Guess Again, New Yorkers. There was never any question about where the best pizza comes from.
It’s not Manhattan. And it’s not Brooklyn either. It’s New Jersey. New Jersey lay claim to many of the greatest things: Bagels (no questions asked), Italian subs, wings, breakfast sandwiches, and pizza. Not to mention James Gandolfini, Frank Sinatra, Bruce Springsteen, Peter Dinklage, and all other important people, music, and foods. It’s quite the underrated state; I love listening to New Yorkers or Californians hate on New Jersey despite never having seen the beautiful towns, sprawling mansions, incredible beaches, fantastic restaurants, badass music scene, majestic mountains, bright green farm plains, breathtaking NYC views, and basically anything else one could possibly need in life. Here’s the thing about it all: we love it, because it keeps the undesirables out. New Jersey will always just be New Jersey, not nothing, or no one else.
Now watch this, before I begin:
Now, all of this being said, I will defend New York and Brooklyn to the day I die. There’s no city quite like it. But one thing that NYC and it’s residents simply cannot proudly boast about is the best pizza. Not even Italy can do that. The best pizza my friend, lies tucked away in the small and dated, yet classic and always-crowded pizzerias of New Jersey. Perhaps best of all, in my opinion, is Star Tavern in the town of Orange. It’s the best pizza in New Jersey, without a doubt.
Good pizza is not complicated. Italian food is the food of peasants. We lived off the land; fresh ingredients and simple combinations yield the best meals. Pizza isn’t about wild flavors like taco or Hawaiian, although I don’t dare knock a good late-night buffalo slice. Pizza starts with a nice, thin crust that is cooked to perfection; just enough to provide a rustic brick-oven flavor to support the other ingredients. Next is the sauce, what most would argue is the most important part. Bad sauce, bad pizza. A good sauce is mostly tomato flavor, and nice and light, at first. But after, you taste the herbs, the richness, and the depth to all the other ingredients that make it great. Oregano, garlic, onion, and the right amount of spice. Lastly you need the best cheese. If your cheese is low quality, it won’t melt and be stringy like you need it to. Cheap cheese is the biggest offender in bad pizza. After that, you can put your toppings, but best keep it simple and classic: Pepperoni, sausage and garlic, anchovies, or mushroom. Too much stuff and you don’t taste the pizza itself. It’s like making a sugary cocktail with top shelf liquor. What’s the point?
Part of the enjoyment of waiting for pizza is indulging in fried calamari. Wings or mozzarella sticks if you’d like. What I’ve just described is a very simple, very pure experience. There’s no gimmicks to distract from the quality of the meal. If it’s amazing, it’s amazing, and if it’s not, well then it just isn’t. Where to do this? I’d argue no place better to go than Star Tavern. Pair with a nice cold beer, and you’ve got a recipe for pure saucy, cheesy, garlicky bliss.
So, if you venture anywhere to find yourself the best Italian-American meal of your life, better make it New Jersey. And don’t worry, but don’t stay too long either. People from New Jersey are some of the nicest, happiest and friendliest people around. Unless you pick on us about New Jersey itself, or pizza. In which case, “Go %*@# Ya Self *@$*hole!!”
Where’s the best pizza you’ve ever had? Leave a comment!