2004 falanghina feudi di san gregorio
Belmont Tavern: Bloomfield, NJ

Amazing Hot Dog: Verona, NJ [CLOSED]

UPDATE:  2008/06 The Verona location has closed.  The Bound Brook location remains open.

AmazinghotdogWhat makes Amazing Hot Dog amazing isn't merely the great hot dogs.  What makes Amazing Hot Dog amazing is that it's got the b*lls to exist in north jersey, which some might claim is the hot dog capital of the world.  That's amazing to me. Perhaps i'm easily amazed, but most certainly Eric and Matt (the owners and masterminds behind the operation) have b*lls.

I'm no hot dog historian, but I'm pretty sure that north Jersey invented the concept of putting chili "sauce" on a hot dog.  I'm pretty sure north jersey invented the idea of deep frying a hot dog.  and there aren't many places in the US where a hot dog and fries are perfectly acceptable as a meal on a saturday night (if none of this is not true, please don't correct me, because I don't care). Amazing Hot Dog does all of these things, and it's arguable that it does them better than the big boys who have been around since my parents were kids.  I mean, how can you compete with Rutt's Hut in Clifton, the undisputed king of the deep fried hot dog?  And within probably 15 miles, you've got Clifton's Hot Grill, Johnny and Hanges in Fairlawn, The River View in Elmwood Park, Clixes and Goffle Grill in Hawthorne, and countless imitators of one or another version of the classic north Jersey dog/"Texas Wiener".  And I won't even get into all of the places in Union county, but only because I've never been to any of them.

The facts:  AHD is using Best's natural casing quarter pound dog, made right here in Newark. That's a big dog.  They're serving it on Martin's potato rolls, and that's ok in my book.  They're double cooking their freshly cut fries, which produces some of the best fries in the area.  They have some of the tastiest hot dog chili stuff that I've ever had (YES, it actually has meat!).  It's head and shoulders above the usual soupy-saucy stuff you find in northern jersey.  Their namesake hot dog ("The Amazing") is wrapped in bacon (and that's a good start).

It will take you several visits to eat through the menu at AHD (factually speaking, with 25 toppings, it would be almost impossible to eat through every combination. That's a fascinating point, I know).  Their website (cleverly, at www.amazinghotdog.com) will help you plan your attack.  They offer an array of those toppings, and several pre-determined combinations with names like "Smokey Joe" (with baked beans and BBQ sauce), "My Schmiero" (scallions and cream cheese - which is excellent), "Jersey Breakfast" (fried egg and american cheese), and "Nacho Dog" (sour cream, guac, and salsa).  be sure to not miss the chili.  When I commented on how good it was, Eric said that it was his recipe.  Like a proud father, and for good reason:  it's damned good.

Aside from the food, another aspect of AHD that stands out in my mind is the crew.  The people behind the counter who are throwing the dogs in the oil and ringing up your order and shmeering cream cheese on your dogs are having a great time.  There's non-stop banter being slung, and it's sure to bring a smile to your face...if you're fast enough to catch it all.

The place is clean, upbeat, family-friendly, and kids and adults seem to love it.  I smell franchise.  give me a call.

(Here's a little tip for those driving:  the front parking lot fills up quickly.  but, if you drive around back, and then around front again, there will still be no spots.  BUT, if you continue once again to drive around back and park, and then walk to the front, you'll see that 3 spots have opened up.  I'm not sure how helpful that tip is, but I figured I'd share it.)

Amazing Hot Dog : 148A Bloomfield Ave : Verona, NJ  07044 : 973.433.3073