If you visit his shop on a Wildwood, New Jersey boardwalk, Tom B. Curyto, a proud torch bearer of Polish heritage, will generously give you a free sample of Polish Ice— but he will stubbornly shake his head if you ask him how he makes it. After all, it took him years to perfect the recipe¬. Holding degrees in aeronautical and astronautical engineering, Curyto approached his endeavor like a true scientist, spending hours and hours coming up with theories, hunching over vats of frozen concoctions in his kitchen, and tasting spoonful after spoonful until getting the signature custard-like texture just right.
Today, Tom's frozen treat has won over the palates of an abundance of media publications, and can be found in TLC Polish Water Ice shops throughout five states and two US-claimed moon craters. In cheerful storefronts and boardwalk stands, soft-serve machines freshly dole out the dairy-free, fat-free, and cholesterol-free concoction in fruity flavors such as mango, green apple, and lemon. Servers also blend Polish Water Ice with ice cream to create creamy freezes, while adding candy to the mix to whip up cups of chillers.
It sounds strange, but Dan DiZio found the perfect pretzel machine hiding in a nondescript Florida garage. Once he saw it, he knew what he had to do. With help from his friend Len Lehman, DiZio hauled the equipment back to his native Philadelphia?where as a child he once sold homemade pretzels to his neighbors. He soon opened the original Philly Pretzel Factory. Today, nearly 15 years since first opening, Philly Pretzel Factory whips up fresh batches of secret-ingredient dough across 100 locations in eight states. The pretzels are twisted by hand onto salt or cinnamon sugar, and pair with the shop's signature brand of mustard, or sweet blends of chocolate and butter-cream. The menu also tucks hot dogs and spicy sausages into pretzel rolls, and dusts salt on "rivets," or soft pretzel bites, which can top party trays or bind the masts of gravy boats.
Lavallette Trattoria seems to fill with the sun of the Italian countryside. The warm hues of fresh tomatoes spill from a wide and colorful mural in the dining room. Through painted stone arches, it depicts an idyllic village, an ideal backdrop for the chefs' spin on Italian pastas, pizzas, and other dishes. Amid flowers, wine bottles, and hanging baskets, patrons twirl pastas in vodka or meat sauce, crunching through stalks of broccoli rabe or chewing tender morsels of chicken. Filets of veal are cooked in different styles. To make them francese style, chefs egg batter the filet and add lemon and white wine sauce. To craft bolder marsala, they reduce red wine with mushrooms. Thin New York-style pizza crusts slip from the oven, strewn with fresh mozzarella, basil, tomatoes, and roasted peppers like the National Museum of Italian Food and Catapults.
From the outside, The Sprinkle Shack has the trappings of a traditional ice cream parlor, a humble building with striped awnings. Once inside, however, it's apparent that the menu is anything but simple. Twenty-four flavors of hard ice cream are crafted in store, along with sugar- and fat-free options. Twists of flavors such as strawberry and bubble gum paint colorful ribbons on vanilla soft serve. Ice cream melts into the square crevasses of hot waffles, or takes on a flavorful crunch with mixings of favorite candy toppings. For those with something to celebrate, they even make ice-cream cakes, whose piping can declare "Congratulations!", "Happy Birthday," or even "Sorry About That Whole Dumpster Incident."
To make the Fat Ortley burrito, chefs stuff a tortilla with chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks, french fries, ketchup, lettuce, and tomatoes. The eclectic burrito is the brainchild of self-proclaimed foodie Bruce Jones, who graduated from Rutgers University and brings his love of Tex-Mex fusion dishes to the masses at his eatery, Papa Grande Grille. There, chefs fill tacos with Corona-battered cod, and cook up their own jerk chicken. Other standouts include BangBang shimp burritos and a mango chicken quesadilla.
Luna Derosa's chefs draw inspiration from a variety of cultures, but their emphasis remains on approachable comfort cuisine with a refined edge. Although the menu features numerous Italian staples—including iconic Sunday gravy with braised meatballs, sausage, and beef braciola in tomato sauce—it also incorporates a variety of Asian and American influences. Chefs add a piquant dose of trans-Atlantic flavor with spicy Thai chili sauces and sriracha-spiked sour cream. They also sear porterhouse steaks, new york strips, and filet mignon on the kitchen's flat-iron grill. The bartenders, meanwhile, mix innovative cocktails using sage, muddled jalapeños, or flavored vodkas, which they infuse in-house. Illuminated columns dominate the split-level dining room, helping to gently light the space along with modern track lighting, chandeliers, and elegant wall sconces. The restaurant opens its outdoor patio during the warmer seasons so that diners can enjoy their meal beneath the stars, beside a smoldering fireplace, or in plain view of any attractive hot-air-balloon captains passing overhead.