the spot: Sweet Amalia Market 994 US Route 40 Newfield, NJ
the eats: Fried Clam Roll, BLT, Calamari
the bucks: $15 for a sandwich
the full nelson: The ultimate Jersey Roadside produce stand to grab lunch
It was actually a dripping cheeseburger that caught my eye at Sweet Amalia Market, and not even in real life but rather on an Instagram post. Not just any Instagram account either. This was posted by longtime Philadelphia restaurant critic Craig LaBan, who included Sweet Amalia Market in his list of top ten restaurants in 2021. I happened to be driving from Philadelphia to the Jersey Shore over the summer and made a stop at this roadside produce stand. I didn’t get the burger but I didn’t regret my stop either.
I’m somewhat new to the experience of getting produce at a roadside stand but believe me it’s what you should be doing if you’re in New Jersey during the summer. Tomatoes and corn are in season and you will notice a difference compared to the supermarket stuff. I’ll get to the power of tomatoes in a bit but for now, let’s talk seafood.
You are bound to find favorites at Sweet Amalia Market and ultimately some dishes here simply out best others. We all have our biases and mine came to finding out that I love a BLT during the summer more than perhaps any other seasonal food. Still you should know that Sweet Amalia also has an oyster farm(though in a different location) which means you should think hard about trying the seafood.
I had to get something for my kid and wanted him try something somewhat adventurous so we landed on calamari. It’s common to find fried calamari on menus but seldom is the calamari tender and meaty. Check both those boxes at Sweet Amalia Market. I want say the cocktail sauce was housemade too, but if it was from a bottle, I’d buy it.
I wonder if I would have liked the Fried Clam Roll more if I didn’t also nosh on my kid’s calamari. I might have had fried seafood overload as I found the ratio breading to clam favoring the former but I’m also a bit of fried clam roll noob. The bread was excellent, I’m gonna say that again, the bread was excellent. The horseradish and dill cream sauce and pickled onions were beautiful touches. They even snuck some bacon in there. I would probably try the fried oyster next time but if you’re fried clam roll fan, give this one a test drive.
It’s all in the tomatoes. I love BLT sandwiches. I like ’em on cheap white bread from a diner. But the BLT at Sweet Amalia Market was a revelation and that ain’t just hyperbole. Unless your allergic or were scarred from watching Attack of the Killer Tomatoes as a kid, few things are as tasty as a tomato in season. Jersey tomatoes are legendary and that is the star of the show when it comes to the BLT at Sweet Amalia Market. Like the clam roll, excellent bread is part of the experience as well. This was not only my favorite thing at Sweet Amalia Market but the best BLT I have ever had.
This is worth taking an hour out your day whether you are on your way to the Jersey Shore or if you’re looking for an excuse to buy fresh produce and treat yourself to a solid lunch. They also sell bottles of wine and do oysters and clams on the half shell. I can’t imagine a more picturesque summer lunch. I’m already looking forward to going back next summer.