Besides being famous for a reality show, a boardwalk, and a long stretch of beach, the Jersey Shore is home to the famous cheese balls from Clem’s Steaks Unlimited, a shoreside restaurant in Seaside Heights that specializes in cheese steaks. Although I have never been to the Jersey shore, I had a taste of one of the best cheese treats it has to offer at Clem’s Steaks Unlimited Too in Hoboken, an offshoot of the original Seaside Heights location.
For a mere $6.50, Clem’s Steaks Unlimited Too will serve up a little paper basket of approximately 28 miniature deep-fried cheddar cheese balls. These things are addictive. Crispy and savory with a hint of blended spice, they hit all the right spots. The cheese is a tangy yellow (orange) cheddar that melts perfectly. The breading holds them together. You can eat them in just one bite.
All 28 are heaped into a small paper basket. Although 28 balls sounds like a lot, it’s not. One order is good to split with another person. For a hungrier person, a single basket might suffice, “might” being the operative word!
While cheese balls are excellent plain, many people enjoy them with dips. “Some people like marinara sauce,” Jim told me “Others like ketchup, ranch dressing, or salsa. Everyone’s got their own favorite dip for them.”
The cheese balls are not just finger food. They can even be substituted for cheese on a cheese steak. One popular item on the menu is the Seaside Tony Cheese Steak Topped with Cheese Balls for $8.50. The sandwich holds eight or nine crispy, melted cheese balls. I asked Jim who “Tony” was, assuming the cheese ball steak was named after him. I was wrong. It turns out that the guy’s name was not even Tony. Somebody just made up the name after a customer request.
“One day somebody asked if they could put the balls on their cheese steak,” Jim explained, “And the boss said, ‘Why not?’”
The Seaside Heights Steaks Unlimited was featured on MTV’s True Life with MTV Tommy, who is in desperate search of his lost cheese balls in this ten-second clip: Cheese Balls on True Life https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q6upatWc7bQ .
They made an even longer appearance on the E! Channel’s show Chelsea Lately Show with Chelsea Handler, who was raised in New Jersey. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNE274SVxfM For this randy comedian, the cheese balls provide much fodder for slightly off-color humor. Her video shows the original location, the cheese balls in the fryer, and then the finished product.
Besides cheese steaks, Steaks Unlimited Too also offers sandwiches, wraps, and burgers, including a veggie cheeseburger. The cheese steaks are all served with white American cheese, onions, and peppers. For an extra dollar, you can have mozzarella or provolone.
Elizabeth Bland, The Cheese Mistress