Gloucester's Meaningful Meals

Good taste runs in the family


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So long for now

The 2012 fall semester has come to an end, and as such so has my required commitment to this blog. I have learned a lot during my time writing about some of the best restaurants Gloucester has to offer, and I plan to use what I’ve gained to create some new blogs.

This isn’t to say that this site will never be updated, though. I still have five more semesters at Rowan, so I’ll be sure to keep a camera at all times to make sure that I don’t miss any gems.

I would like to thank everyone who read my content and helped me improve, and all the gracious restaurant owners who took the time out of their busy lives to meet with me. Below I’ve linked to five posts that I feel are the best that I’ve produced.

Have a good holiday!


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A trip to Venice

My seemingly insatiable appetite (as well as several recommendations) once again brought me to Broadway in Pitman for some delicious family-owned Italian cuisine. This time around I got the chance to visit Venice Italian Eatery and sit down with owner Ron Zold to discuss what he believes sets Venice apart from the flood of Italian restaurants in the Gloucester area. You can listen to some of his thoughts by clicking on the audio player below.

Venice has been established since 2000, but it was not until 2007 that Zold obtained ownership of the restaurant. He immediately did away with the lavender walls and slightly torn carpeting that his predecessor had put in. Zold also canned the idea that the restaurant should limit its potential by marketing itself solely as a pizzeria. They now proudly deem themselves a pizzeria, sit down restaurant and complete catering service. Their renovated dining room area now fits about 60 customers, and Zold hopes to build a room double that size onto the restaurant before the end of February 2013. I put together some shots of the restaurant in a video which you can view below.

Venice’s dining options are separated by room. If you are looking for a quick slice or are waiting to pick up an order, you can relax in one of the homey booths located at the front of the restaurant. If you’re looking for a touch more elegance or choose Venice for your next special event, you will be spending your evening in the cozy yet refined dining room where pizza is not even an option on the menu.

As with all of the great restaurants I have visited thus far, the most intriguing aspects of Venice came less from the environment, and more from the owner behind the wheel. Zold told me about the various ways that Venice gets involved with its community through fundraisers, charities, and giveaways.

“We’ve held a fundraiser for a prosecutor who got cancer. We’ve helped out some groups with disabilities… We just like to give back where we can…” stated Zold. “We’re appreciated in the community because we’re involved in the community.”

I appreciated the genuine nature of the comment. Ron did not feel the need to exaggerate the charitable nature of his restaurant. He simply answered the question presented to him. I truly felt that I was getting to know a friend rather than interviewing a restaurant owner.

As for the food itself, I believe the word “phenomenal” sums it up nicely. I was treated to a meatball sandwich,  a Greek feta stromboli and a panzarotti, commonly referred to as a pizza turnover.

The Greek feta stromboli, which was filled with feta cheese, gyro meat, spinach and tomatoes, was just as huge in size as it was in flavor. It was served to me on a makeshift plate consisting of two circular pizza trays. I would like to formally thank my server for recommending that I get the small. 

The meatball sandwich was made completely by hand, and was comprised of just meatballs and tomato sauce cradled between a delicious roll. Venice was able to turn a dish made with just a few ingredients that I have eaten dozens of times into a weekend staple for me. 

I had never eaten a panzarotti before, so I can’t compare it to any others. However, after tasting this wondrous creation of tomato sauce, fried dough, and mozzarella cheese, I can safely say that it won’t be my last. You can check out a few shots of my feast at the bottom of this post.

I would like to thank Ron for graciously welcoming me into his restaurant, treating me to one of the best meals I’ve tasted since starting this blog and most importantly confirming that the class of a restaurant is not determined by the prices on the menu or the exquisite architecture of the building, but by the genuine nature of the people inside of it. 


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An evening with Al: Bogey’s Club & Cafe

If I had to choose one thing that I appreciate in a restaurant, it would be those that are about much more than their food. Whether it be the atmosphere, special events, or eccentric personalities, anything that sets a place apart is almost a surefire way to ensure my visit. At Bogey’s Club & Cafe, I was able to experience an incredible amount of all three.

Between booking bands for the restaurant’s oldie Fridays and classic rock Saturdays, creating a brand new menu, booking weddings, reunions and birthdays in their beautiful ballroom. and starring in a new reality show, co-owner Al Bartolomeo is constantly bringing something new to your table at Bogey’s. Luckily, he still found a minute to sit down with me and discuss what he believes sets his restaurant apart.

What really stuck with me was what Bartolomeo told me about himself after the camera stopped rolling. He discussed the various fundraisers and charities that the restaurants provides for, such as Make-A-Wish. Bogey’s also works to give back to the community as much as they can, such as holding fundraisers and giveaways for those that lost their homes in a fire or suffer from severe disabilities. The interview was over and he was not trying to sell me a pitch. He was simply telling me what he does and why he does it, and it made me that much more confident I was at the right place.


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Hungry Detective: Angelo’s Diner

I wanted to try something different this week. I have met some truly awesome people throughout my blogging journey, but a part of me was wondering how much extra charm is caked on to a restaurant when the owners are fully aware that I will be writing about my experience for this site. To get the true family owned experience, I needed to present myself as an ordinary customer, and I knew exactly where I wanted to visit.

Angelo’s diner is located at 26 North Main Street in Glassboro and is considered somewhat of a Rowan University staple for the hungry and hungover student body. It has been suggested to me many times throughout my college career to pay a visit, and I saw this as the perfect opportunity to discover what the huge appeal was. Upon walking into the small, metal plated structure, it felt like I had just walked into the year 1965. I read a sign on the wall stating “Sorry, no credit or debit cards accepted” and couldn’t help but smile when I noticed the prehistoric cash register that took up the entirety of the front counter. After sprinting to the nearest ATM I continued my analysis. The usual antsy crowd that I have come to expect at today’s diners were replaced with bubbly seniors sipping coffee and reading their newspapers (yes, real newspapers. I forgot they existed, too.) As I slid into one of the few booths to choose from at Angelo’s I was filled with an absolutely amazing sense of warmth; something that most eateries today don’t offer on their menu.

I was greeted with a smile and given a few minutes to choose my breakfast. I went as classic as I could think of- a western omelette with a short stack of pancakes. My smile widened when it arrived. The food itself was no work of art, and somehow I found that all the more appreciable. While it certainly wasn’t the most exotic dish this blog has brought me to, I think it’s safe to say that it was the most genuine, and in my opinion it’s something that speaks louder.

 

Western omelette, home fries, and a short stack

Western omelette, home fries, and a short stack

After just one visit I can already tell that Angelo’s has become a Saturday morning staple for me. I’ll take the honest taste of simple food over quick alternatives any day. I thank Angelo’s for helping me realize that the people I meet for this blog are not awesome because I’m visiting them; I’m visiting them because they’re awesome people.


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Grab a slice in Gloucester

Vera Kratochvil, “Pizza Topping” via Pixabay, Creative Commons Attribution.

 

As my colleagues and heavy set build can attest to, I am a man who enjoys his pizza.  Luckily, this wonderful masterpiece of bread, cheese, and sauce is never in short supply here in South Jersey. That being said, there are certainly some pizzerias that stand out here in Gloucester and others that it might not hurt to miss. The next time you find yourself a hankering for this South Jersey staple, which for me should be in about thirty minutes time, consider visiting one of the following locations.

Gia Nina’s, 312 Evergreen Avenue, Woodbury, NJ: In a region flooded with pizza, Gia Nina’s manages to rate above the rest according to their customers. Their menu offers classic toppings such as pepperoni and extra cheese, but also houses some unconventional pies such as their breakfast pizza, a slice featuring eggs and sausage. You also get to choose from their original, garlic, seasame, cajun, or parmesan cheese crust. Gia Nina’s approached the old age question of quality versus quantity and reached the conclusion, why not both?

Sollena’s Pizza, 291 Delsea Drive, Sewell, NJ: If a mere slice is not going to satiate your hunger, considered paying Sollena’s a visit. Their specialty pizzas are stacked high with toppings to help fight the strongest of appetites. Indulge in their cheesesteak pizza, a combination of mozzarella and American cheese, sirloion steak, and fried onions, or their new quattro gusti pizza which holds black olives, ham, artichokes, mozzarella cheese, and sauce. You can browse through their entire collection of mouth watering mountains on their menu.

Italian Affair, 900 Route 47, Glassboro NJ: If you demand your pizza require a touch of elegance then Italian Affair’s limited but crafty selection of personal pies may suit your tastes. Consider trying their Celano pizza, a traditional red sauce beneath mozzarella cheese, artichokes, long hots, mushrooms, black olives and ham, or their Nicola pizza which comes topped with shrimp, hot cherry peppers, garlic, and mozzarella cheese. You can find the rest of their offerings on their menu.

Johnny’s Pizzeria, 273 Egg Harbor Road, Sewell, NJ: If you seek change from your usual mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce, Johnny’s has the hookup. Check out their unique cheddar bacon pizza and chicken broccoli ranch pizza on their menu.

Carola Family Pizzeria, 564 South Evergreen Avenue, Woodbury Heights, NJ: I have already featured them as my meal of the week, but I wholeheartedly believe that Carola’s deserves another special mention. Owner Mike Carola is dedicated to making as much as he can by hand and the pizza he constructs is a pretty strong testimonial to his claims that it yields a tastier product. If you decide to check it out, like their Facebook page first to get access to their daily deals which might save you a bit of money.

 


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Giving thanks for more than the turkey

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Home for Thanksgiving, 2011

As my mother confirmed in an old blog post of hers, Thanksgiving always has been and always will be my favorite holiday. It proudly ranks higher than my own birthday because there is a sense of fulfillment that accompanies the fourth Thursday of November that mountains of gifts do not substitute. Yes, my mom’s turkey, stuffing and pecan pies are phenomenal, but each year I come closer to realizing that my love for the holiday comes not from the food itself, but what the food represents.

There is something to be said about a turkey, a cheap and admittedly dry bird, being able to draw families and friends together to take a moment and appreciate everything that they already have in their lives. In a society which has programmed us to constantly worry about tomorrow, it really is amazing to realize what we already have today; our health, our loved ones, and plenty of time to resolve our dissonance. One bird has the power to bring attention to all that we take for granted, such as the pains of starvation, and it’s a phenomenon that still fascinates me. I truly believe it is what keeps me going throughout the year, and what drove me to write this blog in the first place.

I greatly hope that all of my readers have someplace comforting to spend their holiday. If not, you can still grab a Thanksgiving dinner in Gloucester county at Adelphia Restaurant & Bar in Deptford or Arugula in Sewell. I wish you all the best.

 


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Meal of the week: Carola Family Pizzeria

Carola Family Pizzeria, 564 South Evergreen Avenue, Woodbury Heights NJ, 08097

Occasionally, I receive feedback from readers regarding where I should eat next. The owners are not always available for a sit down, but it has brought me to some awesome places such as Guillermo’s on Broadway. When I received four unsolicited requests this week to check out a new family owned pizzeria just fifteen minutes away from Rowan’s campus, I knew I had to check it out.

Mike Carola

Mike Carola, Owner

I was warmly greeted by owner and chef, Mike Carola. I barely had time to sit down before I found myself surrounded by generous samples of homemade mozzarella sticks, hot wings, pizza, hoagies, soups and pastas. As I began indulging in my feast, Mike shared some words regarding why he believes the Carola family’s restaurant is such a hit with my readers. 

If you would like to visit Carola’s for yourself you can find them here. Be sure to check out their Facebook page first to take advantage of the constant coupons and deals they offer. If you do decide to make the trip, don’t be surprised if you find me there getting ready for my second taste.

Homemade mozzarella bites, hot sauces, and sandwhiches

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