The good, the great and the delicious foods of the Jersey Shore

In a recent Woman’s Day article entitled “8 Best Boardwalk Foods in the U.S.,” New Jersey captured three of the eight mentions.

In a recent Woman’s Day article entitled “8 Best Boardwalk Foods in the U.S.,” New Jersey captured three of the eight mentions for salt water taffy (of course), Kohr’s Ice Cream (no doubt) and fried Oreos (what?).

Truth be told, up until today I’d never tried a fried Oreo (shocking I know) but I have since been “orefied” and ready to tell.

Your menu on the beaches and boardwalks of New Jersey won’t vary greatly from town to town, so we asked our writers and our readers to give us their picks for the best boardwalk fare Jersey has to offer.

“For a lot of people, the boardwalk is tradition. They get pizza from THAT pizza place, and ice cream from THAT vendor” offered, Jen A. Miller, author of The Jersey Shore: Atlantic City to Cape May, who writes NewsWork’s “Down the Shore” blog.

What are your favorite boardwalk bites? Do you favor a slice of pizza or do you prefer a nice plate of deep fried Oreos?Tell us in the comments below.

“For me, THAT pizza place is Manco & Manco (formerly Mac & Manco), and ice cream is in two parts: custard from Kohr Bros or mint chocolate chip in a pretzel cone from Yum Yum’s — even though they are not on a boardwalk, they are steps from the Sea Isle Promenade (which is not a boardwalk since it doesn’t have boards).”

The topic of pizza

Break out

Two fresh pies from Mancusos sit waiting to be sliced. (Photo courtesy of Deborah Smith/JerseyBites.com)

The topic of Pizza always brings passionate opinions in New Jersey and it seems boardwalk pizza has been creating loyal fans for many decades.

Maruca’s Tomato Pies in Seaside Heights has been serving up Trenton style pizzas since 1950. Trenton style means the cheese comes first, then the sauce on top which creates a colorful, swirl drawing you into its tempting vortex.

My son and I paid a visit to Maruca’s to try this infamous pie. What stood out and made it our favorite bite on the Seaside Boardwalk that day, was the crust. As my son observed, the crust cracks, it doesn’t bend, which gives the pizza a great crunch that we both adored. Before we left the boards, we had to try another popular pizza place, 3 Brothers from Italy Pizza, with many locations up and down the boardwalk, these pizza stands are famous for their gigantic slices.

As one of our contributors remembered: “I still have joyful memories of eating my first slice of 3 Brothers Pizza on the Seaside Heights Boardwalk, mainly because it was almost as big as me.”

While the pizza was definitely huge and the taste certainly passable, Maruca’s was still our personal favorite. Judging from the number of 3 Brothers locations on the boardwalk, I’m sure they have many loyal fans of their own.

It seems the 1950’s was the time to open a pizza a parlor on the boardwalks of New Jersey. Manco & Manco Pizza (formerly Mac & Manco Pizza) in Ocean City is also famous for great boardwalk pizza since 1956 and mentioned multiple times as a favorite by our readers.

Another legendary spot is Sam’s Pizza Palace in Wildwood, founded in 1957.

“There’s a huge local rivalry in Wildwood between Sam’s and Mack’s Pizza. Locals will defend their favorite passionately. They’re both good, but every year on the last day Sam’s is open, my family always orders a bunch of pies to freeze so we can enjoy it over the winter,” Allison Heller, our Cape May County contributor, said.

Ocean County Editor, John Howard-Fusco, points to LBI for the best beach pizza.

“One place that we have always enjoyed on Long Beach Island is Panzone’s in Beach Haven and Surf City. After a day on the beach, and before heading over to Fantasy Island for rides and games, a Panzone’s pizza (and a side of their Buffalo calamari, please) is always a satisfying respite.”

The sandwich

Cherry Hill

A steak sandwich sits ready to be eaten. (Photo courtesy of Deborah Smith/JerseyBites.com)

Another “must have” when visiting the Jersey Shore is either a sausage and pepper sandwich or a cheesesteak. Our readers directed us to Midway on the Seaside Boardwalk. You can’t miss Midway, it sits in the middle of the boardwalk, I’m guessing “midway” between end to end. The “steak sandwiches” seemed to get the most props, so who were we to argue?

While the presentation wasn’t exactly impressive, the taste did not disappoint. Eating sandwiches like this requires a certain stance that New Jerseyans have perfected. Lean forward, whole sandwich in mouth to avoid grease on clothes. 

Food alternatives

If you are not into doing the “boardwalk bend” as it is now so dubbed, there are more civilized ways to dine. Seafood is of course a natural for obvious reasons, but making the right decision when it comes to seafood can be difficult.

Jennifer Malme of Cumberland County likes Del’s Ocean Side Grill at 9th and the Boardwalk in Ocean City. “Del’s menu features plenty of seafood including crab cakes, steamed clams, and coconut shrimp. In Wildwood, Joe’s Fish Co. offers a more upscale atmosphere and menu than typical boardwalk eateries.

My son and I traveled from Seaside to Belmar to taste the crab cakes at Jake’s Crab Shack. Jake’s Crab Shack is owned by Chef Chris Brandl who also owns restaurant Brandl in Belmar.

“These are the same crab cakes on the menu at Brandl’s. They are made of the freshest ‘super lump’ crab meat, mixed with the finest quality ingredients,” a restaurant spokesperson said.

“We keep it simple, ‘Maryland Style’ using a family recipe that dates back over four generations.”

We were not disappointed. This crab cake was one of the highlights of our day on the boards. Rumor has it, we can look forward to Jake’s Crab Shacks opening up in Philadelphia and Sea Isle City.

 

Cherry Hill

A basket of fried oreos with powder surger, one of the many favorite dishes of the Jersey Shore. (Photo courtesy of Deborah Smith/JerseyBites.com)

Greasy desserts

After our fill of pizzas and greasy meat sandwiches and fried fish, we were ready for some greasy desserts. Well, to be fair, not all boardwalk desserts fall into the greasy category, but some of the favorites our readers passionately pointed to do, namely, funnel cake, zeppoli’s and deep fried Oreos.

Since I’ve already sampled the first two on the list, it was the latter we went searching for and we didn’t have to go far. While we were having our second slice of pizza we noticed the deep fried Oreos on the menu and ordered four. I have to admit, they are pretty (feeling so guilty saying this) yummy. I wouldn’t choose them over a Kohr’s Vanilla and Orange Swirl cone, but my 14-year-old gobbled them up with serious intention.

Speaking of Kohr’s, their ice cream or “frozen custard” was by far the most loved boardwalk dessert mentioned by our readers.

“The Kohr brothers set up a small booth on the bustling boardwalk of Coney Island in 1919. On their very first weekend, they sold more than 18,000 cones at a nickel each,” the Kohr website states.

So what makes it a “frozen custard” you may wonder”

“To prevent the frozen dessert from melting too fast in the salt air at the beach, the Kohr brothers added eggs to the recipe which stiffened the product — it worked perfectly. Incorporating the improved recipe with the use of their new machine, they created a light and fluffy product that “tasted just like custard.”

And there you have it.

There are many fans of more traditional ice cream at the Jersey Shore.

Beth Christian from Burlington County is a huge fan of Springer’s Ice Cream in Stone Harbor.

“When we head to the beach, we have our main meal at lunch and have two scoops of Springer’s for dinner-sinful but great! They have over 50 homemade flavors.”

Michelle Stavrou of Union County found her favorite Ice Cream in Wildwood.

“My family took more trips down to Wildwood than I can count, and no vacation there was complete without stopping at Sea Shell Ice Cream Parlor. Not only is the ice cream delicious, but they don’t skimp on the scoop size. A small here would satisfy all but the most voracious of appetites.”

Michele Errichetti from Atlantic County loves the Ocean City Boardwalk and specifically The Bashful Banana for “the best no guilt soft serve ice cream, which is really just bananas put into a machine that magically turns a them into the best soft serve ice cream I’ve ever had!”

So, after all that sweet stuff, isn’t it time to go back to the salt? Come on, you didn’t think we’d forget the boardwalk fries did you?

Boardwalk fries

Kerry Brown of Burlington County picks Chickie’s and Pete’s Crab House and Sports Bar for their World Famous Crab Fries which are available on the Ocean City and Wildwood boardwalks. As newcomers to the boardwalk scene, Chickie’s and Pete’s features a pared down menu of some of the regional chain’s faves — perfect to “grab and go” for a walk down the boards: Crab Fries with a creamy white cheese sauce; Crabby Sweets (sweet potato fries) with a sweet dipping sauce.

Curley’s Fries in Wildwood has been serving up their signature fries since 1974 and has become a legend on the Wildwood Boardwalk. Chippy’s Fresh French Fries in Point Pleasant Beach is a personal favorite. They are the perfect balance of soft and crispy, salty and sweet (I’m a ketchup girl) and gotta love fries in a bucket.

So, to end this mouthwatering marathon, we wanted to showcase some of the more unconventional and untraditional offerings to be found on the boards. For you health conscious visitors, there’s Meatheads for their protein shakes and Health Grill. If ice cream alternatives is what you seek, try the Self Serve Frozen Yogurt options, and for the Parisians, hey, we’ve got your wine (read this) and now your Crepes.

Now, we’ve given you our favorites. What are your favorite Boardwalk Bites? We want to hear from you, ice cream, pizza, steak sandwiches? What makes your boardwalk visit complete? Please share.

 

Jersey Bites is a collaborative website of food writers in New Jersey. They write about restaurants, recipes, food news, food products, events, hunger relief programs, and anything else that tickles their taste buds.

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