You're not from New Jersey if you don’t complain about how the bagels and pizza here in College Park are just simply not up to par. If you’re from New Jersey and have not complained about your food standards thus far, you’re certainly internalizing this struggle as you read this article and suppressing your New Jersey cravings.
Fear not, my fellow New Jerseyians, for I am here to provide you with a few local places that I have rated to my own Garden State standards. Let’s look at the Jersey eatery trifecta here in Maryland: diner food, pizza and of course, bagels.
New Jersey Standards Rating: 5 out of 5
This diner is by far the best diner I’ve ever been to here in college. I have tried both the homemade blueberry pancakes as well as the Paradise French Toast, which is essentially coconut crusted French toast topped with strawberries, salted caramel drizzle and agave. It tasted just like how it sounds: paradise. Not only do they have original breakfast options, but they also have a handful of dinner selections that feature mixes of ingredients I’ve never tasted together before.
New Jersey diners are also known for their Greek options, so you should be happy to know that The Silver Diner's Greek salad certainly lives up to standards. Additionally, their pesto burger, which includes basil pine nut pesto, goat cheese, roasted red peppers and a side of sweet potato fries, is probably a combination of everything that I’m fond of in life.
I would have to admit, surprisingly, that this diner trumps all of the others I’ve eaten at in New Jersey. New Jersey diners are so popular because the food is greasy and made quickly. However, here in Maryland, the Silver Diner gives the whole diner experience a new name: meticulously-made, healthy and loaded with a variety of new flavors.
Also try: College Park Diner located on Baltimore Ave. It’s open 24 hours and offers a selection of breakfast, brunch and lunch options. Everyone loves their special deal of pancakes, eggs and bacon for only $3.95!
2. Blaze Pizza
New Jersey Standards Rating: 4 out of 5I have had just about the best pizzas in the entire world (in my opinion), so I am already very biased. New Jersey pizzas are characterized by fruity tomato sauces, hand-sliced pepperoni, doughy yet slightly burnt crust and the possibility of endless toppings, such as prosciutto, sun-dried tomatoes, pistachio pesto or even Nutella. Before eating at Blaze, I heard very good reviews from people, but I still wasn’t expecting much. However, I was amazed by how much I enjoyed their Green Stripe signature pizza, which includes a pesto drizzle over grilled chicken, roasted red peppers (I substituted these for tomatoes), chopped garlic, mozzarella and arugula. It was salty, cheesy and fresh due to the vegetables. The only reason I’d say it is not completely at the level of typical Jersey pizza is because the pesto was a little oily rather than creamy, and the dough was not as homemade as I what I’m used to. But those minor aspects did not stop me from eating my entire personal pie, all 770 calories of it!
Also try: Slices Pizza in College Park. They have a mac- and-cheese pizza that tastes as breathtaking as it sounds. Additionally, they also have chicken barbecue, truffled mushroom and pesto portobello pizza, just to name a few.
New Jersey Standards Rating: 3.5 out of 5Located on Baltimore Avenue, The Bagel Place is home to a plethora of bagels, some of the most interesting ones being Old Bay, cinnamon sugar, sun-dried tomato, jalapeño, chocolate chip and blueberry. They also have breakfast bagels, spread sandwiches (with daily homemade whipped cream cheese), pizza bagels, deli sandwiches, sweets, and beverages such as coffee. I tried the cinnamon sugar, sun-dried tomato, and everything bagel, the latter being my favorite type so I thought it was a great way to compare to bagels back at home. New Jersey bagels are known to be thick, doughy, and chewy. You pull them apart, and you can see layers on layers of warm, fluffy dough. I am extremely impartial not just because of this but because I had just received a half dozen bagels from my mom in the mail prior to taste-testing with The Bagel Place's food. Their bagels are definitely not as doughy as New Jersey bagels, but only by a little bit. They are larger than the typical bagels I eat when I’m out of town, such as the flat and compact Einstein Bros. bagels that I’m forced to consume.
The Bagel Place’s bagels are also flavorful; I really enjoyed the cinnamon sugar bagel (they don’t usually make those back in New Jersey) because it reminded me of Auntie Anne’s pretzels. Overall, these bagels come close to being just like Jersey bagels, and I’ll definitely give the Bagel Place props for having so many interesting options to choose from.
Also try: Jason’s Deli in College Park. Family-owned delis are also common from where I am from. The nearest (and best) place to get your deli fix is Jason’s Deli. Not only do they have sandwiches but they also have soups, salads, panini, muffalettas and pasta.
For the large percentage of those from New Jersey who are living in Maryland at the moment, you’re in luck. The food may not be the identical to the glorious cuisines we have back at home, but it certainly comes close. Most importantly, it will satisfy your Jersey food cravings until Thanksgiving break.