Saturday, August 21, 2010

Fiore's & Carlo's Bakery - Hoboken, NJ

While New York City has more to explore than can be accomplished on any one trip, New Jersey sits right across the river. We decided to make a pilgrimage to see what Jersey had to offer.

Since it was lunchtime when we arrived by ferry to Hoboken, we found a truly authentic Italian deli at Fiore's. In my previous post, I wrote of the Carnegie Deli as a truly New York-style deli. While New York has a great deal of Italian influences, the Carnegie Deli has more of a Jewish feel. Fiore's is definitely Italian (or Italian-American, depending on which way you slice it).

After entering the deli and taking in the fact that there is no visible menu, you start to mimic the other patrons (almost like Jane Goodall). You select a poppy seed roll or a longer baguette and hand it to the next available sandwich-man. I ended up choosing a meat at random and hoping for the best. The man disappears behind a very tall counter and emerges on the other side by a selection of toppings.

Sandwiches from Fiore's

In the end, we ordered a roast beef sandwich and a capicola sandwich, both with slices of fresh mozzarella cheese and sun-dried tomatoes. These sandwiches were absolutely monstrous. The meat was very high quality (yes, better than Boar's head), but the toppings really make the sandwich delicious. The fresh mozzarella was moist, creamy and without that odd rubber they sometimes have. This is, hands down, the best mozzarella I've found outside of Italy. To top it off, the sun-dried tomatoes were tender and packed in some extra flavor to round out the sandwiches. No wonder their tagline is "House of Quality."

Carlo's Bakery

Anyone who loves TV shows about cake-baking (and there are many at the moment) probably knows about Cake Boss. Buddy Valastro is a native Jersey-ite (in case you couldn't tell from his accent and grammar) who has an artistic eye when it comes to making cakes and desserts. His work is rooted in the recipes handed down to him by his father, but he is not afraid to break with tradition when necessary. The show usually features two cake projects, one of which puts Buddy and his crew (sua famiglia) in an interesting situation (jousting, Polar Bear Club swimming, etc.).

Part of my goal for this trip across the river was to visit Carlo's Bakery, the headquarters of everything Cake Boss. I wanted to buy a couple desserts, maybe see one of the family members, snap a couple quick pictures, and, if fate smiled upon me, get caught on camera. Apparently fate was smacking us upside the head that day. At first glance, there was a bit of a line to get into the bakery, but upon closer inspection this line stretched from one block and all the way down the next. Some were estimating that it was 2-3 hours long! I love me some dessert and Cake Boss, but that is not worth 2-3 hours of vacation time. We did get to peek through the windows a bit, but did not see any of our favorite people, just a bunch of bakery lackeys. So we went back to New York just a little downtrodden, but our stomachs were full of delicious Italian sandwiches, so it was not all that bad.

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