I stopped at Jimmy Buff's in East Hanover the other day. My quest was to find an Italian Dog that I liked. The only one I had tried that I liked was at Mijo's.
What I liked about that dog was that it was relatively dry and the potatoes were crisp. I prefer my potatoes to be crisp especially in things like hash browns and home fries.
I had read some postings on this forum by Jimmy Buff and was inclined to give his recommendations a try. He recommended ordering a "dry sandwich" and the potatoes well done. This seemed to throw the lady at the counter who took my order - she did not seem to quite know what I was talking about, but she took the order anyway.
Jimmy Buff's runs a Tuesday special of a double Italian dog for the price of a single. It was Tuesday so I ordered the double.
From reading Jimmy Buff's posts on this board I was impressed by his dedication to customer service. I had a chance to chat with Jimmy as he made my dogs and found him to be very friendly and customer oriented.
Once I got my dogs I carefully picked the potatoes off and let them cool on the side. I tried one of them and they were nice and crisp - but too hot to eat immediately.
Instead, I started to work on the double dog. Nestled under a nice pile of soft fried onions and peppers were two fried hot dogs. They had just the right snap and spices to compliment the onions and peppers. A light coating of brown mustard inside the soft but firm half moon of bread tied the sandwich together.
As the potatoes cooled off I started to eat them as well. The quest was accomplished - I had found an Italian dog that I liked. Although Italian dogs may never become my first choice (having been born and raised on the south side of Chicago my preferences lie there) I have found somewhere that makes an Italian dog that suits my preferences.
I also discovered that Jimmy Buff's makes an amazing foot long dog. I have read what John Fox says about this dog and completely agree with him. The foot long dog is a great experience.
As John says, it is deep fried and then finished on a grill. This gives the dog a wonderful snap as well as great flavor. Put a little brown mustard on this dog and you have a great balance between the snap of the dog, the spices in the dog, the mustard, and the flavors from the way the dog was cooked.
All of that pales when you put the chili that Jimmy serves with this dog on the dog itself. I have eaten a lot of chili in a lot places over the years. I have never encountered a chili quite like this one.
Over the past year I have sampled several hot dog chilis at different places around New Jersey and elsewhere. The most common type of chili served on dogs is what I refer to as Greek or Cincinnati chili. This is a sweet chili that is heavy on spices like cloves, mace, and cinnamnon. The other kind of chili is a traditional TexMex chili - sometimes including beans.
John Fox describes the chili at Jimmy Buff's East Hanover as "Bolognese" style. For those who do not watch Molto Mario, Bolognese is a style of tomato based meat sauce that is heavy on the meat and served on pasta. I agree with this description as a "Bolognese" style chili rather than pasta sauce.
The little cup of chili that Jimmy serves is just the right amount for you to put some on your foot long dog and eat a little directly. I liked it both ways. It complimented the dog perfectly.
In eating the chili directly I found it had a bit of sweetness and a bit of green pepper flavor and a bit of hot pepper bite. Not a lot of heat - just enough that you knew it was there. Jimmy also appears to chop his own meat that he puts in the chili. The different sizes of the chopped meat also lend an interesting mouth feel to this chili.
The foot long hot dog was a bonus on my quest. I went looking for an Italian hot dog and found a great foot long dog and some wonderful chili. It is a bit of a drive from Flemington up to East Hanover, but I will definitely stop in at Jimmy Buff's the next time I am in the area.