I grew up in central NJ (Lakewood) and although I haven't been there in a very long time (I have lived in Los Angeles for fifteen years) and my palate has evolved since I was a kid, I do have many fond memories of the delicious Italian American food of my youth. Los Angeles has some wonderful food, but truly great NJ style Italian-American staples are hard to find here.
I may be heading back for a family event, and it made me wonder. Does a truly great meatball parm exist in central New Jersey, or are the sandwiches of my youth just a happy memory? Honestly I can't remember where we used to go for great ones, but I do remember places with Italian sounding A-names (Attilios, Antonios, etc.)
I remember great meatball parms were always broiled to melt and brown the cheese over the meatballs and crisp the bread. I always disliked mealy meatballs-- and if an error was to be made, I preferred the springier, chewier ones to the ones that fell apart into mush. Meatballs needed to be well spiced. Oregano was always a plus.
How do you define a great meatball parm?
And I've always wondered about this-- isn't it usually mozzarella on a meatball parm? What about provelone? I always thought it was a bit odd that the sandwich was defined by a cheese that takes second fiddle to the gooey melted stuff that showcases the sandwich.
For purposes of opening up the conversation, I'm open to great meatball parms all over New Jersey.
Thanks for your advice.