Saturday, March 5, 2011

Stuffin’ our Faces in New Brunswick

Twilight was fast approaching in Salem County when we started our way toward the Turnpike and home.  Ivan must have been reading my mind, because he suggested that we take a detour on Exit 9 and grab dinner at Stuff Yer Face in New Brunswick. Saying that is like suggesting I might like to breathe:  it’s a total no-brainer.  (Does this guy know the way to my heart, or what?)

How much do I love Stuff Yer Face?  I started going there as a Rutgers freshman, and I still return several times a year for one of their signature strombolis. They’ve made this basic Italian staple an art form, offering dozens of variations filled with any number of cheeses, meats and vegetables. Some have described it as a rolled-up pizza, but that doesn’t begin to explain how freakin’ good it is. Oh, and you know celebrity chef Mario Batali? He started his career there as a line cook, so I can honestly say I ate his creations before he got famous.

Now, usually I make my SYF jaunts on a quiet afternoon, but this time we’d likely get there at its busiest.  Would it be loaded with noisy college students, making us look like the quintessential mom and dad? More importantly, would we get a table before we both died of hunger? That last question was also complicated by a Turnpike warning sign prompting us to detour onto Route 130: that added an extra 15 or 20 minutes to the trip.

Not surprisingly, there was a 30 minute wait for a table when we got there, so we headed to the bar so Ivan could check out their extensive menu of brews.  It definitely lives up to its reputation. While there, we chatted briefly with a couple of very polite frat boys who were celebrating a birthday with pitchers of a neon-blue libation. At the other end of the bar, a couple more in our age range was whiling away their table wait by playing darts with their young daughter.

We got called for a table right at the 30 minute mark, and I didn’t even have to look at a menu: Emily boli (vegetarian) and an enormous diet soda.  And please bring it quickly.  Not long later:  yum.  And a delicious way to conclude a long, eventful day of wandering, birding and exploring.

It’s kind of neat, actually:  when I started going to Stuff Yer Face back in the 80’s, it was rare to see anyone there over the age of 30.  It seems that my contemporaries keep returning, even as the place continues to be wildly popular with Rutgers students today.

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