If you live in Manhattan, chances are you don't have a car. Which means that there are a lot of great area restaurants you are going to hear about but can't get to. Well, that's why they invented rental cars! If you have wheels, here are some places to hit before you have to return that Sonata.
Along with Vito's and Biancamano, one of the Holy Trinity of Mutz in Hoboken, and of the three, the most famous. This tiny deli has no seats, and little in the way of hot food. You take a bread, hand it to the man, and he puts a large amount of fresh, tangy, milky mozzarella on it, with whatever kind of peppers or tomatoes or meat you want. Or better still, just get a pound of it and eat it by itself.
This tiny hamburger restaurant, which is approximately the size of a space capsule, is a kind of holy site for old-time burger enthusiasts. The tiny sliders, cooked by the dozens on a weather old grill and served on dinner rolls with caramalized onions, are a Jersey icon, or deserve to be. Amazingly, there is a McDonald's across the street. What kind of nut would go there when White Mana is right there?
Everyone loves this Arthur Avenue standby, and it's not hard to see why. It still has all the authentic feel that Little Italy lost long ago, and the food is gutsy and homey, if not always a knockout. But no trip to the area is complete without a visit.
Here's the deal with City Island: it's a remote, isolated place but rarely visited by Manhattanites. Even people from the Bronx rarely go there. But when you do go there, whether its to fish or just to hang out, you have to go to this place. The lobster is great, the beers are cold, and the people are amazing friendly.
This legendary appetizing store is so far from Manhattan that it's half way to South Amboy, but it's still well worth the trip: nobody does these kind of middle-eastern specialties like they do, from the vegetable mezes to the various spreads, to the amazing prepared foods.
This rustic temple to seasonal cookery in the old Rockefeller estate has been called the culinary Storm King, but really, it's closer to a local food holy site. It's unspeakably beautiful and the food is well worth the long ride, but there's a certain seriousness of purpose here that sort of take away the fun for me.
Tourists still flock to Dominick's, and it's very good, don't get me wrong. But the real gem on Arthur Avenue is Tra Da Noi, a small neighbohood restaurant with homey, outstanding southern Italian food and a locals-only crowd.