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.