What to Eat at the Jersey Shore
The Best Pizza
There is no food that is consumed more on New Jersey’s oceanfront boardwalks than pizza. Any town that has a commercial boardwalk, has at least one pizza joint on every block. These two are my favorites.
Perhaps the reason I can’t choose one of these pizza joints over the other is that they’re blood relatives. Their common ancestry goes back to Anthony and Lena Macaroni who operated a restaurant in Trenton. On Memorial Day in 1953, Anthony, Lena and their three sons Joseph, Vincent and Duke opened Mack’s Pizza on the boardwalk in Wildwood. A few years later, in 1956, Anthony, Vincent and cousin Vince Manco opened a shop on the Ocean City boardwalk which they named Mack & Manco. Mary Bangle, daughter of Frank Manco, and her husband Charles Bangle purchased the Ocean City operation in 2011 and renamed it Manco & Manco. In 2017-18, Charles Bangle spent 13 months in jail on tax evasion charges. Mary got three years probation. It had no effect on the pizza.
The Best Fries
They’ll fry anything on the boardwalk.
Curley’s is a Wildwood landmark.
But the best fries are in the Boss’ old stomping grounds, Asbury Park, just a block away from Madame Marie’s and across the street from the Stone Pony.
No contest. It’s Ocean City Coffee Company. Pay no heed that Starbuck’s opened a block away.
Atlantic City’s primary contribution to the culinary world is salt water taffy. There is a story about a storm in the Atlantic in the 1880’s that washed out a storage bin full of taffy at a candy store in Atlantic City run by David Bradley. Perhaps tongue in cheek, he gave the remaining product the name salt water taffy. That may or may not be true, but we know that Joseph Fralinger was the leader in commercializing the sweet treat (a product that includes no salt water among its ingredients). His first competitor was Enoch James. Today, both brands are owned by James Candy Co. (an outfit that is in Chapter XI) and each still has a branded store on the boardwalk.
In Ocean City, this is the signature sweet:
And in Wildwood, it’s this:
And for some non-traditional boardwalk food, how about a Korean fusion taco, served out of this converted storage container on the Asbury Park boards.