This incredible Raritan, NJ cheesesteak wins food blogger @tipsycritic bracket contest
When last we spoke to Espo's restaurant owner Nick Zamora on New Jersey 101.5, his incredible cheesesteak was in the finals for the best cheesesteak in the New Jersey bracket, started by food critic Kyle Getz, better known as @tipsy on Instagram.
This morning, we found out they won over the 16 other restaurants that began the competition.
Zamora describes Espo's amazing cheesesteak to me in an email:
Our cheesesteak is a homage to Jersey, and some restaurants around us that we have grown up going to. I get the pizza bread from Elizabeth, just like Jimmy Buff's and Dickey Dee's for Italian hotdogs.
As a kid, I would go to Steaks Unlimited in Seaside, where they too serve their cheesesteaks in pizza bread.
Our sandwich is stuffed with shaved ribeye steak, caramelized onions, and Land o' Lakes white American cheese; with inspiration from Cafe Martorano in Ft. Lauderdale FL, a famous Italian American restaurant that we all visit in Florida in the colder months.
Lastly, what gives our cheesesteak the Espo's edge is the cherry pepper relish. My chef, Max, came up with the recipe; showcasing a "sweet heat" that adds complexity to the sandwich, and makes it stand alone from any ordinary cheesesteak.
Cheesesteaks are not even Espo's specialty:
We are not a cheesesteak restaurant or deli, so to have so much traction from this one dish that we basically came up with to have fun, is something really special.
This is great news for Nick and the gang at Espos, who are rebounding from a fire back in July of 2022.
Since we reopened in September after a small fire in July, we have been back in action, serving old-school Jersey Italian American food to our local Somerset County community.
We are blessed to say that we haven't skipped a beat, and business has been great. We just got done with our outdoor dining area, which we call our Italian garden. The patio is filled with greenery, lemons, and flowers, giving it a cozy feel like you are on the island of Capri.
The outdoor dining gives us a lot more availability and open seating, which is huge for us as we are just a twelve-table restaurant and bar during the colder months.
Normally, we have long wait times during peak dining hours, but that has lessened since the weather has become nicer. Our extended outdoor dining has been a huge factor in bouncing back from Covid, not only for us, but for any restaurant in New Jersey.
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Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Steve Trevelise only. Follow him on Twitter @realstevetrev.
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