Pizza 101


This is what we would see in Italy if we walked into an authentic pizzeria…


…and this is what you will see if we walk into any Italian-American style Pizzeria these days… and its not so bad having all these choices we did not have 10 year ago!

Its so very hard to test/taste/judge pizza.  Especially when its bad, and trust me, there is plenty of bad pizza out there and its not all frozen.  That being said, if you find a pizza you love, buy extra and freeze it. Its probably cheaper than the factory stuff you buy in the supermarket, and a hell of a lot better.  Below is a photo of a good slice of pizza which will freeze, thaw and reheat well from Pizza 46 in Totowa NJ.

Pizza, just so you know, should be a perfect balance of crisp but chewy dough, crunchy but not hard crust, thin layer of sauce so the cheese is not slipping off of it, and while most Americans love cheese, especially melted, there amount of cheese should never ben thicker than the crust.  In fact, I always ask them to use half the cheese they would normally use and its still too much.  Below is an example, too much dough, dough not cooked well enough, hardly any sauce and too much cheese from The Cedars in Caldwell NJ.

So rather than go through a rant every time I have a bad slice of pizza, I decided to rank pizza in the order of preference from #1 being my favorite, to #101 being the very last slice I would ever eat again.  The rankings will change as I add others to the list.  For example, if I find something better than Domino’s, they are placed before them so their ranking drops.  Why include fast food chains? Because sadly enough, some are better than the smaller owned pizzerias and they are more consistent.


Keep in mind these are for a regular, house, standard “classic” slice.  Nothing fancy, no Buffalo Chicken with blue cheese dressing and diced celery.  We will save that for another time.


So, here is the beginning running list…

  1. My Mother’s Homemade – I tried to make it but can never make it like her’s.
  2. King Umberto’s Grandma (East Hempstead, Long Island NY)
  3. Aunt Josie’s “Tomato Pie” (grated cheese underneath sauce) (Belleville NJ)
  4. Starlite Pizzeria (West Orange NJ)
  5. Keste Pizza & Vino (West Village NYC) As my cousin Massimo from Sicily says, its as close as you can get outside of Italy.  And, it is.  Its not your American variety, or even your Italian-American variety, its got a nice charcoal charred crust, its cooked at very high heat and comes out fast… very think, chewy crust, its unique, and its great.
  6. Amore Mio (Aruba) – No Pepperoni, but the best pizza in true Neapolitan form
  7. Mancinni’s Coal Oven Pizza (Montclair, NJ) Excellent crust, toppings, its a winner, and the best in the area.
  8. Pizza Terminal (Verona NJ) The Bronx, Brooklyn and Sicilian are what remind me of homemade.
  9. Tony D’s Grandma (Caldwell NJ)
  10. Angeloni’s (Caldwell NJ) The Thinny Thin is amazing, its the most incredibly thin slice you can possibly imagine but with a ton of flavor. They bake it in a pan so the end crust is not dough but a thin crisp caramelized crust of cheese which is beyond delicious.
  11. Gennaro’s Cucina (West Caldwell NJ)
  12. Dough Artisan Pizzeria (Caldwell NJ) Brick oven
  13. Marie’s (Hoboken NJ)
  14. Casa Tua (Aruba) very thin crust, not like our New York Style but very good.
  15. Joe’s (Caldwell NJ)  No longer in business
  16. Coal House (Point Pleasant NJ)
  17. Pizza Town USA (Elmwood Park NJ), thinnest, crispest, best crust for the $2/slice price, landmark in NJ too.
  18. Pizzaland ($1 slice as of 10/5/12, thin, crisp, delicious)
  19. Hollywood Pizzeria (Fairfield NJ)
  20. La Pizza (Roseland NJ)
  21. Angelo’s (Parsippany NJ) thin crust, crispy, light, wonderful
  22. Colombo’s (Lincoln Park NJ)
  23. Domino’s 10″ Hand Tossed Pacific Veggie (Chain), Its hard to defend this one, but all I can say is it is as close as I can get to my mother’s, she rarely cooked them larger than 10″ and the light airy crust and fresh veggies cooked but not cooked through really reminded me of how my mother made it.  I don’t care how bad it is, where the ingredients come from, but when I miss my mother’s, this is as close as it gets.  She used a regular oven, not a wood fire or coal oven, and it cooked in 10-15 minutes, I don’t know how they did it, but Dominos recaptured what I have been missing since my mother passed.  I challenge anyone to get light & airy into their dough that is so soft but still holds the sauce and veggies.
  24. Baldwin Pizzeria (Parsippany NJ) big slice, $2, great crisp crunch, great sauce, really good!
  25. Pizza 46 (Totowa NJ)
  26. Angeloni’s (Caldwell NJ)
  27. Agneloni’s Grandma Irm’s (Caldwell NJ)
  28. Panevino Brick Oven (Livingston NJ), restaurant not a pizzeria.
  29. Famous Ray’s (Verona NJ)
  30. Gencarelli’s (Pine Brook NJ)
  31. Ralph’s (Nutley NJ) “Double baked”, crisp, thin crust, love the well-melted cheese till it browns.
  32. RigaTony’s (Little Falls NJ) interesting spices, good.
  33. The Godfather’s (Brick Oven, East Hanover NJ)
  34. Pizza Calabrese (Joao Pessoa, Brazil)
  35. Domino’s Thin Crust (Chain)
  36. Lombardi’s (Fairfield NJ)
  37. Salugo Pizzeria (Verona NJ)
  38. Forte’s (Caldwell NJ)
  39. Frank & Son (Parsippany NJ) good pizza, even layer of crust/sauce/cheese
  40. Anthony Franco’s (Parsippany NJ)
  41. Pazzo Pizzza (Calandra’s, Fairfield NJ)
  42. Delizia Pizza Kitchen (Boonton NJ)
  43. Pizza Hut (Chain)
  44. Venetian Catering (Garfield NJ)
  45. Uno’s Chicago Style (Francise)
  46. Pizza & Sandwich Barn (Caldwell NJ)
  47. Verona Pizzeria (Verona NJ)
  48. 7 Stars (Hoboken NJ) (double slices)
  49. Bruno’s (Clifton NJ) – not the worst, but certainly not one of the best as states.  The Sicilian is ok… but too thick.
  50. Genc’s (Caldwell NJ)
  51. Franco’s Grandma (West Caldwell NJ)
  52. Ah Pizz (Denville NJ)
  53. Parsippany’s Best (Parsippany NJ)
  54. Red Baron Frozen
  55. Maggiano’s Flatbread (Chain)
  56. Sonny’s (Caldwell NJ, Closed, again)
  57. Ciao Bella (Wayne NJ, West Belt Mall, super thin, good, but sauce is barely painted on)
  58. Frank’s Trattoria (West Caldwell NJ)
  59. Cedar Grill (Caldwell NJ) too much dough, too much cheese, little sauce, crust not cooked well.
  60. Slices Pizza (formerly Elins, Elizabeth NJ) – not the worst, but reminded me of what I got in high school.
  61. Stouffers (Frozen)
  62. Mystic Pizza (Frozen)
  63. Tree Tavern (Frozen)
  64. De Giorno (Frozen)
  65. Celentano (Frozen, No longer made)
  66. Ellio’s Frozen (gotten worse as years have gone on)
  67. Tombstone Frozen (gotten worse over time)
  68. Calandra’s Bakery (Calandra’s Italian Village, Caldwell NJ)
  69. Coco Bambu (Fortaleza, Ceara, Brazil)
  70. Papa John’s (Chain)
  71. Capri (Fortaleza, Ceara, Brazil)
  72. Puzo’s Pizzeria (Fairfield NJ) too chewy, too much cheese, odd tasting sauce, too thick/doughy crust.
  73. Whole Foods (West Orange NJ)
  74. Marcello’s (Tuckahoe NY), name could be mistaken, but does not much matter, I can’t ever see me being in this area ever again.  Poor quality cheese, dough thin but not cooked well, tasteless white crust.
  75. Corrado’s (Fairfield NJ), too thick, too much cheese, cafeteria quality.  Sorry Corrado’s, I love your store and most products but not your pizza.
  76. Rusiello’s Sicilian (Worst ever, practically wonder bread with bad quality melted mozzarella cheese) (Caldwell NJ)

Frozen Pizza.  Scary.

1754_10151562703232262_854648385_nAbove: Starlite Pizza Double Slice, $2 in West Orange NJ, one of the best! Thin, crispy, delicious.

Below: Mancinni’s Coal Oven Mushroom Pizza: White pie with roasted crimini, oregano and lemon zest (delicious!)


Not everything was meant to be on pizza, that would include fried onion rings and/or french fries. (Angelo’s in Parsippany NJ), they should stick to the classics, and their plain slice is one of the top 25.




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