Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives
When it comes to classic American road food, nobody does it better than New Jersey. I mean, they've got more diners than any other state. Check this one out and you'll see that you don't have to be big to be "big."
They've got nine seats at the Bayway, but they serve 250 people a day. It's a zoo. They serve big plates to big crowds of big guys. The diner sits right across the street from one of the country's biggest refineries and a few miles from the port of Newark. Owner Mike Guinta says, "That's what we're here for, grab an egg and bacon sandwich and a coffee and go to work ... There ain't no mochaccino here. You give them a good sandwich for a good price and they're coming back." Regulars say it's all made with love and better than Mom's.
Their Bayway Monster Burgers are two 8-ounce patties strong with Taylor ham, lettuce, and tomato, and they'll add cheese and bacon if you want. Mike grew up in diners and he says he needs to have everything the best. But he'd never run a diner or any restaurant before. He's a fireman by trade and runs a garbage business around the corner. It all came about when he needed a place for a garage and they thought they'd knock this old diner down and put the garage here. But they just couldn't do it. "We said, you know what? There's not that many good places to eat around here." So they rebuilt the diner for themselves.
After fifty years the diner was a mess, so they had to shut it down temporarily and restorer Randy Garbin spent two and a half months refurbishing it. And man does this place scream diner, from the shining siding to the Bayway clock above the door. "It's my passion," explains Mike. "When I do something, I try to do it to perfect." Including hiring Joe Gonzalez as a short-order cook--but he's really a short-order chef. He serves up food you wouldn't expect in a diner, like Cajun-grilled chicken marinated overnight and served over tri-color pasta or a made-from-scratch Philly cheese steak. He starts with a twenty-two-pound top round that he bones, rolls, and ties himself and marinates with chicken base overnight. He then oven-roasts it with celery, onions, and carrots for two and a half hours. After it's cool, he slices it thin. That's some special meat for a cheese steak.
At Bayway they're busy keeping the workingman happy, but everyone's welcome; just pull up next to the backhoe and come on in.
Guy Fieri with Ann Volkwein