Michael Hauke is the owner of Tony Boloney's, a pizza and sandwich shop with locations in Atlantic City (300 Oriental Ave., on the corner of Corner of S. Vermont St.) and in Hoboken. In 2010 his Cheesesteak Ole won first place at Guy Fieri's Cheesesteak Battle. We're all hoping that he'll open shop in Philadelphia one day soon. In the meantime, our trips to AC this summer aren't complete without a slice or a sandwich from Tony Boloney's.
How did Tony Boloney's get started?
We started five years ago, selling frozen crap to construction workers. I didn't like serving them such junk so I shut everything down. My mantra now is: if I can buy, I can make it. If I can buy cheese, than I can make cheese. No more buying frozen fries, we'll make them from scratch. They're inconsistent sometimes, yes, but I don't care.
With all due respect, how does a guy from Jersey beat Philly in a national cheesesteak competition?
I shun the way that you're supposed to do things and instead do things the way that I want to. In this case that means a 10-spice sirloin.
Your menu has a fried chicken and waffles pizza, a sweet and spicy chicken pizza, and a tikki masala pizza. How do you come up with these combos?
I love Indian food, Korean food, traditional Jewish Passover food. I take all those ideas and ask myself, Why can't I put that on a pizza or a sub?
Were there any gross failures that stick out?
Not really. Sometimes we need to work through a few things. I have all my recipes worked out in my head first. But that means that some just sound too weird to try. For instance, [the sandwich] Let My People Go was an example of one I almost didn't do because you've got apples, honey and cinnamon at the base — it's the lettuce of the sub. Then this brisket and tangy sauce? They don't make sense together, but when you have the finished product, it works.
So when can we expect a Tony Boloney's in Philly?
I'm looking into it. I'd love to come to Philly, I just need some guidance. I just got to know where to go, and everyone is telling me something different.