Meet Our Neighbors: Jersey's edition

[Here's Green Appler Kevin Davis with a story on our newish neighbors]

In our continuing endeavor to entice East-of-Stanyan-Street-dwellers to spend a day in the Avenues, may we introduce Jersey’s Sandwiches one block north of us at 6th Avenue and Cornwall.

Erick Morton, who owns the store with his wife Shannon Gnatek, curates his selection of ingredients: Charlie’s Pride brand navel cut pastrami, Carando brand Genoa salami, Dutch Crunch from South City’s Ofiesh family bakery outlet, freshly ground horseradish, homemade Russian dressing, freshly made pesto with roasted pine nuts, Chevrine brand goat cheese, Tillamook cheddar, crumbled Maytag pungent blue cheese, imported fruity and complicated Emmental Swiss cheese.

“It’s either that or not have Swiss cheese,” says Morton. “I’m kind of a nut about it. My food costs are out of control. I won’t serve anything I’m not proud of.”

“My starting point was friends and acquaintances,” says Morton, who developed his recipes through trial and error, seeking advice from contacts in his six years bartending at Beach Chalet, the old Broadway Street Enrico’s, Presidio Heights’ Spruce, and most recently the TenderNob’s Fly Bar. “I’d pick the brain of whatever chef I was working with.”

Jersey’s complex and time-intensive spicy chicken, for example, is brined in vinegar, then marinated in olive oil, rosemary, thyme, shallots, and garlic, which Morton then serves slathered in tangy chili pepper Sriracha aioli sauce.

Morton, 35, who grew up in the Manhattan suburb of Ramsey, New Jersey, poaches his meatballs in his own marinara sauce, and roasts the Angus beef and hormone-free turkey in the morning at Divisidero Street’s Solstice Restaurant.

The tiny Sixth Avenue storefront seemed a fit for both his small

convection oven and budget, without involving deep-pocketed partners.

“I saw the space available and it seemed affordable without getting a bunch of loans, just using personal savings to get a foot in the door,” said Morton, who has an SJSU Masters in Education.

Jersey’s has become an “industry spot,” said Morton, drawing a chef from Ligurian eatery Perbacco, a Michael Mina manager, and 23rd Avenue’s Pizzetta crew.

“That our customers are chefs, servers and bartenders, people in the know, who know what good food is, it’s high praise when people in the culinary industry like what we’re doing,” said Morton who lives with Gnatek across the street from the Masonic Street MUNI barn.

Royal Oak, Michigan, native Shannon Gnatek, 34, left waitressing at the casual Bell Tower Bar and Restaurant at Polk and Jackson to help at Jerseys full time, and before that waited tables at Union Square Morton’s Steakhouse for sometimes big personalities like Hulk Hogan.

“I dropped a bottle of wine on his foot,” says Gnatek who is taking a break from studying at 17th and Capp Street’s Shelley Mitchell Method Acting School.

Gnatek, who quit drinking two years ago, is currently reading Daniel Okrent’s prohibition history “Last Call,” which she was motivated to purchase by a Green Apple shelf talker.

Morton counts Orwell, Palahniuk and Suzanne Collins as favorite authors, but was most recently impressed with Michael Lewis’s The Big Short.

“It will piss you off,” says Morton, who honeymooned with Gnatek by visiting 23 countries in eight months.

Jersey's is at 200 6th Avenue at Cornwall. Call ahead to avoid waiting: (415) 221-0444