Look, this isn’t a guide to all the good pizza spots in New Jersey. That’d be an incredibly long and relatively useless list, as just about every town has one or two places you’d be happy ordering from if you live nearby. And it’s also not a nostalgia guide, with places that are loved for their old-school charm or appearance in a scene in The Sopranos. This is a guide to the best pizza in the state, plain and simple. These eight places aren’t just good - they’re the spots you should make a point to visit whether you live in New Jersey, New York, or New South Wales.
Razza serves the best pizza in New Jersey. The puffy, blistered crust is light enough that one person can easily finish a whole pie, and it’s salty and sweet enough that you’ll order another long after you’re full. And then there are the toppings, like mozzarella made from Jersey water buffaloes, specially-bred hazelnuts, and produce that proves “The Garden State” slogan isn’t sarcasm. Razza doesn’t belong in the discussion of the best pizza in New Jersey. Its hat is in the ring for the best pizza, period.
Star Tavern Pizzeria
The extremely thin pies at this bar in Orange look like pizza, smell like pizza, and feel like pizza when you pick them up. But whether through futuristic engineering or ancient alchemy, the tangy cheese and slightly sweet sauce taste like they’ve been transported to your mouth by a cruller-like fried dough that dissolves as soon as you take a bite. We’re not sure how they do it, especially since the bar pies are topped with substantial toppings, but we are sure that the result is absolutely phenomenal.
The Jersey Shore is misunderstood. Sure, it’s actually a gorgeous shoreline with far fewer self-nicknamed meatheads than 2000s TV suggests, but it also has a lot more to offer in terms of food than funnel cakes and soft serve. See for yourself by taking a trip to Rosie’s in Point Pleasant Beach, where you’ll find some of the best pizza you’ll ever eat. The crust of the thin, crunchy round pies is charred to such perfection that you’ll think someone worked on it with a stylus-sized blowtorch before pumping the blisters full of air for artistic effect. Vinegar peppers and fresh sausage add tang and chili oil-like spice without taking away from the phenomenal dough, while on the grandma-style square, toppings play supporting roles to what’s underneath. This equally excellent pie has a base that’s like focaccia, edges that are crunchy and charred, and a springy inside that turns into cheese soup when you bite into it.
If Bread & Salt served nothing but plain crust, we’d still tell you to prioritize this Jersey City slice shop over most other pizza places in the state. The light, slightly sweet crust is airy and charred in parts, while denser portions flake like fresh croissants. Of course, they offer more than plain crust, topping their rectangular, Roman-style slices with housemade pesto and freshly-pulled mozzarella, sausage and peppers, and some of the best tomato sauce we’ve ever had. Along with a rotating selection of slices that change every few minutes, Bread & Salt also serves destination-worthy small plates and sandwiches, so bring some bottles of wine, and spend a couple hours trying everything on the menu.
Bread & Salt is currently only offering takeout on certain non-pizza menu items and groceries
DeLorenzo's Tomato Pies
On the bridge connecting Trenton and Pennsylvania, a neon sign states, “Trenton Makes The World Takes.” It refers to all the manufacturing goods Trenton exported in the early 1900s, but as soon as the world wises up, it’ll refer to its style of pizza. Trenton tomato pies are a regional specialty, characterized by a relatively small amount of mozzarella melted onto thin, crunchy crust, leaving the spotlight for the crushed tomatoes on top. No place does the style justice like De Lorenzo’s in Robbinsville. Order the pies well done, and every bite sheds flakes of crispy crust without tasting dry or burnt. While the toppings - like tender chunks of sausage, not-too-salty anchovies, or half dollar-sized pepperoni - are all enjoyable, they play bit parts compared to the layer of hand-crushed tomatoes, which add enough acidity to make you forget you’re currently working on your second tray of bread and cheese.
Santillo's Brick Oven Pizza
Walk down an alley in a residential part of Elizabeth, slide exact change for your order through a door opening into a converted water jug, and wait until the lone chef working the massive brick oven calls your name. If he recognizes your last name, he might ask if there’s any relation to someone he knows in a nearby North Jersey town, and then he’ll hand you your pies, which range from the “1940” to the “2020,” named after popular styles of the time, or milestones at this 100+ year old spot. In other words, this place is old-school. It’s also fantastic. The round pies, like the classic 1964 that’s topped with an extra splash of olive oil, are thin and crunchy (if you order it well done as you should), with caramelized cheese partially covering the outer rim of the nicely charred crust. Meanwhile, the oregano-heavy crust of the Sicilian pies has the spring and air pockets of a fresh loaf of bread, and it’s topped with crispy cheese and thick tomato sauce that you’ll happily eat on its own when it inevitably ends up on your lap.
Brooklyn Square Pizza
If the upside down square pie at this Jackson pizza spot sent a slice of itself to 23andMe, we imagine it’d learn that it’s a very close relative of the Sicilian pie at L&B Spumoni Gardens in Brooklyn. As anyone who’s been to that Gravesend institution can tell you, that’s good company to be in. Order it by the slice at the counter up front, or sit in the large dining room, and wait for the truck tire-sized sheet of thick crust, fresh mozzarella, and tomato sauce to arrive at your table. Like at L&B, the crust isn’t as crunchy as you might expect, but it’s not at all soggy thanks to the layering, with cheese protecting the crust like an elastic poncho from the acidic tomato sauce on top.
Nomad Pizza Company
There are a few things New Jersey has in relatively short supply, like major sports teams, transparent politicians, and great Neapolitan-style pizza. One noteworthy exception to the latter is Nomad Pizza. What started as a catering operation out of a restored 1949 REO Speedwagon has expanded to include two full-time spots in Jersey and one in Philly. The pies at the original location in Hopewell are essentially personal pies, but while each slice only takes about four bites to get through, every bite offers a completely different experience. The weight of oil and cheese makes the paper-thin tip taste like bread that’s been luxuriating in rich soup, while the middle highlights the toppings, like crispy guanciale with fig jam, as well as basil and herbs from its garden outside. The best part, though, is the puffy crust, which is like a lifeguard ring of sweet and salty dough that should be thrown to the anti-artisanal pizza crowd.