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July 16, 2024    

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Chowhound By John Fox January 2007

JIMMY BUFF'S (East Hanover) - Yesterday I went to Jimmy Buffs E. Hanover location for the first time. This is the newest of the 4 Jimmy Buffs that are currently in operation. East Hanover and West Orange restaurants are owned by Jim Racioppi, grandson of Jimmy "Buff" Racioppi, founder of Jimmy Buffs and inventor of the Italian Hot Dog. The Scotch Plains and Irvington locations are owned by Jim's uncle Mike.

The Italian Hot Dog at Jim's 2 locations don't have the excessive oils that his uncle's restaurants are known for. It's a matter of taste. Some people like their sandwich with extra oils. Jim's are more to my liking. Just the right amount of oil without being what many consider too greasy. The East Hanover Buff's also has a bigger menu selection than the other 3. Here you can get an Italian Hot Dog, footlong, (the same 5 to a lb natural casing dog served at Syd's) pushcart, (the same 8 to a lb natural casing dog served at Jerry's) and a giant quarter pound Schickhaus dog. This is a beef and pork dog that is very popular. Served at Max's and other hot dog restaurants at or near the Jersey Shore. You can also get hamburgers, cheesesteaks, shrimp, fish and chips, homemade soup, and many other items. Check out the menu at

On this visit, I stuck to hot dogs. First I had a single Italian Hot Dog. It was excellent. Good fresh pizza bread that was hard and chewy. Each location gets their bread fresh from a local bakery. This bread was perfect for an Italian Hot Dog. The dogs are from Best, as are all of the beef dogs used here. But you have a choice of getting yours skinless or with natural casing. The peppers were plentiful and prepared perfectly. The potatoes were tasty and fresh. Not in chunks like Dickiee Dees, but sliced fairly thin, although thicker than Tommy's. I would have to say that this dog and Tommy's are the 2 best Italian Hot Dogs I've ever had. To make a comparison, I would say that I like the bread and peppers better at Buff's. The dogs are equal, while I prefer the potatoes sliced very thin like they do at Tommy's.

I also had a footlong. This is the same dog used at Syd's, which happens to be my favorite hot dog. Natural casing, 5 to a lb with a prefect snap and blend of spices. E. Hanover Buffs is the only place I know of that serves this dog other than Syd's. The popular gourmet grilled cheese restaurant in Jersey City called Melt, also used this dog before they closed. The footlong is prepared a unique way here. It is sauteed in oil like the dogs that are used for the Italian Hot Dog sandwich. Then it is taken out of the oil and put on a charcoal grill. The dog is then put on a toasted bun and topped with a tasty deli mustard. The result is a dog, that if you can believe it, is even better than Syd's! It's the same dog, and while similar in taste, the frying plus char grilling really brings out the flavors and spices in this dog. The dark char marks give the dog an attractive appearance. The grill is a charcoal grill, while Syd's uses a gas grill. I was going to sample the Schickhaus dog, but the footlong was so good, I had to have another one.

As I mentioned in other posts, this is my favorite dog to have at home. I buy them from the factory. And on occasion I get one at Syd's. Voted best grilled dog by the Munchmobile, this was the favorite overall of the S.W.A.T. Team. I didn't think that this dog could be made any better. But Jim Racioppi has proved me wrong. The combination of this dog, prepared the way it was, with the toasted bun and delicious deli mustard, makes this the best hot dog I've ever eaten. I was just blown away. Had the S.W.A.T Team gone here, I would have voted it best dog. It goes for $3.25 tax included. Syd's is $3.48.

You can get any of the dogs here made the way you like. If you ask for a footlong, it comes the way I described it. You can also get it boiled, then grilled, like Syd's if you wish. Or just boiled. They have a griddle as well, so you can have it that way. Next time I'll try one of the Schickhaus dogs. Again, you can get it the way you want, but if you just order it without specifying how you want it prepared, it gets cooked on a griddle and finished off on the charcoal grill.

The footlong was so good, I had both of mine with just mustard. But I sampled the homemade chili on the side. It was unique and very good. One of the best that I've had. Meaty, with a nice sweet flavor and a touch of green pepper.

Service was quick and efficient. You place your order at the counter and it comes out from the back. If you want to eat in, you pick it up at a side door which leads to another room where there's tables and a long counter with stools that used to be a bar. This sure beats having to go through the hassle of being waited on like at a Diner and having to wait again for your check like you have to do at Syd's. There is also a game room in the back that is available for private parties.

Tuesday's are called Fat Tuesday's. All double Italian Hot Dogs are sold for the price of a single. I highly recommend this place. I've been to other hot dog restaurants that try to do more than one type of dog. Rarely are they all done well. Jimmy Buff's is an exception. All the offerings are top of the line. The only negative part of my experience is realizing what I have been missing these couple of years since they opened this location.


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