So, I found my little slice of Heaven, no pun intended. Just off a busy Bloomfield Avenue intersection in Verona, New Jersey on the Northbound side, there is a tiny strip mall you can easily miss. While its very unassuming its a treasure trove for any pizza lover. With over 3 dozen different types of pizza, how could it not be? While they do have a full menu of other dishes made to order (including some excellent minestrone), let’s face it, you come here for the pizza regardless of how great the other classic Italian dishes are.
They fashioned this large dining room after a NYC Subway Terminal. The music playing is 1980s club house music just to get you in the mood, but you also have large widescreen TVs to view.
You have everything from your old school pizza varieties like the Grandma, The Godfather, the Brooklyn and The Bronx, to the newer specialty pizzas like Buffalo Chicken, Taco and the Big Mac. I can’t honestly say the Big Mac is going to be something I have to try, but its interesting to see it out there by these very creative guys.
The slices here are huge, so I can really only have two per visit. I try to have one old school and one newer sensation. And, I have devised a list, from most favorite to least. Keep in mind its not that those that are my least favorite are bad, they are just not for me. With over 36 different types of pizzas, obviously this list is still in the works and I will be updating this post often.
- Bloomfield Avenue: This crust reminds me so much of my mother’s, and that has to be the ultimate compliment. They even got the cheese to melt like she used to, brown in the middle, white on the outside. While she did not use crumbled sausage, she did use sliced and quartered pepperoni and that gives this the perfect special amount of saltiness, along with fresh mozzarella, plum tomatoes and basil from the garden.
- The Bronx: Square thick crust with caramelized onions, mushrooms, tomato sauce, basil, mozzarella
- The Brooklyn: Square thick crust with caramelized onions, mozzarella.
- Sicilian: This is what they are famous for and what the Star-Ledger calls the best in NJ. It is very good, one bite and the tomato sauce just screams with old school homemade deliciousness. While I found the sauce to be piled on too much to make it a bit sloppy, its still a good slice and puts most Sicilian slices to shame.
- The Nicky Norker: Basically your Sicilian topped with baked pepperoni.
- The Mediterranean: This is really really good. The saltiness of the fine Italian prosciutto is balanced with the sweetness of the red roasted peppers. Every bite your taste buds go back and forth until the slice is gone and you are longing for another.
- Artichoke & Spinach: Cream sauce, artichoke, spinach, really good.
- Mama Lucia: Topped with chopped eggplant and roasted peppers
- Broccoli Rabe: I love broccoli rabe, but it has no place being on pizza
- Margherita: Simply a perfect balance of tomato sauce, fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese, and basil. I took one bite of this and it instantly transported me back to the late 1970s. Yes, this is what pizzeria pizza tasted like before everyone in the world started doing it who can afford a license to sell food. Before there was processed cheese and way too much of it. This is what pizza was when I was a kid. This takes the place as #1 for the basic slice. Though its a “specialty” slice, this is the very best slice of regular pizza I’ve had in probably 10 years or more.
- Buffalo Chicken: As wrong as this is, its one of my newest favorites of things that really don’t belong on pizza. Its diced chicken with hot sauce instead of tomato sauce, and drizzled with blue cheese and sprinkled with finely diced celery.
- The Verona: Square, grilled chicken, red roasted peppers, mozzarella and tomato sauce, drizzled with balsamic vinegar.
- Potatoes, Peppers & Eggs: This is Genius. Take a classic Italian omelette and instead of putting it on a bun, put it on pizza and you have a fritatta like no other you have ever seen. You can skip the fried eggs for breakfast and have this oven baked delight instead, and you can even have it for lunch.
- Taste of Tuscany: Roasted red peppers, white ricotta, and spinach represent the colors of the Italian flag in this slice. For me, I just don’t like ricotta on pizza, its a bit too rich, but this was good.
- Eggplant Rollatini: The ricotta is a bit too rich on top of the mozzarella cheese, and its messy, I should have eaten this with a fork and knife like South Americans do with most pizza. This is the one time I would allow this rule to eating pizza by hand.
- Chicken Marsala: Personally I don’t think chicken should ever be on pizza. I know I contradict myself because I love the Buffalo Chicken Pizza, but here this (for me) does not work. You have the sweet taste of reduced Sicilian Marsala Wine with chicken and I didn’t really care for it much.
- Shrimp Scampi: Yes, this has shrimp, butter and garlic on it. It does get messy, but it is tasty.
- Grandma: If you have Italian parents or grandparents who were born in Italy, this is how they made pizza. Very thin, crisp crust, fresh mozzarella, fresh plum tomatoes, all in a perfect “light” balance. It is not topped with gobs of processed cheese, garlic or anything like that. This is the real deal.
- Drunken Grandma: Instead of regular tomato sauce, they use vodka sauce on top of this one. It is good, my wife absolutely loves it, I prefer the original grandma slice.
One of the more clever gourmet pizza names is a play on the theme of one of the most famous movies of all time, The Godfather. And to pay tribute to this cinematic masterpiece, like the trilogy, the pizza comes in 3 parts:
- The Godfather Part I: Broccoli rabe, diced sundried tomatoes, crumbled sausage. I love broccoli rabe and sausage, but I was never a huge fan of sausage on pizza, much less broccoli rabe. The diced sundried tomatoes are a nice touch, I just don’t like broccoli rabe as a pizza topping, I prefer it on the side just so I think I am eating healthier.
- The Godfather Part II:
- The Godfather Part III: Shrimp, calamari, roasted peppers, broccoli rabe.
These below listed in RED I have not yet tried and probably won’t until I get to the very last one I want to try… they don’t seem appetizing but I know I have to try them. I just don’t see pasta being on top of pizza, and that would include the Mac & Cheese or the Ziti topped pizza.
- Big Mac
- Italian Hot Dog
- Macaroni & Cheese