Your Guide to the Best Pizza in New Jersey

With an estimated 2,000 pizzerias in the state, no Jerseyan is ever far from a satisfying slice.

best pizza new jersey

In the Asbury Park sunshine bask two pies from Porta, a Winter Betty with brussels sprouts and a 14 1/2 with hot soppressata. Photo by Stuart Goldenberg

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Pizza. Say it fast, and it snaps like crispy crust. Say it slow, and it stretches like melty mozz. However you say it, Jerseyans have been savoring pizza since it arrived in Trenton in 1912 as the tomato pie. As simple as pizza is—a flatbread with condiments, served fresh from the oven—it continues to evolve. Steel pans create blissfully crunchy crusts. Pepperoni is the top topping, but these days, consider shrimp, prosciutto, blue cheese, even beets. With an estimated 2,000 pizzerias in the state, no Jerseyan is ever far from a satisfying slice or a whole pie to feed a crowd. From our recent rounds of diligent indulgence, we present our favorite palaces of pizza. (Purchase the full issue here.)—Eric Levin

Angeloni’s

Caldwell

Angeloni’s sits on a quiet side street off busy Bloomfield Avenue. Tablecloths are classic Jersey Italian—red-checkered vinyl. The pizza, known as the thinny-thin, is indeed oh-so thin, featuring a rich tomato sauce and lacy edges of crisp mozzarella. Could you eat a whole pie by your lonesome? You might just surprise yourself.—Marissa Rothkopf Bates

6 Brookside Avenue, 973-226-1234 | BYO

Arturo’s

Maplewood

Arturo’s was a ho-hum slice-and-sub spot when Fred Shandler bought it 10 years ago. Since then, there’s often been a line outside, and little wonder. The pies emerge from the wood-burning oven deeply baked, with appealingly charred crusts and intriguing topping combinations. Cases in point: a recent butternut squash, onion and herbed breadcrumb pie; and the Santo, featuring ground sausage, onions and dashes of chili oil.—Nick Stellini

180 Maplewood Avenue, 973-378-5800 | BYO

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Dark edges are a hallmark of Mike Fitzick’s baking in steel pans. Pictured at right: his buffalo chicken number. Photos by Stuart Goldenberg

Bakeria 1010

Linwood

In his late teens, Mike Fitzick found that delivering pizza gave him cover to deal drugs. When he learned to make pizza, he not only cleaned up his act, he found his calling. His lusty square pies and traditional rounds are worth seeking out at his unassuming stand in a medical-building food court.

2110 New Road, Linwood, 609-927-5812 | BYO

Barcelona’s

Garfield 

Barcelona’s was founded in 1933, “though it could have been earlier—we’re not sure,” says Jimmy LaRose, husband of Elaine, whose maiden name was Barcelona. They run Barcelona’s along with their children. “I’m 85,” says Jimmy, “so I don’t have to talk to anybody.” Which is odd, because he’ll talk your ear off, starting with how the planks in the floor are 4 inches thick. (“The place is built like a bomb shelter.”) Barcelona’s is not just talk. The pizza, slathered in thick tomato sauce and layered cheese, is deeply satisfying. The extensive drinks menu includes two flavors of Manischewitz.—Eric Levin

38 Harrison Avenue, 973-778-4930

Bivio

Montclair

In Italian, a bivio is a crossroad. Tomasso Colao officially reached his when he and his wife, Jackie, opened Bivio Pizza Napoletana in Little Falls in 2011. Before then, the Paterson native had been a professional jazz musician, cooking on alto sax and flute. Having worked in restaurants—in kitchens and front of the house—he wasn’t a culinary blank slate. After closing the original Bivio in 2015, the Colaos reopened in Montclair in late 2017. Colao likens Neapolitan pizza—which cooks in a couple minutes in, traditionally, a wood-fired oven—to a jazz solo. “You have to get in and get out and make a statement without carrying on forever,” he says. Crafting dough is like practicing an instrument. “You have to be in tune with what you’re doing,” he explains. “You have to feel it, you have to make adjustments and not be afraid to make adjustments, and that’s how you keep it consistent.” Bivio’s crusts are light with pleasing chews and a rim of char. He works from a repertoire of about 50 variations. Best sellers include the amatriciana, a sausage and eggplant and a lemon with buffalo mozzarella and hot soppressata.—Eric Levin [Editor’s note: This location was inadvertently left out of our print issue.]

107 Pine Street, 973-941-9602 | BYO

Blue Steel

Bloomfield

The owners of Wooden Spoon, a casual eatery with signature cocktails, rebranded in August to highlight their new obsession, Detroit-style pizza—baked in rectangular pans, the story goes, like those used in auto factories to hold small parts. In Detroit style, says manager Luke Brewer, dollops of sauce go over the cheese, a blend of mozzarella and a mild cheddar known as brick. “We let the dough ferment for three days,” he says. “That’s why the pizza is so light and airy.” The best-seller, ricotta and sausage, gets vodka sauce and a smattering of red cherry-pepper relish. The combination is terrific.—Eric Levin

285 Glenwood Avenue, 973-678-1873

The Boiler Room

Cape May

Below ground in the landmark Congress Hall hotel, the Boiler Room is driven by its wood-burning oven, from which emerge crisp, bubbly pies. Tomatoes and toppings, in season, often come from the company’s Beach Plum Farm, a short drive from town. The pepperoni pie is stellar and assertive, and the underground ambience is captivating.—Eric Levin

200 Congress Place, 809-884-6507

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There’s often a line, but at Rick Easton’s urban magnet, the payoff is primo. Photo by Laura Moss

Bread and Salt

Jersey City

In 2019, a few years after acclaimed baker Rick Easton closed his Pittsburgh bakery, he opened Bread and Salt in the Heights section of Jersey City. Pre-pandemic, people bunched up in line for Easton’s thin, crisp-yet chewy rectangulars, made with dough fermented three days. Classic bianca, rossa and Margherita are elevated with ingredients sourced from Italy. Other pies feature engaging combinations of local ingredients like fennel, onions and olives, or Concord grapes and rosemary. Lines are more spread out these days. It’s takeout only.—Shelby Vittek

435 Palisade Avenue, 201-500-7338

Brooklyn

Haddon Heights

Born in Brooklyn, Filippo Sparacio spent most of his first 10 years with family in Sicily. Back in the U.S. as a teen, he worked in pizzerias. In 2018, he bought Sal’s and renamed it for his birthplace. His signature, the Brooklyn, is a thin-crust square with chunky marinara. Also popular is the Upside Down, with cheese under the sauce, the Drunk Grandma, with creamy vodka sauce, and the Honey Moon, with chili-infused honey over sausage and pepperoni. Sparacio rests his dough in olive oil for two or three days before baking. He says it helps produce a crispier crust.Jill P. Capuzzo

908 West Kings Highway; 856-310-2334 | BYO

Bruno’s

Haddon Township 

When Rino Fascelli came from Naples in 2003, he brought with him the recipe for his Sicilian-style Margherita. Tangy with fresh tomatoes and basil, it sells well at Bruno’s, which Fascelli took over from his wife’s uncle in 2014. Also popular is the white pizza with ricotta, mushrooms, baby spinach and fresh garlic. When Fascelli visits Italy, his father, a retired pizza man, always asks him to bring a pie. “I say, ‘Are you crazy? That’s where pizza comes from.’ And he says, ‘For some reason, they taste better from over there.’”Jill P. Capuzzo

509 Hopkins Road; 856-428-9505 | BYO

Carluccio’s

Northfield 

When the Golden Nugget took over Trump Marina in 2011, one of the businesses that got booted was Carlo Citera’s pizzeria. Instead of sulking, he turned a Dunkin’ Donuts into Carluccio’s, a stylish space with a staggering list of pies: New York–style, thin-crust Sicilian, flatbread, coal-fired, gas-fired. The crusts are expert, and they support toppings including the quintet of San Marzano tomatoes, basil, oregano, extra-virgin olive oil and house-made mozzarella (the Grandma) featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.—Adam Erace

1200 New Road, 609-641-4011 | BYO

Conte’s

Princeton

As if free parking weren’t enough of an attraction in this tight downtown, Conte’s seals the deal with thin-crust pizza, generously sauced, edges spotted with char. Choose from eight toppings. Founded as a bar in 1936 by Italian immigrant Sebastiano Conte and still run by the family, Conte’s claims to have introduced pizza to Princeton in 1950. The glass-block bar and formica-topped tables date from that time.—Kelly-Jane Cotter

339 Witherspoon Street, 609-921-8041

DeLorenzo’s Pizza

Hamilton

Rick DeLorenzo Jr., of the famous Trenton pizza family, makes a modern pizza as well as the classic Trenton tomato pie (tomatoes on top). He favors smooth marinara over chunky tomatoes. Choose from 18 toppings. It’s often difficult to get though on the phone; best to just stop by.Jill P. Capuzzo

147 Sloan Avenue; 609-393-2952 | BYO

De Lorenzo’s Tomato Pies

Robbinsville

Among the last tomato-pie makers to leave Trenton, in 2012, Eileen and Gary Amico joined son Sam at his Robbinsville location. Fans waiting for a table can watch the crew slicing pies with knives rather than rollers (resulting in uneven sizes). The pizzas, chunky tomatoes on top, have thin, chewy crusts and lots of mozzarella. Toppings include Italian tuna, artichokes and chopped clams.Jill P. Capuzzo

2350 Route 33; 609-341-8480 | BYO

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Handiwork with ladle, basil and Parmesan prepares a classic Margherita for the oven. Photos by Stuart Goldenberg

Denino’s

Aberdeen, Brick, Manahawkin

Pies emerge from the brick oven well done, the thin crusts splotched with thick, fresh sauce. If you want to call them Staten Island style, go ahead. That’s where Carlo Denino, son of founder John, began serving pizza at the family pub in 1951. Carlo’s son, Michael Burke, and his brother, Michael Denino, run it today. For a richer pie, try the vodka, with creamy pink sauce and mozzarella.—Kelly-Jane Cotter

1077-F Route 34, Aberdeen, 732-583-2150; 869 Mantoloking Road, Brick, 732-262-1313; 100 McKinley Avenue, Manahawkin, 609-622-2255 | BYO

Dominick’s

Newton

When Dominick’s opened in the early ’60s, it was the first pizzeria in town. It’s still owned by the Lombardo family and going strong (in a bigger space). The pies are square, with puffy-yet-thin, crunchy-yet-yielding crusts, delicious with any topping. But the specialty worth driving any distance for is the Palermo, with marinara, red onions and “special herbs and spices.” The Nonnina—just creamy mozzarella and generous amounts of fresh basil—shows how rewarding simplicity can be.—Marissa Rothkopf Bates

10 East Clinton Street, 973-383-9330 | BYO

Dozzino

Hoboken  

In Italy, pizzas are small, served unsliced and made to be eaten with knife and fork. Ditto Dozzino. Savor the delicious aroma imparted by the wood-fired oven. Appreciate the gentle give of the crust. Dozzino is one of the few places that offers a mortadella topping—a mild, creamy-textured pork product that’s a nice change from pepperoni.—Marissa Rothkopf Bates

534 Adams Street, 201-656-6561 | BYO

Emily’s Hearth

Sussex

Emily Downs gets around, firing her wood-fueled oven on a trailer hitched to her car. You’ll find her at the Sparta farmers market in season, and often at Get Juiced, an old diner now devoted to health food. Downs’s pizzas are light, crisp and often creative, as in a recent pie subbing butternut squash purée for tomato sauce, finished with sunflower seeds and pesto.—Nick Stellini

4 Hamburg Ave, 973-868-2268 | BYO

Federici’s

Freehold

In 1921, Frank and Ester Federici founded the place, now run by third-gen brothers Mike, David and John Federici. Two photos of staff with local hero Bruce Springsteen (mid-’80s, mid-’90s) hang on the walls. When the company that had been supplying Federici’s mozzarella for 50 years went bust, “it took almost two years to find a cheese that melted and tasted the same,” says Mike. Finding the right one was vital, since the plain cheese pie is the best seller. “By the end,” says Mike, “I was pretty cheesed out.” Cash only. Federici’s is planning centennial celebrations throughout 2021.—Eric Levin

14 East Main Street, 732-462-1312

Il Tavolino

Wallington 

Crazy-delicious things are happening at this hole-in-the-wall, opened in 2019. Pizza maestro Dave Ligas makes everything from scratch and proofs the dough up to three days for maximum flavor. Crusts come in three thicknesses, including a Sicilian that is like eating a cloud—if clouds were covered in sauce made from four kinds of tomatoes and creamy, fresh mozzarella. The Smoky ’Roni, a semi-thin crust covered in crispy cups of pepperoni, is the stuff pizza dreams are made of. Ask about the daily specials, which may include a mind-blowing French-onion-soup pie slathered in sherry-kissed caramelized onions and Gruyère.—Marissa Rothkopf Bates

435 Paterson Avenue, 201-460-3400 | BYO

John’s Boy

Glen Rock

Think dark wood booths, framed photos of Little League teams, and classic thin-crust pizza. The name John’s Boy is a warping of founder John Parco’s nickname, Johnny Boy, says his son-in-law, Umberto Iomazzo. Parco opened the place in 1983. Iomazzo went to work there in 1994 and eventually married Parco’s daughter, Patrizia. They run the place together, following Parco’s recipe, adding twists like a mac ’n’ cheese pie with bacon and also a Sicilian Margherita. The many toppings include barbecue chicken.—Nick Stellini 

206-1/2 Rock Road, 201-652-8188 | BYO

Kinchley’s Tavern

Ramsey 

Kinchley’s has been putting smiles on faces since 1937, when it was just a simple, white, wooden roadhouse. It’s now red and bigger (after several additions), but still full of old-time charm, including red-gingham oilcloth table covers and welcoming staff overseen by George Margolis (owner since 1986) and family. The ultra-thin pies, with their sweet, tomatoey sauce, salty cheese and cracker-crunchy crust never disappoint. The creamed-spinach pizza is not only an unusual take, but a decadent one that should not be missed.—Marissa Rothkopf Bates

586 North Franklin Turnpike, 201-934-7777

best pizza new jersey

The square Earth First, from this Jersey City fave, packs plenty of Detroit muscle. Photo by Laura Moss

Low Fidelity

Jersey City

When Kent Baker and Jesse Weeks, who own the popular Jersey City cocktail bar the Archer, opened this no-fuss bar in the Heights in 2017, they decided to tackle Detroit-style pizza. The pan pizza’s dough ferments 24 hours, then is prebaked before cheese and other toppings are added. The result is thick, crispy and chewy. Lo-Fi, as the bar is called, updates traditional combinations, as in the Aloha Satellite, topped with guanciale, tasso ham, fermented pineapple, serrano pepper and pecorino cream, an exciting version of Hawaiian pizza.—Shelby Vittek

328 Palisade Avenue, 201-795-3600

Lucky Bones

Cape May

David Craig, owner of the Washington Inn and Cape May Winery, opened Lucky Bones in 2006. You can get anything from bacon-wrapped shrimp to steaks, but don’t overlook the crunchy 12-inch pizzas. Lucky Bones sent a team to Naples to research pizza before arriving at its own recipe. The three most popular, in order, are the Margherita, the American (tomato sauce and mozzarella) and the Clam Boat (Jersey clams, roasted garlic, Parmesan, mozzarella, oregano). Early in the pandemic, to offer a family-size option for takeout, Lucky Bones created the Grandma, a thick pan pizza in two sizes.—Eric Levin

1200 Route 109 South, 609-884-2663

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The Mezzaluna is (yes, trust your eyes) half calzone. Photo by Laura Moss

Luna

Nutley

Louie Ritacco, the son of a Nutley pizza maker, opened this cocktail bar and restaurant in 2014. The maestro of the wood-burning brick oven is Ruben Harretche, who follows Ritacco’s dictum that pizzas “should look like they got hit by a truck”—meaning, Ritacco explains, “they don’t have to be perfectly circular.” The pies, all 12 inches wide, are still far prettier than a crash site. The Margherita is actually refreshing, with its crackly crust, delicate house-made mozzarella and shower of fresh basil leaves. For novelty, try the mezzaluna—half pizza, half folded calzone. Gluten-free available.—Nick Stellini

223 Franklin Avenue, 973-320-5935 | BYO

Manco & Manco

Ocean City, Somers Point 

After 64 years, Manco & Manco is still the first and last word in pizza on the Ocean City boardwalk. The troops of summer kids working the proprietary Sauce Hose never lose their appeal, and neither does the thin-crust pizza. Go with the classic plain or garlicky white with spinach and/or broccoli, and a birch beer from the fountain. The only thing that’s changed is that, since 2019, you can pay with a credit card.—Adam Erace

9th Street and Boardwalk, Ocean City, 609-399-2548 (year-round); 8th and Boardwalk, Ocean City, 609-399-2783; 12th and Boardwalk, Ocean City, 609-398-0720; 319 New Road, Somers Point, 610-834-7282 | BYO

Mannino’s

Pitman

Pizza did so well as an appetizer at Mannino’s Cucina Italiana that Vito Mannino opened this pizzeria down the block in 2015. In a wood-fired oven from Naples, the dough, fermented an unusually long 72 hours, “gives a sourdough flavor you don’t get otherwise,” he says. “It’s light and highly digestible, even for people on gluten-free diets.” Mannino makes his own mozzarella, but imports his tomatoes from Sardinia, “where people live to be 120.” The Grandma, topped with Parmigiano Reggiano, sharp Provolone, mozzarella, and those Sardinian tomatoes, is finished with fresh basil, extra virgin olive oil and Sicilian-style herbed breadcrumbs.—Eric Levin

170 S. Broadway, 856-716-6366 | BYO

Maruca’s

Seaside HeightsAsbury Park

Maruca’s signature spiral of sauce is mesmerizing. But you really fall under a spell when you take a bite. Lip-smacking sauce and bubbly mozzarella ride on a firm crust that lets you stroll the boardwalk without making a mess. Brothers Anthony, Pasquale, Joseph and Dominick Maruca launched in Trenton in 1950 and opened on the Seaside boardwalk later that year. It’s now owned by the next gen, Domenic and Joe Maruca. In 2018, Domenic joined with music promoter Sammy Boyd to open a seasonal location on the Asbury Park boardwalk.—Kelly-Jane Cotter

601 Boardwalk, Seaside Heights, 732-793-0707; 1050 Boardwalk, Asbury Park, 732-361-8551 | BYO

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Who says pizza can’t be subtle, and seductively understated? Not Massa. Photo by Laura Moss

Massa

Scotch Plains

The dough is made with imported Italian flour, water and yeast and allowed to rise a lengthy 72 hours. The resulting crust is wonderfully bread-like, springy and toothsome. The pies are rectangular, which Massa identifies as Roman style, and gladiator sized, at 18 by 24 inches. The lush crust is a good foil for exuberantly topped pies such as the Ciccia e Blu, with sausage, blue cheese, mozzarella and pecorino.—Marissa Rothkopf Bates

405A Park Avenue, 908-312-9499 | BYO

Medusa

Asbury Park

Tiny Medusa Stone Fired Kitchen sits on a corner lot with several parking spaces and picnic tables. Chef/owners Aimee McElroy and Lauren Castellini met while working at Porta in Asbury Park and opened Medusa in 2016. From the wood-burning oven come bubbling gems like the Marinara pie, topped with fire-roasted tomatoes, garlicky red sauce and fresh basil. The Local Mushroom pie, thick with ricotta and mozzarella, delivers strips of shiitake, oyster and lion’s mane mushrooms. Earthy and creamy, it’s flecked with rosemary and thyme for an aromatic come-hither.—Kelly-Jane Cotter

711 Fourth Avenue, 732-361-3061 | BYO

Nonna’s

Florham Park

Growing up in Franklin Lakes, Jared Horowitz relates, his older brother Andrew worked at a pizzeria in Mahwah and later partnered with the owner, Sonny Esposito, to open pizzerias, including Nonna’s, which the family eventually bought. Most popular now are the Margherita and the Nonna, the latter a pan pizza. “One bite and you go to heaven,” Jared declares. “On Friday nights, we have 14 delivery drivers, and there’s still over an hour wait.” Jared acknowledges it’s unusual to find Jews not just relishing pizza, but making it. “People ask me, ‘Is anything here kosher?’ I say, ‘Yeah, I blessed it myself. It’s pizza. It’s good. Eat it.’”—Eric Levin

176 Columbia Turnpike, 973-410-0030 | BYO

Original Thin Crust Pizza Company

Jamesburg

It sounds like a chain, but its owner and pizza maker, Matt Verney, is one and only. Verney’s passion is ultra thin crust, thick with a lusty sauce. He says he learned his trade working at legendary taverns like Vitale’s in Old Bridge. Verney’s crusts are lighter and crisper than Vitale’s were, and they hold their toppings well. His thick sauce pulls everything together in a delicious embrace.—Kelly-Jane Cotter

306 Gatzmer Avenue, 732-641-2041 | BYO

Papa’s Tomato Pies

Robbinsville

Opened in 1912, Papa’s lays claim to being the oldest continually operating pizza parlor in the country. As Trenton’s Chambersburg neighborhood began to lose its Italian identity, Papa’s and its traditional tomato pies (chunky tomatoes on top) moved to Robbinsville in 2013. Papa’s Mustard Pie remains a customer favorite, with its layer of spicy brown mustard under the tomatoes and cheese. “It’s a whole different flavor sensation,” attests manager Mike Azzaro, cousin to owner Nick Azzaro, whose grandfather was the original Giuseppe “Joe” Papa. “We’re one of the only ones who make this pie, and people come from hours away to try it.”Jill P. Capuzzo

19 Robbinsville-Hamilton Road; 609-208-0006 | BYO

Patsy’s Tavern

Paterson

The pizza recipe dates to 1931, when Pasquale “Patsy” Barbarulo founded the establishment. It’s now overseen by his grandson Steve, who began helping out in the tiny kitchen when he was 12. The dough (the exact recipe is secret) is draped over round pans. The pies, bubbling with lots of cheese, emerge with jagged, crunchy edges. Though thin, the slices are stout enough to support many toppings, so do consider the Garbage Pie (pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, onion and garlic). Cash only.—Nick Stellini

72 Seventh Avenue, 973-742-9596 | BYO

Pete & Elda’s

Neptune

Pete & Elda’s makes an extreme sport of thin crust. Razor thin and cracker crunchy, crusts are sturdy enough to support whatever you want on top, even though they are generously sauced. Owner George Andretta follows the recipe his dad, Carmen, did in introducing food to the bar in 1961. Post-pandemic, look for Pete & Elda’s to reinstate its popular Pie Eaters’ Club, in which anyone who single-handedly consumes an entire 18-inch pizza wins a T-shirt.—Kelly-Jane Cotter

93 Summit Avenue, 732-774-6010

The Pizza Terminal

Verona 

Here, you start with certain Jersey hallmarks: It’s in a strip mall on a busy road, and chances are you’ll drive right by it the first time. Inside, however, instead of murals of Capri or Naples, you’ll find giant images of the NYC subway system. Walk to the back and, on a busy day, you’ll behold an array of about 24 pizzas (“We have a big display case.”) The round pies are classic, with a chewy crust, but don’t miss the crispy-edged, soft-middled square pies, especially the Nikki Norker, lavished with “our grandma tomato sauce,” pepperoni and house-made mozzarella.—Marissa Rothkopf Bates

150 Bloomfield Avenue, 973-857-0323 | BYO

Pizza-Town USA

Elmwood Park

Pick up a slice, fold it, eat. This is simple, classic Jersey pie. The pepperoni is hand sliced into distinctive triangular nuggets. The San Marzano sauce is made in house. (The only thing added to the tomatoes is a little salt.) Like the pie, the red, white and blue circus-tent façade hasn’t changed since Raymond Tomo opened Pizza-Town in 1958. Siblings Michelle and Bruce Tomo carry on his work. Open most nights until 1 am. Takeout only.—Marissa Rothkopf Bates

89 Route 46, 201-797-6172 | BYO

Poppi’s

Wildwood

Brendan Sciarra qualifies as second-gen Wildwood royalty. His father, Mike, opened the iconic Kona Surf shop in 1969. For his part, Brendan went into restaurants (and ran unsuccessfully for Cape May County freeholder in 2020). Poppi’s is the best of his three always-busy spots in the heart of Wildwood. World Pizza Championship gold medalist (2009) Giulio Adriani designed Poppi’s pizza program. The crispy-edged, slightly soft-centered, Neapolitan-style pies are in the capable hands of the restaurant’s fleet of speedy, organized cooks. The menu’s sleeper item is the Parmigiana pie, paved with petals of fried eggplant.—Adam Erace

4709 New Jersey Avenue, 609-600-3964

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From left: Tending the handsomely tiled wood-burning Asbury Park oven; a touch of char adds depth to a slice. Photos by Stuart Goldenberg

Porta

Asbury Park, Jersey City

Before Covid-19, the nightlife at the barnlike spaces Porta occupies was so lively, you might have forgotten they were, first and foremost, pizza palaces driven by wood-burning ovens. But the pizza—Neapolitan style, quick baked under high heat, emerging with puffy, blistered crusts—is indeed a draw. Start with a cheese-free Marinara to revel in the San Marzano tomatoes and the charred crust. Then escalate to the Carbonara, topped with guanciale and a raw egg, which emerges over-easy. The 14 1/2 brandishes spicy soppressata and Calabrian chilies. Seasonal Betty pies, healthy and hearty, are coated with goat cheese and heaped, depending on season, with leeks, heirloom Jersey tomatoes, mushrooms or brussels sprouts.—Kelly-Jane Cotter

911 Kingsley Street, Asbury Park, 732-776-7661; 135 Newark Avenue, Jersey City, 848-282-0842

Queen

Newark

Joe Coutri’s restaurant, roughly equidistant from three colleges and the Prudential Tower, has been serving Newark for nearly 40 years, the last seven on Halsey Street. It serves breakfast before the pizza starts emerging from the original Baker’s Pride gas-fired oven. Coutri, a native of Calabria in Southern Italy, blends three different mozzarellas to get the balance of flavor and moisture he wants, and his robust sauce features a secret (of course) blend of spices and also a touch of Parmigiano-Reggiano.—Nick Stellini

122 Halsey Street, 973-624-7322 | BYO

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Eating your greens is a pleasure when they complement a pizza as well as this strewn arugula does on an elemental, crunchy square. Photo by Laura Moss

Razza

Jersey City

Dan Richer’s spot, facing the 1896 City Hall and now rivaling it as a landmark, was acclaimed by the New York Times in 2017 as “the best pizza in New York.” Razza is takeout only these days, but otherwise unchanged in its mission to perfect the triad of dough, sauce and cheese. Opened in 2012, Razza makes pizza that is airy and crisp, topped with a few choice ingredients, many local, such as roasted heirloom squash, fresh mozzarella, shaved onions, ricotta salata—and breadcrumbs in the seasonal pumpkin pizza. The traditional Margherita is divine. Richer has been collaborating on a pizza book with Jersey native and Italian food expert Katie Parla, due in October.—Shelby Vittek

275 Grove Street, 201-356-9348

Reservoir Restaurant

South Orange

Reservoir makes a crispy, succulent pan pie. Of late, says co-owner Barbara Camarata, granddaughter of the 1935 Newark founders, the veggie combo (fresh tomatoes, onions, garlic, broccoli) has become “a big seller.” Why? “I think a lot of people have moved out here from the city because of the virus,” she says, and it suits their presumably cosmopolitan tastes. But you can be from down the street and appreciate Reservoir, which has been a South Orange bastion since 1965.—Eric Levin

106 South Orange Avenue; 973-762-9795 | BYO

Rosie’s

Point Pleasant Beach

The mark of a Rosie’s pie is threefold, although fold may be the wrong word, because the pies are baked well done and the slices resist droop. The driving flavors are tomatoes, fresh basil and fresh shaved garlic. “The cheese,” declares owner Mike Mercuro, “is not the king.” Using a small percentage of spelt flour that helps firm the crust, Rosie’s makes round pies and rectangular pan pies. The latter are more time-consuming to create, so fewer of them are produced and they’re the first to sell out each night.—Eric Levin

620 Bay Avenue, 732-746-3060 | BYO

Round Pie

Old Bridge, Matawan

In the original Old Bridge location, a mural depicts local landmarks and street signs. Brothers Kash and Bek Miftari, sons of Staten Island pizzamaker Steve Miftari, opened in 2019. The brothers source their tomatoes from Italy, their mozz from Wisconsin. They speckle the bottom of their crusts with cornmeal, enhancing the crunch. Tops are dotted with circles of fresh, bright sauce. Add sharp Parmigiano-Reggiano and a flutter of fresh basil leaves and you’ve got their Signature pie. In 2020, the Miftaris expanded to Matawan, setting up across the street from a shopping center that includes Denino’s, another local favorite with Staten Island roots.—Kelly-Jane Cotter

2323 Route 516, Old Bridge, 732-475-0000; 1124-N Route 34, Matawan, 732-582-0000 | BYO

Ruthie’s

Montclair

Attention to ingredients is evident at Ruthie’s, thanks to Culinary Institute of America-trained co-owner Eric Kaplan. This includes the house-smoked mozzarella that tops pizzas such as the Max’s, which includes pesto and tomato sauce that’s a wee bit spicy, or the Texas pie, with smoked mozzarella, Texas sausage, marinara, caramelized onions, jalapeño and pesto. All the pizza dough contains flour from co-owner Ruth Perretti’s family farm in Warren County, part of a larger movement in Western NJ to bring back regional grains. Along with exceptional pizza, Ruthie’s offers terrific slow-smoked barbecue.—Marissa Rothkopf Bates

64-1/2 Chestnut Street, 973-509-1134

Santillo’s

Elizabeth

Al Santillo grew up and still lives in the little house that contains the 10-by-16-foot brick oven that ran on coal when his father baked bread in it. Santillo, 65, long ago converted to gas. He still bakes crusty bread, but his treasures are pizzas, baked dark and bubbling with cheese and thick sauce. He does rectangular as well as thin-crust round. “This is for people who know their pizza, real pizza hounds,” he says. It’s takeout only (there isn’t even room for a table), but Santillo is glad to kibbitz over the counter. “A friend of mine says this isn’t even a business—it’s a novelty act,” he says with a laugh.—Eric Levin

639 South Street, 908-354-1887 | BYO

Sawmill Cafe

Seaside Park

You almost need a sawmill to cut Sawmill’s 27-inch pies. Loaded with mozzarella, sauce and oil, a slice can feed two—and be careful, because it flops. The perimeter crust, though, is substantial and winningly chewy. The Sawmill, opened in 1977, is the only boardwalk building in Seaside Park to have survived both Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and the boardwalk fire in 2013.—Kelly-Jane Cotter

1807 Boardwalk, 732-793-1990

S.Egidio

Ridgewood

The crust features just the right amount of dark blistering (known in savvy pizza circles as leoparding), and the toppings are perfect complements to the chewy, just-salty-enough dough. The fior di latte cheese that crowns the Margherita pie is made in-house. Whether you opt for a simple pie such as the marinara (sauce, fresh and dried herbs, extra virgin olive oil) or the complex carciofotta (artichoke crème, fior di latte, pancetta, fresh egg, shaved black truffle, grana cheese), you cannot go wrong. Get the tiramisu, too.—Marissa Rothkopf Bates

17 North Broad Street, 201-389-3525 | BYO

Sette

Totowa

As you approach the door, you’ll hear festive music from an Italian radio station piped onto the street. Step inside, and Italy feels closer with the aromas emanating from the wood-fired oven. The pizzas emerge with a deliciously chewy crust, puffy and speckled. The namesake Sette pie is topped with mozzarella, prosciutto, arugula, sliced marinated cherry tomatoes, and shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano. As an Italian would say, perfetto!—Marissa Rothkopf Bates

534 Union Boulevard, 973-341-9777 | BYO

Star Tavern

Orange

Owner Gary Vayianos took advantage of the pandemic to totally renovate the interior of this venerable establishment (booth dividers are now higher for more privacy). What he would never change, of course, is the thin-crust pizza, baked partly in a pan, but finished on the oven’s stone deck. Equally inviolable is the white clam-sauce pie—the bulk recipe for the sauce calls for lots of olive oil, butter, white wine, lemon juice and 2 gallons of fresh-shucked chopped clams.—Eric Levin

400 High Street, 973-675-3336

Tacconelli’s

Maple Shade

Vince Tacconelli Jr.—a descendant of legendary Philly pizza man Giovanni Tacconelli—and his wife, Doris, opened in Moorestown in 2003 and moved to Maple Shade in 2014. At 25 percent capacity, the 200-seat restaurant offers plenty of social distance. Pizzas are thin, crispy and richly appointed, as in a red pie with pancetta and thickly sliced mushrooms, and the Specialty, a white festooned with chunky tomatoes and mounds of cooked spinach. Cash only.Jill P. Capuzzo

27 West Main Street, 856-667-4992 | BYO

Talula’s

Asbury Park

Owners Steve and Shanti Mignona make dough from sourdough starter and their own dairy and non-dairy cheeses and pickled vegetables. Baked in a wood-burning oven, the crusts emerge pillowy and freckled with char. The pies come in two categories—red and white. A notable red, the Beekeeper’s Lament, drizzles local honey over tomato sauce, mozzarella and spicy Calabrian soppressata. (Substitute vegan sausage—it’s just as good.) The Got Yer Goat, a white, combines roasted garlic goat cheese, mozzarella, squash purée, caramelized onions, tender kale, pecorino and pumpkin seeds for a meat-free indulgence.—Kelly-Jane Cotter

550 Cookman Avenue, 732-455-3003 | BYO

Tiga’s

Medford

Luigi “Gino” Iommelli learned baking from his pastry-chef father in Naples and pizza making from years spent at Papa’s Tomato Pies in Trenton. He opened Tiga’s in 2017. Iommelli’s wife, Hannia, says her husband, now 49, revamped his cooking after a health scare a few years ago. He uses only grass-fed beef (or tasty eggplant “meatballs,” which you don’t have to be a vegan to enjoy). The mozzarella is house-made. The Capri adds a drizzle of pesto and a shower of fresh arugula after the pizza comes out of the oven. Gluten-free crusts available.Jill P. Capuzzo 

643 Stokes Road, 609-257-3324 | BYO

Tony Boloney’s

Atlantic City, Hoboken, Jersey City, Long Branch

Mike Hauk opened Tony Boloney’s in 2009 on the hunch that the desolate north end of Atlantic City would boom once the Revel tower opened. While that failed to pan out, Hauk’s venture manifestly did, and he now boasts a mini-empire, plus a pizza truck. The round and rectangular pies range from traditional (with Hauk’s house-made mozzarellas and burrata) to chowdowns that live up to chest-thumping names like Da Ruler, Ducktown and Ay Dios Mia Mac.—Adam Erace

300 Oriental Avenue, Atlantic City, 609-344-8669; 263 1st Street, Hoboken, 201-222-8669; 363 Grove Street, Jersey City, 201-275-0629; 72 Ocean Avenue, Pier Village, 732-963-8629 | BYO

Tony D’s

Caldwell

At Tony D’s, imported San Marzano tomatoes plucked from the can are evaluated for flavor and quality before they go into the sauce. Tony D’s makes square pies as well as round. The Pizza’lina and the Little Italy are thinner than the other squares and are cooked twice in the pan for extra crispness. On all pies, count on frilled edges of crisp cheese, clever combinations (gorgonzola, onion and mushroom), and crunchy, buttery crust. Get an order of their first-rate garlic knots while you’re at it.—Marissa Rothkopf Bates

3 Hanford Place, 973-228-9500 | BYO

Una Pizza Napoletana

Atlantic Highlands

Visiting Italy years ago as a young adult expanded the bounds of Italian food that Anthony Mangieri knew, having grown up around Toms River. After stints in Manhattan and California, he opened this pizzeria last year, building out the space himself. Of his oven, he says, “I’m picky about the wood. I use birch, which is fast burning, to create air heat, and oak, which penetrates the stone, to firm up the bottom of the crust.” He offers just four toppings—domestic pepperoni and three Italian imports: Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, long hot peppers and Amalfi Coast anchovies “that are so good, I eat them straight out of the jar.” —Eric Levin

91 1st Avenue, 732-872-4632 | BYO

Vic’s

Bradley Beach

With its neon sign, wood-paneled walls and Sinatra-centric sound system, Vic’s doesn’t look or sound much different than it did when it opened in 1947. Nor has the pizza changed from the way founders Vittorio “Vic” Giunco and his wife, Carmella, made it. The crust has sufficient body to support thick mozzarella, and house-made sauce is generously applied. Chef Keith Kohlmann and the fourth generation, led by co-owners Ed Dollive and Chrissie and Travis Semblewski, keep Vic’s vibrant.—Kelly-Jane Cotter

60 Main Street, 732-774-8225

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