Growing up in North Newark in the 1960s
I did not appreciate what a culinary center North Newark was. In
hindsight it was a foodie’s paradise.
First, long before Starbucks had its first coffee shop, Juvelis
Coffee Roasters in North Newark roasted Italian coffee daily. In
the good weather they left the front door open and the smells would
waft out onto Mt. Prospect Avenue.
The Italian and French bread was (and is) the best in the world.
After I moved to Maine in 1975, my sister arranged for some airline
to ship fresh baked Calandra’s French baguette loaves to me
in Portland for my 21st birthday! Ever since, whenever I’m
in New Jersey, but especially in Newark, I stock up on the excellent
bread and bring it back to Maine and freeze it.
Jackie’s Lemon Ice was technically in Belleville but close
enough for us Newark kids to go every day in the summertime. After
dinner with our families, carloads of teenagers would descend on
Jackie’s for a lemon ice. Thirty years later I still crave
a lemon ice from Jackie’s. Hope it’s still open.
Besides the lemon ice Jackie’s made a mean Italian hot dog.
When I describe the Italian hot dog to my kids here in Maine they
say, "Whada ya mean potatoes on a hot dog?” The poor
dears – they can’t comprehend the culinary delight!
They have tasted, and love, Taylor Ham, something we cannot purchase
in Maine. Whenever any one comes to visit from NJ the price of admission
to my guest room is a couple of rolls of Taylor Ham. (And it helps
to bring the hard rolls too, another Jersey food item that can’t
be found in Maine.) I know the food police would shudder, but I
hope they please leave me to enjoy my Taylor Ham, cheese and Jersey
Yes, Jersey tomatoes! There are none better – not even those
“ugly ripes” that they sell in the Maine supermarkets.
Give me a ripe Jersey tomato, a knife, and a little salt and I’m
in vegetarian heaven.
Although I’m from Maine and lobster is ubiquitous, the best
lobster fra diavlo I’ve ever had was in a little seafood restaurant
on Bloomfield Ave, near Branch Brook Park, I wish I could remember
the name of it.
I haven’t mentioned pizza yet. Again, the good pizzerias
were almost too numerous to name. However, at the risk of starting
a war I’ll say my personal favorite growing up was Zig-Zags.
Everybody’s’ mother could cook so I won’t go
into the various menus other than to say that it helped that there
were so many little stores where you could buy fresh ravioli, the
best olive oil, and great vegetables, long before any one ever opened
the first Whole Foods Store.
Not many people bothered to make desserts, however, because there
were just so many great bakeries – too numerous to name. Cheesecakes,
Cannolis and cream puffs were just some of the delectable desserts.
And for breakfast there were crumb buns. Need I say more?