Chicken Savoy at The Belmont Tavern

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The BELMONT TAVERN

Home  of CHICKEN SAVOY

 

Nearly every luminary with a photo on the Belmont Tavern’s walls—”98 percent,” resident raconteur Jimmy Cuomo will tell you—has actually eaten at the Belmont Tavern.

Step in off Belleville, New Jersey’s busy Bloomfield Avenue, do a spin, and you’ll meet them all, loosely grouped on the wood-paneled walls in plain black frames. Legendary songstress Connie Francis, a local girl. Jocks, like former Giants running back Tiki Barber and Knicks legend Ernie Grunfeld. Hollywood wise guys like Joe Piscopo and Frank Vincent. Clint Eastwood, who directed the film adaptation of the Jersey Boys jukebox musical set in the neighborhood, is a fan; he was in for a meal in 2013, popping hot peppers like they were jelly beans. Frankie Valli, the OG Jersey Boy, is one, too.

There are two begrudging exceptions to Cuomo’s 98 percent: Joe Torre, since the skipper’s son eats there, and Pope John Paul II. Cuomo has actually lobbied to revoke His Holiness’ dinner dispensation (“The Pope can come down!”), but his waitresses won’t let him.

The Belmont, which has been in Cuomo’s family for decades, has long had a knack for luring in a certain class of notable, especially those with Jersey roots. Spend enough time at the bar, nursing a longneck and staring at the Deer Hunter American flag obscuring the marbled mirror backsplash, and you’ll hear Cuomo, holding court in his Belmont polo, slip into stories, yarns thick with surnames like Pesci, Roselli, and  Gandolfini.

 

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Stretch with The “YANKEE CLIPPER”

JOLTIN JOE DiMAGGIO

 

But celebrity customers are just one part of the Belmont’s repute. A far greater part is evidenced by a sign visible from the sidewalk: Stretch’s Chicken Savoy. There are plenty of dishes available on the Italian-American menu, but this is the one people come for, from near and far. It’s a simple dish: Cut-up chicken rubbed down with a fat handful of garlic, hard cheese, and herbs, then roasted in a screaming-hot oven and splashed with vinegar, which sends aromas of schmaltz and spice right up to your nose.

It’s now a dish found all over—but only in—northern New Jersey, and as with most hyper-regional foods, its devotees are as idiosyncratic as its birthplace.

The Belmont Tavern is actually two distinct businesses, working together on the strength of what locals whimsically refer to as a “Belleville contract”—a handshake. Cuomo’s family took over the tavern portion of the operation, separate from the dining room, in 1965. Two years later, his father and uncle brought in Charles “Stretch” Verdicchio, a butcher-turned-chef with a nice touch on the line, a head of hair like Dean Martin and a knack for making friends.

Two of the largest photos on display at the Belmont feature Stretch. In one, he’s proudly hoisting up a lobster with claws the size of Pomeranians. The other is him mugging for the camera, a bit of balled-up linen clasped in his hands, next to none other than Joe DiMaggio. (“Stretch—never did find out what was under the napkin,” reads a scribble from the Yankee Clipper.)

Despite his seemingly high profile, nailing down solid information on Stretch is about as easy as nailing down solid information on D.B. Cooper. Even people who knew him, like Cuomo, or his son-in-law Norb Wroblewski, speak about Stretch in vague terms. He learned the trade from his dad and cooked out around the Hoover Dam as part of a New Deal job placement—they think. Back when the Belmont was big on live music, he’d pop out of the kitchen and sing a tune or two with the performers, they say. Neither seems exactly sure of where his nickname came from. (Best we could muster: He was lanky.)

And yet Stretch, who passed away in 1989, is still a big part of the Belmont’s personality, with enough name recognition to tout his best-known dish in the window out front. Over the years, it’s helped the restaurant back away from its unflattering reputation as a gruff goodfellas hangout and refocus its marketing. “Our perception now is not that it’s a wise guy joint,” says Wroblewski, not the only Belmont associate to swiftly shift subjects when Sopranos-style chatter arises. “It’s that it’s a good place to eat.”

Like at many places up here, the staff still seems to maintain a bit of a wink-and-nod relationship with the mob mentality. 

“It’s not an unusual dish,” says Wroblewski, a former accountant and Army Reserve pilot married to Annette. “It’s not difficult to make. We just don’t tell anyone how we do it.”

 

 

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CHICKEN SAVOY

 

 

INGREDIENTS

 

1 Chicken (about 3 lbs.)  cut in 8 pieces

Kosher salt and pepepr

4 cloves garlic – minced

1 tbsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried thyme

1/3 cup grated romano cheese

3 tbsp olive oil

1 cup red wine vinegar

 

PREPARATION

 

Salt and pepper chicken pieces and saute in 1 tbsp oil in a large oven proof skillet till skin is golden brown. Using a mortar and pestle or a small food processor make a paste of the next 5 ingredients and spread evenly over the skin of the chicken. Transfer skillet to a 500 degree oven and bake 20-30- minutes until done. Remove from oven – pour off the fat and add 1 cup of red wine vinegar to the pan. Spoon sauce over the chicken. Serve chicken with the vinegar sauce.

 

 

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da BOYS

Hangin at The BELMONT TAVERN

BELLVILLE New Jersey

 

 

In recent years, Wroblewski, along with his Ecuadorian-born chef Leo Lukar, has overseen the kitchen at the Belmont—”a little Polish kid that’s cooking Italian,” as he puts it. This has involved plenty of Chicken Savoy preparation. And he’s right that it’s simple, at least from an observer’s standpoint. Pieces of bone-in dark meat chicken relax in rectangular pans, dusted in an unassuming blend of cheese, herbs, and spices. The bird slides into a hot oven, where the skin roasts to a swoon-inducing crisp. It bakes a little longer than you’d think.

At some point after the pans are pulled, they get doused down with a generous squeeze of red wine vinegar, which sizzles and caramelizes and clings to the meat like a second skin. Fans will tell you this is the key ingredient. “It’s the vinegar that just romances you,” says Ron Silver, a Chicken Savoy enthusiast who visits the Belmont (and its many competitors) specifically for the dish.

If there are other steps to the recipe, the Belmont isn’t tipping its hand. The bewitching result: a juicy, garlicky, giddy, tangy paesano adobo that doesn’t need any condiments or accompaniments to outshine everything else splayed out across the red-and-white checkered tablecloths. It’s easily the most-ordered plate at the Belmont, so much so that Wroblewski begins baking orders well before dinner customers even begin showing up. He knows it’s going to go, and it always does.

Savoy, which has been on the menu since Stretch’s first days at the Belmont, has cultivated some serious local notoriety over the decades—partly because it’s good, partly because it’s popular, and partly because it seems simple enough for anyone to snag and stick on their menu. True success isn’t that easy, but that hasn’t stopped people from trying.

 

 

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GREAT ITALIAN RECIPES

SUNDAY SAUCE

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The Flatiron Building 5th Avenue

 

 

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The Flatiron Building, originally the Fuller Building, is a triangular 22-story, 285-foot (87 m) tall steel-framed landmarked building located at 175 Fifth Avenue in the borough of Manhattan, New York City, which is considered to be a groundbreaking skyscraper. Upon completion in 1902, it was one of the tallest buildings in the city at 20 floors high and one of only two skyscrapers north of 14th Street – the other being the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower, one block east. The building sits on a triangular block formed by Fifth Avenue, Broadway, and East 22nd Street – where the building’s 87-foot (27 m) back end is located – with East 23rd Street grazing the triangle’s northern (uptown) peak. As with numerous other wedge-shaped buildings, the name “Flatiron” derives from its resemblance to a cast-iron clothes iron.

The building, which has been called “one of the world’s most iconic skyscrapers, and certainly an Icon of the great city of New York.

 

 

 

The Kanye West Comedy Hour with President Trump

KANYE WEST :  “I Love this GUY”
Refers to DONALD TRUMP
 
 
KANYE WEST Hugs PRESIDENt DONALD TRUMP
At The OVAL OFFICE in The WHITE HOUSE
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KANYE WEST Meets PRESIDENT
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TRUMP says : “Isn’t that a Great Statement? It’s so True, So True.”
(Praising Himself)
“I LOVE HILLARY. I Love Everybody.”
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(Referring to DONALD TRUMPS “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN” HAT)
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KANYE WEST makes PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP Laugh
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“I had The BALLS to wear this HAT.”
That’s Football-Great JIM BROWN sitting nest to KANYE
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He says it will be made by APPLE Corp. in AMERICA
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AGREED !!!!
The BADASS COOKBOOK
RECIPE For TRUMP PRESIDENTIAL FRIED CHICKEN
 
Ally Maynard TWEETS on Twitter :  “I am no KARDASHIAN fan but those sisters has more BIG DICK Energy in thier long ass manicured pinky nails than KANYE has in his entire body.”
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Kanye’s SUPERMAN Cape
 
MAGA HAT
 
“MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN”
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KANYE “KID ROCK” and TRUMP
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The Best KANYE TRUMP Hug Shot of ALL
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