The town of Fairfield became a big red star on the map of the nation’s best hot dog joints when Super Duper Weenie (SWD) was ranked on USA Today’s and Gourmet Magazine’s Top 10 lists. And this spring, the same nationally acclaimed hot dogs will be available on the Fairfield University campus.

The SDW truck is scheduled (weather permitting) to be on campus Tuesdays and Thursdays for lunch beginning March 28 at the Dolan School of Business. It will also be on hand for all of the Saturday men’s home lacrosse games starting the evening of March 25.

SDW and the Fairfield are working toward developing a wireless terminal for the truck to accept StagCards, but in the meantime it will be a cash-only venue.

SDW partner John Pellegrino, a 1987 graduate of Fairfield Prep and fellow Jesuit university Xavier (1992) got in touch with his former Prep principal Fr. Charles Allen, who is currently executive assistant to President Jeffrey von Arx, and proposed the idea of serving on campus. From there he was directed to James Fitzpatrick, the assistant vice president for Student Affairs, to complete the arrangements.

“We felt there are many students, especially underclassmen, that can’t get off campus to our shop,” said Pellegrino. “It’s a great opportunity for us to be there, plus we feel that it’s very unique for Fairfield University to have a nationally recognized hotdog on campus. No other university has that.”

Fitzpatrick said the university is excited to have SDW on campus.

“In a creative sense we’ve been looking for additional branding concepts but haven’t been able to locate space to do it,” said Fitzpatrick. ” [Pellegrino] showed me the truck and it seemed to make sense.”

“We’re excited about it and think it’s a concept that will be very accepted by the students,” he added.

Hot dogs served from a truck is vintage Super Duper Weenie. Chef Gary Zemola started the business out of a Chevy Stepvan in 1992 before settling down at its current Black Rock Turnpike address in 2000.

“It feels great to get the truck back out again,” said Zemola. “I’m really looking forward to working with students from Fairfield University and Prep.”

Zemola was formally trained at The Culinary Institute of America and began his career as a sous chef for restaurant Pasta Nostra in South Norwalk before becoming infatuated with American and diner-styled cuisine. Lacking the financial means to open his own diner at the time, Zemola founded SDW and put all his effort and background into developing one of the best all-American foods in the nation.

It is Zemola’s attention to freshness and quality that make these doggies really stand out. Zemola makes his own chili, his hot and sweet relishes are handmade from cucumbers he pickles himself, and his fries are freshly cut from whole potatoes upon order. Both the dogs and buns are made locally in Bridgeport and Stratford, Conn.

SDW’s menu, and especially their geographically-inspired dogs, such as the Californian, New Englander, Dixie, and Chicagoan, have gained exposure and awards from publications such as Cigar Aficionado and The New York Times.

SDW has been visited by actress Julia Roberts, the NHL’s Stanley Cup, and was taste-tested on-air by one of David Letterman’s interns. Most recently, SDW was named Connecticut’s top hot dog for 2006 and best cheese steak sandwich for 2005 by Connecticut Magazine.

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