Top Hot Wiener

Olneyville N.Y. System

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Olneyville N.Y. System20 Plainfield St.Providence621.9500

Hot dog? It’s a hot dog you want? Fine. Go to Spike’s on Thayer Street. No, what we’re talking about here are hot wieners, New York System style, which of course means they’re only available in Rhode Island.

Now, I’ve tasted a lot of wieners in my day.

(OK, hold it right there. I promised myself I would not make any obvious wiener jokes, so that is the only one you’re going to get. I am just going to have to use some willpower.)

But the quintessential hot wiener can be found at Olneyville N.Y. System in the Olneyville neighborhood of Providence. There’s a neon sign on the otherwise indistinguishable building and inside, a room-length lunch counter faces off against mundane booths. The “menu” is written on the wall.

A hot wiener costs $1.50. Don’t come looking for foot-longs; each wiener is about four inches, which we all know is a much more reasonable expectation for a wiener.

(Damn it!)

Thus, you’ll end up ordering more than one. That’s where the fun begins. Per the New York System – the name denotes the origin of the recipe’s inventors, not of the recipe itself – your friendly wiener-maker will line up steamed buns on his forearm, put in the wieners, and then, working down the line in quick succession, will slap on mustard, meat sauce, onions and celery salt. Unfortunately, these days they’re only lining up three wieners at a time until someone invents a plastic glove that covers the entire forearm, but the spirit is still there.

The meat sauce contains ground beef and a secret blend of herbs and spices, making Olneyville N.Y. System the KFC of hot wieners. What could be better? A fellow patron even said she was packing up the wieners to take with her on an airplane. One can only imagine the delectable aroma that made the other passengers envious.

A couple of caveats: First, health nuts need not apply. Second, to get to the restaurant’s bathroom you have to go up a small staircase that teeters perilously close to a large vat of some sort of grease. You may want to go on such excursions elsewhere.

These shortcomings aside, once you’ve been to Olneyville N.Y. System, any regular old hot dog will leave you with, well, wiener envy.

(What? Was that so wrong?)