Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Breakfast Billy, and I'm not talking an IKEA bookcase

Every so often you stumble across a bit of culinary genius. While down in Seaside Heights/Midway Beach New Jersey this past summer, we went into this little greasy spoon & bait/tackle shop combination for breakfast called Betty and Nick's. If you haven't noticed by now, I'm a huge fan of diners and little hole-in-the-wall places... Betty and Nick's is PERFECT.

Ambiance = A
The rods and reels hover over the patrons of the restaurant. The restaurant has an entrance to the bait and tackle shop for your day's deep sea fishing needs. We were at the last booth, so what you see here is pretty much the whole place.

Menu = A
This little sandwich from heaven is listed on the menu as The Billy, I believe, named after its creator who should be knighted. It's a hard roll (if you're from the NJ/NY/PA area, you know what this is) with eggs, cheese, pork roll, AND a hash brown. I ate half at breakfast, and half for lunch. Can you believe it, a hash brown on a breakfast sandwich? Now that is a man who knows what good food is. It's also helped me switch associations of "BILLY" from the strangely named IKEA bookcase series (which organizes your passions) over to a little heart attack sandwich (allowing me to eat my passions).

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Tomato Pie, the God of Pizza

As most of you may know, pizza is my favorite food. I don't know how I managed to get through 40 something years of my life without eating Tomato Pie, especially growing up outside of Trenton NJ where it was invented. Blasphemous.

The first time I ever heard the word Tomato Pie was while I was playing at my Nana's house on Deerwood Drive. The neighbors across the street (The Bell's) asked me if I wanted some Tomato Pie (pronounced"tamayta"). Now, when you're 5 years old and are asked that question, you get this Ren & Stimpy Image of this bubbling deep pie crust with whole tomatoes bobbing up and down in this hot soupy filling. Well, at least that's what I saw, so I turned down the invitation. Maybe it was a good thing, I guess I wasn't ready for it and would never appreciate it like I do now.

Fast forward to my August summer vacation trip... my mother and her friend Lorraine drag me, my husband and my l'il daughter to Palermo's in Bordentown NJ. As DeLorenzo's is the most popular place to get Tomato Pie (Mom is not a fan of waiting or lines), instead we go to this BYOB hole-in-the-mini-strip-mall-wall. We order a plain Tomato Pie, and one with half mushrooms half pepperoni.

I have never eaten so much pizza in one sitting (a personal record!), with such enjoyment, marveling at every bite how amazingly sweet, salty, and perfect this food is. I am instantly transported back to the island of Capri, which was the only time I had ever eaten a "margarita" pizza THAT good, the best in my whole life. Words fail me, I'm reduced to tears in my eyes joy with a lot of "mmm"ing in all vocal scales. The crust is round, thin, cheese on first, tomatoes in chunks on top, then topping if necessary (not). I think the topping hides the sweet flavor of the Tomato Pie. I had to force myself to stop eating, it was THAT good.

The definition of Tomato Pie (why it's not exactly Pizza) is best represented from the City Dictionary (Trenton specific) as "Trenton's unique vision of a pizza pie, light on the cheese and heavy with big chunks of tomato drizzled with olive oil." A more in-depth story is posted in the last story of this blog for those who want to know the subtleties.

Next time you have the chance to order a Tomato Pie (there are several varieties depending on the state/city you get it in), please give it a shot. I welcome any references or stories about this deletable food that you have - please comment!