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Posts from October 2011

Chengdu 23: Wayne, NJ

Two nights ago we drove to five, that's five, restaurants in Bergen county, looking for a place to get a quick bite at the bar.  We hit our usual suspects (Park West Tavern in Ridgewood, Ho-ho-kus Inn, Nellie's, Varka, and even took a peek into Savini), but all were either packed (on a Tuesday night...what recession?) or their bars were filled with tooth-challenged (Nellie's) or otherwise unpleasent individuals.  The mission was a disaster, and we just threw up our arms and headed home and made some ghetto burgers with store-bought (sssshhhhhh, mum's the word) ground beef.

On the way home, while contemplating the state of dining in this North Jersey area, I turned to the missus and said "You know, the only place that we ever go, where we are guaranteed to have a great time, where the food is always amazing, where the people and the customers are pleasant?"  She knew the answer before I finished my tirade:  Chendgu freakin' 23 in Wayne.

I've had countless meals here, introduced friends, coworkers, and family to its love, and not a single one has anything remotely negative to say about it.  In fact, the place gets raves on top of raves from everyone I've sent there.  My people can't wait to go back.  It's not uncommon to hear "man, I haven't had the Du in too long.  Let's make a plan."  A better plan cannot be made.  Of this you are assured.

I haven't mentioned this place in a few years, and I figured I owe it to them, and to you, to post a reminder:  GO TO CHENDGU 23.

I've got very little to say other than that, and frankly that should be enough.  But in case it's not, and you like pictures more than words, here are some of the dishes I've been shoveling into my fat face, with great joy (descriptions are from memory and may or may not be accurate)...

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Pizza: Carbonara

Pizza Carbonara

I was tooling around the recently awesome Asbury Park not too long ago, when I noticed a piece of plywood with a restaurant opening announcement crudely painted on the thing.  Normally this would immediately turn me off.  But the sign did make claims of "Neopolitan Pizza".  Misspellings on menus and signs are another thing that generally turns me off.  But given I knew what they meant, and they planned on serving my favorite style of pizza, I let all of this slide.

Porta sign
"Porta the Door" finally opens?  Hey Porta, the door finally opens?  Who is Porta?  Is this a party or a restaurant.  What is this.  I'm confused.  Asbury Park is weird.

I put it on my list of places to investigate, assuming the name was "Porta the Door".  At that point, however, there was nothing on the internet about this place.  Fast forward a few months, and the place is open, and they've got their Facebook presence and even sorted out a website.  Porta National Park, it's called.  Or maybe it's called Porta Pizza.  Either way, it's getting some good reviews, and their pizza carbonara is getting some specific attention on blogs and from yelpers and what have you. (Edit: my thoughts on Porta can be found here-click me.

I've made plenty of pizze with egg and guanciale, but never really considered them to be "carbonara."  I just never really went for the carbonara thing whole hog. But since the combination of egg, guanciale, black pepper, Parmiagno-reggiano, red pepper flake and parsley really appeals to me, and Porta's version is getting some good reviews, I figured I'd treat a pizza just as I would the pasta dish and give it a whirl myself.  At this point I hope you've realized that I'm not posting about Porta's pizza, but rather my own. 

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