The car still has New Jersey plates. I still have my New Jersey drivers license. So, it probably isn’t that strange that I still feel at home in New Jersey. While I didn’t make it all the way down to Princeton, Young Master Fussy and I had some business to take care of just outside Newark.
Had it been Little Miss Fussy, we would have most certainly made a side trip to Pizza Town USA. But the boy isn’t so into pizza. He likes hot dogs. With ketchup. As it turns out, in New Jersey people are fine with ketchup on hot dogs. Saltpepperketchup is pretty much the official condiment of the state. How people can do that to something like pork roll, I’ll never understand.
But I digress.
Instead of trying out one of the countless places in New Jersey for hot dogs that we never had a chance to visit during our year in the Garden State, we selected an old favorite. In part because the weather is still nice, and it’s close to a fantastic summer-only dessert spot. Should you ever find yourself flying out of Newark airport, or even if you have a significant layover, don’t miss these two stops.
This was technically my third visit to Tommy’s Italian Sausage & Hot Dogs, but only the second one ordering food. The first time I came during the winter, and the prospect of ordering from a take-out window when the streets were piled in snow was a deal-breaker for the kids. We returned when the weather was much nicer, and I finally had a chance to try their Italian hot dog.
For the uninitiated, that’s a deep fried dog (really two, because a double is the only way to fly) tucked into a half loaf of pizza bread and slathered with mustard. The dog is then smothered with sauteed onions and peppers. Finally the sandwich is topped with thin rounds of deep fried potatoes and a squirt of ketchup for good measure.
As much as anything else, the Italian hot dog is a brain teaser. How do you get something that large, messy and unwieldy into a human-sized mouth.?
It was the best version of this classic North Jersey delicacy that I tried. But at this literal hole in the wall, hot dogs get second billing to Italian sausage. In my heart of hearts, I knew that I’d have to return to try it.
For some reason, it never occurred to me that their medium Italian sausage sandwich would also be topped with their signature fried potatoes and served in the same pizza bread as their Italian hot dogs. In retrospect, I regret not asking for ketchup on top before taking my sack of porky treasure across the street to eat on a park bench. However, I couldn’t quite get behind eating the potatoes with the sausage, so I knocked them off the top of the sandwich and ate them as a side. If anything, these potatoes were better than the last ones I had from Tommy’s. Although I think they would be improved with more salt.
The sausage was good, but it was slit and deeply cooked. That made it a much crustier experience than the juicy hot dog. But it was studded with plenty of fennel, which I love. Now it just so happens that Tommy’s has a hot Italian sausage option too. So, I guess I’ll have to go back again to see which of their sandwiches is my favorite.
Dessert was at DiCosmo’s Italian Ice.
Man, I love this place. Love. Not like. Love. If I could, I would be there every day, and I don’t even have a sweet tooth. There flavors and textures are just so freaking good. It’s true fruit.
Young Master Fussy was a bit disappointed that his cherry ice wasn’t a neon red and had little bits of cherry pulp in the slurry. Cherry pulp? Oh man, that was good. The passion fruit was bracingly tart, which was right up my alley. And the orange? Let me tell you about the orange. Imagine all the vibrant flavors of fresh squeezed orange juice transformed into an italian ice.
But still, I have yet to try their famous lemon. I really thought today would be the day. It’s one flavor that they are supposed to have every day. It’s the flavor that sells out first. But today the lemon delivery didn’t come. So no lemon for me.
Guess I’ll have to come back. You want to make me jealous? Tweet me a pic of you eating a lemon ice outside of DiCosimo’s.
The only downside of having these two places in Elizabeth is that I can’t seem to muster up much enthusiasm for trying anything else in the town. And I know that there are other great things to eat within its borders. Maybe it’s just a matter of time. I mean, how many Italian hot dogs can one fellow eat?