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[Photographs: Brian Yarvin]

Every time I heard an excited comment about the Alpine Deli, somebody was bound to ask what other store could compare with it. The problem, though, is that there are two unrelated shops called the “Alpine Deli” in different parts of the state. They both have a rack of German language magazines and some shelves of German groceries—but one is a friendly self-serve restaurant, and the other, a remarkable butcher and wurst maker.

Alpine Meats and Deli

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Blairstown might not be a landmark on serious eaters’ maps of New Jersey, but there’s a business that should make it one: Alpine Meats and Deli on Route 94, right by the diner. Surrounded by the store-made weisswurst and baurerwurst, I bought a sandwich, ate at the single small table in the far corner, and watched as customers ordered their top-notch meats.

Here’s a store where you can pick up some pinkelwurst and a box of instant knodel mix, a few German language magazines and a full range of Hero brand condiments. There are four kinds of pickled herring in the fridge, and four more canned, on the shelf.

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Started almost thirty years ago, now owned by Roy and Britta Pridham, Alpine Meats and Deli doesn’t seem to cater to German speakers (I heard nobody speak the language while I was there) but reaches a base of customers who take meat and deli products seriously. You don’t come here looking for that famous cold-cut brand name; you come here when you’re ready to climb up to the next step.

As I ate, I watched the customers pour in, and no wonder; this is New Jersey’s top German butcher, with perfectly trimmed steaks and roasts, and a legendary smokehouse. Where else can you find three kinds of house-made hot dogs? Who else has frozen maltauschen? And how can you ignore a place whose slogan is “The wurst shop in Blairstown?”

Alpine Meats and Deli

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The Alpine Deli in Ringwood isn’t an artisan butcher, like the one fifty miles to the southwest. It's a shop and restaurant that’s been serving food since Gisela and Eddie Busch opened the place more than three decades ago. They also continue to feed the area’s rapidly aging German population, no easy task in an area hurling from rural to suburban at the speed of light.

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20090910_smokedtenderloin2.jpgHere you can buy a magazine or bottle of shampoo from home, have some cake and coffee, and if it’s mealtime, sit down to a good German lunch special. This place has always been a sandwich shop; I had a smoked tenderloin sandwich the last time I visited. I sat and listened to my fellow customers ordering liverwurst and herring salad too. Everybody seemed to go for the side of cucumber salad, along with a hefty dose of local banter.

It's the place to go for German dry goods and magazines, but the Alpine Deli is also the best lunch spot in the Ringwood area. So if you’re visiting Skylands Manor, Ringwood Manor, or the Weis Ecology Center, it's a good bet.

Alpine Meats & Deli

57 Route 94, Blairstown NJ 07825 (map)
908-362-8568

Alpine Deli and Pork Store

1141 Greenwood Lake Turnpike, Ringwood NJ 07456 (map)
973-728-1646

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