Tony Boloney’s Boken-Boy
I travel for standup shows a fair amount of the time and I like to scout out places for this foodblog and just in general (I mean, I am not driving hours to eat at McDonald’s. As my Dad used to say on vacation “shut up, we can eat that at home”). When I had a show in Hoboken a little while back at The Shannon Bar, I decided to visit the Hoboken home of my favorite place to eat in Atlantic City: Tony Boloney’s. If you aren’t familiar, Tony Boloney’s is Mike Hauke’s amazing Pizza and Sandwich place, 3 blocks for the ocean in AC (2 blocks from the old Revel, 300 Oriental ave. You can’t miss it. Go there. You’ll thank me.). They make their own everything (and use some amazing bread from AC) and they bill themselves as “Indigienous Atlantic City Grub”. I call it “F-ing Ridiculous”.
I googlemapped the Hoboken outpost and made my way there. They have great fountain area set up with no mass produced beverages, and another little fridge selling homemade mozzarella (Oh yeah, did I mention they also do that? Because they do. 12 kinds. Along with pizza that will knock your socks off.). I have a hard time making decisions in general (I’m a Libra, if you are into those kinds of things) and I was pretty hungry from driving for almost 2 hours so I saw and ordered the first thing that grabbed me…
The Boken-Boy: hand breaded chicken cutlet, garlic aioli, soppressata, baby arugula, sweet smoked mutz, lemon, evoo.
I know what you are thinking. “Chicken Cutlet Sandwich with cheese, big deal.”. But no! It is a big deal! I can safely say this is the best sandwich I have had in a year. Not in a calendar year but IN THE LAST 12 MONTHS.
Let me count the ways.
- Super soft and chewy roll that never fell apart nor ripped my teeth out. It held everything perfectly. In fact, only one piece of chicken fell out and that was my fault for taking a giant bite at one point and twisting my hand in a weird way. If you look at the photos, this thing was stuffed and the roll did the job. There was no after sandwich cleanup on Aisle Plate afterwards.
- The Chicken Cutlet was fried perfectly: not over greasy, not kind of overcooked or god forbid, burned.
- The cutlet was thick. It wasn’t some paper thin wisp of a piece of chicken that was smashed to death. This was juicy piece of nice chicken.
- The Cutlet was sliced into strips. Normally, Cutlet sammys have the whole Cutlet and everything piled on top of it. With this sandwich, the chicken is able to be single and mingle with it’s party guests.
- The Garlic Aioli was subtle and not a punch in the face of garlic. I had a show and was afraid I would smell like an old man with some garlic on his belt (as was the style at the time), and low and behold, I did not. Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and a place for stinkin’ up the joint, this just wasn’t it.
- The Wild Card: Soppressata. What’s this piece of meat doing on this Sammy? I’ll tell you what: It’s being awesome and adding some salt and texture. It also cuts right thru all the mild flavors to mix it up. It’s the card trick at the party, you didn’t know it was coming and it’s delighting the guests.
- The Baby Arugula and Mozz. The baby arugula added a little bit of peppery goodness to the Sammy (along with giving me the idea that *something* on this thing would be good for me, my mom would be proud), and the mozz was exactly what it sounded like: a little sweet, a little smokey and all amazing.
- Lemon and EVOO. Talk about a nice thing to pull it all together! The lemon mingles with the whole party and the EVOO is the buttery hug that pulls the whole thing together.
I cannot say enough good things about this sandwich: besides #1-#8, it was fresh, hot and mind blowing. If you are anywhere around this shop, stop in and pick this sandwich up. Ridiculous. Also, I had a Puck’s Black Cherry soda that was pretty on point! Puck’s makes soda with actual sugar and with no artificial colors or preservatives and uses natural extracts and essential oils. Absolutely delightful!
TONY BOLONEY’S HOBOKEN
263 1st St, Hoboken, NJ 07030
(201) 222 – 8669
Su-W 11am – 11pm
Th 11am – 2am
Fri-S 11am – 4am
Tony Boloney Nails It
I first came across Tony Boloney’s in AC when I covered the AC Beer Fest. They blew me away with their Cheesesteak Ole’ and their Reuben Pizza. Unreal. Plus, I loved the fact that they understood marketing (see their blue truck (that will come and cater your event!) with the giant moustaches and their mascot, an old school chef with said handlebar moustache) and had fun with it as well. I swore I would get to their shop on Oriental Ave, 2 blocks up from the Revel, and I finally did!
I tried to have a few things from the menu, starting with the Reuben Frio! Where to begin? Let’s start with the bread. When making fantastic, mind-blowing sandwiches, you need a good base to keep things from falling apart 3/4’s of the way in. Tony’s hits it out of the park with rolls from A. Rando’s Bakery, the oldest bakery in AC and the 3rd oldest Italian bakery in the country! And wow, what a roll! Chewy, crusty, lovely goodness! It’s had to find a roll that doesn’t feel like it is taking over the whole show, and Tony’s did.
Ok, so the sandwich. Whew! Beautifully thick-cut Pastrami, not skimpy on the kraut, thousand island dressing to keep it moist and just enough Muenster cheese to keep this puppy on track and I fell in love. A theme you’ll find in this article is “not skimpy”. In the times we live in here, which are recession times, food places try and cut corners by inching the prices up and lowering the amount of ingredients. This sandwich was brimming with meat and kraut! I feel like this thing was created in the 80’s when everything was overstuffed and then time traveled right to my table. And man, I am way ok with that!
Next up, was my absolute favorite: The Sh#tfaced!
This thing is a straight up knock out. I would eat this everyday for the rest of my life and not bat an eye, that’s how good it is! Beer battered chicken with a Stout Honey BBQ sauce. That’s so many flavors and textures working together, it actually short circuits your taste buds for a second. The beer batter (which is not very heavy at all) plus the sauce, which is just a little bit sweet and a little bit buttery and a whole lot heavenly. Oh, and it’s got melted Mozzarella and Cheddar on it too, just in case you needed some more awesome to go with it! You owe it to yourself to try this thing, it is absolutely mind-blowing. And if that’s not enough! You can also get it on a pizza!
Moving on to another work of art, meet The Po’ Doc Carver! Deliciously fried chicken with a house made Chipotle sauce and covered in a smoked Mozzarella that’ll spoil you on regular mozz for life! Toss in some lettuce and tomato and you got yourself a rainbow of texture, aromas and deliciousness.
Now, Tony Boloney’s isn’t just sandwiches, they also make some unreal pizzas as well! When I popped in, I picked up a slice of the Carnival Freak. The pizza at Tony’s is unlike most, it’s a crispier crust and is nice and light but still have the cojones to carry whatever sick and twisted ideas that owner Mike Hauke has up his sleeve.
The Carnival Freak has breadcrumbs on the crust, herbs to keep that flavor palate hoppin’, Mozzarella, ricotta, parmesan and a marinara that bent my brain, it was that good! I know it sounds odd that there are breadcrumbs on the crust, but it adds to the impressive texture of the pizza as a whole.
What really impresses me about the pizzas at Tony’s is that they understand that not all of the toppings need to fill the entire slice. Don’t get me wrong, I completely enjoy an everything pie once in a while, where you get a bite of all the toppings in each bite, but that doesn’t work with a lot of different combos of pies. In this one, you get some marinara and some ricotta in one bite, then some mozz and herbage in another, and so on. It’s really a delight.
Finally, I also ordered The Crab Fries! Chickie and Pete’s serves frozen crinkle cut fries with some Old Bay and melty American cheese in the side. Tony’s serves Crab fries with CRAB on them, along with some butter, Old Bay and Mozzarella cheese! They were pretty kick ass, and again, NOT skimpy with the Crab!
The cheese went all he way thru and the butter gave it a delicious smoothness that combined with the Old Bay to dance around the fries and hug it with awesome. Seriously. Awesome.
So, you might be wondering, after reading this review of Tony Boloney’s, if there was anything I didn’t like about this place. The answer, honestly, is no. they even offer awesome sugar cane sodas like Boylan’s along with the usual suspect sodas. The tables were clean, and at the right heights so you don’t feel like you are sitting on the floor when you are eating. Don’t feel like sitting inside? Sit outside on the picnic tables and get some fresh air while ya eat.
Even the staff was awesome. I am a bad order-er in places. It takes me more time then it should to order (I think my brain shorts out when there is too much choice and my friends all make fun of me for it) and this guy, who was working himself behind the counter and juggling like 9 things at once, was super nice and didn’t at all try to hurry me along. In fact, he answered all my stupid questions with ease and didn’t bat an eye when I ordered enough food to feed 9 people “for here”. I was thinking he was the twin of that one guy from the show House, but he is not. What I am saying, is that this place has it covered: great food, great customer service, and a cool place to eat!
You would be cheating yourself if you didn’t check this place out on your next trip to AC! 300 Oriental Avenue, right on the corner! Look for the blue and the big moustache!
AC Food & Wine Fest: Redefine Cheesesteak
In the parking lot of the Showboat Casino, the AC Food and Wine Fest trucked on with “Redefine Cheesesteak”. And redefine they did.
Massive tents were set up in the parking lot and cheesesteaks were aplenty. Being from Philly, I am really picky as to how my steaks are, specifically that they resemble a cheesesteak or change the name. By definition, a cheesesteak is thinly sliced ribeye fried up with or without onions and served on a long roll with cheese of the american, provolone or whiz variety. Is it something I need to get over? Indeed. But I was able to bend enough to enjoy some of the offerings.
First up was Mike Scoats of The Grey Lodge and his merry band of steak slingers. The Grey Lodge is located on Frankford Ave in the Mayfair section of Philly and has a ridiculous amount of oddball beers and even hosts a Friday The Firkinteenth event on every Friday The Thirteenth that has just won Best Beer Event in Philly Magazine’s Best of Philly 2012! Mike has a great calendar full of fun things they do and an interesting menu full of outstandingly delicious food! He brought along his Lodge Steak for the masses to try: Rib-eye, Genoa salami, roasted pepper mayo & house cheese sauce. They cut their own steak, use quality imported salami and you can taste the handcraftedness. I guarantee you will not find a more unique steak in town. They could barely keep up with the demand of the people who came by and then returned, time and time again!
Next up is my friends at Tony Boloney’s! They won the Guy Fieri’s Cheesesteak Battle at The AC Food & Wine Fest in 2010 with their ridiculous Cheesesteak Ole’ and haven’t looked back since! If they sent Californian Fieri back home with the picture of the Ole’ in his head as to what a cheesesteak should be, then everyone is a winner! Their Cheesesteak Ole’ is actually a little more like a cheesesteak hoagie, but it’s still fantastic. It involves 10 spiced sirloin steak, pepperjack cheese & chipotle house sauce on top of lettuce and tomato. It all melds together to form what I like to call the Cheesesteak of Greatness. In all honesty, Tony Boloney’s, at 300 Oriental Ave and a stone’s throw fromt he Revel, is one solid reason to drive to AC. Keep an eye out for more of thier menu on this blog.
The Community Food Bank Of New Jersey had a stand and they weren’t messing around! A soft, buttery roll center stuffed with steak and perfectly cooked onions with a nice crumble of cheese of top made it one of my favorite steaks of the fest. I also love what they stand for: helping anyone who needs a hand in the area. They run a food service training academy, they run a whole kids division with a kids cafe (to feed kids who otherwise wouldn’t have anything to eat), a kids closet (clothing and coats), a backpack program and even a tools for schools program. They also distribute food, do catering and lots of other stuff. If you want to donate some money, sending them some cash would be a great move, or buy their new book “Cooking For Change: Tales from a Food Service Training Academy“. All proceeds benefit the Community Foodbank Of New Jersey! This is truly an organization that knows how to help people and help them move forward!
Percy Street BBQ come to the fight with their unreal take on the cheesesteak, which is not a cheesesteak at all. Frankly, I could care less because it blew my mind. Bercy Street BBQ sits on South Street in Philly between 9th and 10th streets, cranking out BBQ that, until recently, was only really available closer to the South. They understand what the ring is and they are dead serious about this fantastic meat.
The meat was carved in front of you and packed with delicious strips of it, and smothered with a creamy cheese sauce. Easily my favorite non-cheesesteak cheesesteak. Well, it’s actually a tie with..
This sandwich was unlike everything else at the fest! Definitely not a cheesesteak but definitely on my meat list! It was like juicy shredded potroast on a roll and I could not get enough of it. Unfortunately, I lost their business card and only remember that they were next to Tony Boloney.
I have to also mention that it was about 900 degrees that night. Eating cheesesteaks in that kind of heat does a number on your body. What helped was that there was plenty of beer, provided by Amstel Light, and plenty of booze, provided by Jameson, Jim Beam and Red Stag. Red Stag is a flavored whiskey that Beam is putting out. At first I found it to be a party foul of massive degrees to do such a thing, but after tasting it (the Black Cherry flavor), it’s actually kind of interesting.
Andrew Zimmern, of the Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods, was the host of this shindig, and he is really the nicest guy ever. After talking onstage for a little bit, he hung out at his booth, making sandwiches for people, answering questions, taking pictures and overall being a very personable and cool dude.
It was super crazy hot and humid, like I said above and he very easily could have disappeared into his tent/trailer/hotelroom and retired for the night. He didn’t and that was very cool of him.
His offering at his table was a cheesesteak made, of course, of tongue. I found that funny, because, well, us Philadelphians are known for having big mouths. As you can see, it looks like a typical cheesesteak, with nice carmelized onions and green pepper strips. I have not had tongue before but I figured if Andrew can stand in that heat and cook it, I can stand there and chew it. It was a little chewy but the flavors were nice and subtle. The tongue itself has a really weird aftertaste that I didn’t particularly like, but I applaud the effort!
Here are some more cheesesteaks that were pretty awesome!
This steak from Carmine’s, the “Italian Cheesesteak” was pretty great, the meat was very juicy and the roll was deliciously chewy after it soaked up all the juices. two thumbs up!
Union Trust Steakhouse, at 7th and Chestnut in Center City Philly, was there too with thier very traditional but also awesome cheesesteak.
Square 1682 is a fancy pants restaurant in the also fancy Rittenhouse Square area of Center City. Thier little cheesesteak on a square bun (get it?) was amazing. It was like the big pot roast sandwich above but on a tiny little bun and covered with a delicious cheese sauce that was thick enough to stay on the meat but thin enough to roll around a little bit.
Lastly, but not leastly, was the Sammy D’s cheesesteak dumpling. As someone who used to make a cheesesteak pierogies, I have to say that these guys got it right. The meat was wrapped tight, with the cheese mixed in with the right proportions (too much and it’s cheese with a hint of meat, too little and it’s drier then a desert). Huzzah to Sammy D!
The event in general was pretty awesome: not too crowded but the chefs were all putting out top notch food for the crowds. My hat is off to Showboat and the organizers for putting together a fun event that clogged my arteries!
That brings the first half of Day 2 to rest. Stay tuned for the second half soon!
Tony Boloney’s Food Truck: Food Of The Gods
A little while ago, I had the pleasure of attending the Atlantic City Beer Fest. It was pretty awesome. Lots of beers from all over the world, friendly people, beer themed oddities to buy and food to eat.
Wait?…Food to eat? Well, yeah. You can’t have a whole giant convention floor full of beer and not offer food, that would be wrong. Or, more succinctly, it would result in some very drunk people driving their cars into the ocean. That’s not good for anyone.
There were lots of different food vendors selling everything from crabcake sliders to yelp offering pretzel necklaces to kielbasie sandwiches. But I was more interested in the truck with the curly moustaches on it.
Normally, when people start blabbing on their website about how good their sandwiches are, I tend to automatically roll my eyes. I am from sandwich-land, aka Philly, and it is real hard for me to accept boasts from others about these things. Even with pizza, I feel the same way. There is something in the water here that makes for fantastic bread (and, of course, dough. Doh!). I don’t know what it is (nor do I want to know, save your emails), but you can’t find it anywhere else.
I did some research before I went to the Beer Fest and Tony Boloney’s caught my eye. Funny little name. Fun to say is good branding, along with the big fat chef that’s the mascot. They have a pizza & sub (not hoagie, we are outside the Philly area) shop in
AC. They obviously understand branding and food, because the menu for the shop is like 4 pages long and every single thing is a different spin on favorites (Like meat on a pizza? Try the Casino Carnivore with “every animal noah brought on his ark ravaged by mozzarella”) as well as things I never would have even thought to make (Reuben Fries!).
They decided to start a food truck (and bring it to the Beer Fest!): The Moustache Truck! Obviously, these guys are up on trends and understand marketing. It’s nice to come across a food place that understands marketing that isn’t a shitty major chain. I had emailed them and asked if they might be interested in donating a shirt for the giveaway I was doing and they were excited about it! That was cool,
because a lot of the beer vendors and assorted other vendors came with nothing to sell, nevertheless give away (besides, ya know, beer). Another thing I loved about these guys is that they are putting forth the idea that people actually *live and are from* Atlantic City, a fact that a lot of people tend to forget
when they come to empty their pockets and stuff their faces full of famous chef restaurant food (not that there is anything wrong with that, but there is much more to the city then that). Their slogan “Indigenous Atlantic City Grub” hammers that home in a mouth watering way!
When I made my way over to the truck, I was impressed with the smartness of the menu: pizza and the cheesesteal ole’. People who are drinking love pizza and cheesesteaks! They had a bunch of pizza options, but as soon as I heard it, I knew I had to try it. What was it? Reuben Pizza!
Say what? That sounds odd. That sounds weird. That sounds…delicious. And you know what? IT WAS!
The Reuben pizza would have been something terribly simple to totally screw up. How much kraut do you put on? Do you just use a squeeze bottle to put the dressing on all around? Or do you use it like sauce and cover the whole pie?
Do you cover the whole pie with corned beef like you do with pepperoni? The questions are endless! (seriously people, I need a life.) I think they nailed it. They used a 2 cheese blend to keep the pizza from tasting flat. under the meat, there is kraut, under that is a glob of the thousand island sauce that ooozes a bit but not too much. So ridiculously good. I had to physically restrain myself from getting another piece.
I also really liked how they were having fun with the crowd. It got a little chaotic, so what did they do? They whipped out a bullhorn. There was no panicking (what I would have done. To the panicking!), no freaking out, just a little louder and they kept on cranking out some awesome pizza!
I realized, after awhile, that I wanted to try the cheesesteak: The Cheesesteak Ole’. This thing had apparently won some kind of 2010 Guy Fieri Cheesesteak Battle. (An aside: I find it funny that a guy from Northern California can put his name anywhere around something called “cheesestesk” because, um, that’s all that is wrong with the world.).
This thing was awesome. It might be a tad small, length wise, if compared to what we can get in Philly, but make no mistake, this thing si PACKED with meat. Is it more like a cheesesteak hoagie then a cheesesteak because it has lettuce and tomato on it as well as the cheese and steak? Probably. But honesty, I could not care less, because this cheesesteak was fantastic.
Let’s start with the steak. Chopped sirloin. A little different then the usual meat used, which is a thinly sliced ribeye, but it’s cooked tender with a 10 spice mix. It’s a kind of taco spice that works deliciously with the jack and chipotle house sauce. Have no doubt, this thing is cheesy in all the right ways. It sticks with the meat, not like a weird cheese “sauce” you see sometimes, and it doesn’t sink to the bottom of the roll either. I was a little thrown by the lettuce and tomato on the bottom (nice and fresh too), but it gave the cheesesteak a nice bit of texture. Finally, the roll was chewy but not too chewy, and really fresh. Those Atlantic City rolls are no joke!
Wrapping this rambling review up: if you find the Tony Boloney Moustache Truck anywhere you are, go grab some food! If you find yourself in Atlantic City, wander on over to 300 Oriental Avenue (by the new Revel Casino) and go grab some grub. This place is awesome and while I wish I lived closer to them, I’m kind of glad I don’t, because I really can’t afford bigger pants. My hat is off to the Tony Boloney guys! Go now! Go!