For the month of August, The Puck Daddy over at Yahoo Sports is breaking down “The Essentials” for every NHL franchise and recently touched on the New Jersey Devils. The feature piece includes players, coaches, long-time arena traditions and stadium food. Here at Pucks & Pitchforks, we’ll break down each category and give our take, as well as taking a look at who barely missed the cut. Next up, the category of “Arena Food”.
Our “essential” Arena Food is the Hobby’s Deli stand.
Located right behind Section 119 at the Prudential Center, it is the best spot to hit in the arena. Sure there are other choices like a Philly Cheeseteak, of boardwalk-style French fries, among other food items at The Rock. Hobby’s Deli, especially the hot pastrami sandwich, in my opinion is the top non-traditional delicacy. After all, it is directly from a true New Jersey deli just a couple of blocks away from the Prudential Center in Newark.
Normally, me and my dad head up there as soon as warm-ups are over and we get in line. More of than not, we have our food in hand and are at the seats and have finished our meal before the Devils come out of the tunnel. It was a lot tougher to do that during the playoffs when the Devils video crew started their pregame with nine minutes to go on the clock. Either way, if you haven’t tried it by now, you’re missing out. It’s better than the hot dogs, chicken fingers and pizza you can get anywhere outside the rink. Also, they have other deli meat sandwiches as well as wraps.
Hobby’s has been in Newark since 1962. It is a must-stop place for anyone who is in the area. Business people, police offers, construction guys or anyone…their sandwiches are worth the wait.
The deli has also been spotlighted by many outlets including local medias like the Star-Ledger and the New York Times but also nationally by CNN and Fox News among others.
On the weekdays when nothing is going on, they close up shop at 4:30 p.m. When the Devils have a home game, however, they stay open right up until puck drop. How’s that for a loyal partnership?
Heck…even Devils players stop in there sometimes as seen in this video where Martin Brodeur dropped off season tickets. Rumor has it that in the past, they have named special sandwiches after players as well as Devils beat writers.
Considering the lack of depth in terms of quality, non-traditional food options at Prudential Center, I’ve got to pick a Jersey landmark like Hobby’s and their pastrami sandwich as the “essential” Devils arena food.
Best Of The Rest: Most Devils fans would agree with the original Puck Daddy article that the best Arena Food at the old place was pretty much nothing. It was all about the tailgate back then. While I have come to like the Prudential Center, that is the only thing it is truly lacking. While it is cool to have some bars where Devils fans hang out and at Championship Plaza for select games, I miss being able to hang out in the parking lot with a couple sandwiches, friends, family and fellow Devils fans. Alas, I was not old enough to have adult beverages in the time they were at Continental Airlines Arena. If I had to give a vote though, between both venues, I loved the popcorn at the CAA. It was normally right outside of our section and it was always a short line. In fact, one time there was a surprise person in line behind me…it was Mike Emrick. My dad and I turned, saw him, turned back around and looked at each other. Then we spun around once more and said hello to “Doc”. I still remember him saying, “I like to wait until they make the fresh stuff.” We chatted for a minute or two before he went upstairs to the TV booth. One final note regarding arena food, bless the souls of those who go to the Carvel stands at The Rock. My gosh…those lines are unbelievably long for a fair-sized cup of ice cream. I would just grab some ice cream from 7-11 on the way home.
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