This Sunday, the parking lots at MetLife Stadium will be awash in blue. Giants fans will be taking to the lots in droves to throw footballs around, discuss offensive lineman Paul Fenaroli’s new life and eat great food, not necessarily in that order. The parking lots will be filled with the scent of great burgers and dogs and there’s nothing wrong with that. There are, however, a few legendary hash-slingers that stand out from the rest and always draw a hopeful, hungry crowd. Here are some of the best grub masters to be found working the grills at every Giants game.
Dave Matteo, Paul Taylor and Tom Barnes
The Fan Van Party Bus
G-16 VIP Lot
New Jersey volunteer firemen Dave Matteo and Paul Taylor understand food. These all-around good guys and long-time Giants fans have been bringing their special touch to tailgate food fests for around three years, with a little help from their favorite on-site tailgating cook Tom Barnes, fondly known as Jeeves. Famous for their unique version of breakfast pizza, hash brown potatoes and maple sausage, these guys serve up luscious tailgate cuisine from pre-game to post for a large and appreciative group of friends and friends of friends. You wouldn’t know it from the looks of them, but the leggy and luscious NY UnOfficial, Gotham City Cheerleaders love to drop in on this tailgate and chow down on Dave and Paul’s kickin’ roast pork, baked ham and “God-awful delicious mac ‘n cheese,” says Matteo. Baked ham, shrimp cocktail and lobster scampi often grace the menu as does a righteous buffalo hot sauce and melt-in-your-mouth meatballs, not to mention the surf ‘n turf. The food is so good that people rarely leave room for dessert. That’s really good news for MetLife’s security guards, many of whom make the Fan Van their last stop of the night so they can scoop up some eclairs with whipped cream for the ride home.
The Giants of Tailgating
Lot E-1 right outside the Verizon Gate
What can you say to a bunch of fans who run their tailgate from a Giants-themed, photo-shopped ambulance? Try “thank you for the awesome food.” Jason Dulow, Dan Gaudette, Brian Revfi, Bill and Kate Donovan and Frank Dass head up this easy-going tailgate crew. Their food-based claim to fame is well-researched, themed menus featuring the regional cuisine of the visiting team. This weekend in honor of the Saints, mouth-watering jambalaya and Cajun shrimp will rock the house, or at least the ambulance. The jewel in their big blue crown, however, is a not-to-be-believed secret recipe for rack of ribs. Slow-roasted for hours in a 175-degree oven, Dulow finishes the ribs on a grill and smothers them in his signature (and secret) barbecue sauce. Cleveland-based James Beard award winner and cookbook author Michael Symon has given the boy’s ribs his personal and enthusiastic thumbs up and always stops by this tailgate when he’s in town for a rib fix. For anyone still hungry after the game, Dulow and friends keep the party going with cheeses, crackers, awesome pepperoni dip and signature sweets like cupcakes and chocolate chip cookies.
Lot D2 right under the footbridge
Renowned chef Bradford Thompson and a talented crew of assorted restaurant and culinary professionals representing some of the best restaurants in the tri-state set up shop at most Giants games. With his three-year-old son in tow, Thompson and friends will be cooking up a storm this Sunday. Their not-to-be-missed New Orleans-themed tailgate bash will include gumbo, dirty rice, shrimp boil and coolers of micro-brewed Budweiser. The best fruits and veggies to be found in the state of New Jersey will be supplied by Riviera Produce. A James Beard award winner, Thompson’s love of fine dining is equaled only by his love of the Giants. Having started tailgating as a tike himself, it will be interesting to watch if his son follows in his big blue footsteps.
Chef Johnny V
Big Blue Barbecue
John Vingara and the crew over at Big Blue Barbecue have earned the right to their name. This Sunday, BBB will be cozying up in nice, warm tents and serving up a pre-game feast. Tortellini with pesto sauce will warm any vegetarian’s heart. New Orleans-style jambalaya with shrimp, scallops, sausage and chicken will pay homage to the Saints, but crowd-pleasing Italian-style meatballs, sausage and peppers and buffalo-style hot wings will be dished out in abundance. An absolute must-try is Vingara’s pulled pork with Dr. Pepper chipotle sauce. His food is so good, you may not even care who wins the game. Okay, that’s not too likely.
Rock the house Big Blue! Check out Tailgate Fan to keep the party going at tailgatefan.cbslocal.com.
Corey Whelan is a freelance writer in New York. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.