Despite what you may have heard, there is, in fact, a Central New Jersey. While the actual delineation is up for interpretation, you can pretty much assume you’ve entered the region when hear the words “hoagie” and “sub” used interchangeably for a certain type of sandwich and your radio tunes to both NYC and Philly stations.
Some suggest that Central Jersey starts roughly at Exit 9 on the Turnpike and runs south to Trenton and east to Routes 1 and 9. (There is indeed some truth to the Jersey joke “What exit do you live at?”) Others have argued the region encompasses what’s between Rutgers University (farther north) and Princeton, from the Delaware River to just shy of the Atlantic. But definitely NOT all the way to the ocean, because that is, without a doubt, the Jersey Shore, and its own thing (see our separate section). Whatever the actual border is, just trust us—it exists!
Central Jersey is home to the Six Flags Great Adventure amusement park and some of the best farms befitting the Garden State. Hammonton, the “blueberry capital of the world,” and the western edge of the Pine Barrens fall within the region. And some of the state’s greatest culinary contributions have originated from Central Jersey. Trenton’s tomato pie has a strong loyal following, but despite its early origins (1910), it’s seldom found outside Mercer County. Perhaps the most underappreciated regional breakfast meat of all time is from this region: Pork roll—wait, is it Taylor ham? No, it’s pork roll (the debate is real, and the answer is Taylor ham)—was invented in Trenton and has pleased New Jerseyans for well over a century. And Edison, on the northern edge of this region, has some of the best Indian food in the Northeast.
Blink and you may miss it, but if you have some time to stick around, check out some of Central Jersey’s best foods.—Introduction by Adam Horvath (Foodigenous)