New Jersey is known for a few things: the shore, Bruce Springstein, highways, and its diners.
When I tell people I’m from Bordentown most draw a blank until I specify that it’s near N.A.D.E. (the huge auto action lot off of 206) or Mastoris Diner. Upon the mention of Mastoris the first response I usually get is, “I love their cheese bread!” A fairly reasonable response since the cheese bread is Mastoris’ crown jewel on top of a dinner menu that boasts almost 100 different sandwich choices among a whole slew of other entrees, sides, drinks, and desserts.
First things first: the appearance
When I entered Mastoris on my most recent visit it almost felt like I stepped into a time machine back to the ’80s.
The drapes around the windows as well as the hanging light fixtures scream out loud with their kitschiness and tacky aesthetic. The waitresses’ uniforms are certainly reminiscent of the 1980s version of the “female power suit” for the woman in the business world who wants to be taken seriously. However grotesque the aesthetic might be it’s something I’ve come to expect in most diners around the central NJ area. In fact, if the decor didn’t make me nauseas and my waitress didn’t sound like she smoked a pack a day I think my dining experience would be severely altered.
The pre-meal bread
The cheese bread is amazing. Along with the cheese bread comes the equally delicious cinnamon bread. Both were warm and stuffed full of the contents that make them so tasty. My only complaint about the bread is that there were three of us eating it and only two pieces, one of each flavor, came out. A handful of months ago when I ate at the diner they sent out a huge plateful of bread. They appear to have cut back on how much they give out to their customers.
With my sandwich came a side of fries, coleslaw and a pickle. I’m a sucker for pickles and this one was nice and crunchy. The fries were unsalted and very soft. I prefer my fries to be skinny, fried to a crisp, and extra salty. As for the coleslaw – it left a lot to be desired. Coleslaw is a tough side to perfect. Everyone has their own twist on it and I’m a either “love it” or “hate it” person when it comes to coleslaw and I, unfortunately, hated it. It was too sweet and too watery.
I ordered the number 24, “let’s talk turkey”: a sandwich with carved turkey breast, swiss cheese, bacon, coleslaw, and thousand island dressing on white bread that’s been fried in butter.
Despite my distaste for the coleslaw on its own, it blends really well into the sandwich. The sandwich itself is massively layered with turkey. Everything comes together and the hint of bacon is what really makes it delicious. Obviously, this sandwich isn’t for those trying to watch their weight. I took half of it home to eat the next day and it was somehow even better cold.
Upon entering and leaving Mastoris, you have to walk through the pastry shop. It’s essentially the Willy Wonka Factory of baked goods – from Snickers flavored cupcakes, to black and white cookies, to cheesecake and everything in between, it has anything someone with a sweet tooth is looking for. This time around I didn’t get anything because of the immense guilt I had over my dinner but I would highly recommend their eclairs.
Mastoris is what I’d consider the quintessential Jersey diner. I’d recommend it just for the typical diner experience as well as the cheese bread, the menu that has options for everyone, and the desserts.