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Entries in New Jersey (28)


In The Wake of The Storm

Taken in Central Park the day before Sandy hit town.Greetings from this side of Sandy. 

John and I wanted to take a moment to discuss reality. The blog is a happy place, our little breakfast nook on the Internet and we like to be upbeat for the most part because we think that talking about Italian food is fun.

But life happens while you're making blog posts. And sometimes life is a giant hurricane that brings floods and damage and destruction.

I'm currently typing this from my Upper West Side apartment. The power is on. So is the heat. The corner bodegas are all open and never ran out of soy milk. I'm ok. 

I'm very lucky. 

My family is all ok too. They are a bit more inconvenienced, as they live in New Jersey, have no power and no heat and had to rescue my 97-year-old Aunt Emily from her heatless, powerless and foodless apartment. But they are ok.

I'm very lucky.

We Iaciofano's have a shore house on Long Beach Island which was not very lucky. It seems that there will be quite a clean up effort on Long Beach Island. I know there is talk of driving in snow plows to move all the sand, and the water damage is considerable to say the least. Our house took a hit. The "Garage of Glory", so named for hosting numerous summertime gatherings used to look like this:

And now it looks like this:

All-in-all, it could be much worse. So, again, I'm very lucky. I've heard so many depressing hurricane stories, that I've stopped listening to the news. I don't want to know.

But what I DO know is that there are still a lot of people without power. What do you eat in a time like this?


Or whatever's in your cabinets. Here's a simple recipe that my new co-worker Debbie gave me. I'm calling this, "The Savory Banana" which sounds suspicious, but as Debbie put it, "I would eat this even if I had all the power in the world."

Me too. Here's how to make it:

What You Need:

1 banana
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
drizzle of honey (as much as you like, really)
a squeeze of lemon juice

What To Do:

1. Chop up your banana into a small bowl.

2. Squeeze a small wedge of lemon over it.

3. Sprinkle it with sea salt. 

4. Drizzle is with honey.

5. Eat.

I swear it's good! You can put it a-top some Triscuit crackers if you happen to have some. Or if you're on the Upper West Side, you can buy some as the bodegas are all full of 'em.

On a serious note, John and I truly wish the best to all of you and your families. We really hope that you are all ok, and in good faith, we would like to invite you down the shore next summer to "The Garage of Glory, Part the Second." Because it will be reinstated.


Fancy Roasted Peppers to Bring Summer into Fall

You may recall that I posted a Roasted Pepper recipe on this website a while back. What you may not have known is that post generated a lot of buzz. Who was I to roast a pepper? What did I know about a roasted pepper? And the, "my roasted peppers are better than yours," argument.


Well, I am here to tell you that, YES, someone's roasted peppers are better than mine. 

Now, let's be clear: I roast a mean pepper. This recipe is more about what's done to the little guys AFTER the roasting. And of this process, I heartily approve.

What follows is Vicki Hartmann's recipe for Marinated Roasted Peppers and it's fantastic. 

Vicki is a long time family friend, neighbor and expert pepper-preneur. We had a little shin-dig at the Iaciofano Shore HQ over Labor Day weekend. Vicki brought her peppers. 

I immediately dove in, placing them atop little nuggets of Italian bread like so:

I almost walked away with the whole dish. I was that impressed. 

I harassed her for the recipe, and in true expert fashion, there really isn't one. What I'm presenting to you is "General Guidelines" for Vicki's peppers. As usual with all recipes I post here, approach with caution, safety goggles and open expectations. Here we go:

What You Need:
A red pepper (or two or three....this recipe is for 4-5 large peppers)
A plastic Ziploc bag or paper bag
Garlic powder (amount up to you)
Black Pepper (amount up to you)
Sea Salt (amount up to you)
Balsamic Vinegar (a lot) 
Olive oil (a lot) 

What To Do:
Heat up your oven to 500 degrees.

Rinse your peppers under water, and dry it off. Rub it with a thin coating of olive oil and place it on a cookie sheet on the top most rack of your oven.

Bake. Until black char marks start to appear on the outside and skin gets all wrinkly. This could take about 10 minutes. Or so. You be the judge. 

Put the wrinkly, charred veggies in a Ziploc or paper bag. The steam from the peppers will cause them to wilt. After about 10-15 minutes in the bag, you can get brave and open it up. They should be cool enough to pluck off the green stem and peel off the skin.

Then slice them up into thin strips and discard the seeds, skin and stem.

Place these strips into a large bowl. Douse them with olive oil (maybe 1/4 cup), sprinkle with sea salt (maybe 1 teaspoon) and black pepper (1/4 teaspoon) and garlic powder (1/2 teaspoon).

Then drizzle with balsamic vinegar. How much? I wish I could tell you. Let's say 1/8 of a cup to start.

Take a stirring implement and mix it all up. Then repeat the seasoning process. That's right, DO IT AGAIN!

Now what? Let these peppers rest. Let  them think about what they've just been through. They need to regroup and so do you. So put them to the side. For a few hours, for the day...they only get better with time – just like you.

In the meantime, go get some bread. Buy two loaves. Or just polish up your fork as you might as well dig right into the pepper bowl. Do it. I won't tell.

Thank you to Vicki for her peppers and her "general instructions." I had a fantastic summer this year, and though it's not technically over, it feels like fall has arrived. Here are a few fun beach shots to say farewell...


Fried and True – Pie by Pie Fried Pizza from Dozzino!

There's a time and a place to fry things. And from reading this blog, you might think that means anytime and anywhere. Consider for example, our enthusiasm for:

Fried green tomatoes

Fried zucchini blossoms

Fried pickles

Fried hot dogs

Fried seafood (calamari!)

Fried chicken AND turkeys

And even fried eggs.

Hmmm....perhaps the name of this blog should be "John and Elana Talk About Fried Food," because now we are going to encourage you to have some FRIED PIZZA. Yes, I said it: fried pizza.

And we are going to (enthusiastically) direct you, once again, to Dozzino in Hoboken for their fried pizza.

According to Marc Magliozzi, one of the owners and pizza chefs, the fried pie is deep fried then thrown in the wood-burning oven for about 25-30 seconds. 
The two options they offer are La Fried Pizza (essentially a Margherita pie with fried dough) and a Fried Nutella.
I sampled the Fried Nutella (topped with Italian Nutella). Marc describes it as a cross between a pizza, a doughnut & a zeppole (with Nutella, of course). And in my book, it's all wonderful. The crust is crispy, airy (check out the giant bubbles in the above photo) and quite flavorful. The frying gives the crust an extra crunch on the outside while preserving the chewiness of the inner dough. And moisture! This technique locks it in, let me tell you.

Dozzino usually makes their fried pies during the day, but will churn 'em out at night occasionally. Look for them on the special board from time to time as well.

And, as EXTRA enticement (did you need some) Marc and the guys at Dozzino are giving us a $25 gift certificate to give away on this blog. This is very exciting. Fried pizza kind of exciting! To be entered win the gift certificate, all you have to do is comment on this post. Tell us your favorite kind of pizza.

Extra points if you say, "Hey, Mr. Fancy, feel better, ok?"

Check out our other posts on Dozzino here, here and here. Now get commenting. I'll be in my kitchen frying pizza dough...


Pie by Pie – Truffle and Creamy Taleggio at Bin 14

Sometimes you find good pizza in unexpected locations. While my experiences at Bin 14, Hoboken's first (and self proclaimed only) wine bar have always been positive, I've never gone there for the pizza. I go for the wine (it is a wine bar, after all) and the snackables (they have a tasty tentacly octopus salad that I recommend).

But! I am attempting to highlight pies from all places, be they legit pizzerias, backyard ovens or wine bars, and this one struck me. It struck me because what it delivered was not exactly what was advertised. And in this case, I mean that in the best way possible.

The menu listing was for "truffle and creamy taleggio." I was joining some friends for dinner, and one suggested we order this pizza. I was not 100% on board, as I wasn't in the mood for "creamy". But, my friend assured me that I would be pleasantly surprised byt this pie.

And I was. This pizza was surprisingly light. The taleggio was grated on top of the mostly bare dough so that you were not overwhelmed with creaminess. Rather, it afforded a nice, buttery accent that complemented the truffles & olive oil underneath. With just a touch of salt, this pizza managed to be light and refreshing rather than a cheesy, oily brick.

The dough was a bit firm and lacked that fluffy center/charred outer crust dichotomy that I love so much. But it did have some signature bubble for air and was significantly pliable. A touch more salt and maybe a higher temperature and quicker cooking time would have done the trick.

But I decided not to march back into the kitchen and give orders and instead fight my friends for the last piece of pizza.

So if you're ever over the river (and through the woods), clamber on up to Uptown Hoboken and grab yourself one of the Truffle and Creamy Tagleggio pizzas. You won't be oversauced.

Bin 14
1314 Washington Street
Hoboken, NJ 07030


The Black Whale Bar and Fish House in Beach Haven

This will be a short post. Mostly because John has threatened me with all manner of unpleasantries if I post lengthy articles on Fridays. He thinks I have too much to do. He is worried about my sanity.

But FEAR NOT, dear readers! I have my witts and, more importantly, my taste buds at the ready. Just for you. For your weekend down at the Jersey Shore.

Media sources everywhere are pelting you with images of distressing things that can be found at the Shore. I am not going to talk about that. I am going to talk about fish. FRESH fish. And give you a suggestion as to where to find it. The Black Whale Bar and Fish House.

The Scene:
Brown paper on the table, beer cans inset on the ceiling trim, submarine windows...a down and dirty place with some spiff to it.

The Grub:
Everything comes in fun buckets (except for the gin)!

These buckets are iced, so they keep your food chilled and fresh. And speaking of just-out-of-the-sea-fresh, check out these oysters (also in a bucket):

I was fighting The Box for these guys. The Box prefers his 'sters donned with hot sauce and horseraddish. I like cocktail sauce, and I always give them a lemony squeeze.

These little numbers were meaty, and slightly salty with a clean cold finish. I wish The Box and John had gotten their own bucket.

Cakes of Crab!
Large chunks of whitest crab meat were baked (not fried) and loosely held together with a smooth and tangy mayo-y binder. Creamy, chunkier than most - almost like a lobster roll filling. I was a huge fan and destroyed both smooshed baseball-sized cakes. But l chose cocktail dippin' sauce instead of tartar - the mayo was enough cream for me.

Fried Flounder:
John orderd the flounder which had a nice, crisp crust on it. The meat was white and thickly cut – perfectly cooked to a flaky consistency.

The Bathrooms:
An individual stall with a nautical theme and some interesting art on the walls. The bar is for stabilizing when the waters (or the gin) get rocky.

Added Bonus!
John and I helped Marmo and The Box do some cleaning at the Iach Shore Establishment this past weekend. In the process we found this:

The Box in the good ol' days...Do you think he can wrangle me some more crab cakes? Because I'd like some.

So, if you're heading down the parkway to Long Beach Island, check out the Black Whale. Don't forget the oysters.

Overall Dining Experience: Top Gun - The Well Working Formula

Black Whale Bar and Fish House
100 N Pennsylvania Ave
Beach Haven, NJ 08008
(609) 492-0025