NJ Dining: Holsten’s


With news of James Gandolfini’s passing, I thought that I would pay respect to the man by bringing back some older content about the restaurant that will always be remembered for the place where the iconic TV series that defined the actor’s career met its end.  — JP

NEW: Click for Hi-Res Slide Show

Holsten’s
1063 Broad St, Bloomfield, NJ
(973) 338-7091

Web Site: http://www.holstens.com

Holsten’s, as depicted in the final scene of The Sopranos. (HBO)

There was a time back in the not so distant past where the typical activity for dating teenagers on a Friday or Saturday night was to head down to the local Ice Cream Parlor or Malt Shop, sit down at the counter, share an Ice Cream Soda or a malted with a hamburger and fries, and then go out and see a B picture at the drive-in. As my grandparents and my parents used to tell me, there once were many such malt and ice cream soda shops, but few of these American originals survive today.

One such place that seems to have resisted the destruction of these quaint landmarks of the 1950’s is Holsten’s, in Bloomfield. Opened in 1939, going there is literally like being sent back in a time machine to observe the social habits of pre-WWII and 1950’s American youth. The menu of ice cream treats and food items it serves are totally retro.

This is not by design like one of the newer established 50’s chains like Johnny Rockets or Cheeburger Cheeburger, but because it has ALWAYS been that way — it is the Real Deal in every respect. The prices are also remarkably cheap, and while there only are about a dozen or so varieties of ice cream, all of them are made in-house and are very fresh.

Holsten’s Storefront.

You don’t need to be the Jersey mob boss to appreciate the old-time ice cream at Holsten’s. Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

A view above the counter area.

The ice cream menu.

Holsten’s also makes chocolates.

The menu has all the kinds of old-time ice cream treats you’d expect, as well as simple luncheonette dishes like hamburgers, grilled cheese, tuna melts, and club sandwiches. Holsten’s also serves breakfast.

The counter area. The stools are original and I beleive the counter also has not been replaced in a very long time.

Hand packing some ice cream.

Ice cream sundaes, with real whipped cream.

An Egg Cream, made the proper way.

Much of the original glassware and malt shop equipment is still used today.

Holsten’s chocolate cake. If you’re not up for ice cream, don’t overlook this. Its moist and really rich and chocolaty.

The main dining area.

A “Cherry Crush”, one of the several kinds of traditional sodas that can be made from in-house made syrups, which can also be bought to bring home. It tastes kind of like a Shirley Temple

I sepia toned this photo so you could get an idea of the old-timeyness of the place.

Holsten’s “Special”, twin cheeseburgers with potato salad and coleslaw. The burgers are cooked perfectly medium rare, with the buns grilled with melted cheese on each half with crispy bacon. The perfect retro cheeseburger.

Holsten’s crinkle-cut fries and onion rings are excellent as well.

“Best in ‘da state!”

A mint chocolate chip sundae. Note that the chocolate chips are not the pre-manufactured kind, they literally took good block chocolate and broke it up into pieces to make the chips.

I ordered myself a mint chocolate chip shake. This is the classic presentation, in the actual stainless steel mixer cup with a glass on the side.

Shake, poured into glass.

Rachel ordered a vanilla fudge ice cream cone with almond butter crunch topping. Yes, this is a regular sized cone, not a double.

Black Raspberry Malted

Malted, poured

Lemon Fizz, a combination of Vanilla Ice Cream, Lemon Sherbet and Seltzer

Orange Fizz

68 Responses to NJ Dining: Holsten’s

  1. Robyn says:

    This entry almost made me cry. It’s just so beautiful. And overflowing with creamy dairy products.

  2. Randi says:

    wow jason, everything looks so great. I’m want some of everything right now.

  3. I would gladly trade my house and car for any of those ice cream sundaes … thanks for those closeups .. better than being there .. not!

  4. […] This past summer we’ve profiled a few of the top ice cream places (1) (2) (3) (4) in Northern New Jersey, but I’ve saved one of the best for last. Unless you’re a Ridgewood native or heard about it via word of mouth, you probably don’t know about Van Dyke’s. The reason being is its not anywhere near a highway or on a main street near other businesses — it’s smack dab in the middle of a residential neighborhood. Like, its a house on a residential street that serves home made ice cream. In fact, until somebody reminded me recently what the name of the place was and professed to know where exactly it was located, I hadn’t returned in nearly ten years. […]

  5. Lisa says:

    This place looks so good! Too bad there are none in Nebraska.

  6. […] creador de Los Soprano, David Chase, eligió personalmente la heladería Holsten’s, como escenario para concluir su serie. Un bonito lugar para despedir una gran […]

  7. Jon says:

    So I heard that a certain (in)famous cable drama show, mainly shot in the state of New Jersey, is going to end the entire run of the show in this place. The hypersensitive town of Bloomfield almost barred it from happening, but it got overturned and is now back on.

    Actually, here’s a story on that:

    http://www.nj.com/news/ledger/index.ssf?/base/news-11/117350675262280.xml&coll=1

    Given what we know about that show in general, I’ve got some good guesses about what this “final scene” will be.

  8. Patty Sager says:

    Really loved looking at all the wonderful pictures of Holsten’s. It was my hang out since I was a kid, about 50 years ago. I live in Ohio now but whenever I come home to Bloomfield I always go to Holsten’s, and meet up with my lifelong friends, Ellen and Mare.
    The ice cream is still the best and so are the cheeseburgers and pork roll sandwiches, and nobody makes an egg cream like Holsten’s.
    My husband, Evan and daughter, Karyn also love going too. And I look forward to bringing our granddaughters the next time we come.
    My brothers Bob and Bill still live in N.J. so they can go whenever they want.
    I am so thankful our parents intoduced us to Holsten’s. Our daughter still has her collection of little imported animals that my parents would buy for her.
    So thanks for the memories and all the good treats, and don’t ever go out of business.
    Patty

  9. […] not the reported location of the final scene in the series,  Applegate makes some damn good ice cream, and its the perfect location and the […]

  10. When I grew up, I worked for 3 years as a teenager in Elizabeth, New Jersey on Broad Street in an Ice Cream parlor named Bonds Ice Cream. We had a specialty called an Awful, Awful (a giant Ice Milk & Syrup Shake) we made in these same Stainless Mixing cups. If you could drink 3 at one sitting, we gave you one for free. We had all the Ice Cream Novelties that you mentioned in Holsten’s and we were always jammed out the door. We had a carving Pole and the kids could carve or write their names on it and the knotty pine walls. New Jersey used to have many neighborhood corner stores in the towns of North Jersey that served this cuisine.
    Now relocated to Kansas City, we have very few originals like we had in the 50’s & 60’s back in the Garden State. I am very proud that I had the good fortune to have grown up in the North New Jersey community. The Sopranos show is like a time capsule of the first half of my life. The story is OK, but it is the background filming that makes me love the show.
    http://www.FotoEdge.com

    • Ben Armand says:

      wow, i never new there was a Bonds in Elizabeth. There was one on Valley Road in Montlcair as well. Had the carving pole and served awful awfuls as well. It burned down in about 1973 when i was in the 3rd grade.

  11. […] it looks more like an ice cream place you’d find on the last scene of the Sopranos than Holsten’s […]

  12. […] Jersey appears to be blessed with a number of remaining Soda Shops and Ice Cream parlors, such as Holsten’s, which I was convinced was the oldest such surviving example in the area, but was proven wrong. […]

  13. […] have the old-time character or the heritage of the more famous parlors in the area, such as Holsten’s or Applegate Farm, the sheer quality and taste of their ice cream more than makes up for this […]

  14. Allura says:

    Oh, wow, it looks the same as it always has. I grew up in Clifton, and that was our regular ice cream place. I swear I once pulled a slab of chocolate out of the chocolate chocolate chip that was the size of my palm. Maybe my 8 year old palm, but still. :) Do they still make their own hot fudge? I have got to get up there one of these days…

  15. John Walker says:

    Been there many times! One of the best…old school, baby!

  16. Dracula Jones says:

    Oh my god! That’s me and my family sitting at the back table in the pic between the cake and the Cherry Crush!! So weird!!!!

  17. nogoodadddy says:

    I’m watching the final scene and yelling “I know this is where it ends. I saw it on the internet an the internet never lies!”

    Don’t Stop.

  18. mikeelliott1 says:

    Great post. Really enjoy your blog.

    http://mikeelliottsblog.wordpress.com

  19. gail says:

    my husband and I almost bought a house near it so we could indulge in this rare treasure now it’s 10 minutes away! nj rocks!

    now i’ll never get in…. gail

  20. AJ really liked those onion rings.

  21. GC: Yeah, he hates the world, but he really friggin loves those things, doesn’t he?

    I have to agree with Tony about “Best in da state”… they are excellent.

  22. Wao! I think I would really enjoy that food!
    Ok… I’m ready for my order :)

    1 Holsten’s Special: twin cheeseburgers with potato salad and coleslaw,
    to drink, 1 chocolate chip shake,
    and for desert, I could not resist that Ice cream sundae with real whipped cream. (yuumm)
    Please don’t forget the cherry on the top. ;)

    Thanks for making me hungry! I was trying to get on a diet here. LOL

  23. […] on onion rings, was shot in Holsten’s in Bloomfield, NJ (1063 Broad St., 973-338-7091). The blog Off the Broiler has photos of those now infamous onion rings, plus close-ups of its ice-cream shakes, crinkle-cut […]

  24. Annie says:

    Everything’s lovely…but JC and I think the onion rings (as seen on The Sopranos) didn’t look all that great. Queens diners do it better.

    Itgen’s Ice Cream Parlor, in Lynbrook, NY, is the Long island equivalent of this place.

  25. […] NJ Dining: Holsten’s Holsten’s 1063 Broad St, Bloomfield, NJ (973) 338-7091 […]

  26. Susan says:

    Thanks for the post, and all the yummy pictures!

  27. Debbie Dyer says:

    I couldn’t believe it when I saw Holsten’s on the Sopranos! My friends and I went there for some of the best ice cream in NJ when we were teenagers and in college. The other favorites were Bonds in Upper Montclair, Grunings in downtown Montclair, and Friendly’s in Verona.

    And this place looks the same as it did 30 years ago!

  28. Anonymom says:

    I grew up less than 15 minutes from Holsten’s but somehow never managed to chow down there. I feel robbed of precious teenage gastronomic adventures, when I could inhale twin cheeseburgers, onion rings and sundaes without consequence.

  29. Barb Glaze says:

    eating Holsteins forever, best ice cream bar none, maybe except where i grew up in the Bronx, Krums, Grand Concourse, ditto good, Only thing i order burger/frys all the time, maybe not looking at menu anymore, but i never saw crinkle potatoes or onion rings –
    must be recent, or old – also cones and sundaes not that big in person anymore – smaller portions, not knocking the place i love just the reality, meat, delish, fresh, from Mastrainos across the street buy all my holiday candy there and my old size 8 is now my body by Holsteins ———

  30. tostochicks says:

    David Chase ALWAYS knows what he is doing!!!!!!! Thanks Jason. Foodie Extraordinaire.

  31. thebird says:

    Hey – I gotta get there NOW – that Tony and Carm and AJ and maybe Meadow were there – I am gonna catch the next plane from PBI – seeya….Ciao

  32. Sherril says:

    I’m surprised nobody mentioned the number 5 sandwich. Next to a Mint Chocolate Chip Hot Fudge Sundae, the number 5 sandwich…three pieces of lightly toasted white bread cut into a club sandwich, with melted yellow cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomatoe and mayo in between the slices….YUM… was my favorite thing to get at Holstens from 1955, when my family moved just a hope, skip & jump from Holsten’s on Broad St., to 1969 when I went away to college. That is not to say I haven’t been back since then; I have many times and I love that it is one of the very few things that has changed so little since my youth. They did renovate the back, which you called the main dining room. And, they did add brand name cola to the menu. I can remember when they served only cola that was definitely not Coke or Pepsi. One more thing, I also remember Bonds and their Awful Awful, though I believe the one I’m remembering was in Montclair, not Elizabeth.

    Anyway LONG LIVE HOLSTEN’s and thanks to The Soprano’s for putting it on the map.

  33. metaljaybird says:

    I will have to try this, maybe tonight.

  34. Larry Mann says:

    The Bonds I remember was in the Styertowne shopping center, across the parking lot from Berra-Rizzuto bowling alley. I remember the awful-awful as being wonderful wonderful. Not sure I have had a better milkshake, with the exception of Fetron’s in Oakland, CA. I was back in Bloomfied a few years ago, any Bonds is gone. I’m sure if it was still there, Tony Soprano would have been more than willing to ‘off’ someone there.

    • Ben Armand says:

      There was a Bonds in Montclair as well. I thought it was the only one. It burned down in 1973 when i was in 3rd grade.

  35. Larry Mann says:

    then again….everything IS better when you are young.

  36. Marshall says:

    Tuna sandwiches are sort of small, but very good. I’ve had dozens there. Orange crush is a great treat.

    It was a pleasure having the same waitresses there for over fifteen, but I think they’ve retired now.

  37. Barry says:

    I remember my brother locking me into the old fashioned phone booth with the dial phone!! :-(
    Candy cigarettes!!

  38. Chris says:

    Holstens is one of my favorite places in my area. I have been going there for over 20 years… since I was a little kid.. I used to go there with my mom and grandmother, and then later on it was my favorite “first date” place.. now I bring my daughter there..

    the food really is “the real deal”.. the ice cream is the best in the area.. and there are a few of those home made type places.. I was there only a few weeks ago (after filming).. they have changed the mural in the back to a local sports team theme but everything else is the same.

    I only hope that the appearance in the movie will bring good things to the owners and that it doesn’t cause the place to change due to its popularity.. :)

  39. Robin in SF says:

    I was back home in Bloomfield at the end of April, and went to Holsten’s pre-Sopranos finale. We used to go there after Bloomfield High football games and the place seems to have not changed a bit. I don’t think the prices have gone up much since those days, either. My mom and I got some ice cream (GREAT Rum Raisin!!) and some candy, and we took pictures for all my friends who are SOPRANOS fans. I am betting that Holsten’s Onion Rings are going to be one of the most-ordered food items of the year. Congrats to the staff for running a wonderful insitution – great memories for Bloomfielders, and now TV history!

    And nice memories also of Bonds and Grunings – Thanks, Debbie!!

  40. G Rinaldi-Travis says:

    What a BLAST FROM THE PAST seeing such great photos! I swear I could taste that whipped cream and smell those burgers from 40 years ago!!! I’ve many many memories going there my with parents and sisters for a sweet treat after a school concert and then oohing and ahhing at that candy counter as Dad paid! Candy cigarettes..pleeease!!!! What fun it was, to then bring my now grown kids to Holstens, when they were little rascals ! Everytime we visited NJ annually , no trip was complete without our “trip to Holsten’s” . Having lived in Mempshis, Tn for 27 years now, the memories of hangouts like Holstens (along with yes, Bonds, Grunings and Willie’s Diner!!) bring a smile to your face when you hear the name, and see the pictures. Memphis may have the memory of Elvis…but ya’ll have the real “Happy Days” hangout that is STILL alive and well!!!!!

  41. Gene Knight says:

    Holsten’s…as classic as the WMCA Good Guys!

  42. Mare says:

    Wow… I have not been to Holstens in about 10 years but was taken there by my husband on our first date 16 years ago. I missed the Sopranos episode and was blown away when I heard about it on the news. From what I remember the cheeseburgers and black raspberry ice cream are awesome!

  43. Jenny says:

    I live in NJ and have never heard of that place. I shall have to check it out.

  44. Michelle says:

    I grew up in North Arlington. The ice cream parlors we hung out at were Nanke’s and Brummer’s. Neither are they anymore. I live in Maryland now, but make a trip up to NJ at least 3 times a year!

  45. […] Take a look at Off the Broiler’s post NJ Dining: Holsten’s to see why. (Includes lots of porny ice cream parlor photos oozing with whipped cream and chocolate sauce. Ooh yeah. ) […]

  46. Janet RIng says:

    I lived in a small town called “Adams” NY when I was young and there was a corner restaurant/soda fountain called “Giovo’s”. It was a lot like Holsten’s and we hung out there after school and after basketball games. Oh for the good old days. I remember that the high school principal would take us there everytime we won a game. The younger generation has missed a lot. This was late in the 40’s and early 50’s.

  47. Robert Casey says:

    I now live in Austin, TX but grew up about four blocks away from Holsten’s during the 60’s and 70’s. I foundly remember spending my weekly allowances and later my paper route money on the store made ice cream and confectioneries. I was especialy fond of the white chocolates, the cherry cokes and the fresh ground beef hamburger’s. Thanks for rekindling many great memories. Uhhm, uhhm, uhhhhhm.

  48. Joan says:

    So great reading all these comments. Grew up right around the corner from Holsten’s and for my money, the best thing about Bloomfield! I live in Westchester Cty. now, but any chance I get I stop off the Parkway for a coffee chip hot fudge sundae with pecans! OOOh baby! And the dark choc. slab/chips in the ice cream, I’m told is from the home made candies that are also delicious there, are to die for. And thanks for the memories re. the candy cigarettes. Also the licorice ropes!! Although it was tough to see the Sopranos end, I can’t think of a better jumping off place. Kudos to David Chase. He’s a genius down to the last detail!

  49. I could weep! For 47 years I had NJ with all of it’s gastronomic delights and DINERS (Tick Tock, Hackensack, Pine Brook and on and on) (oh, and Larison’s Turkey Farm–can’t forget my first paying job) and now I’m in God forsaken ARIZONA where they DON’T EVEN HAVE DINERS OR ICE CREAM SHOPS. I have a lousy IHOP that closes at like 10p.m and every crappy variation of Mexican food on the earth (and no bakeries or Italian pastries either). Thank goddess I have my memories of hitting the great NJ eateries after every band gig for years and years. I don’t care what airfare is up to…I’m gettin my butt back to Jersey for some great food this summer!

  50. My kids love Holstens, and we much prefer to take them there than any “Golden Arches” burger joint! They only use 100% ground beef….and yes the onion rings are very popular!! What could be better than lunch with shakes and grabbing some home made chocolate to go on the way out? Awesome.
    ps parking there is much easier than Meadow Soprano made it look!!!!

  51. Tampa Tom says:

    So did they get Tony’s brains scrubbed off the walls yet?

  52. BOB PRICE says:

    I GREW UP IN BLOOMFIELD AND HOLSTENS WAS A FAVORITE SPOT OF MINE BEFORE GRADUATING BHS IN 1961. AFTER MARRYING AND HAVING CHILDREN, IT BECAME A FAVORITE PLACE OF THEIRS ALSO. AN EXCELLENT PLACE FOR A SIMPLE MEAL ONLY TO BE TOPPED OFF WITH A DELICIOUS SUNDAE. BRAVO TO DAVID CHASE AND THE SOPRANOS TO BRING BACK A GREAT MEMORY. I NOW RESIDE IN FLORIDA, BUT WILL BE SURE TO VISIT MY NEXT TRIP BACK.

  53. felix montesino says:

    JUST RETURNED TO ORLANDO FROM A TRIP TO BLOOMFIELD NEW JERSEY TO SEE WHAT THE DEAL IS AT HOLSTEN , BEING AN AVID SOPRANO FAN .JUST HAD TO SIT WHERE TONY MAY HAVE HEARD HIS LAST JOURNEY TUNE AND ATE HIS LAST SNACK .GREAT HOSPITALITY , FROM BOTH THE PUBLIC AS WELL AS THE STAFF. MEMORIES ARE FOR EVER THANK – YOU SO MUCH

  54. steffie joy says:

    i grew up 3 short blocks from holsten’s.
    dad used to give me a few bucks to buy candy
    cigarrette’s from there… “just never the real one’s”
    he would say.
    what a shop! the ice cream is to die for! i’d move back
    to jersey for the malt shakes!!!
    xo xo xo the pagano’s

  55. Tony Laterza says:

    Went to Holsten’s everyday after school from 1954-1959. Lot’s of memories. Although I remember it being pronounced (Hol-“Steens”).

  56. […] Click here for some Holsten’s ice cream pictures. This entry was written by D and posted on July 29, 2007 at 12:04 pm and filed under Food. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL. « Gifted Young Artist […]

  57. Bert De Vore says:

    What a beautiful site and what wonderful comments from all the viewers and non-viewers of The Sopranos. This is Americana at its best. God Bless this country where we can express our thoughts and opinions freely even about Holsten’s and The Sopranos. Our claim to fame in Fredericksburg, Virginia is ” Carl’s.” Only three flavors but a line everyday. A ice cream stand on Caroline Street but the best in “Old Dominion”. Just seeing the photos and comments about Holsten’s is enough to see it for myself and my wife. Looking for directions right now. Hold on to your wonderful memories for they are the backbone of your happiness.

  58. retro says:

    I just love the classics!

  59. JoiseyGirl says:

    I just stumbled across this…. I almost started to cry.
    I grew up in Glen Ridge and frequented Holstens often.
    (Applegate Farms, Gencarelli’s, Saucelli’s, Marzulo’s….)
    It’s where I cultivated my taste for mint chocolate chip ice cream and egg cream sodas.
    The only thing that looks different to me is the mural on the back wall.
    It used to be a wooded forest scene.
    Oh

  60. Liz says:

    Thank you! That made me want to cry… I grew up going there and it brings back so many great memories! My sister just sent me this link, so I am kind of late in replying. The pictures are great and really capture the essence of the place!
    The foot long licorice that my sister and brother whipped each other with were always highlight of a Holsten’s visit too
    This is the real deal!

  61. Edward Darnsteadt says:

    I happen to have been fortunate enough to work for the owners of Holsten’s Ice Cream Parlor for a period of 10 years. Although I was employed as a counterman in 1963 to 1967, I was manager there from 1982 to 1986. I always enjoyed this period of my life. People were always happy when entering Holsten’s (Gee, I wonder why).

    It was a great place to work and a greater place to enjoy high quality, home-made products.

    Even though I now reside in Livingston, NJ, I still make it a habit to drop by now and then.

    Thanks Chris & Ron

  62. MY PARENTS TOOK ME TO HOLSTEINS FROM THE TIME I WAS 2 YEARS OLD. YUMMY. bUT WE THEN STARTED GOING TO BONDS AS WE LIVED IN UPPER MONTCLAIR. THE MEMORIES ARE THE BEST. WE HAD A DEDICATION CEREMONY OCT.6TH,2007,WITH A WONDERFUL BRONZE PLAQUE PLACED IN FRONT OF THE BANK OF AMERICAN ON VALLEY ROAD WHERE BONDS ONCE STOOD. THE TURN OUT WAS FABULOUS, INCLUDING MANY BOND FAMILY MEMBERS FROM ALL ACROSS THE CONUTRY. BONDS HAS BEEN GONE SINCE 1973 BUT NOT THE MEMORIES. WHENEVER I AM IN MONTCLAIR MY FIRST STOP IS HOLSTEINS…..BIG JUICY CHEESE BURGER….RARE , FRIES, WELL DONE AND ICE CREAM FOR DESERT. THEN I HAVE TO UNBUTTON MY SKIRT, SINCE I CAN HARLDY MOVE BUT WORTH EVERY STINKING POUND GAINED. HOLSTEINS IS WORTH THE TRIP!!!

  63. I would love to try the black rasberry ice cream.
    Japanese Ice cream

  64. […] right near Brookdale park. I’d recommend watching your back if you order the onion rings, though! NJ Dining: Holsten’s Off The Broiler __________________ […]

  65. Gompa Kat says:

    I grew up in the 1950’s and 60’s just down the street from Holsten’s which was truly a landmark for that section of Bloomfield. Through the decades, our family enjoyed countless home-cooked lunches and dinners there, not to mention the amazing ice-cream treats with extremely generous portions. Now, for the past 25 years I’ve been living 10,000 miles away in Kathmandu and haven’t seen Bloomfield in years.
    Imagine my delight and amazement to discover that the final episode of Sopranos is shot in Holsten’s and that I watched it a few nights ago from Nepal! Also fun to see the pics in this website – memory lane. Wow, I’d really love to dine there tonight!! May it continue to flourish for many generations to come.

  66. Rickk says:

    I would love to enjoy the fine dining of Holsten’s one day. It looks like every decent 50’s-60’s diner in North America.

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