels- Bagelwich, Verona

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: bifpocaroba

                                    I like the pizza at Star Tavern and the burgers at Tierney's are very good. Like them both.

                                  2. We've had this thread before, and there are actually 2 categories for pizza-- slice pizza and whole pie pizza.

                                    Slice pizza-- Hands down, nothing close in NJ, the Palermo pie at La Sicilia, Belleville.

                                    Bagels-- Paul's Bagels, Emerson. Smaller, crunchier, and not filled with air for a "pillow" feel-- very flavorful and what a bagel should be.

                                    Burgers-- Bucu, Paramus. Nice environment, LaFrieda blend of meat, spotless environment, and a good choice of toppings and really GREAT fries. Cooked to the temperature you ask for.

                                    1. Pizza: Santillo's, Elizabeth
                                      Bruger: Don's, Morristown
                                      Bagel-Bagel Supreme, Springfield

                                      If I could have a tie, I'd add Star Tavern for Best Pizza. Depends on the type of pie you're in the mood for!

                                      1. Pizza -- ok, thin crust, I'll go with Kinchley's (Ramsey). I also like Venice (Bayonne) but I don't get there enough. Sicilian, I'll go with Tirenno's (Mahwah), and for regular pizza I'll pick Pizza Nova (Fort Lee), Pizza Chef (Fort Lee) and La Bella Roma (Paramus).

                                        Burger -- Krug's (Newark), Dutch Tavern (Fair Lawn), Davey's (Locker) (in Montvale), JD's Steak Pit (off the menu, in Fort Lee) and Cheeburger Cheeburger (E. Rutherford).

                                        Bagels -- hmmmm, not an easy one. Wide World of Bagels (Ridgewood). There is a small place in Edison (maybe Colonia) that I remember from a hundred years ago. Also another non-descript place in New Brunswick that I am sure must be gone by now. Sorry, can't think of any current great bagel places. LOL.

                                        6 Replies
                                        1. re: ELA

                                          Bagel Bazaar in Edison? Route 27? I always liked those when I lived in that area...

                                          1. re: jbsiegel

                                            Yes, maybe that's it. I was going to say Rt. 27/Lincoln Highway -- where was it? Is it still there? I haven't been by recently and everytime I am on 27 I keep saying I want to drive by, but I don't. LOL. Not even sure I could find it again. It's been years. Thanks.

                                            1. re: ELA

                                              It's still there - Route 27 right by the PNC Bank and very close to the GS Parkway. I haven't been in ages. The last time that I drove down Route 27 (on my way home from a road trip to Thomas Sweet in New Brunswick!), I barely recognized anything - lots of changes!

                                              1. re: jbsiegel

                                                Right...ok, now I remember. I thought it was further off the GSP heading toward Piscataway. There have been a lot of changes on Rt. 27, and probably more to come. Each time I am on 27, I see something new, being renovated, etc.

                                                Speaking of Thomas Sweet -- I was there a few weeks ago. Nice trip to Stuff Yer Face for stromboli's, and of course a blend-in for dessert at Thomas Sweet.

                                                1. re: ELA

                                                  I always used to go to Cluck U and then to Thomas Sweet for the blend in! Cluck U was an experience LOL.

                                                  1. re: jbsiegel

                                                    Cluck U...oh, the memories, LOL. Anyway, I am thinking that was the bagel place. I remember the bagels well but not the place, name, etc. The bagels were good size, plump, but not dense, thick or heavy. They weren't overly thick with dough or heavy with dough. They were more "fluffy" and airy, kind of "soft" on the inside. They had a nice crisp and seemed to be cooked perfect for my taste. That pale or light golden sheen/crisp. They were very good. Very similar to the ones I get at Wide World of Bagels in Ridgewood. Several of the local hospitals, restaurants, etc. buy their bagels from WWoB.

                                                    I don't know the details of how they make them (hand-rolled, whatever) or what, but they seem to have a reputation of how they make them. I know a lot of people trek to Ridgewood for them. I don't drive that far, but if I am there, yes, I buy. LOL. Thanks again for the info.

                                        2. Pizza - Vic's (Bradley) but Vesuvio's is also very good
                                          Burger - Oh yes Harpoon Willy's for sure
                                          Bagel - Right you are again, Bagel Oven can't be beat

                                          U are right on the money MGZ ...

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: CatLadyJan

                                            Bagels - Hot Bagel Bakery, Oakhurst

                                            Pizza - Biagio's, Red Bank

                                            Burgers - Delicious Orchards, Colts Neck

                                            1. re: crvgt

                                              Delicious Orchards sells burgers? I had **no** idea. When I was a kid (WAY too many years ago), it was just a great place to go shop...

                                              1. re: jbsiegel

                                                Delicious Orchards has an outdoor grill now. I've had a hot dog there and my wife a veggie burger which were both good.....but to make the "best" burger list that surprises me!

                                          2. For me the best pizza that can be bought is Lodi pizza [on rt 46 west in lodi] for the best burgers my absolute favorite is the 1950's theme chee burger chee burger [off rt 17 south in east rutherford-across from lowes] & best bagel goes to bagel buffet [off rt 17 south in hackensack-in pathmark super market lot]