NJ Dining: Holsten’s

June 20, 2013

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.

Read the rest of this entry »


BLT Season

July 2, 2011

Mid-May is about when I start eating BLTs again. It begins when I start seeing decent imported tomatoes come in to the local supermarkets and produce stores, and reaches its peak in July and August when the farmers markets are in full swing and my own garden grown Jersey tomatoes start coming in. August is when my own tomato plants are in overdrive production mode and BLTs start to become major meals as opposed to just lunches.

Also See: Bacon, Lettuce and Tomatocast with Christine Nunn

The above sandwich was made with the amazing slab smoked bacon from the Swiss Pork Store in Fair Lawn, NJ, hand sliced, using vine-ripened Israeli tomatoes and romaine lettuce hearts.


Latke-Vision: It Sure Beats The Yule Log

November 30, 2010

Here’s an oldie, but a goodie. Happy Chanukah — Jason and Rachel

This last Sunday, Rachel’s family got together and had a Hanukkah party, a week early. We were given the task of making the latkes, the venerable Ashkenazi-Jewish pan fried potato pancakes.

Although I tend to favor Sephardic-style cuisine, Latkes are among my favorite things from Ashkenazi (European) Jewish culture, and I hold them in extremely high regard. Hanukkah isn’t a particularly important Jewish holiday but I look forward to the annual latke frying ritual with great anticipation.

I didn’t grow up on homemade latkes — my mother wasn’t much of a cook and she wouldn’t use oil of any kind in the house because she hated the smell of grease and fried food. Frankly, I can’t blame her. The act of frying latkes will create odors that will linger in your kitchen for several days, and even with the best ventilation will require that your entire house get aired out in order to completely rid your home of the powerful chickeny/potatoey/oniony odor. Don’t let this deter you, however — the rewards are well worth it.

Want to learn how to make latkes? Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

Read the rest of this entry »


Check-Out Hunger In New Jersey

November 1, 2010

This year, along with a group of New Jersey bloggers spearheaded by Jersey Bites, Off The Broiler is again proud to participate in the Community Food Bank of New Jersey’s annual donations drive to help eliminate hunger in our state.

In 2009 Check-Out Hunger crossed the $2 Million plateau for the first time. The campaign raised $2,093,086 for food banks across the state. Since 1992, millions of people have supported the program at food markets and online at www.checkouthungernj.org.

Participating food markets include A&P, Food Basics, Foodtown, Kings, Pathmark, Shop Rite, Super Fresh, Wawa, and Wegmans.

Please make it a point to donate during the Holiday Season to the Check Out Hunger campaign.  With so many New Jersey residents out of work, this season is going to be particularly hard on families and demanding on the hunger relief programs in our state. The Community FoodBank of New Jersey reports that need for nutritious food is up 30-40 percent at its partner agencies (soup kitchens, pantries, shelters, etc) this year.

To donate funds to the Community Food Bank of New Jersey, please click on the Donate Now graphic to the left.


NJ Dining: Mo’ Pho’ (UPDATED)

September 19, 2010

MoPho
212 Main St, Fort Lee, NJ
(201) 363-8886

Note: While Mo’ Pho’ in Fort Lee remains open, it’s Englewood sister restaurant, Saigon R. closed on August 30, 2010 and re-opened as Simply Vietnamese in nearby Tenafly. For more information on Simply Vietnamese, click here.

As summer comes to an end and the weather starts getting rainy and a bit chilly, I start getting that craving for Asian noodle soups again. There’s no question in my mind that my all time favorite type of noodle soup has to be Pho, the anise-flavored beef bone broth and the national dish of Vietnam.

Northern New Jersey has a couple of notable Vietnamese restaurants, but there is a special place in my heart for Mo Pho, the flagship restaurant owned and managed by Khan “K.T.” Tran, a talented female chef who is carrying out the culinary traditions of her mother, who once catered embassy functions for Southeast Asian dignitaries and heads of state for the Republic of Vietnam.

I’ve been to Mo Pho (and it’s sister restaurant that recently closed, Saigon R.) so many times and K.T. has become such a close friend that I have to admit I am probably unfairly biased towards her food. Overall, her cuisine is not the kind of hardcore (and less expensive) offal-centric, employing weird cuts of meat, Vietnamese street stall food or authentic in exacting detail like Nha Trang in Jersey City,  Huong Viet in Nutley or even Bloomfield’s Binh Duong — this is a more refined interpretation of Vietnamese food more suited to American customers.

Still, when I have a Pho craving, its K.T.’s that really does the trick for me. Her broth is simmered for an entire day and is far more intensely flavored with beef bones than any other I’ve had in the area, including Pho stalls I’ve visited in NYC. It’s not the super clear Pho broth you see at most places; its got a much darker color and is somewhat cloudier due to the residual gelatin, giving the soup a much more satisfying and comforting mouthfeel.

Mo’ Pho’ storefront on Main Street in Fort Lee. Mo Pho now has a new sister restaurant in Tenafly, Simply Vietnamese.

Mo’ Pho’s dining room.

Click the “Read the rest of this entry” link below to see all the food photos in this post.

Read the rest of this entry »


Blogroll: ThinkFood by Posit Science

June 16, 2010

The ThinkFood Cookbook by Posit Science feeds your brain as well as your appetite.

Today, mind-enhancement and brain-training software company Posit Science launched an interesting new project called ThinkFood, which was produced in cooperation with 50 food bloggers, including yours truly.

For the next year, ThinkFood will release 50 new “Brain-healthy” recipes, one per week, if you sign up with your e-mail address. Each Brain-Healthy recipe features a key ingredient which has been identified to promote enhanced mental acuity.

Posit Science is an interesting company. Just like me, they are clearly techno-geeks, but they are also serious foodies. I’ve been honored to be part of this project and I hope you sign up.

If you can’t wait to get all the recipes, a hardcover version of the book will be available in Mid-July.


The Last Supper with David

May 8, 2010

New York Times’ David Corcoran, who’s wonderful restaurant reviews have graced the “Old Gray Lady’s” NJ Metro/Dining section for 10 years.

My foray into food blogging has almost certainly had much to do with my respect and admiration for the newspaper writers, who’s level of reviewing standards I could never even try to emulate with any degree of success.

The print newspaper and magazine staff restaurant writer is a dying breed, one who’s role has had to change with the times, if not for the challenges that newspapers and  other periodicals must now face in competition with the food blogs and other new media outlets.

That being said, I am sad to see this occur, even if I am a willing participant and advocate in this change of focus towards the Web.

Perhaps one of my saddest moments in this realization was a happy occasion — having a wonderful Chinese dinner with a newspaper restaurant reviewer that I call a friend and mentor, who had told me that this meal would be his final review.

Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

Read the rest of this entry »