Bacon is magical. Everyone loves it. My 91-year-old grandmother, who eats it every morning, claims it is the reason for her old age. My father braided and wrapped bacon around our entire turkey last year for Thanksgiving. A vegan friend of mine procured bacon for me recently in return for a favor I did for her. It took me a few days before I could come by and pick it up, and she went ahead and ate it.
When I heard about a bacon fest, I jumped at the opportunity to go.
I watched plate after plate come through the pick-up area of Zeppelin Hall, in Jersey City. First some spare ribs, then German pretzels, bratwurst, and then a cheesesteak. The server looked at me with her eyebrow raised. “Bacon cheesesteak,” she said.
“Excuse me?” I replied, with my mouth half-open. Then I saw it. Their bacon fest menu, printed to cover an entire wall, listing an assortment of amazing dishes—all with bacon. I was at home.
I wasn’t sure what executive chef Franco Robazetti would bring me to try. First he brought me a sample of bacon and told me that this is what they give out at their bars as a snack during the bacon festival. What an idea. Most bars might serve peanuts. The bacon was delicious, perfectly cured with a sprinkle of barbecue dry rub.
Next arrived bacon-wrapped shrimp, bratwurst and bacon sliders, bacon-wrapped BBQ ribs, and steak house bacon. I sat there, like a child on Christmas morning, not knowing which present to open first.
The shrimp. I had to start there. One after the other, I tasted, and after each one, I swore I would come back to eat it again before the bacon fest ended.
Then, I got to the steak house bacon ($10.95), named after the bacon appetizers often served at famous steakhouses in Manhattan. I don’t say this lightly: It was the most fantastic bacon I have ever eaten in my life. Made in-house, it’s cured, double-smoked, grilled, and drizzled over with an apple cider reduction. The thick-cut bacon is spread over a plate with some of the most delicious onion strings I have ever eaten. If there is one dish anyone should go to the bacon fest for, it is definitely this one.
As if I weren’t impressed enough with Franco’s love for bacon, he brought out yet more dishes to sample: three different kinds of bacon bratwurst, bacon lollipops with chocolate-covered bacon, and a bacon beast they decided to unleash for my bacon extravaganza—the bacon “World Tour” monster sandwich ($12.95).
This “monster” is made with 10 different kinds of bacon, making for a staggering 1.5 pounds of bacon. If I could have jumped up and down with excitement, I would have. That sandwich delivered, exceptionally.
I was very skeptical about the bacon lollipops until I saw them. They were the most beautiful bacon treat I’ve ever seen, and they were delicious. The apple cider reduction for dipping made them even better. The balance between sweet and savory was perfect, and for only $4.95, I would certainly enjoy them again. They were worth much more.
I can’t say enough about the bacon fest at Zeppelin Hall, but what impressed me about this place wasn’t just a great idea they had to market their restaurant using bacon. It was the whole package.
It was a really quick PATH trip from Manhattan and a short walk down the street from the Grove St. stop in Jersey City. The beer selection is amazing, with over 144 beers on tap. They have an assortment of some of the most impressive beers I’ve seen since I’ve lived in Manhattan, 50 percent American and 50 percent European. Any kind of beer you like, whether light or dark, hoppy or smooth, is there, with some of them being very unique.
The interior of Zeppelin Hall was enormous, with three huge rooms and an outdoor garden, perfect for the summer. As for the clientele, it was people of all ages. There’s a stage for live performance on Saturdays, and many large TVs in every room for sports events. The staff was great. This was no ordinary Biergarten.
And you know what? It all goes great with the bacon.
The Spring Bacon Festival runs through April 1. There are 13 bacon-inspired items on the menu, and free bowls of bottomless strips are served at the bar daily from 4–7 p.m. (until 11 p.m. on Thursdays).
88 Liberty View Drive
Jersey City, NJ
Monday–Friday 4 p.m.–2 a.m.
Saturday & Sunday noon–2 a.m.
Kids welcome until 9 p.m.