I find myself up in North Jersey from time to time visiting either friends or family, and when I’m up that way I seem to have trouble finding a good place to get some wings. So you can imagine my excitement when I heard of a place in Clifton, called Sharky’s, that claim to have “World Famous Wings.”
Some friends and I stopped by this hole in the wall around lunch time, or in my case breakfast, to see what made their wings “World Famous.” From the outside, it didn’t look like much, BUT from the inside…
it didn’t look like much. This is your typical dive bar that tends to many of the locals, who all obviously knew one another as they shout obscenities both back and forth to each other and to the TV. It is Olympic time, and as we’re sitting there waiting to order, we hear the well thought out, sport educated banter of the patrons that went something like “…you know what the stupidest sport is in the Olympics? …F!@#$ing Curling. It’s like f!@#$ing shuffleboard, only stupid.”
Personally, I would take a place like this over a TGI Friday’s any day of the week, and you would be surprised at how many dive bars carry incredible wings. So, I kept my hopes high and when the waitress came by, I got a chance to read over the menu. Here’s my options: The wings come in 10, 16, 25, 50, and 100 pieces, and aside from the other sauces that aren’t Buffalo related, come in Mild, Medium, Hot, Ex Hot, and On Fire. With quantities and sauce variations like that, it sounds like a good place to grab some friends and play the “Buffalo Roulette” that I heard about at the Blarney Stone. But today… and for breakfast… I think I’ll take it easy. So, I chose the 10 count with the Medium sauce and requested the Extra Hot and On Fire for my sides. This way if the wings don’t taste good, I can burn the hell out of my tongue to clean the slate for another day
Sharky’s is well prepared for the wing eater by having paper towel rolls (equipped with dispenser) on every table, and when the wings came out, they came with a discard bowl in tow. This gets me excited because it shows that they know my needs, and if this is how they treat their preparation, I can’t wait to try the wings. Needless to say, I am as giddy as a school girl and ready to dive right in.
The color and aroma were nice, and even though they came out piping hot, the wings themselves were a bit on the puny side. I’m not only talking about the size of the wing itself, but also how there was very little meat on the bone… leading me to believe that they were frozen prior (but I could be wrong). The little meat that WAS on there was very tough and lacked both tenderness and juice; not to the point of being inedible, but to the point where you think to yourself, “Eh… it could use a little more TLC.” The sauce had a nice taste to it but carried very little heat. As luck would have it, my wife ordered the boneless wings which came with a side of Hot. So I poured hers on to spice up the wings, took a big bite, and again was slightly disapointed when I realized the Hot was very much like Frank’s Red Hot. Again, I love Frank’s, but when I come to a place that boasts great wings, let alone World’s Best Wings, my expectations are set pretty high. I moved on to the sides of sauce that accompanied my dish in hopes that the chef did something to make them more than their store-bought counterpart.
I ordered the Extra Hot and the On Fire, and for the life of me (and the waitress), we couldn’t tell which one was which. The lighter (more orange) colored one I assumed was less hot because typically – the darker the sauce, the hotter the sauce. But all I could taste from that was a heat substitute instead of actual peppers. Sure it was hot, but it was incredibly disgusting. The other, slightly darker, one had bits of pepper added to the mixture and actually didn’t taste all too bad, but it wasn’t hotter than their Hot, so I’m left baffled.
Overall, this place didn’t bring its A game. If I came into it thinking that I was going to be getting crappy wings, I would’ve said “Well, they’re not THAT bad.” But when a place claims to have the Best Wings in the World (which by the way is freakin’ huge), then they set the bar high and left me feeling disappointed because they didn’t fulfill a promise they made to my stomach: great wings!
545 Highland Ave
Clifton, NJ 07011