Re:Jersey hot dogs/Philly cheesesteaks
Thu, 08/6/09 3:10 PM
Saturday August 1, 2009 The first words out of Mike's mouth on this morning was, "What time does the creamery open?" I recognize a good idea when I hear one, so we made another stop for ice cream before leaving town. Mike went for a cone of chocolate chip cookie dough. Wanting to try another new flavor for me, I had the peanut butter swirl. No doubt that this is a high quality ice cream, but I'm thinking that I would have enjoyed it more if the base flavor was chocolate instead of vanilla. Another good idea from Mike came when he spotted something called a cheeseburger pretzel. He bought one and had them warm it up in a microwave. Basically, this is hamburger, with some cheese oozing out of the inside, between a pretzel exterior. Not too bad! On many of these weekend trips, I never know if my cousin Johnny will be able to join me or not. He usually works both days on the weekends, and often doesn't know for sure if he can get off until the last minute. But, I had a plan. When I invited him to join us, I used those three little magic words..... Charlie's Pool Room. We have been here twice together before and it is one of his all-time favorites. He called me Friday night to let me know that he was able to get off work for the rest of the weekend on Saturday at 11:00AM. So, we decided to meet at Charlie's Pool Room, in Alpha, NJ at 2:00PM. I have written about CPR previously and I have no intention of repeating my words or photos. But this is one of the great Roadfood stops anywhere. Run by brothers Joe and John Fencz, it is unlike anyplace else I have visited. By all rights, places like this shouldn't exist anymore. There is only one thing on the menu and that is hot dogs. And it is located in a residential neighborhood, far away from the main drag. Joe will even tell you that if it wasn't for the internet and all the publicity it has received, they would have closed by now. But the hot dogs are so good, they are not only surviving, they are thriving! We showed up a few minutes after 2:00PM and Joe greeted me, remembering me by buffetbuster from Pittsburgh. I ordered two mealies (what they call the hot dogs fully dressed with the Hungarian sauce and peppers), while Mike just got one to start. We sat at the table to catch up with Joe like old friends. Here is Joe showing off when one of the mealies made the front page of the Newark Star-Ledger. Minutes later, we heard the ding of the bell, which meant the mealies were done. Joe went into the kitchen and brought them out to us. Words fail me at how much I enjoy these mealies. Joe makes the sauce up, usually that morning, from the same recipe created by their grandma in 1925. It is hot, sweet, oniony and positively addictive. Eating one will only make you develop a strong craving for more. We were enjoying the company so much, I didn't realize until almost 2:45 that Johnny was considerably late, which is very much unlike him. Soon after, he called to say that he had been in a minor fender bender and had run into heavy traffic, headed to the Poconos for the NASCAR race. We waited until he showed up about 3:15 before we ordered more. Mike got two more, I got two more and Johnny decided to catch up right away with four. Here is he is, happy to have some mealies in front of him. He gobbled those down and quickly ordered two more, which were soon put away, too. As a chaser, he finished with a fudgesickle. Knowing we still had three more hot dog places to hit this afternoon, I decided to rest on those four, knowing I will find a way to get back here again soon enough. We enjoyed chatting with the Fencz brothers so much, before we knew it, 2 1/2 hours had slipped by. It is very easy to spend an afternoon here, you are made to feel so welcome. Even John Fencz, who is quieter than his brother Joe, spent a long time talking with us. Usually, he is too busy in the kitchen, making the mealies on the one 12" skillet they use to make all the hot dogs. I particularly enjoyed hearing about all the attempts by people trying to break the 18 hot dogs, with sauce in under two hour record. The idea of attempting this, along with Johnny, has crossed my mind. I know I wouldn't be able to eat that many in one sitting, but I think Johnny would have a legitimate shot at it. Before we left, I asked another customer to take a photo of the five of us. From left to right, that is cousin Johnny, my buddy Mike, Joe Fencz, John Fencz and myself. My favorite moment of the day, though, was when John pulled an old framed photo of the brothers when they were younger. Don't all of us have a similar photo hanging somewhere! Charlie's Pool Room is a true Roadfood gem and I cannot recommend this place high enough. http://www.roadfood.com/Restaurant/Review/5921-5997/charlies-pool-room We got back in our cars and headed east for more hot dogs. Much more to come.....
<message edited by buffetbuster on Thu, 08/6/09 3:44 PM>