When Pizza Is the Itinerary

New Jersey, of course, offers much to recommend it. But among the natural wonders and culinary treasures that abound in the Garden State, one item in particular dominated the agenda of a few out-of-town friends who stopped in for a visit this past weekend—pizza.

“It’s not that we don’t have pizza out there,” my friend assured me about his new hometown (a western Pennsylvania city renowned for its steel production). “It’s just that we don’t have pizza like this. “

The experience of consuming New Jersey pizza wasn’t exactly new to them—they had been seasoned residents of Central Jersey towns for several years previous—but it had been a long enough interval to seem a transcendent experience. They made a point of explaining their intentions to eat as much pizza as possible early in their visit, and proceeded to fulfill those intentions with admirable consistency for the following three days.

I’m all for an extemporaneous mini-pizza marathon when afforded the opportunity (and often, when not), so I was more than game to indulge their yen for the cosmic amalgamation of cheese, sauce, and dough. Since pizza was the food of choice, it was also the topic of choice during meal times. A key question: What do they think distinguishes New Jersey pizza from pies made elsewhere?

Mainly, they suggested, it was the thin crust and the quality of ingredients. The pizza available around their new neighborhood was exceptionally doughy, and the sauce watery—and was produced and presented in that eerie lost dimension between thin crust and Sicilian style. It was compared (unfavorably) to Domino’s. This was not the case here, and they took full advantage of the superior product before them. Just having a chance to eat quality pizza again seemed to put them in good spirits.

The next time you have a few friends in from out of town, take them for a pie and ask them what they think makes Jersey pizza superior to pizza in other states. The answers may vary, but rarely will the superiority of the product be challenged.

Click here for our list of Best Pizza places.

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