, located in Bordentown, NJ
, offers a typical New Jersey diner
atmosphere with a massive
selection of offerings from several different styles of food preparation
coupled with friendly and relatively fast service
The Mastoris family bought a lunch wagon in 1927, and parked it in Hightstown, New Jersey, naming it the Hightstown Diner. The wagon quickly became a success through a combination of simple business strategies and very high food quality. A few years later, a second lunch cart was opened in Burlington, New Jersey, this one featuring tables (an innovation for 1929). In 1936, the original establishment was replaced by a new building having separate rooms for "family entertaining".
In 1941, a third diner opened in Hightstown, this one a modern eatery manufactured at a factory in New Rochelle, New York. This allowed them to expand their staff (now including women due to a shortage of male waitstaff during the war) as well as their selection and their clientele.
In 1959, demand for cocktails required them to move to Bordentown in order to obtain a liquor license. The business, now formally named Mastoris Diner-Restaurant, continued to grow, now employing 160 people as well as several family members. In fact, the only member of the immediate Mastoris family not active in the business is Michael, who has a chiropractic practice on State Route 33 in Hightstown.
The kitchen is divided completely into three separate areas -- the back kitchen, where heavy preparation of more complex dishes occurs; the front kitchen, where lighter meals are prepared; and the bakery, where everything from breads to fancy wedding cakes are made.
Some of the more famous patrons of the place have included Presidents Carter and Ford, the mayor of Moscow, and several (unnamed) sports figures. The place is popular among the local political figures and businessmen, as well. My own personal introduction to the restaurant was as a family treat after a long day of sitting through my dad's meetings.
There are several dining rooms available to patrons. Dress is casual, but it should be noted that some rooms are somewhat more formal than others. For example, on a Sunday you'll find some people wearing jeans and T-shirts, and others straight from a First Communion or Confirmation ceremony wearing fancy dresses and suits.
Service is phenomenal. The waitstaff is always courteous and helpful, the food is always fresh and prepared to your liking, and if something isn't on the menu, they're more than accomodating as often as possible.
Reservations are not required, but are certainly accepted. The popularity of the place on weekends lends itself to a reservation, especially for larger parties; on weekdays for lunch, one can walk in and be seated immediately.
Food and Prices
Meals always start with a selection of Mastoris trademark cinnamon bread and cheese bread, served warm and fresh. There are no words to describe the experience of these breads, save that they are an *experience*, and that the small piece (about $2 worth) you get with your meal will make you want to take them home later. Good thing you can! (see below) There is a wide selection of platters, everything from cold and hot sandwiches to pasta to salads to full-course meals. Our family favorites include the snapper soup and manhattan clam chowder; mozzarella sticks and deep fried mushrooms; and Sandwich #43 (pastrami, cole slaw, Russian dressing, tomato, and melted Swiss -- to die for, or from, whichever comes first).
The prices may seem a little steep at first, at least for Central Jersey; $6 for a plate of mozzarella sticks, $5 for fried mushrooms, $8.50 for Sandwich #43 (one of the pricier sandwiches, somewhat understandably). When you see the plates, though, you'll understand. That $6 plate of mozzarella sticks consists of almost a full POUND of mozzarella, breading, and almost half a cup of marinara sauce -- enough for a full meal for one person by far, and difficult for two to get through. The fried mushroom plate consists of nearly 12 ounces of mushrooms, only barely culled from stuffing, coated in breading and deep fried. Their sandwiches ... well, suffice it to say that you should NOT expect to finish a sandwich. With an appetizer or salad, expect to get two meals or MORE out of one sandwich. Their dinner plates are also equivalently large. When you consider that two people paid $33 including tip for at least 2 meals, it's not really a bad deal.
Looking at the menu, it appears they don't have a whole lot of vegetarian fare (for once, EXCLUDING fish and fowl). They have a few dinner salads, a couple of sandwiches/wraps, most of the appetizers, eggs and omelets (for those that eat eggs) and a vegetable platter. However, if it's not on the menu, one need only ask for it. Their "spaghetti and meatballs" platter ($8.95, I think) can be substituted with any number of various pastas and sauces, both with and without meat. They are also more than willing to leave an ingredient out of a plate; special requests are almost never denied at this restaurant (I don't think they had elephant in stock the last time we were there, though).
There is also a large bakery store in the front of the restaurant. Here, they sell pies, bread, cookies, cakes, and basically any baked good you could come up with. Their famous cinnamon and cheese breads are available for sale here, as well, at a measly $6.50 a loaf. Their pies range from the traditional apple, cherry, and pecan to Oreo pies, lemon meringue pies, and double crust apple pies reaching a full 6 inches in height. Height! Their breads include a Hoboken-style double crust bread weighing 2.5 lbs per loaf, round and braided challah, and semolina bread in various types. They carry several specialty cakes, which I believe are available to order for special occasions. Prices are slightly higher than expected, but the quality is top-notch.
Yes, you can have all this wonderful food brought TO YOU! Catering services range from sandwich platters to full 7-course meals, and from pick-up service to full waitstaff and 5-hour open bar. They have rent-a-bartenders, rent-a-waiters, and rent-a-table-settings available as well. Prices range from $5.50 per person (pick-up, meat and cheese trays) to $75 per person (full 7-course meal, wedding cake included, waitstaff, 5 hour bar, and linens). In my mind, this would be a small price to pay for excellent food and service that I wouldn't have to provide myself. The restaurant is also available for smaller parties and gatherings.
I believe the phrase I'm looking for is "the middle of fucking nowhere". It's at the intersection of US Routes 130 and 206 in Bordentown, NJ, not far from Interstates 295 or 195, and about 3 miles north of New Jersey Turnpike exit 7. Don't go looking for public transportation, though; there's just nothing there. Train stations don't even fit on the same online MAP until you zoom out to level 5. Your best bet is to find someone with a car who wouldn't mind going out for a whole lotta food. When in doubt, ask me!
The Mastoris placemat
The Mastoris catering menu
Yahoo! Maps and Mapquest