Fans of Rutt’s know the hot dogs served here as rippers because their skin tears and crinkles when they are deep fried. The oil bath turns the pork-and-beef links rugged, dark, and chewy on the outside, while the interior remains soft and juicy. Weenie wimps can ask for an “in and outer,” which gets plucked from the fat more quickly and remains thoroughly pink and plump. Extremists can get one well-done, which is so porcine that it reminds us of fried pig skin. That one is known as a cremator.
The one stellar addition for a ripper is Rutt’s spicy-sweet relish, a dense yellow condiment made from onions, finely chopped carrots, and cabbage. Hamburgers and hot-from-the-kettle French fries are nice, too; and we are fond of Rutt’s chili: a chunky mid-Atlantic brew of clods of ground beef with an occasional bean among it, suspended in a vividly spicy tomato emulsion. With crumbled crackers on top, it’s a hearty meal.
Rutt’s serves hot-lunch meals as well as real drinks in an adjoining tap room with its own separate entrance. Here, amidst wood-panel décor, one can quaff many beers with platters of such blue-plate fare as chicken croquettes, stuffed cabbage, Jersey pork chops, bean heavy chili by the cup or bowl and, of course, New Jersey’s beloved pork roll. Prices are low, and the food we have tasted is mighty satisfying.
But if you are coming to Rutt’s only once, eat hot dogs at a counter. It’s a Roadfood experience to remember: Dine in a wide-open mess hall with high counters at the windows that provide a view of the parking lot. Stand and eat off paper plates, and for entertainment, enjoy the calls of the counter men as they sing out, “Twins, all the way,” meaning a pair of rippers with mustard and relish.