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Marci's Dog House

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Marci's is a relatively new hot dog establishment serving primarily dirty water Sabretts. But they also serve sandwiches, subs, and grilled chicken breast with roasted peppers, fresh mozzarella and thin sliced garlic w/balsamic vinaigrette. As a hot dog fanatic who has reviewed hot dogs for the Star Ledger and runs the popular New Jersey Hot Dog Tour with my buddy Erwin Benz, I've been to literally hundreds of hot dog joints. Many of them specialize in "dirty water dogs" or hot dogs prepared in water. Let me say that Marci's is my favorite place that serves this type of dog.

There are many factors that distinguish one place from another. Although the brand and method of preparation is the same and the dogs should taste similar from place to place, the serious hot dog lover considers whether the dogs have a casing, how big they are, if they are hot enough, how fresh they are, and if they have been left in the water a sufficient amount of time. Too long in the water and the dogs lose snap and flavor. The bun is also important. Many vendors use cheap supermarket buns that fall apart. Toppings/condiments are important to most people. Not so much for me as I enjoy mustard only most of the time.

Rob Marciano is the owner of Marci's. What sets him apart as an owner is his generosity and willingness to please his customers. He cares about value, offering a bigger sized dog than most of his competitors. Rob serves a 10/1 Sabrett, which in hot dog speak means 10 to a lb. Competitors like Sal's in Clark and Steve's Hut in Linden serve tiny 12/1 franks and charge as much or more. Anything smaller than 10/1 is too small in my opinion. Most of those serving these tiny dogs don't think their customers will know the difference and are extremely thin skinned and defensive when criticized. Rob, although fairly new to the business, is related by marriage to Dee of Dees Hut in Roselle Park, who has been in the business for 50 years and also serves a great 10/1 natural casing dog. His dogs are the same high quality. But his chili is better. I don't usually have sauerkraut on a hot dog (I love it on bratwurst) but the kraut here is the best I've had. It came about because Rob listened to a customer who gave him suggestions about his sauerkraut. Unlike many of his competitors who think people like me should not dare to criticize them "because we don't know what the business involves." That's irrelevant. We are customers who are eating what they make so we have every right to voice our opinions, good or bad.. Sort of like complaining that we can't criticize a ballplayer who doesn't hustle because we never played pro ball. But I digress. Rob added his own touch to a recipe given to him by the above mentioned customer. The result is a sauerkraut that is by far my favorite. When this customer passed away, Rob donated a couple of hundred hot dogs to his son's school for a hot dog luncheon in his honor.

I respect that people who make an excellent product have their recipes and secrets that they don't want to share because it's what makes their product special. I can tell you that the bun used here is better than any hot dog bun I've had. Sabrett stopped making them. Marci's gets theirs from a top notch bakery and they are better than what anyone else is using. His dogs are always fresh, hot, and more substantial than most of his competition. Great with just mustard, but his chili is excellent and the kraut is the best I've had.

Marci's will be introducing an Italian Hot Dog soon. I was told it will be on excellent pizza bread and that the dogs will be Best's, which are better for an Italian Hot Dog than Sabrett. The ingredients will be fried as is proper for an authentic Newark style Italian Hot Dog. And the size of the dogs will be 6/1 which no one else is doing. Can't wait to sample this one. I don't usually give rave reviews since I've been to so many hot dog joints. But Marci's is exceptionally good.

Marci's will be a welcome addition to this year's Annual New Jersey Hot Dog Tour.

I had the Italian Hot Dog from Marci's Dog House yesterday. I was looking forward to it because I heard it would be special. Rare and unique bread, quality ingredients, especially 6/1 Best's dogs. And a few secrets in preparation that I could not persuade owner Rob Marciano to reveal. That's fine because it's what makes his sandwich what it is. I appreciate honesty, and as you know, too many people in this business are dishonest. And that's the good part. The bad part includes subpar ingredients, skimping on ingredients, and bad preparation. Not so here.

I can't give an in depth description of exactly how this sandwich is prepared, except to say that everything is fried as it should be in an Italian Hot Dog. In oil. An exception may be frying the peppers on a griddle as some do. There are frying pans here, a skillet, a griddle, and a deep fryer. And of course a compartment for water to heat the dirty water Sabretts. No water is used in making the Italian Hot Dog. I asked.

The pizza bread is from a bakery that Rob picked out after sampling the bread from numerous bakeries that make this unique product. The hot dogs are from Best Provisions in Newark and are 6/1 or 6 to a pound. No one I know of uses dogs this size. Mijo's Pizzeria did for a short time before they switched to a much smaller dog.I like that Marci's uses Best as it really is the best dog for an Italian Hot Dog. He serves Sabrett for the dirty water dog. The Best's are the standard recipe (Best has only one) and is not claimed by Marci's to be a "special recipe" or "made on the premises." That's good as I didn't have to search the truck for sausage making equipment. As you know the total sandwich is greater than the sum of it's parts. But I like to break down the parts.

The bread is perfect. Most bakeries that sell a lot of pizza bread do a good job of making it. They sell to places that for the most part specialize in Italian Hot Dogs. Bakeries like America's Bakery and DiPaola's, which incidentally was just sold to Calandra's. Good solid pizza bread. But the bread at Marci's is a cut above. It's crusty on the outside; sturdy as well, but light and fluffy on the inside. Not doughy like many pizza breads. And fresh. It's the best pizza bread I've sampled.

The hot dogs are Best skinless 6/1. Prepared well, they have that familiar taste I look for in an IHD. And in my opinion are the perfect size for this sandwich. I always liked the 8/1, but there is better balance and a better ratio of hot dog to the other ingredients with the 6/1. The dogs do not get lost in space. And even though this is a sandwich, no ingredient is more important than the actual frank. This is my favorite frank for an IHD. I had a double.

The peppers are also fantastic. I knew the dogs would be what they were, and I heard the bread was going to be good. I didn't know what to expect from the peppers and potatoes. Marci's uses red and green peppers. I requested them soft and they were prepared as I requested. I liked the long cuts. I was surprised at how good they were. I didn't get how they were prepared, only that they were obtained from a very good source. Maybe a farm? Again I have to say that these are my favorite peppers on an Italian Hot Dog. Rob doesn't skimp. Many do and at least 2 places I know of use canned peppers instead of fresh.

The potatoes were hard to characterize as far as shape. They aren't cut in silver dollar size slices, but they aren't exactly in chunks. More like slices and smaller than what you normally see. Golden brown, tasty, and with a nice little crunch. These are as good as any I've had. And that's saying a lot because several establishments making Italian Hot Dogs make excellent potatoes. Jimmy Buff's, Tommy's, Big Blues, Charlies Famous (on a good day), Uncle Petey's Weenies, and now Marci's Dog House. While Marci's other ingredients are better, in my opinion, than everyone else's their potatoes are as good as my 2 previous favorites, Uncle Petey's and Big Blues. All are different; all are great; and I can't pick one over the other 2.

Put this all together and you have my favorite Italian Hot Dog. It's great to see that now trucks such as Marci's and Uncle Petey's have the capacity to put out authentic, and high quality Italian Hot Dogs since they are equipped with fryers. I strongly recommend Marci's for a great Italian Hot Dog. They are an exception that proves that you can be new to the business and make a high quality product. Rob put in a lot of time and effort researching not only Italian Hot Dogs, but the ingredients and suppliers as well. My only regret is that this sandwich is only available on Friday. And Saturdays this month. Marci's is a truck that specializes in dirty water Sabrett's, but wanted to make a top quality authentic Newark style Italian Hot Dog, Rob did a lot of research, searched for the finest ingredients, listened to people in the business and potential customers; and, with his cooking background combined all this to make one heck of an Italian Hot Dog. He is the only one at Marci's who prepares it, and everything is done by hand. It's time consuming and labor intensive which is why it will only be served one day per week.

These will not be served on the New Jersey Hot Dog Tour for those of you planning to attend. So you have to stop by on a Friday. Or a remaining Saturday in May.

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