NY, CT & MA May 2010

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MiamiDon
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2010/06/02 10:58:30 (permalink)

NY, CT & MA May 2010

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: [link=http://roadfood.com/Resta...ws/1352/nathans-famous%3C/a%3E]http://roadfood.com/Resta...nathans-famous%3C/a%3E[/link]

 
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: [link=http://www.roadfood.com/R...Reviews/3825/lombardis%3C/a%3E]http://www.roadfood.com/R...3825/lombardis%3C/a%3E[/link]

 
Here is the restaurant web site:  [link=http://www.firstpizza.com/%3C/a%3E%3C/font%3E%3C/font%3E%3C/font%3E]http://www.firstpizza.com...%3C/font%3E%3C/font%3E[/link]
 
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: [link=http://roadfood.com/Restaurant/Reviews/4685/joes-pizza]http://roadfood.com/Resta...eviews/4685/joes-pizza[/link]
 
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 Tourshttp://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:  [link=http://www.roadfood.com/Forums/tm.aspx?m=573612&mpage=3#590142]http://www.roadfood.com/F...612&mpage=3#590142[/link]
 
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: [link=http://www.roadfood.com/Restaurant/reviews/1033/lenny-joes-fish-tale]http://www.roadfood.com/R...3/lenny-joes-fish-tale[/link] 
 

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: [link=http://www.roadfood.com/Restaurant/reviews/5805/burgers-shakes-fries]http://www.roadfood.com/R...5/burgers-shakes-fries[/link]
 
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 Interior

 
Texas Chili-Cheese Dog
 

Roadfood.com Review: [link=http://roadfood.com/Restaurant/reviews/7083/texas-chili]http://roadfood.com/Resta...views/7083/texas-chili[/link]
 
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.

post edited by MiamiDon - 2010/06/04 11:56:28
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46 Replies Related Threads

    BelRose
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    Re:NY, CT & MA May 2010 2010/06/02 11:31:31 (permalink)
    Wow that made me hungry.  Thanks for sharing.
    #2
    Foodosaurus
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    Re:NY, CT & MA May 2010 2010/06/02 11:34:52 (permalink)


    Sounds like a great trip Don.  It was great meeting you in Rhode Island.
    #3
    billyboy
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    Re:NY, CT & MA May 2010 2010/06/02 11:39:41 (permalink)
    Great post, Don!!  That pizza tour sounds amazing and a chance to try slices from "whole pie only" places.  Lombardi's is definitely my favorite of all the NYC pies I have eaten so far.  I do believe that particular Ray's is the oldest and I have it on the list for the upcoming NYC Nosh.  Joe's is good for what it is, but I think Bleecker Street Pizza on the corner of 7th Ave and Bleecker has a better slice.  That pie from John's looks great.  I have only been there once and wasn't crazy about it.  May be time for a return visit. 
     
    That lobster roll makes me want to jump thru my screen.  Thanks for all of the great shots and the very wonderful write-ups!
    #4
    Nancypalooza
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    Re:NY, CT & MA May 2010 2010/06/02 11:45:50 (permalink)
    Dude, not only are your descriptions and photos spectacular, you did a lot of research to find the proper answers to the questions you dredged up!  Very informative and well done.  A hot lobster roll is bobbing at the top of the list of Roadfood delicacies I need to try next; looks like I won't get to it this year, but I can be very patient.  Thanks for taking us along!
    #5
    Buffalo Tarheel
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    Re:NY, CT & MA May 2010 2010/06/02 12:07:17 (permalink)
    Oustanding trip report and great pictures, Don.  It's too bad those chili cheese dogs from Pat's and Texas were not good, because the pictures are certainly very appetizing.
    #6
    kland01s
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    Re:NY, CT & MA May 2010 2010/06/02 12:15:03 (permalink)
    Just from the looks I can understand why you didn't like that Irish Hash, the hash and the potatoes look severely under cooked. Great report, you really put a lot of work in to your trip and got some great results for the most part!
    #7
    Tony Bad
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    Re:NY, CT & MA May 2010 2010/06/02 12:27:57 (permalink)
    Great report and pictures MD! Thanks for taking the time to share.
    #8
    Michael Hoffman
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    Re:NY, CT & MA May 2010 2010/06/02 12:42:55 (permalink)
    I'm glad you enjoyed the Connecticut lobster roll. It sure looked good.

    About those fries you had at Nathan's, they're the only type I'd ever had before I ran into those skinny things that seem to be all the rage around the United States these days. Not being able to get the "real" fries is why I don't order fries now.
    #9
    ScreamingChicken
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    Re:NY, CT & MA May 2010 2010/06/02 12:51:58 (permalink)
    Does Nathan's still have "sea food" and a "clam bar" as purported?  Or is the facade a holdover from bygone times?  It seems like whenever a Nathan's post appears here it's hot dog-oriented.
     
    Brad
    post edited by Brad_Olson - 2010/06/02 12:52:59
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    ALLGOOD
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    Re:NY, CT & MA May 2010 2010/06/02 13:11:32 (permalink)
    If that lobster roll tasted as good as it looked, I would have just parked it right there for the whole trip.
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    MiamiDon
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    Re:NY, CT & MA May 2010 2010/06/02 13:18:37 (permalink)
    Brad_Olson: 

    That counter is broken up into ordering sections.  Here is a closeup of the sign more or less to my upper left from where I took the room photo:


     
    That appears to be the fried seafood section.  I was at a corner of that counter when I took the photo.  A little behind me, the counter turns 90 degrees, paralleling the facade with the clam bar sign.  Along there, I saw a bin of crushed ice with clams in it behind the counter.
     
    Also, at the far end, there is a sign which indicates that fried flounder sandwiches and platters are available.
      
    post edited by MiamiDon - 2010/06/02 13:22:01
    #12
    Greymo
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    Re:NY, CT & MA May 2010 2010/06/02 13:19:49 (permalink)
    Really nice report...............wish I had a lobster roll right now!
    #13
    leethebard
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    Re:NY, CT & MA May 2010 2010/06/02 13:28:25 (permalink)
    MiamiDon...what an adventure you had!!! A PIZZA TOUR...you've given me a great trip idea for my next NYC visit....My problem will be holding it down to a few slices per place...Hmmmm, Lombardi's, John's & Rays and a side by side comparison......gotta do it! Thanks for the tour.....I"m dying for a few slices now!
    #14
    badbyron722
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    Re:NY, CT & MA May 2010 2010/06/02 13:32:35 (permalink)
    Great report!
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    John Fox
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    Re:NY, CT & MA May 2010 2010/06/02 13:37:04 (permalink)
    Thanks for the pictures and the report! Great job.
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    dannybotz
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    Re:NY, CT & MA May 2010 2010/06/02 14:01:06 (permalink)
    outstanding!!!!!
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    Rusty246
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    Re:NY, CT & MA May 2010 2010/06/02 14:34:01 (permalink)
    I wonder how many(ha!)people are scared away from Nathan's due to their posting of calories.....
    #18
    Nancypalooza
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    Re:NY, CT & MA May 2010 2010/06/02 14:43:59 (permalink)
    I am very intrigued by the calorie count on a frog leg now.
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    sk bob
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    Re:NY, CT & MA May 2010 2010/06/02 14:44:05 (permalink)
    great report as usual Don!
    I thought I'd do a quick browse of the site because I have things to do, but when I saw this I couldn't resist.

    thanks, Don
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    Ralph Melton
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    Re:NY, CT & MA May 2010 2010/06/02 14:47:07 (permalink)
    Great report! We're planning a New England trip this summer, and this is an inspiration to me.
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    ayersian
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    Re:NY, CT & MA May 2010 2010/06/02 15:56:26 (permalink)
    Ralph Melton
    Great report! We're planning a New England trip this summer, and this is an inspiration to me.

    Ralph, please let us know when you're coming -- we'd love to take you to our favorite spots!  And I hope you're planning to visit Turtle Alley, because Hallie mentioned you (from the New Orleans tour) when we visited Gloucester a few weeks ago.

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    Tony Bad
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    Re:NY, CT & MA May 2010 2010/06/02 16:06:51 (permalink)
    Rusty246

    I wonder how many(ha!)people are scared away from Nathan's due to their posting of calories.....





    All chains have to do this in NYC. 
    #23
    Tony Bad
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    Re:NY, CT & MA May 2010 2010/06/02 16:09:10 (permalink)
    MiamiDon

    Brad_Olson: 

    That counter is broken up into ordering sections.  Here is a closeup of the sign more or less to my upper left from where I took the room photo:


     
    That appears to be the fried seafood section.  I was at a corner of that counter when I took the photo.  A little behind me, the counter turns 90 degrees, paralleling the facade with the clam bar sign.  Along there, I saw a bin of crushed ice with clams in it behind the counter.
     
    Also, at the far end, there is a sign which indicates that fried flounder sandwiches and platters are available.
      



    Don Miami...did you notice if they still had Chow Mein on a bun at Nathan's? Last time I was there, I didn't see it. Thought I might have missed it, but wondering if it is gone from menu.
    #24
    Rusty246
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    Re:NY, CT & MA May 2010 2010/06/02 16:12:47 (permalink)
    Tony Bad

    Rusty246

    I wonder how many(ha!)people are scared away from Nathan's due to their posting of calories.....





    All chains have to do this in NYC. 


    I'm sure it's just a matter of time before all states are complying.
    #25
    MiamiDon
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    Re:NY, CT & MA May 2010 2010/06/02 16:51:51 (permalink)
    If anyone saw some bizarre behavior of my posting, I had an extended battle with the edit function while trying to fix the mangled link URLs.  It ended up deleting half of the photos and text, but I just finished repairing it.  Some of the formatting is not right, but everything is there.  I need a break!
    #26
    carolina bob
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    Re:NY, CT & MA May 2010 2010/06/02 17:02:56 (permalink)
    A very enjoyable trip report, Don. Many thanks for sharing your day in NYC with us.
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    Michael Hoffman
    Double-chop Porterhouse
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    • Joined: 2000/07/01 08:52:00
    • Location: Gahanna, OH
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    Re:NY, CT & MA May 2010 2010/06/02 17:32:49 (permalink)
    MiamiDon

    If anyone saw some bizarre behavior of my posting, I had an extended battle with the edit function while trying to fix the mangled link URLs.  It ended up deleting half of the photos and text, but I just finished repairing it.  Some of the formatting is not right, but everything is there.  I need a break!

    Hell, your report was so enoyable I never noticed anything wrong.
    #28
    agnesrob
    Double Chili Cheeseburger
    • Total Posts : 1790
    • Joined: 2006/06/04 17:27:00
    • Location: Park Ridge, NJ
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    Re:NY, CT & MA May 2010 2010/06/02 20:40:15 (permalink)
    Great report MiamiDon, I remember enjoying last years too. That pizza tour looked great. Thanks for taking the time to post it!
    #29
    ellen4641
    Filet Mignon
    • Total Posts : 3531
    • Joined: 2004/05/01 01:44:00
    • Location: Egg Harbor Township, NJ
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    Re:NY, CT & MA May 2010 2010/06/02 22:07:32 (permalink)
    I'm jonesing for a Nathan's hot dog now! 
    Yup, great report & pics, Miami Don !

    You were definitely overdue for that Northern Lobster, as well as the New England hot dog roll! 

    I love outdoor seating areas like the one at that Fish Tale joint in Madison, CT...
    lots of picnic tables...groovy!!
    (reminds me of the seating area at the hot dog joint near Brewster, NY)

    Glad you enjoyed your hot dog at the Greenwich, CT joint...
    I had a burger there a few years back, and did'nt care for the bland cooking preparation... (flat top, very lightly done)....I prefer charbroiled , or at least a nice sear and/or griddle... (Just my own tastes, of course!)
    and I was disappointed that they did not offer fresh cut fries..

    well done, Miami Don !!!!!!!!!!!!
    #30
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