Amazing22 The buzz about Amazing Hot Dog started way back in August on e-gullet, when the owners announced their plans for their hot dog emporium in Verona. For folks who hold the rippers of Rutt’s Hut sacrosanct, Amazing Hot Dog is going after an entirely different market. In fact, they go out of their way to describe the product as not of the “dirty-water dogs or blown-out rippers” ilk. Instead, the folks from Amazing (two guys named Matt and Eric, the latter a Johnson & Wales Culinary school grad) flash-fry their dogs so the casing is virtually intact and the “snap” is preserved. Although their classic is made this way, their “Amazing” which appears to be their signature dog (and what I found to be the tastier of the two) is the same dog but wrapped in bacon (shown here dressed with sauerkraut). Random thoughts: does anything not taste good wrapped in bacon? And how often do you see culinary school and hot dogs in the same sentence?

Amazing Hot Dog differs from Rutt’s Hut in that it touts itself as “A Family Friendly Hot Dog Restaurant.” (Hmmm…. as opposed to all those hot dog places where kids just aren’t welcome??) The branding, with its super hero logo, kid-friendly menu, and a look that begs to be franchised, gives the immediate impression that Amazing has definite aspirations to reproduce, doing what hallowed hot dog institutions like Rutt’s and others have not.


The menu is extensive — anything you could even think of putting on a hot dog is offered. What we liked best: the Caped Crusader: their bacon-wrapped dog topped with an aromatic homemade chili, creamy cole slaw and spicy jalapenos, washed down with their freshly made limeade. The jalapenos gave the dog a real kick nicely offset by the cool slaw. On opening day the small storefront (previously a sushi spot) was crowded with family and, we learned later, photo-snapping visitors (scroll down for a look) from e-gullet. On my return visit a few days later, things were quieter. My verdict? The dogs are big, have a great snap and the bacon adds nice flavor and texture. The menu offers something for everyone (although I’d pass on mini eggroll dogs which were nothing more than Chinese pigs in a blanket). The fries were tasty and crisp on one visit; somewhat mushy and in need of salt on the second. If they can nail the fries, they’ll definitely be on to something. You won’t experience the nostalgia rush of Rutt’s and that unique ripper taste, but Amazing is offering something special all its own, something more akin to an Americanized version of F & B in NYC. Oh and if you make a pig of yourself, you’ll get rewarded. — Liz George

Amazing Hot Dog, 148A Bloomfield Ave., Verona, 973-433-3073; Visa/Mastercard accepted.

55 replies on “The Great Hot Dog Debate”

  1. Hadn’t heard of this place till now. But there is tradition at Rutt’s. In the building. In the carrot-laced relish. In the bike and car nights in the summer, in the flyers for country music at local Legion halls. Especially in both the grungy restrooms and in the oil dogs are cooked in, which is, so to speak, the “good” cholesterol.
    And the e-gullet crowd is just so doggoned precious. One minute they’re rhapsodizing about El Bulli in Spain, about how good a single pea in some emulsion tastes there, the next they’re trying to out-gourmandize each other over the “notes” of mint and goat’s milk they sense in someone else’s pizza sauce.
    So, nah. While I wish this place well, may visit soon, I’ll stick in general to Rutt’s. You shouldn’t try to do too much with a hot dog, it only raises the price, not the essence of the dog. The e-gullet gang is welcome to its hot dog affectations. (Hot dogs with bacon? Meaning pork on pork? Jalapenos and slaw?) My heart stays at Rutt’s, where rippers and 200 old but loved Fords, Chevys and Pontiacs on a soft summer night says more about NJ culture than any posts on e-gullet ever will.

  2. Ah, but it’s NOT pork on pork, Cathar…these are 100% all-beef Best’s hot dogs (made in NJ, btw)! And although there are people on eGullet who will wax poetic about miniscule details of a fantastic meal, we also manage to appreciate GOOD FOOD made by people who care about quality ingredients. And these hot dogs are damn good. Also the best fries I’ve ever eaten. Really. This is NOT Rutt’s Hut, nor do they aspire to be. It’s a clean, well-lit spot that’s run by two super-friendly guys. No, I’m not affiliated with them–just a fan.
    If you want to read the thread on eGullet, there are pictures there as well.

  3. Sorry–didn’t realize that the article I read continued and included the link to eGullet.
    Barista–the link opened something like 50 windows on my PC, though–you might want to check that!

  4. This place is totally ripping off Crif Dogs in the East Village. I recommend Crif aboce all, because have a funky interior filled with action figures and table top video games

  5. Cathar,
    be careful what you say about egullet. If you are or ever have been a member, Rosie has access to all your personal information, and is not afraid to violate e-gulllet’s privacy policy. I’m sure if that if Sharky posts again, we’ll see her home phone number and address posted here.

  6. the East Village?
    you’re telling us about that place because it’s easy, for the readers of this blog, to get to?

  7. Matt and I would like to thank everyone for their support in our dream. We are truly humbled by the rave reviews from the culinary community. When all is said and done, we are just 2 Jersey guys selling hot dogs. Stop by and say hello and formulate your own opinion on Amazing Hot Dog.

  8. Thanks much, susie b. But while I briefly belonged to e-gullet (I think they threw me off when they converted to a paid format or something), I don’t recall giving them truly personal info.
    And Ev, well, now I know the new dogs aren’t pork. (Rutt’s contents have always been a mystery and I probably prefer it that way. Maybe even need it that way.) Okay, but still, pork on beef? Anyway, my gripe with e-gullet is that it usually reads like two well-bellied monks out of Rabelais’s Abbey of Theleme congratulating each other on their respective tastes. I’ll take Rutt’s grumpy countermen over that any day, especially if you add old cars or bikes to the mix. (Not to mention the thousands of gulls who seem to live in Rutt’s parking lot.)

  9. J&W credentials are impressive, but I’m still looking for the “Jean Georges” of hot dog places, elevating the hot dog sandwich to square white plates and wine pairing.

  10. Went yesterday, tried the Caped Crusader. Fell in love, cried when it was over.
    Fries were also triumphant especially with some chipotle mayo.
    Seems like good guys running the place, can’t ask much more.

  11. Whatever the merits of “Amazing Hot dog,” there should never, ever be a Jean-Georges type place for hot dogs. As Little Richard once remarked, “You should never try to put a tuxedo on them funky blues.”
    Also, what the devil really is “flash-frying?” I always kind of like the flavor days-old oil imparts.

  12. “Flash frying” is when you run into the kitchen and immerse your wiener in blazing hot oil all at once. Do not try this at home.
    “Hot Dog” and “Gourmet” have only one thing in common: they both come from questionable materials and both need to be fully cooked before they can be enjoyed. I am a Rutts fan, too, Cathar. Not often you can buy a short beer any more.

  13. Congratulations to Eric and Matt. Your concept is great, and we adore the antique hotdog memorabilia……
    I’ve got a fabulous copper “sauerkraut and onion warmer” from an 1920’s hotdog cart for you to check out – Dusty’s Antiques is at 480 Bloomfield Ave in Montclair (in the lobby of the Clairidge Movie Theater).
    Looking forward to sampling your dogs-

  14. Warning: if you really don’t want to know about Rutts, read no further. Hit your Back button right now.
    Rutts’ dogs are a mixture of beef & pork, so “pork on beef ” isn’t really an alien or untraditional concept.
    See also “bacon cheeseburger.” Some folks seem to like those.

  15. See also “bacon cheeseburger.”
    I had a bacon cheesburger for lunch yesterday and I might have another one tomorrow. We went to Rutt’s for lunch today. (On quiet nights, I can hear my arteries hardening.)
    One of the most endearing things about the late, great Julia Child was her abhorrence of the “fat Nazis.” You just have to eat really high-caloric and fatty foods every now and then – they taste better than anything with a Fat Free label. A good 8-oz. New York Bar Burger (aka “Puck”), medium rare with cheddar and bacon on a toasted English Muffin, and a tall mug of your favorite brew. What’s not to like?

  16. I have been to AHD 2 times now think the food is very good for a hot dog place. Wish them the best of luck.
    If this place was not so busy with egullet idiots, would probably eat there more often.
    In my opinion Egullet, the New Jersey section is full of people that think they know everything about food, but don’t really know s***!!!!
    Best of luck to Eric and Matt!!

  17. crank, I’ve never had a bacon cheeseburger in my life. Wouldn’t sully the sacred patty so. As for Rutt’s dogs, unless you have a pipeline right to the management there, you may not be right. Rutt’s has always been notoriously zippered about the content of its dogs. though New Jersey Monthly many years ago did an analysis which supposedly showed amounts of both veal and chicken in them.
    But I did go to Amazing dog today. Very nice people, guy with a beard was so apologetic about being out of limeade that he mixed up a batch and brought me one on the house while I was eating. Big dogs, a little too big for the buns, some snap to them, yes, but only bright yellow mustard (French’s) and nothing like Rutt’s famous carrot-based relish. Fantastic fries. Worth a stop, you bet. But because of location and hours, never going to be the rendezvous for lost souls with priors and heartaches a-plenty that Rutt’s will always be. It’s not just the grease at Rutt’s, it’s also the tears in the grease.

  18. Good luck with the shop. I’ll have to get up there soon.
    Next time you find yourself in Westchester County, go to Walter’s Hot Dogs in Larchmont. For many, it’s the gold standard.

  19. I had a chance to try AHD earlier this week. I particularly liked the chili, which is a far cry from the usual chili “sauce” that is synonymous with north Jersey hot dogs. Real meat, great aroma.
    A minor issue, if it’s an issue at all, is that the hot dog is a wee bit too big. I’d prefer a smaller dog, if only so I could eat 2 comfortably.

  20. Is there an easy way to get a hotdog AHD without the bun for those of us (me) with gluten allergies?
    Hey guys, if not, why not come up with a bunless version that can be eaten out of hand for the low carb, fat-loving, crowd. Wrap it in something interesting that will hold the extras please.

  21. I’m quite fond of the Mini Buffalo Dogs, which are pieces of hot dog flash fried and served smothered in Buffalo (as in wings) sauce in a basket! No bread, but there is blue cheese for dipping…
    And knowing how the owners are, I’m sure they would accommodate a request for any of their dogs without the bun.

  22. I went to AHD – absolutely incredible. I loved the Jersey Breakfast…
    I’d go back any day – can’t wait to become an AHD Super Hero too..

  23. Amazing Hot Dog is not a rip off of Crif Dogs. Crif Dogs is a copy cat of Rutt’s Hut. A former owner admitted as much to me in an e-mail. They use the same dog and try to reproduce Rutt’s famous relish. Amazing Hot Dog is a completely different animal. It’s a spicier, more well seasoned beef dog, rather than a mostly pork based dog like the one used at Rutt’s. The Rutt’s (and Crif’s) dog is a Thumann’s frank made specifically for deep frying. According to the plant manager (who gave me a tour of the place) The Rutt’s dog has a slightly higher percentage of pork than does Thumann’s griller, which is 75% pork. So we’re talking 80 to 85% pork with 2 extra ingredients; soy protein concentrate and semolina, which cause this dog to puff up and rip. There is no secret as far as the ingredients. They are listed on the package. Rutt’s is not the only hot dog place to use this dog. Crif’s, Libby’s, Hiram’s, Goffle Grill, and Johnny & Hanges are some others. I like this dog. And I like the dog used at Amazing Hot Dog. Most of the time I’m in the mood for an all beef dog, which is tastier and spicier than the milder (some say bland) pork based dog. And give AHD time to create their own history. Atmosphere, history, ambience, gruff counter people, etc. are all part of the experience, but for someone like me who makes it a hobby to sample hot dogs from all over, it’s about Taste and Quality, first and foremost! And Amazing Hot Dog is at the top in both categories. Good luck guys.

  24. The dog was great! Two negative comments however. First, I stressed to them and put on the ticket no bun, wheat allergy, don’t even let the dog touch a bun! My bf watched while we waited and of course they put the dog on the bun. He made them redo it.
    Second, 1pm on Saturday it was crowded but it was crowded in part because they are SLOW! These guys need to get their dog production line moves a bit more smooth and improve their time flow. The cooking wasn’t the snag so much as the execution.
    We’d go back despite this because the dog was mighty tasty but I’d probably pick a less busy time.

  25. Max–
    They were slow on Saturday b/c they were SLAMMED, thanks to being in the Star-Ledger AND on Eyewitness News for the “Neighborhood Eats” segment on Friday. I’m told they actually closed early on Saturday b/c they ran out of hot dogs, having gone through over 1000 of them! They expected to be busy, but I don’t think they ever thought it would be that nutty.
    Keep in mind that they’ve only been open for two weeks, so they’re still getting a sense of their busiest times and will staff accordingly. Great product, great owners–and they really do want their customers to keep coming back.

  26. Yes Ev, as I indicated, I know they were busy but they weren’t putting out orders at a good rate which made it a longer wait. Their “line” organization/layout needs work. I’m sure they will debrief and figure out a way to improve after their baptism by fire (flash fire) on Saturday.
    We’ll be back, the dogs were great!

  27. We are sorry to hear about some people’s inconvenience on Saturday, when we unfortunately ran out of food. We were lucky to garner some exciting press, but if you missed out in any way on trying one of our dogs, please come by another time – introduce yourself – and we’ll do our best to accomodate you. We actually sold 1,000 dogs in 24 hours and had no way to anticipate the crowd. We have debriefed our staff since Saturday and are adding an additional person to just bag orders, and there will be 2 of us doing toppings rather than just one. We are limited by the square footage of our kitchen and were operating at absolute maximum capacity. Again Matt and I sincereley appologize for any inconvenience that was experienced, and hopefully you will come by another time to try out our food.
    We are grateful and appreciate you, our customers and will do everything we can to make your experience at Amazing Hot dog a pleasant one.
    Eric and Matt

  28. Yo…Yo..Yo!!! I moved out here 15 yrs ago. There two things this we never had out here. One is a dog or tube steak. You don’t throw a dog on the grill or deep fry it??? Only a DWD, (dirty water dog) and corn relish ????. When there is a hot dog competition on TV the dogs are boiled. The other thing is there only one decent deli with in 10 miles. That’s the pork store in west Paterson.

  29. Have to say these are the most “Amazing” hotdogs. Huge, juicy and VERY creative. And I prefer all beef. Looking forward to trying many more exciting menu items. Eric and Matt you’re doing an Amazing job. All the best to you. And to the others out there, try it, you’ll like it!!

  30. the hot dogs were nasty, just plain nasty i would never eat here again. the fries were cold and not crispy at all. YOU GUYS NEED TO DO A BETTER JOB

  31. Three visits so far.
    Two home runs (dogs were hot, fries were crispy) one so-so dog with good fries. I like the place, and like the attitude.
    Yyou can see the whole process, and they’re willing to customize a little. One guy asked me if I wanted more salsa on my salsa dog, for example. You’d never have that happen at McDonald’s

  32. Got to try AHD yesterday. Gotta say I love the place. Have had dogs in Chicago and Toronto both claim to have the best in the world, and have covered many of the Jersey spots Hot Dog Johnny’s, Hot Grill, Johnny & Hanges, Falls View, the old, now gone, Anthony Wayne, Goffle Gril, The After, etc.
    These are real good.

  33. Finally had my chance to stop by. The hotdogs were tasty, mmmm-good fries and the limeade was a nice change of pace. Overall two thumbs up. The only thing I would change is the roll, I like the firmer ones like costco has as opposed to the squishy ones. However, that certainly won’t keep me from going back.

  34. Stopped in yesterday afternoon for the first time. Though I was completely fascinated by the menu of funky dogs, I decided to go traditional, so that I could give them a fair evaluation. I opted for the bacon-wrapped “amazing” dog with sauteed onions.
    I have to say that the dog was crisp and juicy, the onions were perfectly carmelized and the overall taste was fantastic.
    I still like the harder, rip-fried shell of Rutts, but these dogs take the cake for taste.
    Can’t wait to try some of the different variations!
    Oh, an kudos for prominently stocking 3 of the McIlheny tabasco flavors! The smoked chipotle worked well with the dogs.

  35. AHD is offering some serious competition to the hot dog places in north jersey. their dog is unique in several regards, least of all not size: it’s big enough where you should probably only eat one (but you’ll have 2 anyway).
    it’s got its place among the classics, Rutt’s included.

  36. Speaking of how filling they are…AHD is running a Superhero competition.
    Consume 6 dogs, a large fries and a large soda within one hour and you become and AHD “Super Hero.” They put your name on a plaque in the shop and on their website.
    Now, that’s some serious eating.

  37. Hold it! All this controversy over a 4-cent portion of pork fat! A butcher at the end of the day will get a sharp knife, chafe it against his apron & make hot dogs with it.

  38. Amazing Hot Dogs is absolutely a rip-off of crif dog. While the dogs themselves might be of a different composition as well as sized differently, the toping combinations sighted as being original are anything but.
    A quick review of the Amazing Hot Dogs menu will demonstrate this point. The “hawaii 5-0” described as a bacon wrapped, deep fried dog, dipped in teriyaki sauce, topped with crushed pineapple, scallion, and sesame seeds . . . is extremely similar to one of Crif Dog’s biggest sellers, the “Tsunami” dog, which is bacon wrapped, deep fried, topped with crushed pineapple, scallion, and teriyaki. Similar is the Nacho Dog is topped with guacamole, salsa, and sour cream . . . very similar to Crif Dog’s “chihauha” dog which is topped with sourcream and avocado… not identical, but very similar.
    While amazing hot dog has other menu items that go beyond the offerings at crif dog, even a cursory examination of both menu’s can’t deny the remarkable similarity between the signature dogs and.
    Sure, Crif dogs doesn’t hold any kind of exclusivity rights on the toping combinations, but i think it goes way to far to say that amazing hot dog is particularly unique or original in light of crif dogs long standing and established success in this particular hot dog niche.

  39. The owners say it will be about 6 weeks…for those who hadn’t heard, they had an electrical fire overnight on Feb. 25th and have to rebuild.

  40. My prayers are with you, too, meema,
    but especially with Eric and Matt, of Amazing Hot Dog!
    I can’t wait to visit them after the renovation…!!

  41. “so sorry about the fire,my prayers are with you, meema..’meemas country desserts’
    Posted by: fran green | Mar 7, 2006 8:29:19 PM”
    HUH? Did Meema’s also have a fire?

  42. no meemas did not have a fire she was just saying that she’ll will keep them in her prayers

  43. The best hot dog in the state is Tony’s off the truck at Park Ave and Branch Brook Park in Newark…second is Jonnys Hotdogs On RT 46 near Delaware Water Gap I think its Buttsvile picrture perfect view of Pequest River with Ice cold mug of Birch Beer and next best and closer is Hot Grill in Nutley….. Report by My dad Eating Hotdogs Expert for 86Yrs………..LOL

  44. Great news! The word on the street is that Amazing Hot Dog will reopen in early May.
    There was a big article about AHD in today’s NYT (in the NJ section), too…it doesn’t appear to be available on line yet, but take a look if you have the paper!

  45. According to a post on eGullet by one of the owners of Amazing Hot Dog, they’ll be open for business on MONDAY, MAY 1st. YIPPEE!
    And Eric, to answer your question about a veggie dog, I’ve asked the same thing. They’ve told me that if they ever find a dog that lives up to their standards, they’ll put it on the menu. So far, though, no luck–but there is a veggie burger available.

  46. If you haven’t heard, AHD is back up and running after the electrical fire in late February…

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