Monday, May 7, 2012

Into the "Boroughs": Hoboken - We Liked It for a Second

Smoked Mutz Hero -- Vito's Deli, Hoboken, NJ
Vito's Deli

Dear Food Network Stars,

From now on, please refrain from choosing Best Thing I Ever Ate dishes across the river(s) from Manhattan so we can stop making idiots of ourselves.

Best wishes,
Vodka and Ginger
Time to Start Swimming
As our ventures to previous non-Manhattan NYC boroughs have indicated, we are not the most adept at finding our way off of the island on which we live.  The minute we encounter bridges, tunnels, and subways that run outdoors or under rivers, we feel as though we have suddenly been thrust into Tomorrowland, and we begin to lose both our ways and our minds.

Against these odds, we have decided to make our way to Hoboken, NJ.
Hoboken Is Practically An Outer Borough, Right?
Now, getting to and from Hoboken should be a simple process -- after all, hundreds of commuters make the trek every day.  But we, true to form, have to make a project out of the endeavor.
Hours of Steadfast Research Have Led to This Moment
After careful consultation with multiple Hoboken residents and an entirely-too-in-depth perusal of Google Street View, we manage to meet outside the 33rd Street PATH station, skip down the stairs to the trains, swipe our Metrocards... and then become completely befuddled.
In Need of a Hoboken Tour Guide
In a process that remains unclear, it seems the PATH trains go to places other than Hoboken (news to us), and in a moment of panic, we are incapable of figuring out which train we're supposed to board.

Here's a hint, morons: it's the one marked "Hoboken."
Palm, Meet Forehead
When we finally settle on the correct train, we make a mad dash across the platforms in order to get ourselves into the last car before the doors close.  This faulty level of desperation (as the train does not leave the station for at least another ten minutes) causes looks of bemused annoyance to be shot in our direction by our fellow Hoboken "commuters," so we settle in our seats and try to remain inconspicuous.

Well, as "inconspicuous" as one can be while whipping bags of beef jerky out of one's handbag.
Not the Way to "Blend In" on Public Transportation
As Ginger bemoans her current level of starvation (translation: she hasn't eaten in an hour), Vodka begins rummaging through her bag.

"I forgot, I brought these for you," Vodka says, tossing two bags of jerky onto Ginger's lap.
What? Not Everyone Travels with Jerky?
With not nearly enough questions based on the absurdity of this circumstance, Ginger begins munching through the jerky happily, partially satiating her hunger (said jerky, if anyone would like to purchase some for your own "commutes," can be found here: Lawless Jerky).
Jerky Is Useful for the Next Time You Find Yourself Crossing a River Against Your Will
Eventually, we arrive at the Hoboken train station and begin making our way down Washington Street towards Vito's Deli, where we're supposed to eat Ted Allen's chosen SMOKY dish, the smoked mutz hero.
Sandwich with Cigarette Flavoring?
Along our route, we encounter yet another problem that we never have in Manhattan: understanding traffic patterns.  Somehow, without the fear of being run down by taxi drivers and the palliative presence of "Walk" signs, we are incapable of crossing the street.  Based on the number of times we are almost run over by Hoboken's seemingly random traffic flow, we suppose we should be grateful if we make it out of this place alive.
The Irony Being That We Consider Maneuvering Through This Island a Figurative Walk in the Park
As we dodge our way through the losing side of vehicular manslaughter, we decide that Hoboken is quaint, sweet, perfectly enjoyable.  We love any place that offers a plethora of sidewalk dining options and a view of the river, so for a solid ten blocks, we are feeling remarkably content.

And then Hoboken starts denying us alcohol left and right, and we turn against the place in one fell swoop.
A Sign Which Would Have Been Useful at This Particular Point in Time
First, there is the matter of Vito's Deli "false advertising."  A sandwich board stationed outside of the place proclaims a "Happy Hour" pricing policy, about which we are instantly excited.  "Ooh, they have alcohol?!" Ginger practically skips inside the front door.

In a word, "No."
Don't Tempt Us Like That, Vito!
How Did These Boards Possibly Get So Smeared Way Up on the Ceiling?!
Vito's apparently prices some of their deli concoctions at "Happy Hour" prices -- not our elusive alcohol.  Settling for two glass bottles of soda instead, we place our order for one smoked mutz hero, which features homemade smoked mozzarella cheese, tomato, and pesto on an Italian roll.
Anyone Have Any Rum?
Say "Cheese"
If anything, we have to hand it to Vito's on one point: they are all about the generous portion.  In truth, we don't know the last time we have seen so much cheese on a sandwich, and we are instantly thrilled.
Cheese Tends to Have This Thrilling Effect on Us
This cheese is just about everything Ted Allen had described -- soft and nimble, with the lightest hint of smoke as an afterthought, it tastes unmistakably of freshness.
New Jersey: We Do Hoagies Right
When combined with the tomatoes, pesto, and a hearty dose of seasoning, it makes for a pretty solid sandwich, particularly because the roll is our preferred texture of soft and moldable rather than crunchy and crumbly.
Note: We Like a "Moldable" Roll; Not a "Moldy" Roll. Vital Difference
The smoked mutz hero is very good, yes, but it is missing a key element: alcohol.

"I should've brought vodka," Ginger complains halfway through her portion.

"I have a flask and everything," Vodka agrees.  "I was just so intent on the jerky that I didn't think."
For Future Reference, Never Let Dried Meet Take Priority Over Booze
Once we have polished off our full cheese hero, we decide to track down Hoboken's Mexican population in an effort to celebrate Cinco de Mayo a day early via our beloved margaritas.  Finding a restaurant two blocks away, we saunter up Washington Street.

Only to be turned away by the BYOB establishment.  BYOB?!  What the heck, Hoboken?
Does No One Around Here Have Their Priorities Straight?!
Environmentally Friendly Bags for Miles, But Not a Lick of Alcohol
"Is this a dry town?  Is this like Magic Kingdom?" Vodka is incredulous that not one but two Hoboken establishments have now denied us our desired beverages.  We frantically punch our phones until we find another, hopefully non-BYOB Mexican restaurant ten blocks away, and we begin making our way there, simultaneously hating Hoboken and mumbling the word "margarita" the whole way.
It Is, After All, Cuatro de Mayo
Earlier in the evening, Ginger had been grieving the lack of irony in her life - "I say, 'Wouldn't it be ironic if...?' and then the 'if' never happens.  You say, 'Wouldn't it be ironic if I saw Bernadette Peters on the street today?' and then you almost run into her.'  My life is without irony."

And then, as if gifted to her from the Ironic Gods, "Marghertia Restaurant" appears before us, a place that serves margherita pizzas but no margarita drinks.  Thanks, Hoboken.
This "Irony" Would Have Been Funnier Had We Had Some Margaritas In Us
Rather than celebrating the newfound dose of irony in Ginger's life, Vodka practically yells, "No one likes an ironic cocktail!" and we continue our march down Washington Street.  After entirely too many blocks, we stumble upon East L.A., a certifiable Mexican restaurant that serves certifiable margaritas.  Hallelujah.
Glory Be, It's Tequila Time
Requesting a place on the sidewalk, we are escorted to what has to be the slantiest table this side of the Hudson River, one that could cause both our drinks and our sanity to go sliding onto the ground at any moment.  The host rather apologetically sticks a wad of napkins under one of the legs, which improves the issue only slightly.
Pure Class
By this point, our great journey on the PATH train and our hour-long quest for a margarita have made us inexplicably giddy, as if at a certain point, we just begin acting tipsy because the clock says we should be.  We order a pitcher of regular margaritas and are handed -- wait for it -- a pitcher of frozen margaritas.

Three times, Hoboken?!  Three times you're going to thwart us on the drink front?
This Sort of Cocktail Calamity Is Why We Don't Cross Rivers
Our waiter returns with our requested 'on the rocks' pitcher, and we start consuming some of the worst margaritas we've ever tasted.  Despite their medicinal flavor, said margaritas soon give us the confidence we need to wander down to the waterfront and hop aboard the ferry back to Manhattan, despite our lack of prior research into the ferry procedure.
Don't Know How We'll Fight Our Way Past the Massive Crowds (...)
This ride provides us with the greatest deal of fun known outside of Disney World for a few reasons: 1) we are on the ferry completely by ourselves, 2) we insist on standing on the outside deck the whole time, despite the fierce wind and rough waters, 3) the ride gives us the opportunity to be judgmental ("When people post pictures of the NYC skyline, I'm always like 'Obviously, you don't live here, cause no one in Manhattan can SEE IT'"), and 4) we love an adventure -- well, when we feel comfortable.
The Happiest We've Been All Night
When we reach our homeland of Manhattan once again, we wander aimlessly through the streets of Tribeca in search of the subway.  Along the way, we stumble upon a group of high school girls playing softball in the park.  "Ahh, youth," Vodka begins.  "Look at their wholesome Friday night activity."

Ginger pauses for a moment.  "Don't worry.  When they turn 21, they will abandon all physical activity for booze and the Hoboken ferry."

Vito's Deli's Smoked Mutz Hero: 4 stars

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