F4tF: Back Home Again, Foods of My Youth

It is amazing how you can go so many years without seeing or eating foods from your childhood, yet once you have the chance to see, taste or smell them you are brought back to that magical memory of that food from your childhood.  Supreme was the bakery where you would get cookies, cakes, Italian pastries and the like.  It has been owned by the same family for the last 35 years.

While Marc was in West Orange, he stopped by some great old haunts worth checking out if you are in that area. First stop, Star Tavern in Orange New Jersey.  Star has been open for 65 years and is the place the everyone in the area ate at at some point in their childhood. Unfortunately they were too packed as it was the night before Thanksgiving and they did not have a table for Marc and his group.  I was there in August and had their EGGPLANT with roasted garlic and homemade eggplant slices pie for a Gov’t Mule pre-show meal.

Star Tavern pie
EGGPLANT with roasted garlic and homemade eggplant slices

So if you are at Star Tavern in Orange NJ and have to go with Plan B, what do you do?  You go to Libretti’s in Orange, New Jersey which has been serving home style Italian food for over 54 years.

Photo courtesy Marc Millman
Photo by Marc Millman

The dish that make’s Libretti’s so good is their Broccoli and Cavatelli which is not even listed on the menu.  Go with a group, order a ton of food and just enjoy the experience!

Photo courtesy Marc Millman
Photo by Marc Millman

Supreme Bakery
40 Main Street
West Orange, NJ 07052

Star Tavern
400 High Street
Orange, NJ 07050-1921

554 Nassau Street
Orange, NJ 07050-1232

Also this past week Essex County NJ lost a restaurant legend, Donald Roth.  The name may not ring a bill but his eponymous restaurant Don’s in Livingston NJ which opened in 1954 and stayed open until 1994.  50 years people!!!!  My mom went there as a teenager when it was a carhop.  I worked in the kitchen there at some point in my life.  I have countless friends who worked there as busboys or waitresses as some point.

Photo courtesy Jim Baldwin from the I Miss Don’s Facebook group

Don’s was famous for and my opinion had the best pizza burger of all time.  Not quite sure what his secret was that made it so good, but since my last time there 20+ years ago I have never come across one that even came close.  For those of you that know and remember Don, you can find his obituary from last week here.

There is one other place from my childhood that closed years ago but will never be forgotten which is Grunings in South Orange NJ with two locations.  One in the village and the other at the top of the hill.


If you grew up nearby you know what I mean.   According to the site, It was started by Bill Gruning in 1910 and eventually taken over by his son Herman Gruning.  You can see their menu from 1983 here . This place was the best!  You know the sundae with the wet nuts, hot fudge, whipped cream and a cherry.

Next time you go back to where you grew up, stop by some of the places that are still open and are serving the next generation of kids in your hometown.

Who says you can’t go home again…

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7 Responses

  1. Hey Jon,

    FWIW: 1954 to 1994 is forty years not fifty. No wonder we never let you count the lobsters at Le Bistro.


  2. The holidays are about family, friends, and eating excellent food. Hey, we’ve been good all year – it’s time to enjoy ourselves! Any kind of holiday food can be given good credit: sweet or savory, an appetizer or a main course, or even a drink or a snack! If you associate it with the holidays, then share it with the rest of the world so we can all enjoy it! In these tough economic times, it is more important than ever to shop locally and support the small businesses that are the life blood of our cities and main streets. Help keep money in the community by coming out and doing your holiday shopping in the neighborhood.

  3. Man, I totally forgot about Grunings!! I loved that place as a kid. That where I was introduced to the “Happy Waitress,” the greatest open-faced sandwich in all the land.

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