When talking about where to get great wings in South Jersey, there are always a bunch of names that constantly get repeated in the “Ya know where you gotta go, man…” conversation. Some of them include: Jug Handle Inn, Pic-A-Lilli’s, and 45th Street Pub. But there is another that shows up in that list which proved a bit harder to go out and review.
The Golden Nugget is located in Berlin, NJ and was always known by locals for having great wings. The reason this proved difficult to review… The building burned down. It seemed that one night an irate customer who was kicked out of the pub earlier that evening and had threatened to get revenge by arson, kept his word. One Molotov cocktail mixing with fryer grease later, almost everything but the main structure got destroyed. Most places might pack it up and call it quits, but not the Nugget. They made plans to rebuild bigger and better, and to help out with some of the finances, they continued to sell their famous wings out of the parking lot. Soon after, the new and improved Golden Nugget emerged like a phoenix and opened their doors once again for business. So I grabbed my things and headed in to try some of the wings that helped save this bar.
The menu shows their love for chicken by offering Famous Wings (regular or Jumbo) and Golden Nugget Fingers and Bites (I guess because calling them Golden Nugget Nuggets, might seem a bit redundant 🙂 ). There is even a Honey Jerk Spiced Wing that sounded so delicious that I would’ve thrown it in the mix if my lunchtime appetite could have handled it. I decided to go for the Jumbo to see what they think large might be. After all, an elephant is jumbo to me, but a snail is jumbo to an ant. Anyway, the sauces are pretty much limited to just two styles. There is Wing Sauce (which is their mild version) and Hot Sauce (which is their hot version). But then there is something that I found amazing. They offer a thing called “Wet” which, when asked, the bartender told me was basically adding more sauce than usual. FREAKING AWESOME! I love this option because I, myself, always ask for more sauce on the side since the majority of the time they are not coated enough (for my taste). So, for them to actually have this as an option is genius.
I ordered wings as a 10 count coated in Wing sauce with hot on the side, and also grabbed some of their Golden Nugget Bites to try. The wings were incredibly crispy, and you could see that both the bone-in wings and the Bites were rolled in a flour mixture before frying that had black pepper dancing all around. Then mixing that with the sauce gave me a great combination of flavors that reminded me of the wings sold at Racks, not too far away. The wings at both places have more of a garlicy zing than a peppery one, and tasted like it was marinating in something similar to an Italian dressing. The only difference was that the Nugget’s sauce flavors seemed more elevated. The yum factor was definitely there, but I did want a bit more heat than the Wing sauce offered, so I took the side of Hot (which was sitting in a ketchup-like squirt bottle) and gave the bowl a good once over. This brought it to more of a medium heat as opposed to hot, but that is exactly my type of level and kept me satisfied.
The Bites were pretty much the same as their counterpart, but what interested me was that they were not like the standard boneless wing you get at other places. You know what I mean, the typical super-breaded piece of chicken nugget. No, no, these were large chunks of white meat chicken. And because they only had the light flour rub, they tasted incredible. It reminded me of the boneless wings that Longhorn Steakhouse used to have before removing them from the menu (and yes, I’m still not over that LONGHORN). These Bites have now become my new favorite boneless option, and I would recommend anyone to give them a go.
The Golden Nugget has had its share of ups and downs, but through it all one thing remained constant: great wings. Though my preference is wings with more of a peppery note, the flavors that these wings brought were outstanding. Couple that with the intense crisp you get with each bite, even when covered in sauce, and you have a winner. Despite the fact that I didn’t get to try the wings before, or even just in the parking lot out of a cart, I got to try them now and I recommend you do the same.
Golden Nugget Tavern
433 Berlin New Freedom Rd., Berlin, NJ 08009