We were down at the shore this past weekend celebrating birthdays – my 60th and my nephews 16th.  We were in Point Pleasant – way north of Atlantic City and only 11 miles south of Asbury Park.

I have some pretty foggy memories of Asbury Park circa 1978.  I was living in Tahoe and one of my roommates was an east coast boy.  We flew east for a 2-week vacation that included Memorial Day weekend at a “little summer home” in Cape May.  But before we could get to Cape May, we had to stop off and see the family of another friend of ours – who owned a bar in Asbury Park.  It was named Killeen’s and was near the boardwalk, somewhere.  It may have been across the street.  Alas, I was only there once, and when I left, I was quite drunk.  Pat Killeen’s sister, Colleen – I think – was bartending, and when she learned we were friends of Pat’s…  well…  let us just say that the liquor flowed like liquor.  We didn’t pay a cent and got totally trashed – before noon.

We then drove the 110 miles to Cape May.  It was also the weekend Resorts opened in Atlantic City – the first casino.  There were no worries of speeding.  It was a great introduction to New Jersey and The Jersey Shore.

But back to Point Pleasant…

There’s an Italian specialty store in Point Pleasant named Joe Leone’s that has some pretty remarkable – and rather expensive – gastronomic delights.  Lots of fresh breads, cheeses and meats, but also freshly-prepared foods that included meatballs, cutlets, eggplant… tons of stuff.  I picked up a few things – Locatelli with peppercorns, some “00” flour, a bag of Polenta Puffs (don’t ask) and some sesame cookies for Victor’s mom.

One thing we saw – and didn’t buy – was roasted tomatoes.  They really looked good, but they were selling for more than I wanted to pay.  Besides, we both knew we could make them at home with no problem.

And today, Victor did just that!

The tomatoes at Joe Lone’s were thick-sliced beefsteaks, but we had roma tomatoes from our garden, so we used those.  He did some sliced in rings and some sliced lengthwise and seeded.

Roasted Tomatoes

  • tomatoes
  • olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar
  • garlic cloves, minced
  • sugar
  • salt
  • pepper

Preheat oven to 450°.

Arrange the tomatoes on a sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with the garlic, sugar, salt, and pepper. Add a pinch of fresh herbs, if you want.

Roast about 30 minutes or until the tomatoes begin to caramelize.

No measurements because it will depend on how many tomatoes you’re doing.  Drizzle means just that.  No need to soak anything.

A bit of sugar – just a bit – helps to create that kinda gooey caramelly texture and flavor.  Even a sweet tomato will benefit from it.  And don’t be afraid of the garlic.  Use a lot.

They went excellently with some hot Italian sausage, imported provolone cheese, and a loaf of fresh bread.

I see more of these in our future…