Back in the 1990s on 22ndStreet in Manhattan there was a brick oven pizza place and restaurant that had specialty pies named after actors like DiNero and Pacino. I wish I saved the menu, but it was good. In fact, Al Pacino often dined there. He often went to the YMCA on 23rd Street on the next block. This place served breakfast and lunch, and the food was quite good for the price for something like a glorified diner or deli. From what I can recall, the Pacino was simply, fresh fire roasted red peppers, fresh mozzarella, fresh steamed plumb tomatoes. Unfortunately, this place is gone, and that was 20 years ago, but sooner or later we knew there had to be a whole new category for pizza with new places carrying the torch to deliver something more extraordinary than your typical slice of pizza. NOT that there is anything wrong with that, I am a purist myself, but sometimes you need to get off the beaten path.
While at first, I admit, I hated it. I am a purist. However, today, there is plenty of innovative pizza to go around. These new specialty pizzas go above and beyond your standard pepperoni and/or sausage pizza, they copy a theme, and put it on a crust, sometimes it works. So here is the list…
- Wild Mushroom Pizza (Tony D’s – Caldwell NJ) 5 different types of mushrooms, shitake, portabello, button, oyster, and crimini mushrooms on top of provolone pan pizza. All fresh, this is my all time favorite go to pizza joint.
- Philly Cheesesteak Pizza (Anelino’s – Caldwell NJ) This consists of chopped onions, beef, onions, pepper, and two cheeses, and honestly its quite good, but I am not sure I needed the french fries on top of it.
- They really did this well. Small chunks of spicy chicken in buffalo sauce, covered with diced celery and drizzled with ranch/blue cheese dressing.
- The Claudio (Tony D’s – Caldwell NJ) A great combination of hot cherry peppers and gorgonzola cheese, which is very similar to blue cheese. Its salty, its spicy, its not for someone with a fragile stomach or taste buds.
- Ravenite Cafe (Little Italy NJ) – Fresh and nearly raw plum tomatoes from the garden, burratta, garden basil.
- Casa Tua (Aruba) Gypsy – How perfect, the new innovation on an old theme! You have a thin crust pizza with fine sliced onion, olives and chorizo in place of pepperoni. Delicious.
- Dough (Caldwell NJ) – Parsnip, Arugula…