35 Must-Try Palaces of Pizza

Take a century of tradition, add local color, a new wave of artisanship and imagination, and what you get just might be Jersey's favorite food.

S.Egidio, Ridgewood

Named for Saint Egidio and one of the owners’ great-grandfathers, this dark-paneled restaurant makes one of the best Neapolitan pies around. You won’t see any pizza bones (as wags call smile-shaped crusts left on plates). The crust here is light, pliant, yeasty in flavor and speckled with char. Fresh mozzarella is made in house. Standouts include the Margherita and the Toscana, with mozzarella, San Marzano tomatoes, sausage, mushrooms, Pecorino and dots of house-made pesto.—MRB
17 North Broad Street, 201-389-3525

Photo by Eric Rank

 

Star Tavern, Orange

Founded in 1952 and run by the Vayianos family since 1980, Star is renowned for its thin crusts, which derive their toothsome texture from baking for the first few minutes in lightly oiled aluminum pans, then finishing on the oven’s stone deck. Cheese and sauce meld like backup singers behind stellar toppings like Hormel Rosa Grande pepperoni. The recipe for the signature white clam-sauce pie calls for olive oil, butter, fresh lemon juice, white wine and two gallons of fresh-shucked chopped clams from a local seafood supplier.—EL
400 High Street, 973-675-3336

Tacconelli’s, Maple Shade

The Tacconellis are pizza royalty dating to 1946, when Giovanni Tacconelli started making tomato pies in his bakery in Philadelphia. Giovanni’s great-grandson, Vince Jr., and his wife, Doris, opened an offshoot in Moorestown in 2003, then relocated to Maple Shade in 2014. In keeping with family tradition, the pies are toasty, dark and thin, with a nearly flat perimeter that crunches. Vince Jr. makes eight standard pies plus a special or two. Design your own from a list of 18 toppings. The menu recommends choosing “no more than three”—wise words aimed at ensuring a properly baked pie. Also note: “No credit cards accepted.”—AE
27 West Main Street, 856-667-4992

Talula’s, Asbury Park

For Shanti and Steve Mignogna, the couple behind this wildly popular spot, baking was the gateway to pizza. “We’re total bread heads,” says Shanti. After years perfecting their sourdough starter and hosting pizza parties, they opened Talula’s in 2014. Their pies, baked in a gas-fired stone hearth, are thin yet hearty, with puffy, charred crusts. The New Yorker pie distinctively combines fresh and aged mozzarella with aged provolone. The Dolorian, a witty brunch pie, is topped with smoked salmon, hash browns, crema, capers, scallions and dill. Whatever the topping, the foundation raises Talula’s to the heights.—SV
550 Cookman Avenue, 732-455-3003

Photo by Erik Rank

Tony Boloney’s, Atlantic City

In 2009, Mike Hauk opened this funky joint on the northern edge of A.C. for the battalions of construction workers soon to erect Revel. “We started serving frozen crap,” he says, “but didn’t feel good about it, and went to making everything from scratch.” Revel is vacant, but Hauk’s house is full. Mozzarella is made daily, and the wild, yeast starter dates to 2010. Boloney’s is notorious for bizarro creations like its $80 taco pizza, but what puts it on this list is the solid artisanship of its more than 35 composed pies, even semi-eccentricities like the Jewish Cowboy, topped with smoked brisket, Havarti, beet horseradish and Hauk’s grandmother’s brisket sauce.—AE
300 Oriental Avenue, 609-344-8669

Tony D’s, Caldwell

With only two small tables, Tony DiFabrizio’s place is largely for takeout. In warm weather he puts out a few sidewalk stools. His pizzas—especially the thin crust, rectangular pan pies he calls Grandmas—are so good we could see sitting on the hood of our car and just gorging. Call ahead for a Grandma; they are twice-baked, the second time with toppings, and take an hour to make. Behold the lacy frizzles where the cheese oozed over the crunchy edges and sizzled. Round pies are equally worthy (and take less time!), as in the Milano, topped with sausage and tangy Gorgonzola.—MRB
3 Hanford Place, 973-228-9500; BYO

Treno, Westmont

This stylish Italian wine bar makes excellent pizza in two styles. Wood-fired pies are Neapolitan by another name. Fashioned from powdery 00-flour, long fermented and baked quickly in a wood-burning oven, they come in six intriguing combinations plus a Margherita. Brick-oven pies, made with regular bread flour, are baked in a gas oven and have sturdier crusts closer to classic Jersey. Treno may be the only place in the state that does both. Perhaps because it’s a full-menu restaurant, Treno stands out for its toppings—roasted delicata squash, oyster mushrooms and house-made Calabrian chili sausage, to name a few.—AE
233 Haddon Avenue, 856-833-9233

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