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Posts from January 2014

The Monk Room: Newark, NJ [CLOSED]

Pizza1 monk room

Update: The Monk room closed at the end of September, 2015.

A visit to Porta in early 2013 yielded some information that just about floored me: the Porta people were looking to expand, big time, and some locations in the works were Newark and Jersey City. Hey that's near me!

Fast forward a few short months and The Monk Room opened in Newark right by the Pru Center, and the opening of a Porta in Jersey City has been announced, slated to open in probably just a few months. Look for a multi-level space, with music and a lively atmosphere.

I was really keen on getting to The Monk Room to see what was doin', so I hussled down 21 during their first week of operation for lunch. I walked away very pleased indeed.

Continue reading "The Monk Room: Newark, NJ [CLOSED]" »

15 Grand American Bistro: Montvale, NJ: the burger [CLOSED]

15 grand burger

UPDATE: 2014/06: 15 Grand American Bistro has closed.

Other than having heard that they have a good burger, I knew nothing about 15 Grand, the newish restaurant in Montvale, NJ. That didn't stop me from thinking I knew, though.

I was pretty sure this was an upscale place, with heavy, dark furniture, where, if it were allowed, you might find businessmen in suits smoking cigars, talking too loudly about some deal, and drinking Johnny Walker some-color at the bar. Really not my kind of place, but I figured I'd give it a shot, for the sake of research.

With temps this week struggling to get out of the aughts, I had visions of a big ol' goblet of red wine next to the burger. I could assume that a place like this would have very nice, large, masculine stemware. Maybe, even a bold, tannic cabernet. A steakhouse type wine. It sure seemed like that kind of afternoon. That would surely be a lovely lunch if, if that burger was any good.

I was a bit surprised to see a somewhat crowded parking lot as I rolled in. "That's a lot of businessmen," I thought. The last thing I wanted to do was get squeezed into a bar, surrounded by tossers. I generally just like being left alone. But I soldiered on, setting apprehension and my general dislike of people aside, parked the car, and walked in.

I eagerly told the host that I'd like to sit at the bar. He gently explained that they don't have a bar. He must have seen the shock on my face, my jaw slack, the life force melting out of me. "We're a BYO," he continued.

"What?!?! Since when? Forever and always?" I asked, intent on getting to the bottom of this, and trying to get my head around what was happening in my life at that moment. Surely this is a mistake. Surely. Clearly the nice man is yanking my chain. Clearly.

"Yes, forever and always," the nice man responded.

I won't lie--I was about to turn heel and go find the place I was thinking of this whole time. The place with the bar, with the big comfy stools. The place with the over-sized wine glasses. The place with the big cabernet. That place, you know? But, I quickly realized that 1) the traffic was hellacious and I didn't want to go back into it, and 2) this was the blasted joint I was thinking of in the first place. I nimbly switched gears, and proclaimed with a bit of defeat "I'll take a table, then."

Continue reading "15 Grand American Bistro: Montvale, NJ: the burger [CLOSED]" »

The 17 Most Influential Burgers of All Time: Time

Dry aged burger salBurger at home with beef from Westwood Prime Meats in Westwood, NJ. With dry-aged bits.

Time magazine (that's still a thing, Time magazine?) released this list (click) of 17 of the most influential burgers of all time. White Castle is number one, for those who aren't going to read the list.

It's hard to argue with lists like these. Everyone has their opinion, and this isn't science. But to my mind, the omission of a dry-aged burger is a huge oversight.

While most of the country outside of fancy urban areas may never have had a dry-aged burger, New Yorkers have been chowing on them for quite some time.  Peter Luger's burger surely was the most popular (only?) dry-aged burger for a looooooong time. And it's quite a bargain, and quite a good burger. 

More recently, Minetta Tavern put, what up until that point was just another meat purveyor, on the map. Their Black Label Burger, made with meat from Pat La Frieda, made quite a splash when it was introduced. Hell, that burger helped to put Minetta itself on the map.

Dry-aged burgers are here to stay and popping up everywhere, no doubt due in no small part to Minetta's fine burger--and good ol' fashioned marketing. Maybe in a few years a list like this will mention Minetta. In the meantime, try one at home!

Let me indulge in a perhaps slightly more off-topic than on-topic tommy:rant, and wrap this up.

<tommy:rant>Suddenly, any shitty diner that happens to use La Frieda as a purveyor is proudly advertising that fact on their menu. As if the source of their meat is making their food taste better. Sure, La Frieda has and sells fantastic stuff. And they also sell regular stuff. Like the stuff that diners buy.

But ya know what? People are buying into the idea. They are actually going to diners and professing their love for these clearly unexceptional specimens, puffing out their chests when challenged and saying "but it's La Frieda meat." Yeah, OK.</tommy:rant>



Muffuletta olive salad: elevate your stuff

Marconi muffaletta

Most anyone who has been to New Orleans and has even a passing interest in food has gone to Central Grocery (which apparently has the most awesome website ever...seriously, click on that link) or one of the many places that serve the glorious beast of a sandwich known as the Muffuletta.

For the uninitiated (please, hang your head in shame at this point), the Muffuletta is a big, round sandwich of cold cuts (ham, mortadella, salami, provolone, mozzarella, did I miss one?), with an oil-based olive salad as dressing. Served on bread that is too thick and, to my mind, not terribly good. Although it gets better as the oil soaks into it.

That olive salad is really the only truly remarkable component of the sandwich. Without it, you'd have a pretty boring, yet complicated sandwich. The olive salad elevates and unifies the whole mess.

Thankfully you can buy olive salad in jars and elevate your own stuff, right at home.  That's what I did earlier today. I elevated my own stuff.  Also, I made this sandwich.

Continue reading "Muffuletta olive salad: elevate your stuff" »

New Neapolitan pizza: in Ridgewood?


UPDATE (5/29/14): S. Egidio is opening tonight, Thursday, per the Booziest of all the Burbs.

To say I'm curious about this place is certainly an understatement. #italymeetsridgewood? Sounds good to me.

There's very little info available on the internet about the restaurant. I stopped by yesterday but couldn't glean any intel other than the sign you see above. So many questions, so few answers. Is Rocco, the Glen Rock construction contractor at Action Home involved? Or is it another Rocco. How is an oven going to fit in that little place? Is the atmosphere going to be less upscale and more Brooklyn hip shabby chic (I kinda hope it's earthy and warm)? Is the meat going to be from exceptional producers and not from mediocre distributors? Are they going to be doing 70 second pies, or, 3 minute pies.

From a pizza perspective, I think they'll need to differentiate themselves from A Mano, which is right around the corner. A Mano really does focus on authentic Neapolitan-style pizza--which some people just don't understand or appreciate.  If there's a niche to be carved, it is going to be more of a Brooklyn-Neapolitan hybrid. A little less "wet," a little more crispy.

But I'm not paying the bills, so who cares what I think.

Either way, this will get interesting.

Update: A photo of the interior progress can be found here (click me).

17 North Broad Street : Ridgewood, NJ

The Monk Room in Newark: from the Porta people [CLOSED]

Porta octopus

Update: The Monk room closed at the end of September, 2015.

Update: my thoughts on a visit to The Monk Room here (click me).

Another update: Octopus is in the building!

Boozy Burbs got a hold of the menu for the soon-to-be-open Monk Room in Newark, the latest restaurant from the Porta people.

While we all sort of expected an abbreviated menu, certainly at launch, the internet was hoping that the fantastic octopus dish (which made the t:e Best dishes of 2013 list) would make an appearance in Newark. Apparently it hasn't, and North Jersey is crying "foul!!!"

C'mon, Porta people. We love your pizza, but let's get us some octopus up here. Newark and octopus go hand-in-hand!

Let's hope that the Monk Room's menu expands, with that octopus, and soon. And on top of that let's hope that the Monk Room's Jersey City restaurant (opening later in 2014) will have the octopus. Otherwise, Porta people, there will be pitchforks and torches, and we'll bring it, and bring it hard, North Jersey style. You dig?

The Monk Room : 20 Green Street : Newark, NJ
The Monk Room : 135 Newark Ave : Jersey City, NJ

Update: The Porta people responded in a tweet. Fingers crossed, although I know damn well that octopus takes more than a minute:


Velveeta shortage: alternatives to Velveeta

By now you've heard that Kraft is claiming that there could be a Velveeta shortage in the coming weeks. The timing couldn't be more perfect to put the brakes on your processed food-studded Super Bowl party.

So what is the uncaring and heedless host to do in light of the shortage of this staple? Well, I'll just tell ya.

To help you ensure that your party is the effortless and barbarous event that you had hoped, I am offering some assistance. We'll get through this, together.

Here it is. Just what you need, and just in time:  alternatives to Americas's favorite Pasteurized Prepared Cheese Product:

Continue reading "Velveeta shortage: alternatives to Velveeta" »

Notable dishes of 2012: the 2014 edition

File under: better late than never?

Try as I may to muster the energy to leave the warm, cozy house on this freezing cold day, I'm finding there are many obstacles. Not least of all being screwing around on the computer, looking through some old photos. I noticed that I have a couple blurry pictures of food, and figured "Hey, why waste these beauties on just me. I'll make another list!"

I kinda like putting together lists. Any sort of non-list post takes a lot of effort, although you probably wouldn't believe it if you read any of mine. The list-oriented posts are super easy, because let's face it, people have low to zero expectations with a list. They just want to see the list. And I have very low expectations for a list. Just show me the list. Most importantly, I'm a navel-gazer from way back, and lists provide a vehicle to look deeply into the glory that is me.

So here's the list of Notable dishes of 2012: the 2014 edition:

Continue reading "Notable dishes of 2012: the 2014 edition" »

Mapping: the eats

Don't forget, there's a nifty map of restaurants/retailers covered in this blog. This might make it easier to focus on a particular area, for example. 

It's accessible via the menu bar above, or here:

I should add that this Google map doesn't seem to work with Google Chrome, so you have to click on the link for the larger view. You should probably do that anyway.

View t:e restaurants in a larger map