Category Archives: Pizza

New Jersey Pizza Tour, Fourth Stop: Reservoir Tavern, Boonton

Reservoir Tavern was opened in Boonton, New Jersey, in 1936 by Italian immigrant Nicola Bevacqua, named so because it sits near the Boonton Reservoir.  Today, it is run by his grandson, Nicola III.

We tried a bar pizza, which was thin but less crispy than the other bar pizzas we had tried. The sauce was not overpowering either, not too salty or too sweet.

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The Margherita pie was more doughy and cheesy but also more wet because of the tomato.

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Both were tasty pies. What’s great about Reservoir Tavern is that in addition to pizza, they have a full menu with other Italian specialties you don’t often see in restaurants like zucchini flowers, broccoli rabe, escarole and beans and cavatelli. We got the broccoli rabe salad. Yum!

broccoli rabe

A visit to Reservoir Tavern is pleasant, as there is a large parking lot and dining room.

New Jersey Pizza Tour, Third Stop: DeLucia’s Brick Oven Pizza, Raritan

Italian immigrant Costantino DeLucia opened a bread bakery in Raritan, NJ, in 1917 and added pizza to the menu in 1935.  By the 1950s, he exclusively sold pizza. DeLucia’s Brick Oven Pizza is still operated by his descendants today. In fact, it’s a sight to see just for New Jersey nostalgia and history.  If you go, there is no parking right near it, but there’s plenty of parking in the residential neighborhood around it and on the street in front of nearby shops.

The building is characteristic of old New Jersey buildings. Very quaint. The dining area is no-frills. There is waitress service though. But there is no restroom because it predates restroom requirements. (Plan accordingly. There’s no restroom at the nearby ice cream shop either, which I went to in hopes there would be. I had ice cream anyway. So me.)

The highlight is the awesome old oven. (I always feel the word “awesome” is overused in America. It should truly be reserved for awesome things, and this oven is one of them.)

This baby is 100 years old and can definitely cook a pie. Look, there’s one in there now.

We ordered a plain cheese pizza. The pizza here is more of a New York-style. It has the typical thin New Jersey crust that is crunchier than New York-style. Also, the sauce has a salty taste, not sweet like the Trenton tomato pies, which is a welcome taste for those who prefer a saltier sauce to a sweet one.

New Jersey Pizza Tour, Second Stop: De Lorenzo’s Tomato Pies, Robbinsville

De Lorenzo’s Tomato Pies was opened in Trenton in 1947 but now resides in Robbinsville, not far down the street from Papa’s.  Pasquale and Maria De Lorenzo came to America from a town near Naples and opened De Lorenzo’s in Trenton in 1936.  In 1947, their son Alexander (Chick) opened his own pizzeria. Like Papa’s, De Lorenzo’s started out with a coal-fired oven and switched to gas in the 1950s. There are two separate De Lorenzo’s run by descendants of Pasquale and Maria, DeLorenzo’s Pizza, now in Hamilton, NJ, and De Lorenzo’s Tomato Pies in Robbinsville.  The Robbinsville location is run by Sam Amico, Chick’s grandson. It’s a modern-style restaurant in a cute shopping center.

Salads are a new addition to the menu and I got the radicchio, artichoke and pecorino salad.  This salad was delicious. I’d love to recreate this at home.

We ordered a regular tomato pie. The pie was cut down the middle in irregular-shaped slices.  The sauce was sweet, and the crust was thin and crisp but a bit more pliable than Papa’s.

 

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New Jersey Pizza Tour, First Stop: Papa’s Tomato Pies in Robbinsville

Papa’s Tomato Pies, in Robbinsville, NJ, was originally opened in 1912 in Trenton, NJ.

It claims to be the oldest continuously family-run pizza restaurant in the country.

Neapolitan natives Giuseppe (Joe) and Adalene Papa founded the pizzeria

that is now run by their grandson, Nick Azzaro.

The first pizzeria in Trenton was called Joe’s Tomato Pies opened in 1910 by Joe Silvestro (closed in 1999).  Joe Papa learned to make tomato pies here before opening his own shop at age 17.

Papa’s serves “tomato pies” as opposed to “pizza,” the difference supposedly being that the cheese is put on the dough first, then the tomato sauce. But I must admit, I didn’t notice a difference. It’s all apizz’ to me.  According to Ed Levine’s Pizza:  A Slice of Heaven, the original ovens at Papa’s were coal-fired and changed to gas in the 1950s.

From the menu, I ordered a regular tomato pie. (Interestingly, they have what they call a mustard pie, that has mustard underneath the cheese and tomato. I’ve never seen this before.)

 

So I’ve written about pizza before. Pizza has three components:  crust, sauce and cheese. The hardest part to perfect is the dough. Good pizza dough is kind of like porn–I know it when I see it. Papa’s has perfected the dough. It has a great bake and flavor. It has a pretty thin crispy crust, which I’ve come to learn, is popular in New Jersey. The sauce, on the sweet side, showcases the tomato nicely.  The cheese is creamy.  With an excellent crust, albeit on the thin side for my taste, all in all, Papa’s makes a great pie.

(I ordered a house salad too to make eating pizza a bit healthier. However, the salad was lackluster to say the least. Stick to the pie and get your greens elsewhere.)

The restaurant is located behind another building off the road. There is a gravel driveway and a parking lot with plenty of parking. It is cash only so be prepared. They do have an ATM on site.

New Jersey Pizza Tour

I had been wanting to go on a New Jersey pizza tour for some time now. I finally did it. My goal was to hit the classic pizza places, especially those started by Italian immigrants for a cultural, historical pilgrimage as well. So for the next two weeks, I will showcase one pizzeria per day.

Just to recap my pizza cred, my parents owned a pizzeria and my relatives opened some in New Jersey in the first half of the 20th century. I’ve eaten pizza in Naples, New York and New Haven. Now, it’s time for New Jersey.

(The writer in me couldn’t resist the alliteration, but I’ve had pizza in other parts of the country too, including Chicago.)

In 2002, I wrote an article on pizza for Hobokeni.com where I sampled pizza from every pizzeria in the Mile Square at the time.  It was a huge task for one person, but I accomplished it with the help of friends (although I personally tried each slice too).

When critiquing pizza, I think it’s best to order a plain pie with no toppings.  The three components of pizza are crust, sauce and cheese.  I think it’s easier to taste each one when there are no other toppings.  Also, I think it’s best to order a whole pie instead of a slice because slices can be sitting around at many pizzerias.  The whole pie comes fresh out of the oven to you.  Personally, I think the crust is the true testament of whether someone can make pizza or not.  However, I’ve eaten pizza where the crust was great but the sauce or cheese was not.  So I do believe a good pie is a combination of the three.

Hope you enjoy my journey, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on your favorite pie!

–Dina Di Maio

Delicious Pizza & the Best Broccoli Rabe at Denino’s NYC

Denino’s Pizzeria & Tavern is the Greenwich Village outpost of a popular Staten Island pizzeria.  The Denino family came to New York City from Sicily in 1887. The family opened a tavern in 1937 and started serving pizza in 1951.  I visited their Village location.

I got a pizza with half cheese and half arugula and sausage.

I’m hard to please when it comes to pizza, so when I say a pizza is delicious, it really is!  Denino’s is delicious. For thin crust fans, this crust is crispy with enough chew to it so it’s not too crispy. It has a nice flavor, as does the sauce and cheese. Hard to find a perfect combo of the three, but Denino’s pulls it off.

In addition to pizza, we got a side order of broccoli rabe.  It was chopped, which was a nice touch and made it easier to eat.  It was also cooked and seasoned to perfection. In fact, this is the best broccoli rabe that I have eaten in a restaurant. It was so good, we got two orders!

 

The New Italy in New York: Rossopomodoro Neapolitan Cuisine

Rossopomodoro is a restaurant in the West Village specializing in Neapolitan cuisine.  I would classify it as a modern take on Neapolitan cuisine that also highlights some of the classics like Margherita pizza and dishes like pasta
Genovese.  I met a dear friend here for lunch.  The host and waiter were friendly and made this a lovely experience.

For a starter, we shared the polpetta di melanzane, or eggplant meatballs, which of course, were vegetarian. And very good!

For our entrees, we got pizza to share. First, the Margherita pizza.  This pizza was very nice.  The tomato sauce in particular had a very fresh, sweet tomato flavor.  This pizza was not as “wet” in the middle as Neapolitan-style pizza tends to be.

We also got the Genovese pizza with mozzarella di bufala, basil pesto, pecorino and chili.  This pizza was a bit spicy with the chili but not unpleasantly so.  Just the right amount.

The bright red and green colors on our table were reminiscent of the Italian flag!

For a side dish and a bit of vegetable, I got the broccoli rabe, which was cooked perfectly–not bitter at all.

For dessert, we had the semolina lemon cake with strawberry gelato.  This had such pure, delightful lemon flavor that you really did not need the gelato.  The cake was that good on its own.

We also shared the Nutella panna cotta. Cream and Nutella, what more can I say?

A highlight about the menu for those with gluten issues is the gluten-free pizza, which from the sound of reviews, is pretty great.