I stayed at an Atlantic City casino, and the experience was pretty repulsive. I’m too traumatized to even rant about it. Just avoid the experience if you can. (One interesting note: I spotted “single-deck blackjack” tables. How on earth do they manage that without being beset by card counters?)
Nice nighttime view from the marina, though:
Aversa’s Italian Bakery (3101 Brigantine Boulevard, Brigantine, New Jersey; 609-264-8880) has real good sticky buns. Thanks to Peter Genovese (of the Newark Star-Ledger) for the tip.
At Tony’s Baltimore Grill (2800 Atlantic Avenue, Atlantic City, New Jersey; 609-345-5766), the sausage pizza slayed me. Sobs of grateful
appreciation to Peter Genovese for the tip.
I asked the rough-looking, pot-bellied bartender, “Is your sausage pizza as good as I’ve heard?” His reply: “When I took this gig, I weighed 150 pounds!” Another customer piped up and said he’d been coming here for 30 years and it still tastes precisely the same now as it did then. The bartender added, “Yup, that’s because we’re still working off the same hunk of dough …”
The bar has lots of gritty 1950s Atlantic City charm, and the only beer on tap is Coors Light. I was resigned to poor-quality suds but nonetheless asked the bartender what he had in bottles. He told me he had “everything.” I asked if he carried Westmalle Trappist Tripel, and he said, “No, but I do have Hoegaarden.” Touché! He even pronounced it the correct way (“HOO-harten”), which almost nobody this side of Belgium does. This touch (along with the excellent Belgian white beer) was the capper on a lunch of intense, memorable pleasure.
Hear podcast 2 (and note that I misspoke: Mack & Manco Pizza is in Ocean City, not Atlantic City).
Then on to Ocean City, New Jersey, a totally pleasant place. It’s as if a genie conjured up the summer of your false nostalgia.
There’s a nice boardwalk, surprisingly well stocked with decent-looking food choices.
Best option on the section of boardwalk I scoped out is Mack & Manco Pizza (758 Boardwalk, Ocean City, New Jersey; 609-399-2783). It’s no artisanal pizza, but the buttery cheese is irresistible, and balances have been beautifully worked out over the decades. Time-machine pizza, indeed.
In the case of Kohr Bros. Frozen Custard (Seventh & Boardwalk, Ocean City, New Jersey; 609-399-6327), the years seem to have brought more corner-cutting than refinement. It’s OK, mindless custard, nothing more. Not that that’s a bad thing, mind you …