#46 Razza

September 16th

Jersey City, NJ

So, funny story: One day about three years ago I was preparing to leave New Haven and move down to Princeton, NJ. My friend in New Haven, knowing how much I liked pizza, told me about this restaurant, Razza, and said that he heard that it was very good. I saved the website in my bookmarks, but we never ended up going. Partly because we didn’t feel like driving to Jersey City, and partly because we started exploring the New York pizza scene instead.

Now, three years later, we read this article, which made the very bold claim that the best pizza in New York is actually in New  Jersey. Well, we knew that we had to try it as soon as possible to see what all the hype was.

We drove out to Jersey City on a Friday night last month. The restaurant was packed. It was right after the review came out, so I guess everyone wanted to see what the big deal was. There were certainly some locals who stopped by and were a little annoyed that all of these people from New York City had come and taken over their restaurant.

Eric dropped me off and I put our name in. It was a 2 hour wait.

A cautious note to anyone thinking of driving to check Razza out: parking is near impossible to find on a weekend or evening here. We spent over an hour driving around trying to find a spot. Luckily, we had plenty of time to kill before we were going to get to try the pizza.

We were finally seated at the bar and ordered our pizza and also the bread and butter appetizer, because we were quite hungry at this point. The bread is homemade, and the butter is cultured from “grass-fed Pennsylvania cows”.  For pizza, we tried the Bosco, with mushrooms, and the Garden State Margherita. The food took a while to come out, probably because they were so busy and weren’t used to the large number of customers.

The pizzas were OK, really. After all the hype, we were slightly disappointed. You can hopefully see in the photo (sorry about the horrible lighting!) that the crust was a little bit burnt and there wasn’t much sauce OR cheese on the margherita. I’m not sure if the pies are usually this toasty, and we generally do like a little char, but this was a bit too much.

Also, while it was great that the restaurant stresses local, in-season ingredients, they really sell this hard on the menu. We LOVE to see local ingredients being used, but also appreciate when restaurants do it in an unpretentious way. That being said, though, the ingredients did taste fresh and the bread and butter was actually very good.

Overall, we don’t think that this pizza is better than many pizzas in NYC. If you are looking for a Neapolitan pizza, we could list several that we liked better than this one. I mean, the pizza was good, for sure, but didn’t live up to the review. It is also completely possible that the night we tried Razza, the chefs were overwhelmed by the high volume of people. So, maybe the pizza wasn’t the best they’ve ever made. We’d be willing to try it again to see (after we get through the rest of the new list, of course!).

To visit:

Razza Pizza Artigianale
275 Grove Street
Jersey City, NJ 07302

 

 

Bruno, Bruno’s, and Mr. Bruno’s

September 5th and September 21st, 2017

Manhattan and New Jersey

Bruno’s is apparently a popular pizzeria name. This month, we’ve been to three pizzerias named Bruno’s (ok, one is actually named “Mr. Bruno’s”). So I’ve decided to post about all three together to find the Best Bruno’s Pizza in the NY/NJ area.

  1. Bruno, Manhattan

The first Bruno can be found in the East Village of Manhattan.  We first noticed the pizza here on Instagram because all of the pizzas posted by the chef look amazing. It has been on our list to visit ever since. While being based in Manhattan, Bruno has a “Brooklyn” feel to it. The chef grinds his own flour in the basement using wheat imported from farms in New York. The ingredients are all locally sourced, and the menu changes seasonally. The restaurant itself has interesting artwork and whitewashed walls, with farmhouse style tables. We loved it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We ordered two pizzas here, the roasted corn seasonal pizza and the ‘nduja, although it was a really tough choice. We had a great talk with Demian, the owner, who told us the story of the pizzeria and how he comes to create such unique pies. We were the only ones in the restaurant (early dinner) and he recognized us from our Instagram! We finished this meal with some of the homemade gelato. We would never have thought that sourdough gelato would be good, but we highly recommend it!

2. Mr. Bruno’s, Lyndhurst, NJ

We’ve been meaning to try out some more pizza found in our home state of New Jersey, so we stopped at two pizza places not too far off of our commute home for dinner one evening.

We ended up testing out Mr. Bruno’s, which was in a strip mall in Lyndhurst, NJ as our first stop. We ordered two Sicilian slices and sat and ate them quickly at the bar.

The plain cheese slices didn’t look so appetizing, but these Sicilian slices were surprisingly good. The sauce was excellent and we liked the more tomato pie-like slice without the heavy dose of mozzarella. The grated cheese on top was just enough cheese for us. We were also pretty excited to see that they sell the sauce there in jars!

3. Bruno’s Pizza, Clifton, NJ

Our second stop after Mr. Bruno’s was Bruno’s Pizza, not too far away in Clifton, NJ. It was similar to Mr. Bruno’s in that it was also located in a strip mall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Like at Mr. Bruno’s, we also ordered the Sicilian tomato slice here. It was also a pretty decent tomato slice. They only have two types of slices here, round and square, and that is all that they serve, so you expect that the slices are good.

When we come down to the comparison of the two, we have to give the slight edge to Mr. Bruno’s, because the sauce there was better. On a tomato pie, it is really the sauce that counts. The slice at Bruno’s had more oregano on the top, which did give it a little something extra though. If we had to pick, Mr. Bruno’s would also win out in the crust category, although that would be a close call.

Overall, our favorite Bruno’s was Bruno, in Manhattan. But we were very happy that our Bruno quest helped us find some solid tomato Sicilian slices on our way home in NJ!

#50 Santillo’s Brick Oven Pizza

May 12th, 2017

Elizabeth, NJ

We were excited to see another New Jersey pizza place break on to the 2016 101 Best Pizzas list, in part because it meant that we wouldn’t have to drive across the country to try it! Santillo’s is located in Elizabeth, NJ, not far from Newark airport, and it took us about half an hour to drive there last Friday after work from our house. I made Eric drive, because I always manage to get myself lost driving around Newark airport.

Santillo’s Brick Oven Pizza has probably the most unique menu we’ve seen. Instead of specialty pizzas and toppings, they list the style of pizza by date, giving you a pizza timeline. There is the 1948 style tomato pie, with no mozzarella and just grated cheese. You have the 1964 classic style, which gets a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of parmesean that was popular back then. The 1990’s style has a thin, soft crust.

You can also specify how well done you like your crust, from “6 minutes – soft” to “10 minutes – brown/black”. You can order any pie as a round pie or Sicilian. And you can add whatever toppings you’d like, at $4 a pop.

We went with a 1960’s style pizza, which has “less cheese, more sauce”. The crust was thin and crispy, and the sauce was so good. We got half with spinach, because Eric doesn’t like to keep anything plain. We almost went with the lasagna pie because it looks so good in pictures, but we were more intrigued by the different years and styles.

   

They make their pizzas to go, so there isn’t any seating inside. We were worried that the pizza wouldn’t be as hot if we took it all the way home, so we found a parking lot on the back of the building and sat and ate our pizza there.

The pizzas reminded us a bit of the pies at Star Tavern, and it is hard to say which pies we liked better. Next time we come, we’ll have to remember to bring our own beach chairs so we don’t have to sit on the ground. This will become a regular in our pizza rotation, I think, although I’m not sure that we will ever have the restraint to wait until we get home to eat it.

 

To visit:

Santillo’s Brick Oven Pizzeria
639 S Broad Street
Elizabeth, NJ 07202

 

#39 Delorenzo’s Tomato Pies

February 21st, 2016

Robbinsville, NJ

You may remember my previous post from Robbinsville, NJ, when we went to Papa’s Tomato Pies. You may also remember that we were underwhelmed, and so we were hoping that Delorenzo’s Tomato Pies would be better.

Delorenzo’s started out in Trenton, NJ, but then opened its Robbinsville location in 2007. They kept the original location open until 2012, but then closed it down. I’m surprised it stayed open so long, since apparently it didn’t have any public restrooms! Even though they weren’t necessary when the restaurant was built, I’m not really sure why the owners wouldn’t have added some restrooms along the way. It would be very difficult to enjoy a pizza with a full bladder and nowhere to empty it. Maybe some people thought that was charming? I’d have to not drink any liquid all day prior to dinner. I DEFINITELY wouldn’t be able to BYOB.

In any case, the Robbinsville location was busy. We got there shortly after opening (4 pm), thinking that we’d be early for dinner, but we had completely missed the first seating and we ended up waiting for about an hour. We ordered a regular tomato pie (of course), and we decided that the tomato pie here is significantly better than the tomato pies at Papa’s.

    

They also get props for cutting the pizza New Haven-style.

We were a bit disappointed by the Robbinsville pizza scene, since the two pizzerias are some of the closest to where we live. If you are driving down I-95 and get hungry for pizza, we’d recommend stopping here instead of at Papa’s, unless you get there at 4 pm on a weekend and are in a rush because there will definitely be a line.

To visit:

Delorenzo’s Tomato Pies
2350 US Highway 33
Robbinsville, NJ 08691