Star Tavern wins all the accolades for best pizza in New Jersey. I first heard of it on Viceland’s Pizza Show hosted by Frank Pinello, pizzaiolo of Best Pizza in Brooklyn, one of my favorites in New York City.
Star Tavern is known for its bar pizza. I was fascinated to learn on The Pizza Show that they cut the lip off of the pizza pan and also that they put cheese all the way to the end of the crust. Extra-cheesy pizza? I’m in!
The tavern is owned by Gary Vayianos, who took over from his father, Aristotelis, who had bought the tavern in 1980 from its original owners, who had opened it in 1945.
The menu is bar food, but with an Italian edge to it like peppers and egg sandwiches, Italian-style hot dogs, mussels marinara, cavatelli, eggplant parmesan, etc.
First, we ordered the tricolore salad with arugula, endive and radicchio in the balsamic vinaigrette. The dressing was delicious, so we had high expectations for the pizza.
We ordered a regular pizza.
The crust was crispy, but pliable.
Every component was good: the crust had a nice taste, the cheese was flavorful, and the sauce was seasoned well. We particularly liked the crispy cheese on the ends. Both of us felt that this was an excellent pizza. My friend declared it the best that we had. For me, it was a tie between this and Brooklyn’s Coal-Burning Brick-Oven Pizza. They are two different styles and both great examples of their respective style.
It may be the cooking method that sets Star Tavern’s pizza apart. First, they cook it for a few minutes in the pan and then they remove it from the pan (easily done since the lip is removed) and finish cooking it in the oven. The heat is 650 degrees, not exceptionally high, like in a coal- or wood-fired oven, and that’s why it is cooked longer than it would be in one of those ovens.
The tavern is a nice place to visit too, as it has a parking lot and a full dining room.