Posts Tagged ‘Hoboken’

John and I have decided to just forget about “Pizza Month” which we began way back in October. The idea that we could limit our intake and subsequent discussion of pizza – a food that we are both clearly obsessed with – to just one month was downright silly and bad judgment on our parts. Our apologies. Going forward, we are going to frequently feature pizza – both the making of it and our maniacal running-around-various-cities to taste it. You can count on us.

Next up on the tasting end of things is Dozzino, a brand-spanking new (as of November 2010) artisanal pizza joint in the ‘Boken. To use some lingo I picked up in California, we were pretty stoked about the arrival of this place in Hoboken. Before, the only solid (in our humble opinions) pizza to be had in Hoboken was Grimaldi’s, of Brooklyn fame. Now we have our very own. We were all a-tingle.

“Dozzino” in Italian means “dozen.” The dozen refers to the amount of ingredients that goes into their pizzas: flour, water, salt, yeast, air, sea salt, tomatoes, fior di latte, extra virgin olive oil, basil, fire, love.

Dozzino is not your typical slice shop, nor does it purport to be. The pizzas can best be described as a combination of Neopolitan and Roman. They are personal in size with that doughy, charred crust characteristic of Neopolitan pies, but much less floppy and soupy in the center of the pie, which gives it a Roman flair. Typical of both areas, the ingredients (and this applies to the toppings as well) are fresh and simple. Pizza is not a complicated food, nor should it be. Keep it simple, stupid.

John and I strolled over to its 6th and Adams location one Saturday night to sample the fare. Upon entering, we were greeted with a well-designed and thoughtful atmosphere. The bar at the back of the front room has a chalkboard wall listing the daily specials in colored chalk. The shiny, chrome espresso maker hangs out back there as well, with a Santa Clause (it was the holidays) Mr. Potato Head keeping close watch over the espresso beans.

The natural wood, farmhouse-style tables have ample room for spreading out your various pizzas, crostini and salads, and the white-washed chairs and walls offer a nice contrast to the wood and chalkboard wall. They have a larger, back room and even a patio with a bocce court.

Since Dozzino is BYO, John skips on over to a local liquor store for a bottle of the Beringer Chenin Blanc shown in the first photo. John insists that I used to make The Box buy this for me with some frequency. I honestly don’t recall this at all (maybe because I’ve drunk too much of it?), but at $8.99, you can’t afford not to. We settle in with our sweet, grape-juice wine and order SPESTO!

“Spesto” is a Dozzino speciaty: a pesto made with spinach and walnuts, instead of the usual basil and pine nuts, and served on crostini of housemade bread. The housemade bread is excellent, and perfectly toasted. It is generously loaded with spesto, which is lucky because we really approve of this pesto modification. Chunky walnuts and mild spinach get a boost from an infusion of chopped garlic and drizzle of olive oil. We cleaned our plate.

After John sends me to the restroom (pics later!) to remove the spinach from my teeth, we receive our two ordered pies: the “La Pizza” and the “Diavola”. The La Pizza is topped with fior di latte, tomato and basil – the traditional pie and one which John and I feel obligated to sample every time we try out a new pizza place. For consistency! And science!

The La Pizza is delicately accented by little semi-molten blobs of creamy fior di latte (a mozzarella made from cow’s milk),  a fine layer of tomato as to appear almost pink, and sprigs of fresh basil. The crust has a bit of a char to it around the edges and is nicely chewy on the inside, although a bit dry. The toppings and crust work well together, making the La Pizza very easy to eat.

The Diavola is next up – a spicy combination of fior di latte, tomato, red pepper and calabrese salami. Sliced ultra-thin, the salami is like a tissue-thin blanket of fiery cured meat tucking in the other toppings on a mattress of pillowy dough. Wow, I just wandered off into a pizza-induced descriptive simile. Apologies. Clearly, this pie was my favorite of the two.

John and I decided to finish things off with two cups of Dozzino’s espresso, which is advertised (on their menu) to be the best in Hoboken and quite possibly in the USA. I do know a good cup of espresso when I have one, and this was definitely a good one. Their ultra-fancy espresso machine churned out two dark, rich cups for us that we threw back like frat boys doing shots at a bar. Minus the fist pumping and hooting.

Let’s not forget the bathrooms! While I was performing some dental-spesto removal, I snapped the following photos:

In addition to being clean and uncluttered, the Dozzino bathroom is well-lit with an ample-sized mirror. White subway tiles, accented by a stripe of red and gold (Roma’s colors) carry the modern and thoughtful interior design of the restaurant right into the bathroom. I would have appreciated some spesto-removing toothpicks, though.

We will definitely be back to Dozzino (John has already returned on his own). The well designed and spacious atmosphere and fresh ingredient pizzas combine to create a unique neighborhood restaurant that is a welcome addition to Hoboken.

Overall Experience: Napolean Dynamite – The Offbeat Success

* Note: The Specials chalk board photo and photo of the oven with espresso cup, courtesy of Dozzino.

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We would like to congratulate West End Station in Hoboken, New Jersey for snagging the Bathroom of the Month award this month. They really went all out with this bathroom. Our favorite part is the farmhouse sink. Just look at that contrasting dark-colored wood table it sits on! The subway tiles in slightly varying shades of light gray and white are also a nice touch. Fantastic attention to detail.

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Today we bring you a comparison review. Since it is still pizza month and we like to stress using fresh ingredients on pizza, we bring you a review and comparison of three hunks of mozz (muzz) from three different places.

From left to right we have pictured mozzarella from:

1. Fiore’s Deli in Hoboken, NJ

2. Eataly in New York City’s Flatiron District

3. Lisa’s Deli in Hoboken, NJ

First, we would like to say that this is obviously not an exhaustive list of possible places to purchase fresh mozz. What about the Bronx? What about Little Italy? And so on….We will just say this: we know. We thought we’d start small. An intro, if you will, into the world of comparison tasting, with a few easily accessible candidates.

So, without further ado, here are our thoughts:

1. Fiore’s: This rendition was very tasty. It was lightly salted, which gave the cheese more flavor overall. It was not overpowering, but just right. Compared to the other two, it was a denser cheese. The color was also darker, an off-white instead of a bright white. I’m not really sure what that means, but I just thought it should be noted. This would be a great cheese to put on a Margherita pizza, as you wouldn’t have to add any salt. The flavor from the mozzarella would be all the seasoning you would need (excepting basil).

2. Eataly: This version was fairly bland in taste. It was unsalted. The texture was milkier, and it was definitely the softest of the bunch. This may have been because, while the other two were removed from their watery holding pens when I purchased them (many times fresh mozzarella is packed in water until it is ready to be used), this one came with its own little portable aquarium (tupperware container filled with water). We liked this softer texture, but weren’t blown away by flavor. This would be an excellent cheese to use on a pizza that had flavor from other toppings – pancetta or a similar meat for example.

3. Lisa’s Deli: This little one was also unsalted, and had a texutre somewhere in the middle of the other two in terms of softness….not too soft, not too firm, but juuuuuuust right. However, it didn’t pack a whole lot of punch in terms of flavor. This would be a nice mozzarella to use for a Caprese salad: sliced tomatoes placed on top of slices of cheese, crowned with a few basil leaves, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt.

So instead of declaring a winner from these three, we feel like they all have their strengths and are appropriate for different uses. We are going to keep looking for THE mozzarella, though, so if you have a suggestion for one you would like us to try, please leave it in the comments section. Also, if any of you would like some mozzarella, I have a TON of it in my fridge right now. I think I was a little overzealous in my cheese purchasing.

* Disclaimer: The funny faces drawn on the cheeses in no way represent any real or actual person. I just thought it would be funny to give cheese faces that kind of look like gangsters. But not real gangsters. Just imaginary cheesey ones.

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Things to do with apples:

Roast ’em

Poach ’em (with honey)

Juice ’em

Cut ’em up in bake them in bread (really good)

Crisps, crumbles and tarts – oh my!

Throw ’em (the rotten ones)

Juggle ’em

Use ’em for target practice (for your bow and arrow)

Sauce ’em

AND DON’T FORGET TO PUT ‘EM IN PIE! And then send me one.

These red beauties are at Sobsey’s right now – very crisp, and a good combo of sweet and tart.

MORE FOOTBALL TOMORROW! Don’t forget to check out our pulled pork, and vote on whose hair you like better, John’s or Mark Sanchez’.

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Ok, not really, but I wanted to get your attention. These guys are actually teeeeeeeeny-tiny. The hand-held variety. But they’re super cute, are they not? And even if you can’t eat them (I tried), they make a lovely seasonal centerpiece or paperweight. And you can get them at Sobsey’s in Hoboken right now.

Many of you have heard me talk about Sobsey’s. It’s my favorite produce joint in Hoboken. I’m going to try and give you all a weekly update on what’s fresh and good there. Of course, this will only be helpful to our Hoboken readers, but maybe it will inspire the rest of you to go find a similar place that is local to you and search out the same items.

For something you CAN eat, you can find these Brown Turkey Figs at Sobsey’s as well.

Make sure to get these when they are soft. Or at least wait until they are soft before you eat them. Like their name suggests, they have a brown hue to them (along with some green thrown in there for fun). And they are a bit larger than either the purple or green figs that I’ve found. Their taste is very similar to purple figs, maybe a bit more mild. Because these guys are large, they’re great for sandwiches (for example, layering them with arugula and brie would be nice), or cutting into slices for a salad. Go git ’em!

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Hopefully by now you’ve either made sweet bacon or have spent the morning eating copious amounts of it. You might be thirsty by now. I know I would be.

Might we recommend the above: Rejadorada Temple? It pairs well with pork (and other meats). I know because I asked the helpful staff at the Chelsea Wine Vault where I encountered a free tasting last night. I admit to liking it so much that I impulse purchased a bottle.

Like the website says, it’s very rich and almost chocolately red wine. Gooooooood stuff. I would like to be drinking it right now.

Anyway, go get yourself some (and some more bacon while you’re at it). If you need some reading material while you are sipping your cinnamon and cassis aroma’d wine, please review the week here at Elana and John Talk About Food:

Elysian – tomorrow will be a great day to enjoy their outdoor seating.

Get ready for the Vendy Awards with Kelvin Natural Slush Co.

Last day! Post a comment to win honey.

Have a great weekend! More fun coming to you next week.

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This week’s review: The Elysian Café located on 10th and Washington in Hoboken.  A pretty cool and classy venue, as far as the ‘Boken is concerned.  And with charming decor both inside and out, it’s the perfect local spot to wash away my Labor Day blues, which have set in exceptionally hard.  I pick up Elana at her apartment, and we make the walk uptown.

Upon being greeted by the hostess, we are lucky enough to get a table outside which didn’t look possible at first.  The outdoor seating is packed, as it should be.  The weather is still nice, and the Elysian’s outdoor scene is one of the best in Hoboken.  Its curbside location is great for people watching, yet it feels deceptively secluded with its trees (or is it just a tree?) that create an intimate feel.  Inside, there are two rooms: both of which have considerable, yet quite dissimilar, character.  After all, the brownstone building dates back to 1895, and, throughout its history, housed both an ice cream parlor and hair salon. (This interesting factoid prompts me to daydream of getting the dome trimmed as I sit in an old time barber chair while eating spoonfuls of Haagen Dazs).

Our outdoor table is small but equipped with cool dishtowels with a faded stripe down the middle in lieu of a napkin.  I like these things, just way cooler than some ol’ napkin flapping around in the breeze.  I’m pretty sure only good restaurants do this, but I’m probably overreacting.  Like I said, it is Labor Day – and I am emotional and reading too much into things.

Drinks are first.  And while the selection looked pretty awesome, our ultimate cocktails were just ok.  My drink, the English Dandy (Hendrick’s, Lemonade, mint and club soda) was great. It was mild and tangy, like a gin drink should be.  Elana got the Hendrick’s Pink 75: (Hendrix, Maple Syrup, lemon juice, rose champagne). It was a bit too tangy and tart for both of our tastes.

For appetizers, we ordered 12 Kumamoto oysters (we had asked for Blue Point, but they had run out, and gave us the Kumamoto oysters at the Blue Point Price – a nice gesture) which were nicely presented in a bucket of ice. These suckers were extremely fresh and came with some garlic vinegar sauce which paired well with the oysters.

For entrees, I ordered the Burgundy Braised Beef Short Ribs with Yukon gold taters and tempura onion rings, and Elana selected the Cod, which was new on the menu.  The ribs were very good – juicy and flavorful, and when I was too lazy to pick up my knife –tender enough to accommodate fork-only cutting.  The taters and onions were a great compliment.  Elana’s cod was equally impressive, it came in a tomatoey-white wine broth with little neck clams, and chorizo (!!). The cod was perfectly flaky, and the broth light and smoky (flavored by the chorizo).

Since Elysian is a French Bistro, we had to order their Crème Brulee, which was fantastic.  A snappy, slightly burned outer crust, which, when cracked, gave way to a cream of perfect consistency and taste.  Lots of visible vanilla beans too.  I could have eaten 15 of those things.

Elana took one for the team and made the to trip to the bathrooms which she described as “very clean and orderly….With….wait for it….and Xlerator!!!”  ‘Nuff said.

The service at Elysian was ok. The dinner took slightly longer than expected, and our waitress (a nice young girl) forgot our fries…which, by the way, are awesome here. But we were so full that we did not care, nor were we charged for them.

Also, for those wondering, Elysian has a good cheese selection.

We really enjoyed our experience at Elysian.  While it falls short of the ultimate food experience, their dishes are well presented and made.  It’s a solid, upper echelon choice for those dining in Hoboken. We’ll be back for sure.

Overall Experience – Top Gun

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