Thursday, March 19, 2009

The All New V.I.P. Diner, Jersey City

175 Sip Avenue
Jersey City, NJ 07306
Cherry Pie, $2.29
Coffee, $1.12

Jersey Pie, purveyor of innocent, tongue-in-cheek Americana, has recently been confronted with a predicament which has kept us off line. Perhaps lightly invoking the Buddhists in our last post landed us in this existential dilemmna. What to do when cherry pie meets true darkness? Really. True Darkness. For our last slice of cherry pie was eaten at the purported location of the planning of the attack on the World Trade Center. And, as it would happen, half of Jersey Pie was literally under the World Trade Center during the attack. Small World, where innocence must muscle in amidst layers of disregard, loathing, and outright murderous hatred. Jersey Pie's position on the matter? Hatred cannot rob us of Joy.

Turns out one of America's most hated criminals, Mohammad Atta, spent time coordinating the World Trade Center attacks at the V.I.P. Diner, corner of Sip and Tonnelle Aves. Don't take our word for it, read about it in the New York Times. The other criminal we know to have visited the V.I.P. was of our preferred fantastic, cathartic variety. Christopher Moltisanti and Julianna Skiff ate at the V.I.P. after having sex in his car parked outside the diner in episode 612 of the Sopranos. We're sure the friend who recommended the V.I.P. did not know of its fiendish past, and there's really no reason to implicate the diner, but upon hearing this slithery, vile news, Jersey Pie began to project a rather cinematic version of the place.

We envisioned the V.I.P. like a scene from a 1930s gangster movie, or better yet Reefer Madness. Fade to black and white under a crippled Pulaski Skyway. Cue dark, relentless rain. The characters are sneering, grinding their pointy teeth between mouthfuls of food, mad eyes rolling wildly. (In the cartoon version hookha smoking cockroaches die and then decay in the booths, turning to dust that is sucked into the lungs of mafioso, who then, maliciously, shoot randomly into the crowd.) Not at all. The V.I.P. Diner seems perfectly innocent, its brightly lit sign glowing under a wide New Jersey sky. Inside, the restaurant is clean and free of odious characters. Etched into the full-length mirror on the south wall of the dining room is the New York City skyline, the twin towers standing proudly on the right-hand side. (We have tried without luck to determine when "All New" was added to the name.)

We entered the premises with senses highly attuned, not only to the notorious history of the place, but because of our memorable pie victory at the Tom Sawyer and a recent foible at another diner, the Skyline Diner in Ringwood, which reminded us to mind our expectations. Ringwood's Skyline had stumbled into many of the familiar diner snares: the bent fork, the pork fat in the homefries, the "yes, we do have cherry pie. Oh, sorry that was blueberry." At the V.I.P. our waitress took our order for two slices of cherry pie, and came back with the news that there was only one slice left. "That's OK, we'll share." And then it came.

Our fork tines cautiously probed the exposed side and drew up one cherry - THWUCK! That cherry snapped back to its place, held fast by elasticized pie matrix, an irascible booger. Whereas it is usually an honor to deflower a cherry slice by taking her point, there was in this case instead some Bart Simpsonian squabble. "You eat the point." "No, You." "No. YOU." We made no progress that way, and so removed the point to the rim of the dessert plate and carried on with a count of remaining internal cherries: 19. Sounds like a lot, but hardly enough for these pieheads, and the cherries were totally flavorless. The crust, well, more than ever you could say that we were right there in the thick of it - shortbread, not pastry, its only merit being that it was clearly made on site. Did we finish it? No. In fact, we tried the chocolate mousse. Sadly, we'd have to rate this piece of cherry pie a big fat zero.

Beware the last slice of V.I.P. Diner cherry pie. Is it a pie, or an insidious plot against that bit of Americana we love? New Jersey, your cherry pie threat level has gone up from yellow to blue - "significant risk of unacceptable cherry pie." And remember: If you see something, say something.


Kate Forster said...

Oh, grief! I feared that you feared to venture forth again, for fear of never even meeting, much less surpassing, the Paramus pie experience. Alas, alas, too true, too true.

Kendal and Jennifer said...

Isn't it dramatic?! We had no idea what we were getting into!

Mia said...

Ugh, an irascible booger! I can't bear it!

This is the sort of pie that causes people to shut their pie-holes.

Kendal and Jennifer said...


Kate Forster said...

Aaron has returned from the hospital with four new holes in his head--subdural hematoma. Memoirs meets chez Lowin/Armstrong this Saturday. In celebration, I offered him any dessert of his choosing. Guess what he chose? Yep. We'll count the cherries per slice and report back. I do know that one 9" pie gets 8 cups of cherries. That's one cup per slice.

Kendal and Jennifer said...

Now we're talkin'

Please send Aaron our best wishes.

Mia said...

Yes - send Aaron best wishes, but, whatever you do, don't send Aaron V.I.P. pie!

Anonymous said...

V.I.P. Diner is not on Sip and Tonnelle. It's on Sip and Kennedy Boulevard.

Kendal and Jennifer said...

A most excellent observation! All three roads come together there, but it is more practical to think Kennedy to make the journey. Thanks Vincent!