NY, CT & MA May 2010
Wed, 06/2/10 10:58 AM
I made my once-per-year trek to the Northeast late in May this year. The places visited New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Right after deplaning and getting a rental car, I drove from LaGuardia airport to Coney Island. I was determined to visit the mother of all hot dog stands before some developer bulldozes it and builds condominiums. Nathan’s The inside is just a big open L-shaped space with standup-only eating. In warmer weather, the garage-door-like things are opened all around. Nathan’s Counter & Menu I ordered a dog and fries, and put the house mustard on the dog. Nathan’s Hot Dog and French Fries The hot dog itself was very good. It was well-grilled, and flavorful. The roll was about as plain as one can get; room temperature, and not toasted or grilled. Nothing bad about it, but I thought the fine dog deserved better. I liked the fries. The sign says they are fresh cut. They were well-cooked, and are a sort of wide crinkle-cut, which I have not encountered elsewhere. Restaurant Web Site: http://www.nathansfamous.com/PageFetch/%3C/a%3E Roadfood.com Review: http://roadfood.com/Resta...nathans-famous%3C/a%3E I wanted to stop by Totonno’s and L & B Spumoni Garden, but an untimely bit of indigestion (from before I ate at Nathan’s!) prompted me to head for where I was staying. Oh well, maybe next year. The next day I took the train into New York City. I had purchased tickets for a “Walking Pizza Tour” in the Little Italy area (mostly). One of the reasons that appealed to me is that I would be able to get a slice at to restaurants that don’t serve by the slice. The start was at 53 Spring Street, very close to a subway stop, which why I thought it was selected. There is a bar named Gatsby’s at that location. 53 Spring Street It turns out that this is the original location of Lombardi’s, the oldest pizzeria in the USA (sort of…). It is now about a block-and-a-half east at Mulberry and Spring streets. The tour guide said that when the nearby subway was put in, the vibration kept damaging the oven, so they moved. The web site, though, says they went out of business in 1984, and re-opened in 1994. Before we went to Lombardi’s, we stopped at what was said to be the oldest Italian cheese shop in New York City. Alleve Through a side window, I got to see them making fresh mozzarella. We got to sample some, and it certainly was better than the rubbery stuff I grew up on. This sort of says it all: Freshly-made Mozzarella As with Lombardi’s, I found out this is not the original location. The original was right next door! Original Alleve Evidently the bigger corner location opened up, and they moved there.
Moving on from there, we came to: Lombardi’s Pizzeria One of the reasons for the Alleve tour is that Lombardi’s uses the fresh mozzarella from there. Lombardi’s has an old-fashioned coal oven. Lombardi’s Coal-fired Oven The oven guy was just smokin’! Evidently they received an order for 106 pizzas for some event. I was careful to stand back so I wouldn’t get smacked with the long handle on the peel. In a short time, we got our pizzas. Gennaro’s Original Pizza at Lombardi’s Gennaro Lombardi was the founder, and this is said to be closest to what was served 100 years ago. It consists of canned tomatos, not cooked down for hours, the fresh mozzarella from Alleve, and a sprinkle of basil after it comes out of the oven. No salty tomato sauce, no salty cheese. The tomato had a freshness that I had never experienced before, and the mozzarella was creamy and mild. I liked it a lot. They do have other pizzas with various toppings. Here is the Roadfood.com Review: http://www.roadfood.com/R...3825/lombardis%3C/a%3E Here is the restaurant web site: http://www.firstpizza.com...%3C/font%3E%3C/font%3E After talking about the history of the coal-oven pizza in New York, it was pointed out that if pizza never moved on from the coal oven stage, it would never had achieved the wide-spread popularity it began enjoying after WW-II. That started with the gas pizza oven, which could be installed just about anywhere. We walked over to an Italian-American manufacturer of pizza ovens. Bari We were allowed in back to see where they actually make the ovens. Partially Complete Oven Completed Oven No, it does not sell for $199! That is for the blender/whatever behind the sign. We then walked west on Bleecker Street to sample a typical, modern slice from a gas-oven joint. On the way, we passed a Ray’s Pizza. Many of you who have been to NYC know that there are many “Ray’s” pizzeria’s around, with similar-sounding names. According to our tour guide, there are about 42, including ones with names such as “Original Ray’s”. Well this one here, on Prince Street, claims to be the oldest. It was in the 1960 phone book, and none of the others were! Ray’s Pizza of Prince Street Our next destination was Joe’s Pizza on Carmine Street. Even before signing up for the tour, I read many reviews listing Joe’s as the prototypical NYC “slice” pizza joint. We were brought here to illustrate a good example of a modest gas oven pizza. It has been reviewed on Roadfood.com, too. Joe’s Pizza Joe's Pizza Slice The first thing I noticed is that it was much hotter – I burnt my mouth slightly. Allegedly they have to keep it in the lower-temperature gas oven longer, and the sauce gets hotter, and stays hot under the more uniform sprinkling of cheese. The crust is different – more chewy, if I recall correctly. The cheese was much saltier, and the sauce less fresh, tomatoey tasting. After eating the Lombardi’s Gennaro’s Special, this pizza seemed to have what I can best describe as a hollow flavor profile. Chewy, with a lot of temperature, and a lot of saltiness, but missing the “middle” flavors. Still, it is a more pleasing slice than Domino’s/Pizza Hut/Papa John’s, etc. Restaurant Web Site: http://www.joespizza.com/%3C/a%3E Roadfood.com Review: http://roadfood.com/Resta...eviews/4685/joes-pizza We moved on towards our next destination, John’s Pizza of Bleecker Street. Along the way, I spotted this: The Bitter End It is billed as New York’s oldest rock club. Many music acts and comedians have gotten their start here. Check out the web site: http://www.bitterend.com/%3C/a%3E%3C/font%3E%3C/font%3E%3C/font%3E Also along the way, I spotted the Two Boots restaurant mentioned in Roadfood Digest recently, and by billyboy in one of his city restaurant tours. Two Boots Finally, we got to our destination: John’s of Bleecker Street Like Lombardi’s, they have a coal oven, too. They have been at this location since 1929. John’s Oven Here is what came out of that oven: John’s Pizza I don’t recall the details about the cheese, but it is grated. I do remember thinking that if they switched sauces with Lombardi’s this would be the best. It had a good crust. http://www.johnsbrickovenpizza.com/ Roadfood Review What I went on was one of the Scott's Pizza Tours. http://www.scottspizzatours.com/ That ended the Pizza Walk, but I spotted something that caught my attention. I thought this might be the original inspiration for the Soup Nazi on Seinfeld. Original Soup Man It’s not. The original was on 55th Street, and they have franchises in many states now. I spotted a lot of interesting stuff in this area. I passed by : Faicco’s Pork Store http://roadfood.com/Restaurant/reviews/1182/faiccos-pork-store Murray’s Cheese Shop http://www.murrayscheese.com/ Rice to Riches http://roadfood.com/Restaurant/reviews/5305/rice-to-riches …and much, much more. That’s it for NYC this year! I drove to Rhode Island for wanderingjew’s meet-and-greet, and have posted the photos I shot there in this thread: http://www.roadfood.com/F...612&mpage=3#590142 I had one restaurant meal in Natick, Massachusetts. After poring over various online restaurant review sites, I decided to try Station 5 Grille for breakfast. I found the idea of their Irish Benedict (poached eggs over corned beef hash on English muffins covered with hollandaise sauce) appealing. Irish Benedict I didn’t enjoy this. I asked for the hash and the potatoes to be crispy, and they weren’t. The potatoes had some odd flavor from something else cooked on the grill. I should have realized in a modest place like this that the hollandaise sauce probably comes from Sysco. Of course the corned beef hash came from a can, but a good brand, properly crisped-up, can be enjoyable. The orange juice was reconstituted. On the plus side, the service was fine, as were the coffee and the eggs. Perhaps some other dishes on the menu would pull together better. Restaurant Web Site http://www.station5grille.com/
Cruising down I-95 through Connecticut, I exited at Madison to try a New England specialty, the hot lobster roll. I got a lot of useful advice in a thread I started asking for suggestions, and settled on:
There are two locations for Lenny and Joe’s Fish Tale. One is said to be “family style”, and this one in Madison is said to be a “drive-in”. I imagined it to be more of a roadside shack, but it’s not. There is a sizeable dining area indoors, and it’s not shabby at all. Outdoors there is a large, covered dining area with picnic tables, and an equally large area in the open.
Fish Tale Outdoor Dining
Fish Tale Counter
The goal of my searching soon came up.
Lenny & Joe’s Fish Tale Hot Lobster Roll
This was quite an event for me. I don’t think I have had northern lobster on over 35 years. I haven’t even seen a New England hot dog roll in at least 45 years (at the time, I thought they were some sort of cheap, imitation hot dog roll). It was great. The lobster was sweet, and the roll was toasted (grilled?) on both sides and buttered. It all went together very well in my opinion, such as it is. The onion rings were good, too. The cole slaw was a dud. I just threw it out.
Restaurant Web Site http://www.ljfishtale.com/
Roadfood.com Review of the Westbrook location: http://www.roadfood.com/R...3/lenny-joes-fish-tale Almost at the New York border, I stopped in the Byram section of the town of Greenwich at Burgers, Shakes & Fries. It’s housed in a tiny building that can’t be more than 600 yards from Port Chester, New York. Burgers, Shakes & Fries My appetite was waning, so I ordered a hot dog and fries. I like the attitude that this sign illustrates: I figured that one could order any of the hamburger toppings for the hot dog too, and asked for sautéed onions. No problem. Burgers, Shakes & Fries Hot Dog They sure piled them on! Better that than if they were stingy, though. I think the owner said that it was a Boar’s Head 100% beef hot dog. It was good, the onions were good, as was the toasted New-England-style roll. The fries were good, too. The customer next to me ordered a double hamburger. I don’t think she realized that would be 2/3 of a pound of beef! Next time I’ll have to get prepped for one of those burgers. Restaurant Web Site http://www.burgersshakesnfries.com/
Roadfood.com Review: http://www.roadfood.com/R...5/burgers-shakes-fries Just across the Byram River separating New York from Connecticut are two rival restaurants on Main Street in Port Chester. One is Pat’s Hubba-Hubba, which just has “Hubba” on the façade. The other is Texas, just up the street a short distance. Both of them specialize in a form of chili, served on hot dogs, hamburgers and other vehicles. My nephew says he favors a sub with chili on it. Pat’s is the original, and Texas is a newer competitor. I meant to visit them last year when I was in the area, but didn’t find the time. In the interim, Michael Stern stopped by and reviewed both. All I had when I visited the two were their chili-cheese dogs. Pat’s Hubba-Hubba It just has the line of stools at the one counter. Pat’s Hubba-Hubba Chili-Cheese Dog http://www.roadfood.com/Restaurant/Reviews/7085/hubba
Texas is a little bigger, with a couple of tables in addition to the counter.
Texas Chili-Cheese Dog
Roadfood.com Review: http://roadfood.com/Resta...views/7083/texas-chili I had the Texas dog first. The chili reminded most of plain ground beef bathed in Tabasco sauce. It was incredibly lacking in breadth of flavor. Overlaying it all was a bitter, burnt taste. It may have been from a dirty grill, or perhaps from a pot of chili that had been reheated too many times. Not recommended. Next came a trek over to Pat’s. The dog looked remarkably similar, and had a very similar taste. The chili had a little more flavor, but still wasn’t great. The burnt taste was there, too! Not recommended. I just don’t get it. My last stop was at Q Barbecue, nearby on Main Street. I got ribs and sides to go, and didn’t get any food pictures. I enjoyed the ribs and the somewhat thin sauce, and the cheesy corn was noteworthy. My nephew says he has enjoyed the pulled-pork sandwich there. Here is the front of the restaurant: Q Barbeque It’s bigger inside. Note the loft in the back. They have a full liquor bar, so I indulged in an adult beverage while waiting for my order to come up. [size=3 editorid="ctl01_contentplaceholder1_ctl01_body"][canaddcustomcolors="true"][stripabsoluteimagespaths="false"][commoninternalparameters="u2tpblbhdggsrmfsc2usmcxmmfp2y25wdgn5ovnzv1jeyji1mgntoxnjetlgwkdsmgizsxzvmnrwym5ndljhvm1zwfzzzerjd01ewxy="]Restaurant Web Site That’s it, except for some bad food and drink in LaGuardia airport, which I won’t burden you with.
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