Grant and Marie introduced me to Hoboken Cafe in Marietta. I am happy to report that this is the real deal with great food and welcoming atmosphere.
The interior is a little bright for the typical New Jersey Italian restaurant but it otherwise fits the bill: wall lined with photos of Italian heroes, ideally with the owner; liberal references to Sinatra, and Italian crooners playing over the speakers.
A meatball parm sandwich makes a great lunch but can be hard to find in this neck of the woods. Saturday is meatball day, so I dived in to what was a great sandwich. They sell their own sausage and handmade mozzarella. They clearly also make their own pork-centric meatballs: juicy, tender, very flavorful. A slice of that dense, creamy mozzarella underlay each meatball. My only very minor complaint was that I would like to see just a little more sauce---oops, gravy. The roll is the capstone and the clue to the authenticity of the meal. The owner told me that he has the rolls made for him using original Hoboken recipes. This style of bread is the gold standard in Italian-American food. The crust is chewy but thin enough to just give a texture contrast. The crumb is medium dense, perfect for sopping up that gravy.
Of course, I had to try their cheesecake. Marie's reaction to its delivery was "that's a big piece of cheesecake!" It was delicious, too. I'm not quite ready to proclaim it as the equal to Junior's, but my slice was rich with cheese, just as any self-respecting should be. The typical grocery store cheesecake is but a pale imitation to the real thing.