I’m Italian, I get highly critical of going out to any place to eat Italian food. Enter Marie’s Italian Specialties, a must eat location in Chatham, NJ. If you blink, you’ll miss it. Hell, if you try to look for it you’ll probably miss it. When you find it though, you’re going to go back, again and again.
So you found it, my treasure trove of Italian food, and you feel like you are in the wrong place. This place is a sardine can, with a just a couple tables, and barely any breathing room. But you aren’t here for the atmosphere, you are here for the food. You can see that the menu is short and sweet, with some random crazy dishes that Carl and Marie might be whipping up that day. Carl Ruiz is probably one of my favorite people I’ve met here in New Jersey, big heart, big talker, big laugher, but most importantly… an amazing chef.
They were featured on Guy Fieri’s Diners Drive-ins and Dives and Carl himself has been on multiple Food Network shows and other food and comedy outlets.
This is the episode of DDD, which featured Marie’s, that you should check out for sure:
So, enough back story. Let’s go… your first trip to Marie’s is here. Things you NEED to eat:
Now, if you’re going by yourself, I envy you, but most of the time you’ll be going with a few buddies and eating up a bunch of food. Here is what I recommend to start:
Appetizers to Get
Marie’s Arancini – Crunchy on the outside, Cheese filled Risotto Rice Balls of perfection. Sitting in a bed of the most important thing you will ever have. The Vodka Sauce… Man that sauce, you’re going to remember it.
Mac & Cheese – Seriously? I’m telling you to go to this place and order a 13 dollar bowl of Mac & Cheese for an Appetizer? Yes, I am. It has 6 different cheeses in a cream sauce, topped with Melted Mozzarella and Deep Fried Prosciutto. This is real important, do not eat this alone unless you are making it your entire meal or are far braver than most mortals.
Muscles – A giant pot of Muscles with your choice of sauces. I go Fra Diavalo because I like it spicy, but there is a nice white wine sauce and standard marinara. What is not to love about them? Delicious!
Main Courses you MUST have
Ok, onto the main dishes. Now, I hope you came for dinner, I mean, the lunch sandwiches are nice, but you need the full effect of Marie’s. If you’ve come alone, I don’t recommend ordering all of these, but if you come correct, have each of your friends order one of these dishes and get ready to leave overstuffed.
Drunk Chicken Parm – This is my go to dish, this should be the first thing you order, Chicken cutlet topped with prosciutto, melted mozzarella, & vodka sauce, served over penne alla vodka. The amount of food you get is insane, the amount of flavor is stunning, and I keep coming back for this dish.
Pork Bracciole Ragu – Tender bracciole shredded & tossed with parmesan & tomato gravy and served over rigatoni w/ a scoop of fresh ricotta. This is my second go-to. This is a special dish, because there is literally about 5 pounds of food on your plate. 1 pound of it is pasta, 3 pounds of pork, and the rest is cheese and sauce. It’s heavenly.
Italian Pulled Pork – It’s Slow cooked Italian pork, polenta, broccoli rabe, vodka sauce. You see a theme here? Vodka Sauce. That sauce is so damn important.
Carl’s Famous Crab Sauce – When I went there one day Carl stopped and chatted with me before going in, he said, “Hey, I got Crabs”… “sauce”. Just like our old Italian get togethers, slow cooked crabsauce over penne with a ton crab and scallop meat. If you’re in the mood for Seafood, GET THIS.
I have had everything on the menu. Everything. That should tell you how much I’ve gone to this amazing gem of a restaurant. You need to go, you need to eat it. If you know me and visit me and New Jersey, just ask me to go to Marie’s. We’ll be on the road with much haste.
Oh and be like me, when you have a few trips under your belt, go ahead and order a Drunk Chicken Parm to go. Because you might want some later, or tomorrow, or most likely on the ride home. Just be sure to clear your schedule for the rest of the night, because you will feel the food coma fast approaching.
Be sure to head over to http://www.mariesdeli.com and don’t forget to bring your appetite.