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  • Writer's pictureAdam Horvath

Shrimp Beeps, An Endangered Species

This past December, Miele’s Restaurant unexpectedly closed its doors just shy of celebrating 70 years of serving old school Italian to Verona NJ locals. For some it was an unfortunate circumstance of today's economic climate. To others, it's more personal, like losing an aging relative that you shared generations of memories with. But for me it was a matter-of-fact reminder that the already endangered Shrimp Beeps lost another home. 

For those of you that may not know what a Beep is, let me clear one thing up, Miele’s did not invent the lightly battered, butterflied jumbo shrimp sauteed in a spicy marinara sauce. It was just part of their controversial “Stretch’s Menu” originally made famous at the iconic Belmont Tavern, located 4.4 miles down Bloomfield Ave.


Now I’m not one to gossip, so I’ll just say the story goes that Peter, son of Belmont’s legendary cook Charles “Stretch” Verdicchio, broke away from the restaurant at some point and negotiated a deal with Miele’s and that’s all I know. But let's just say if Netflix’s made a limited series about it, I’d binge the shit out of it.   


The Origin of the Name

Sebastian "Beeps" Centorino @belmonttavern

I always assumed Shrimp Beeps was another one Stretch’s delicious inventions along with chicken savoy, pork chop & vinegar peppers or scrod “Di Giacomo” oreganata but it turns out that this lighter, spicy cousin of a fra diavolo sauce was created at the request of a customer. According to a Facebook post, Sebastian “Beeps” Centorino, a Belmont regular and from what I could fine online, a fine fella, requested Annette (Strech's daughter) to prepare his shrimp a "certain way". When other customers took notice of the fiery crustacean sauce, they asked for it. And in honor of "Mr. Beeps", it's been on their menu ever since.


Imitation is the highest form of flattery

 

Franklin Steakhouse Farirfield NJ

A foodigenous isn't a foodigenous unless other restaurants copy it. I know that, cause I made the word up. Former Belmont neighbor Michael Angelos of Newark has been making his own interpretation at his red sauce joint snuggly tucked under a Red Roof Inn in Fairfield NJ. Not exactly a no tell motel, but also not somewhere you'd expect to find "gavadeel" and pot cheese, or a double cut pork cup giambotta. Don't let that stop you from going because Michael Angelo's tail on the shrimp version of Beeps is by far the "hottest" of all the ones I've tried. And while I was too afraid to ask, the lack of visual

visual pepper flakes in the marinara has me speculating he's using a Calabrian Chili pepper oil. About a mile away, The Franklin Steakhouse, more sports bar that trattoria, has their butterflied Beeps swimming around a crunchy cut of garlicky bread which soaks up the peppery sauce like an Italian French Onion Soup. And just a few neighborhoods away in Caldwell, you can pair one of Angeloni's trademarked Thinny Thin pizzas with their super light almost blush tomato sauce devoid of heat. Don't get me wrong, that sauce is tastes really good when sopped up with their complimentary garlic knots.


While writing this piece, I discovered a few places outside Essex County that have them on their menu. Nicole and Vito Casale, Belleville expats have them on their Ortley Beach Vito's Deli catering menu and apparently Travato's Due in Oakland, NJ are known for them as well. So maybe it's a tad premature to think about opening up a Jurassic Park for endangered regional foods and Miele's closing was simply a reminder of my appreciation of Beeps.


And if you know of a place that makes Beeps, hit me up cause I'm going to try it!

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