The Sharks had a night game in Carteret, New Jersey. Normally it would only take me about 45 minutes to get to the game, but I decided to go around lunch time to explore New Jersey and get some good eating in.
One thing New Jersey is known for is their hot dogs, especially their Italian hot dogs. This specialty consists of a hot dog served in a half round roll with grilled peppers, grilled onions, and fried potatoes. After looking around, I found lots of different places to try in the upper Jersey area, but which one to pick. I finally decided upon Tommy's Italian in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Partly it was close to where I wanted to go, good reviews from here and from HollyEats.com, and the fact that they made their own sausage. This led to my next dilema, to order the Italian hot dog or Italian sausage sandwich. Since this was not going to be my only stop, I didn't feel that I could order both and still be hungry enough later to enjoy my other stop. I kept debating sausage or hot dog, sausage or hot dog, but when I got to the little stand, they had the perfect solution for me. They offered a combination of hot dog AND sausage. I quickly ordered one to go and in a few minutes they handed me a brown paper bag that felt liked it weighted about 3 pounds.
I went across the street and ate the sandwich on a park bench. It was quite big and quite hot. The potatoes were scalding to the touch and I had to wait a few minutes for it to cool off to eat. The sandwich was so messy that I started to eat it with my fingers. It was very good and the sausage was very flavorful. The hot dog was very good too. It was more than enough for me to finish and so I put over 1/2 of it away in a cooler I brought along for the trip. Overall I enjoyed the sandwich and would get one again if I was in the area, but the balance between messiness and flavor would preclude me from going too far out of my way. I think I would rather go to Rutt's Hut instead for one of their deep fried hot dogs.
After a few hours of exploring Elizabeth and surrounding towns...
Number one on my list on going to Jersey, besides the football game, was to go to Harold's New York Deli in Edison, New Jersey. There were many reviews on the web that extolled the virtues of their food and some raved that their pastrami was the best, even better than Katz's. I was really looking forward to seeing if this was true. Harold's is located in a Holiday Inn in what looks like an industrial complex in Edison. From the outside you really wouldn't know that there was a deli there, let alone a really good one. But I guess you would know that there was something good there as the parking lot was pretty busy around 4pm on a saturday.
As I was being seated, I walked past customers with their table covered in huge portions of food. It reminded me of the large portions you get at Carnegie Deli and the prices reflect that. I ordered a large pastrami sandwich for $18. The menu says that it can feed from 2-3 people. While I was waiting for my meal, I went over to their pickle bar. They had about dozen different items at the bar, including sour and half sour pickels, cherry peppers, a "health salad", and sliced of rye bread. I love half sour pickles and grabbed those and few slices of the bread.
While waiting for my food, I overheard one patron gasp as she came back from the pickle bar to her table. I turned around to see the largest matzo ball I have ever seen. It was about the size of a small cabbage sitting in a bowl of chicken soup. I don't know how good it tasted because at that time my food arrived and quite frankly I forget about everything else. And one of those things was taking a picture. The meat was piled on high and the pastrami was thinly cut by machine instead of hand sliced ala Katz's. I took some of the meat and made a smaller sandwich with the rye bread I got from the bar.
I was really looking forward to my first bite and it was very good. It was juicy, moist, and had a nice peppery flavor but it didn't top Katz's for my taste. I can see why people like it as it is very good but with the deli's in New York being closer there is no need for me to head back there for the pastrami. The disappointment of not tasting the best pastrami kind of brought me back to Earth and I then remembered to take a picture of the sandwich. I ate about 1/4 of the pastrami in the sandwich and took the rest home. My cooler was getting pretty filled with my leftovers.
As for the game, the Jersey Justice were undefeated and so was the Sharks. The Sharks were the veteran team and were favored, but early in the first quarter their safety intercepted a New York pass and returned it 55 yards for a touchdown to give them an 8-7 lead. But from then on it was all New York as they won 50-8. The game ended around 10pm and even though I wasn't that hungry, the Justice had a post-game party at a local Knights of Columbus. I went over there to talk some football with the players and the broadcast crew, but was surprised by the amount of food they had there. It was buffet style and they had dozens of dishes like green salads, pasta salads, chicken cutlets, sausage and peppers, lasagna, baked ziti, chicken wings, eggplant parmigiana, meatball subs, sandwich wraps, and more. Funny how I forgot that I wasn't hungry anymore. Hopefully we play again in Jersey next season.