100 dogs and counting
Friday, June 02, 2006
BY PETER GENOVESE
Three short trips and our S.W.A.T. Dog Team has already made quick work of 100-plus dogs (think what they could do during a whole day of dogs!). We started close to the Big Dog's home; first stop was JJ's truck on Bloomfield Avenue in Newark. The chili "had a nice kick to it," according to Kamal Brown. But the dog itself, a Sabrett's all-beef, was so-so.
The next stop was the venerable Dickie Dee's, also in Newark. Give your order to Izzy Tursini, who has worked the counter there for 45 years. "Everything" means an Italian hot dog with a boatload of peppers, onions and potatoes, shoveled into what Jeff Greene called "excellent" pizza bread.
Then it was on to Amazing Hot Dog in Verona, which serves up a supersized all-beef deep-fried Best's dog. John Fox called the chili "one of the best" he's ever had; others were less enthusiastic. Good fries, double-fried and nicely greasy.
Our next trip included Jimmy Buff's in West Orange, another hot dog landmark. Consensus: better Italian dogs than Dickie Dee's. "Simply an awesome greasy hot dog," Brown raved. The peppers were not as tasty as Dickie Dee's, though.
We hit Frankie D's Dog House in Nutley, where Greene, our resident mustard expert, concluded: "Outstanding mustard, average dog, below-average roll."
Love onions? Visit Galloping Hill Inn at Five Points in Union. Natalie Pisarcik called the sweet, crisp onions "fabulous." Crisp, distinctive snap to the Grote & Weigel dog.
We ended our second excursion at Jerry's in Elizabeth. "I could eat a million of these," Fox gushed of the snappy all-beef Best's franks.
Hey, John, save your appetite; you're going to need it the rest of the summer!
Next week: The S.W.A.T. Dog team visits classic hot dog joints in Clifton and Paterson.
Our S.W.A.T. team
Their name: the S.W.A.T. Dog Team. Their mission: Find the best hot dog in New Jersey. Their identities: secret until now. Here are the members of our blue-ribbon, mustard-and-kraut-covered panel. Read their frank reports each week this summer; the winner will be announced over the Labor Day weekend.
Kamal Brown, 33, Flanders
Newark fireman, Engine 18, Truck 9, a k a "The Hill"; he's also one of the firehouse cooks. Father of three. Asked for his hobbies, he replied, "All I do is work." A regular at Newark-area hot dog joints such as Dickie Dee's and Jimmy Buff's.
John Fox, 46, Union
No one knows more about Jersey hot dogs than this guy; he credits the Munchmobile series for "sparking" his interest -- dare we say obsession? -- in hot dogs. Known as hotdoglover on various forums. Yes, he does have a life; he's a mailman in Union during the day. "This will be a most enjoyable summer for me!"
Joanne Friend, 64, Union
School bus driver. Rides a Harley; started up a conversation with a biker in Rutt's Hut abut the intricacies of -- well, only they know what they were talking about. Plays guitar and sings "a little bit."
Mike Goldberger, 59, Westfield
His self-description: "While it would be much more romantic to say that I was once a roustabout, broke broncs in Texas, worked up on the high steel and even spent one season as a wrench for a Formula 1 race team, it wouldn't be true. Alas, I am a mild-mannered film critic whose reviews appear in several weekly newspapers in New Jersey and Vermont."
Jeff Greene, 60, East Hanover
Once ate eight hot dogs on one roll at hot dog joint in Bayonne. Has downed dogs across the country, from Coney Island to Los Angeles. "It should be noted that no self-respecting aficionado would even consider putting ketchup or cheese or some similar condiment on one of these tender little devils."
Christine Kilcoyne Hirsch, 45, Belleville
Account manager for an insurance brokerage firm. Immediately endeared herself to the rest of the team by making up customized S.W.A.T. Dog Team personal logs for each member. Grew up in Newark; remembers going to the House-o-Weenies as a kid. "I have always said that if I had to choose one food to sustain me for the rest of my days, it would be hot dogs."
Natalie Pisarcik, 29, Boonton
Thanks her dad for her passion for hot dogs. Childhood trips to Stokes State Forest always included stops at Hot Dog Johnny's in Buttzville; trips to Devils games meant a dog at Rutt's Hut. When she would visit friends in New England, they would always take her to their local hot dog joints to see what she thought. "A New Jersey hot dog and me -- perfect together."
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