Thursday, May 24, 2012

Italian Hot Dog at Davy's Dogs, Mount Arlington, NJ

Hot dog spots are a familiar sight in the northern part of New Jersey- they dot the landscape along the major roads in many towns- so much so that the hot dog stand qualifies as a New Jersey institution. Davy's started as a single hot dog cart that grew into a full sized restaurant that is practically a landmark. The typical New Jersey hot dog spot typically looks like something out of the 50s or 60s, but always has some sort of nostalgic charm that captures the hearts of the locals. Davy's Dogs, is no exception.

Another "New Jersey Thing" is the Italian Hot Dog - this is a play on the classic Sausage and Peppers idea- except that it is made with a hot dog (or two) instead of an Italian Sausage. It's served on a sub roll or a hard roll, and is topped with a pile of cubed, fried potato, and the obligatory sauteed onions and sweet peppers that has it's origins somewhere in the city of Newark. I grew up in nearby New York, but never heard of this thing until I moved to New Jersey - it's obviously a regional specialty, and one that's right up my alley.

The actual hot dogs seem to be a good quality dog with a nice snappy casing. The dogs are boiled then marked on the grill. Personally, I would've liked to see them spend more time on the grill and develop a little more char and snap. The dogs didn't have me running through the streets shouting their virtues, but they were a decent, flavorful dog. What got my attention were the toppings- apparently the Italian Hot dog at Davy's was a good choice- the potatoes were cooked right on the money- browned enough to have a little crispiness, and a little grill flavor, but soft through the middle. The peppers and onions were cooked down and soft- but still held their shape. There was just the right amount of pepper and onion, and it was not overly greasy - just enough to keep the potatoes lubricated.

The onion rings were a pleasant surprise- they were actually very good. I can't put my finger on exactly what it is about them that makes them so good, but they've got it right. The batter is a little on the dark side- but again, it works to make them have a nice crunch on the outside, with a little layer of softer chew inside. They are the perfect complement to a good New Jersey style dog.

All in all, there are probably better hot dogs out there in Northern Jersey, but, Davy's, being a local fixture, was worth the trip, if only to get a taste of what Mount Arlington locals experience. Every hot dog joint in the state has it's own distinct character and charm- there own strengths and weaknesses that make them what they are, and a reflection of the communities they serve. The actual dogs at Davy's may not be all that special, but the accompaniments stand out clearly. All in all, it was a fun lunch stop for the family- especially for my young son who literally goes nuts for hot dogs.

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