First there were the ever-present rainbow bagels that took over social media, then it was the recent black “Goth ice cream.” Now, national TV has seized on a Hoboken-based craze — the “taco pizza” served up by Tony Boloney’s, which creates all kinds of unusual pies in their locations in the mile-square city and Atlantic City.
But the $80 treat, served only on Tuesdays, isn’t the only unusual food available on the menus of local eateries.
From poached prawns to stuffed calamari, restaurants routinely add twists that are the subject of foodie fetishes everywhere.
Friday means stuffed calamari
Leos Grandevous is famous in Hoboken for a few things – its history dating to 1939, and the Frank Sinatra jukebox. But some of its dishes are unusual too.
The location on 200 Grand St. offers everything from bar pies to “elevated traditional Italian food,” according to General Manager Grace Scianclepore, whose family has owned the establishment since 1939.
Scianclepore said the restaurant has served the stuffed calamari on Fridays for over 70 years.
“We are the only place that makes it like this in town,” she said. “It is so fresh.”
It’s made with squid, cheese, breadcrumbs, garlic, parsley and egg.
But she noted what keeps people coming back more than anything else is their consistency of quality food, not gimmicks.
Still, it’s one of the last remaining old Hoboken standbys, and newer residents love it as well.
The ‘taco pizza’ secret is out
Tony Boloney’s on First Street first served their “taco pizza” as a one-time deal for a hungry group who suggested it. While other pizzerias have served Mexican-themed pizza, this one is unusual because it’s got various types of tacos around the edges and a guac center.
In the last two weeks, the dish was featured on the Rachel Ray Show, Live with Kelly, and The Chew. And it has been shipped to countries all over the world including China and even Mexico.
It’s also been sent to the rap group the Migos, according to the owner Mike Hauke.
Hauke, a Hoboken resident, said he never expected to get this much attention.
“I told them not to say anything,” he said of his original customers who gave him the idea. “A few months ago, a group of kids came in high as hell and asked for tacos. I told them this was a pizzeria we make pizzas and subs, but they kept asking and said it was Taco Tuesday. I thought it was funny so I went to the back made some tortillas from scratch and made them some tacos. Then I had the idea to put it on a pizza, and they went crazy. They bugged out.”
The rest is history.
The $12-per-slice adventure begins with a secret recipe – but not for tacos. Hauke’s great-great-great-grandmother’s Jewish brisket serves as a base for the carne asada chipotle sauce. The sauce also includes house-made queso Oaxaca, chipotle asada, and with other cheese, it’s placed on top of the pizza dough.
“Last week we had a line that went from my counter and down the block and around the corner by Prime Realty on Park.” –Mike Hauke
Once the pizza is cooked, a myriad of taco varieties are piled on the outer rim of the pizza including chicken, pork, and beef. In the center of the 16 tacos is a pile of guacamole and sour cream for dipping.
Hauke said the now famous food needs to be ordered in advance and is still only made Tuesdays. He said they’ve probably sold more than 1,000 pies so far.
“Last week we had a line that went from my counter and down the block and around the corner by Prime Realty on Park,” said Hauke.
Seafood springs into Hoboken
Seafood seems a popular base for unique dishes.
Head Chef Bill Crouse of Amanda’s at 908 Washington St. said he’s rolling out a new menu this week which will feature one particular dish he is excited about: poached prawn salad.
“We will have a butter poached Argentinean prawn salad with fresh mangos and grouper,” said Crouse. “They are buttery and soft and really remarkable… this new menu item is perfect for this time of year.”
He said the dish is made with fresh herbs, tomatoes, and white wine and is “full of flavor.”
“You could just drink it,” said Crouse.
Crouse added that he gets much of his inspiration from the seasons and that his mood writes the menu.
The new dish costs $29, according to the chef.
Fresh fish market
A new restaurant off the beaten path – Tutta Pesca Restaurant & Fresh Fish Market at 155 Third St. – sells fresh seafood. Their big menu item right now is pan-seared soft shell crabs.
Like Amanda’s, they change items seasonally.
“We just added soft shell crabs this week,” said owner Mike Cara.
He also says the zuppa di pesca is popular, containing shrimp, scallops, mussels, clams, calamari, lobster, and spinach or linguini.
Cara said his method is to serve simple high quality food that you won’t be able to find at many other places in town.
Marilyn Baer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.