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MUNCHMOBILE VISITS, AND WE’RE ON IT

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It’s as Jersey as the Sopranos: the Star-Ledger’s Munchmobile, a van with a giant polyurethane wiener on the roof that tours the state every summer in search of the best eats — ice cream, burgers, Italian, seafood, whatever.

Well, yesterday was a special ‘blunch’ edition of the weekly tour to which a half-dozen of the state’s independent bloggers were invited. And even though redbankgreen rankles at the ‘blog’ label, we set aside our semantic tic and climbed aboard, not wanting to miss out on what some people consider the ride of a lifetime.

Also on board? Two other hyperlocal news sites — Hoboken411 and Baristanet, which serves Montclair, Glen Ridge and Bloomfield — and two foodie sites — Off the Broiler and Go Out Jersey.

On the menu? Pizza.

First stop? Brothers Pizza on West Front Street right here in Red Bank, followed by a handful of other places scattered around north Jersey.

We could write a whole story about the giddiness that follows the Munchmobile. A Turnpike toll taker asked driver and Ledger reporter Pete Genovese, “Is that the big weenie?” A plumber’s truck nearly veered into us at 70 mph while a guy leaned out the passenger window to yell, “Hey, you know you got a hot dog on your roof?”

There’s this strange magic associated with the Big Dog. “My dad was more proud that I got to go on the Munchmobile than that I graduated from college,” said Ali Hanford, a co-founder of Go Out Jersey.

We could also go on about the obsessiveness of some food bloggers. Jason Perlow of Off the Broiler will not let his dining companions put a fork to a dish until he’s had several minutes to take pictures.

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“OK, the first pie has arrived here at Brothers,” he said into a tape recorder as the first pie arrived at Brothers, “and it is definitely of the bar pie variety.”

Which brings us to the real thrust of our story: Brothers.

The reviews from this crowd were mixed tending toward generally positive. Which is a lot more than could be said about some other stops on what turned out to be an overall disappointing day, everyone in the autowiener agreed.

To redbankgreen’s admittedly biased taste, the Brothers thin-crust pie (half plain, half sausage mushroom) bested the rest, a somewhat sorry lot, and needs no defending. “After a couple of beers, this would probably be one of the best pizzas ever,” Hanford told us.

Liz George of Baristanet was far less impressed. You can read each of the blogger’s assessments on their sites by clicking the links above.

There’s also a Ledger story about the tour today. (The Munchmobile feature usually runs on Friday, but this one was being treated as a news story for reasons not exactly clear to us.) It’s on page A2 of the print edition.

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Finally, check out the Munchmobile Blog, written by Genovese, one of the state’s foremost authorities on roadside eats in New Jersey. It’s in three parts, under the heading, “Big, Fat Live Munch Blog.”

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