Saturday afternoon, Krug's Tavern, corner of Wilson Avenue and Napoleon Street, Newark. A Devils-Rangers game is on the big-screen TV, which is perched next to a tiny freezer full of frosted beer mugs.
In front of the TV, which sits atop a refrigerated case stocked with hamburger patties, a bottle of Jagermeister and cans of 7 Up, are three tomatoes, ripening in the TV's silvery glow.
A piece of orange construction paper, attached to a smaller TV in the corner, advertises several specials: garlic clams over linguine, beer-battered onion rings. "Bud n Burgers," says a neon sign in the window.
"Ain't getting married," one regular announces. "Been there, done that, and ain't doing it again." Two other patrons are in the middle of a spirited conversation. "When were you born?" one asks:
"1949?" , "1849?" ,"1949?, you ****!!" "How old does that make you?" "53." "53? How can you be 53??? I'm glad you didn't teach me math."
It was my first time at Krug's (sounds like: kroog's). After two hours of lively atmosphere and good food, it certainly won't be the last. The neighborhood bar, opened by Frank Krug in 1938, is now run by Ellen LaMotta, her brother-in-law Frank and her sister-in-law Susan.
Ellen LaMotta is the widow of Gary LaMotta, Frank Krug's grandson. The family is related to Jake LaMotta, the middleweight champion boxer of the '40s and '50s portrayed by Robert DeNiro in the 1980 movie "Raging Bull." The fighter has visited the bar. So did George H.W. Bush, during the 1984 presidential campaign.
"Basically, it hasn't changed at all," Ellen LaMotta said, laughing. "We painted the walls a few times . . ."
It was a male-only crowd, and a boisterous one, late Saturday afternoon, but the bar/restaurant is popular among families, especially Friday nights, according to LaMotta. There's room for about 50 people at the bar and tables, and for another 50 in a back room.
"The menu has basically been the same, too," said LaMotta, 43, who lives over the bar with her three children. "They've always been known for their shrimp, calamari and burgers."
The shrimp (whole order) are covered with a steaming avalanche of hot or sweet marinara sauce; the hot is more popular here. I was in a burger mood, though, and ordered a three-quarter-pounder . The bartender immediately placed in front of me a dispenser of napkins (boy, would I need those), ketchup, mustard and a mini-boat of dill pickles and hot peppers.
This isn't McDonald's. The burgers take about 10 minutes and are worth every second. Krug's burger may be the biggest I've seen in my life; I was wondering if they meant three-and-a-quarter pounds. The beer-battered onion rings, still sizzling from the deep fryer, were fat and crisp. Other dishes include Buffalo wings; shrimp scampi over linguine and fried calamari in hot or sweet marinara.
You can't fake atmosphere. Krug's Tavern has plenty of it, along with good food and lively, if sometimes raucous, conversation.
The next time, I'll go for the shrimp and ask them to go easy on the hot sauce, although in a place like Krug's, that would almost seem like missing the point.
Apr 7, 2008
The food is always great. (Jimmy O. always has great roast beef w/ajus or fresh ham, both open face, and Tommy's the best fry cook I've ever seen, 3/4 pound burgers,excellent calamari, scollops, and shrimp). Pastrami, wings and other comfort food round out this menu 7 days a week. The crowd is always amiable with Nice Guy Dave, Burly Phil, Geee-
Men Chucky, Half Wack Ralph, (not to be confused with Honest Stogie Ralph), Down Neck Mike, Professor Jim, Unreliable Rui,who is a good bartender, nicknamed (Neanderthal) Chin. Grand Gary and all the other great people at this Newark fixture. A great mix of white coller as well as blue coller workers are there at this unique one of a kind tavern with great atmosphere. Check it out!
Krug's may not look like much, but the food will blow you away.
I first went to Krug's when my parents invited me along with some of their friends, to get a beer and some burgers. When I first walked inside, I was a bit skeptical ... the place is a typical bar, with dim lights, the sports game of the day on the TV, a pool table in the back and (seemingly) not much going on other than some low chatter between bar flies. But after we'd ordered, I was floored by the quality and quantity of food we got.
The onion rings were huge, fresh and perfectly crispy on the outside, not too greasy but still bad enough for you to qualify as "comfort food." Chicken wings were tasty, and the bartender kindly and promptly brought over some blue cheese upon request (and also took the time to explain exactly how spicy the wings would be, because I had requested them "mild"). A friend got crab soup (crab soup??? In a BAR???) and raved about it. The table also got a few orders of fried calamari, which was better than most seafood restaurants I've been to. And the burgers? WOW. GIGANTIC, tender and delicious, and served on fresh rolls. Came with a few bowls of pickles and peppers on the side. Most of us wound up sharing our burger with our significant other, or took half of it home to enjoy later. The beer was kept flowing, and the final bill was an absolute steal.
Krug's is absolutely worth a visit the next tiie you're in the area. Heck, make a special trip just to go there!
For a neighborhood tavern, this place serves better food than any restaurant in the area. The crowd may be loud, like on Super Bowl Sunday, but it is not raucous.
The menu features huge sandwiches served on sub rolls, great soups, fried seafood with your choice of mild, medium, or spicy sauce... and then the burgers, 3/4's of a pound, I think, of the juciest and best tasting chopped meat I have ever had. The burgers are served several ways and, as always, with a pickle and hot peppers on the side. All of this is prepared right behind the bar. No fancy kitchen here.
No need to dress up here and the regulars are so friendly to first-timers that you instantly become one of the crowd.
The tavern offers free parking! ...hard to find in The Ironbound. While the first beer on Sunday is not free, as it was in Frank Krug's time, the service and food are just as good or better.
As I live one block away, I may see you there!