By Peter Genovese | The Star-Ledger
I’m not a sour cream guy; never got it and never will. Keep it away from my Mexican food, potatoes, everything.
Which was why I got a good talking-to when I ordered four stuffed potatoes — hold the sour cream — at Hunger Construction.
“That usually happens with high school students,” Aaron Rosenzweig, the owner of the food truck, told me later.
Rosenzweig, 35, opened the truck in Hoboken in April, relocating to Montclair in July. Food trucks in New Jersey and New York offer every conceivable food, but stuffed potatoes?
“I have been talking about stuffed potatoes for years,” Rosenzweig says, laughing.
Getting laid off from his job selling medical devices provided the opportunity to turn dream into reality. Rosenzweig took a street vendor course — his mother paid for it, saying he could consider it his Chanukah present — and found a truck for sale in Queens.
“The owner offered one price. I showed up with half that in cash. He took it.”
The inspiration for stuffed or loaded baked potatoes came from the Park Street Tavern in Columbus, Ohio; the Park Street on Hunger Construction’s menu -—a potato with sliced Nathan’s franks, sauerkraut, pepper blend and cheddar jack — is Rosenzweig’s tribute to the Ohio bar.
The basic stuffed potato at Hunger Construction is the plain Cement Mixer — with butter, sour cream, chives and bacon crumble. The potato’s fleshy core is left intact, as it is with the most popular potato, the Leave-in-Lane ($6), a twice-baked potato re-stuffed with seasonal vegetables and cheddar Jack.
Other potatoes have their cores scooped out and substituted with various fillings. The Fast Lane ($7) is chili-style, with zucchini, kidney and black beans and cheddar Jack. The Cordon Court ($8) combines sliced chicken breast, ham, lettuce, tomato and Swiss cheese. The Reuben Road ($7), one of four I sampled, is a tasty concoction of pastrami, sauerkraut and Swiss.
I also liked the Border Run ($7), a taco-style potato with chicken or beef, plus lettuce, tomato, onion and cheddar Jack.
The potato as breakfast? Sure, when you order the Cheesy Street, with scrambled eggs and cheddar Jack ($5) or the Western Way, with scrambled eggs, ham, peppers, onion and cheddar Jack ($6).
Rosenzweig can tell the first-timers easy enough — they’re the ones who ask for a fork. You’re supposed to eat the entire potato, skin included, and you don’t need a fork for that.
“My philosophies for street food is that it should be hot, it should be fast, and no utensils should be necessary,” he said.
He plans to add sides — salads, soup, other items — in the coming weeks. Current dessert items include brownies and sweet potato bars.
Hunger Construction — the name is a play on “Under Construction” — is the only food truck anywhere offering just stuffed potatoes, as far as Rosenzweig knows.
Many suggested he start a hot dog truck, but the Clifton resident didn’t find that appealing.
“I could sell dozens and dozens and dozens of hot dogs, but that doesn’t sound like fun,” he said.
Hunger Construction food truck, Montclair Farmers’ Market, Mountainside Hospital and other locations. Hours: Breakfast and lunch Tuesdays through Saturdays. Check Twitter (@hungerconstruct) or web (hungerconstruction.com) for latest information on times and locations.
Where should Pete eat next? Call (973) 392-1765 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @NJ_Munchmobile and @petegenovese.