HANOVER — Looking for a burger that is simply good enough, you will certainly have no problem finding one among the numerous fast-food, chain style, cookie-cutter burger places that dot Parsippany’s highways and byways. Likewise, if your preference leans towards a more creative, gourmet-style burger, Parsippany offers a diverse choice of gastro pubs and fine restaurants that would certainly meet your needs. For me, I do not think you can do much better than finding that often elusive, tasty, fresh off the grill, crispy, juicy, savory, classic American burger. Not surprisingly, where better to find that classic American favorite than at a true, iconic, neighborhood American dive bar, often just referred to by its regulars as Z’s.
On Mount Pleasant Avenue in Whippany, right off Route 10 and basically a couple of miles from the border of Parsippany, you will find Zagursky’s Bar & Grill. A simple, non-descript looking white house, family-owned and operated, long time, neighborhood watering hole and sports bar, Zagursky’s is a true throwback type bar and restaurant, with friendly and welcoming service, delicious food, cold beer, and a nice pour. One of those “where everyone knows your name” places. Originally opened in 1945 by Anna and John Zagursky, and currently run by grandsons, Bobby “Stitch” Yannotta and Kevin “KP” Yannotta, this family tradition continues. The moment you walk in you can feel the high energy of this sports-style bar scene, filled with lots of laughter, good friends, and lively conversation. After three generations of providing their most loyal and regular customers with great bar food you can be confident, they are doing something special.
I must admit, I have an affection for these no-frills, non-pretentious places that come with a great backstory. They are getting harder and harder to find so it is a treat to visit them while you still can. Zagursky’s, for me, is reminiscent of a little shot and beer joint I owned in the late 70’s, but Z’s is so much better. A lot of comforts sometimes, just to take a step back in time and smile; and it was a pleasure to meet and talk with the very personable, cordial, and amusing Yannotta brothers.
I know I started this review highlighting the Zagursky’s burger since I think that is where Zargusky’s stands out from the pack, and I will get back to that later, but Z’s does have much more to offer than burgers on their menu. Stitch’s reputation for creating delicious personal-sized bar pies was something we could not resist, so as a starter we decided to kick off this meal-sharing both sausage and a pepperoni-onion pie. Delicious, crispy, thin-crust, and slightly well done, with a perfect little bit of char on the bottom and edges of the crust. The sauce was tangy and tasty with just the right amount of cheese and toppings.
Excellent, properly prepared pies and we were off to a good start. Next, out came the onion rings, mozzarella sticks, and hot and spicy chicken wings. Ample and satisfying bar food just as you would expect it. The onion rings were perfectly fried, crunchy, and tender, the mozzarella sticks were firm to the touch and filled with the nice chewy cheese, and the 12 wings, ordered hot and spicy, were surprisingly large and meaty, with just the right amount of heat and bite to awaken your taste buds.
Zagursky’s half-pound, bacon, cheeseburger had been rated among the best in New Jersey just a few years back, so I was anxiously looking forward to enjoying this savory treat, and it did not disappoint.
Crispy and crunchy on the outside, moist, and juicy inside, cooked to medium with fresh toppings of lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickles, all firmly held together with a sesame seed bun. While the others were deciding on their orders Stitch happened to mention that he had just made fresh Kielbasa that day, so by special request he came up with his first time ever, creative Kielbasa and sauerkraut slider. Well, that slider is a keeper, moist, tender, and perfectly seasoned Kielbasa offset with the slightly sour, tangy bite of the sauerkraut. After all this great food, accompanied by a very cold and fresh tasting tap beer, I could not eat another bite. We all left with our stomachs full, a smile on our faces, and a promise to return very soon.
If you have not been to Zagursky’s Bar & Grill I would recommend you give it a shot. Great food, exceptionally clean, friendly atmosphere, and you are not going to break the bank here as the prices are very reasonable. If you are looking for a good spot to just relax and catch a game, Zargusky’s has seven large-screen televisions conveniently located around their good-sized wooden bar; and if you are looking for something a little quieter, a family-friendly atmosphere, Zargusky’s does have a separate dining room detached from the bar area which will meet your needs.
And, as always, please come out and support all our small, independent local businesses in any way you can.
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Zagursky’s Bar & Grill is located at43 Mount Pleasant Avenue, Whippany, N.J. 07981. For more information call (973) 386-1412.
This article was written by Patrick Minutillo.