What To Eat in New Jersey
Delaware Valley hoagies (aka sub sandwiches) are fantastic in the southern reaches of New Jersey, as is classic Neapolitan-style Italian-American pizza. Highway travel leads to countless excellent diners and delis, many of which feature the Garden State’s favorite breakfast (and lunch) meat, pork roll, which can be hugely satisfying when griddle-cooked to crisp-edge succulence. In and around Newark, look for Newark hot dogs, also called Italian hot dogs. They are all-beefers stuffed into big puffy rounds of bread along with fried potatoes, onions, and peppers: mighty, mighty meals!
The common and seemingly logical story is that the sub sandwich was named after the long, loaf-shaped ships of the silent service during World War II. But years ago, Tom LaRocca, longtime employee of the venerable White House Sub Shop in Atlantic City, offered us another perspective: "Atlantic City said 'sub' long before this place opened [in 1946]," he said, explaining that the length of bread used to make the sandwich was always known as a sub. "Because it is not a full-size loaf. It is subsized." In any case, what makes New Jersey subs great is not only FRESH, high-quality bread but also the artistry with which multiple ingredients are folded and layered and dressed inside.
If it wasn't so déclassé, pork roll could be the official dish of New Jersey, where it is a preoccupation. Sliced thin and pan-fried, the pig-parts loaf frequently is used in sandwiches, but it is most popular as breakfast meat in lieu of higher-on-the-hog options such as bacon, sausage, or actual ham. Packed into a hard roll with egg and cheese (known in diner slang as a Triple Bypass), it fairly gushes fatty savor. A single slice supplies 26% of the fat recommended in a normal daily diet.
The Newark Hot dog, also known as an Italian hot dog, is a deep fried all-beef wiener– usually two; few customers order a single – inserted into half of a capacious circular bun known locally as pizza bread. The bread is sturdy and absorbent and can be squeezed open like a pita pocket to hold not only the hot dog(s) but also sautéed onions and peppers and a heap of potato chunks that have been either deep fried or sautéed. Newark dog shops tend not to drain oil from any of the toppings; they are forked directly from the griddle or frying cauldron onto the hot dogs and they in turn are dressed with the diner's choice of ketchup, mustard, marinara sauce, or fire-hot relish.
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Cliff's is an old-fashioned New Jersey drive-in with colorful ice cream (hard & soft-serve) plus hot dogs and hamburgers. Dine at picnic tables or in the car.
A Seaside, New Jersey, boardwalk legend, Maruca's is known for pizza made with a hypnotic spiral of unctuous cheese and red sauce.
Made on Italian loaves hours from the oven, White House subs are the best: hot or cold, they are the ultimate Delaware Valley sub-sandwich eating experience.
Philadelphia-style ice cream and water ice by the Jersey shore. Specialty: chocolate ices that can, and should, be layered into soft-serve.
Jimmy Buff's is home of the original and best Italian hot dog: fried all-beef wieners nestled inside sturdy bread along with fried potatoes, onions & peppers.
An all-night bar and pan pizza dive since 1920s, Tony's is down the road from the Atlantic City boardwalk but more storied than any casino.
At the quiet end of Long Beach Island, Mustache Bill’s is often heralded as New Jersey’s best diner. Come for omelets and pancakes with an artistic flair.
Somewhere between a diner and a deli, Frank’s is legendary for unvarnished New Jersey eats such as pork roll, egg, and cheese on a roll.
Nunzio's is an insider's Jersey Shore pizza spot serving charming homespun Italian classics since 1953. Thin crust pizza is excellent.