Our last Jersey pizza reached calamity as BOTH of our cars got flat tires. We ended up splitting up for one pizza stop before reunited at the 3rd. I really wanted to hear the tales of the division, so here is Rachel (from Spam is Better Fried) with her story of the other side of the 2nd Jersey pizza tour. —-Jeffrey Tastes
It took Annie’s Jersey Pizza Tours to give me a taste of local pie and a tour of my own former backyard. I lived in Jersey City for six years and not once did I ever come across real pizza. Domino’s surely does not count.
Our pizza adventure began with the PATH train leaving from WTC. Exchange Place in Jersey City was none but a short five minute ride across the river. We were dropped off at a beautiful waterfront and we walked just a few blocks over to Paulus Hook Brick Oven Pizza (84 1/2 Morris St, Jersey City). There we met the other half of our group and shared a 16″ Margherita Pizza fresh out of the oven.
The dough was thin, crispy, and the crust was pillowy. The sauce was light along with the fresh mozzarella cheese. My favorite was biting into a piece with a sprinkle of fresh basil. The combination was heavenly.
Paulus Hook Brick Oven Pizza is a cute little place. They sell fresh organic baguettes for $3 and pizza by the slice. Born out of Jersey City, Paulus Hook represents NY style pizza well.
Our group split into two cars with plans to meet at the next destination. Within a minute of pulling out of our parking spot, our driver hit a jotting out NJ curb. We heard a crunch and saw a few pedestrians wince. We had indeed, given ourselves an unrepairable flat tire and some body damage. The slight mishap caused us to forgo destination #2 and enlist our best Macguyver skills collectively. In less than an hour, we had installed a spare tire and driven down the road to buy a new one.
Our shocker of the day was that not long after we met our flat, we got a call from the other car saying that they had gotten a flat tire too.
We can never plan on the unpredictable but we can always plan on pizza. Our detour to the mechanic prompted us to pick another pizzeria in Jersey City. La Rustique Cafe (611 Jersey Ave) turned out to be a blessing in disguise. There we met the very passionate owner Charlie Wilson and Enrique. They gave us tips on Chicago pizza, introduced us to the Portobello salad, and schooled us on the art of fresh mozzarella and roasted garlic.
La Rustique Cafe makes excellent salad! It’s a thing of beauty composed of marinated roasted red peppers, sliced Portobello, mozzarella, and olives. The interesting thing is that the cheese in the salad in made differently than the cheese for the pizza. Charlie explained that while the mozzarella for the salad is only rinsed once, the mozzarella for the pizza is rinsed three times to create a lower fat content. We were given a tour downstairs where we got to watch in action the mozzarella making process.
Upstairs, we got to taste fresh roasted garlic and check out the brick oven.
La Rustique Cafe and Paulus Hook Brick Oven Pizza may have a little rivalry but let the past be the past. La Rustique Cafe’s pizza can hold its own. The pizza is giant, the crust is thicker, the basil is chopped finer, and everything tastes incredibly fresh. Charlie prides his business on the ingredients and if San Marzano tomatoes, olive oil, homemade mozzarella, garlic and more is what you are looking for, then you’ve come to the right place.
After La Rustique Cafe, we had our new tire and were ready to reconnect with the group at La Sicilia in Belleville. Obstacles hit us again when we found that Route 7 was out of commission and had to figure out an alternate route. I was beginning to think New Jersey was against us but everything turned out fine and before we knew it, we arrived at the family-friendly and authentic Italian La Sicilia (155 Washington Ave).
La Sicilia was the place to be with regulars in the seats and framed superstars (Will Smith and the Real Housewives of New Jersey) on the wall. We got a Palermo Pie and waved hello to our group who sat a few tables down and were on their last few bites.
The Palermo Pie is a square pie similar to a grandma slice but not as thick. Cheese is on the bottom and loads of tomato sauce on top. I’ve never seen or had anything like it. They also use a good amount of olive oil. I’m still thinking about this pie.
The owner Joe Ali came by many times to greet us and like a true Italian encouraged us to keep eating. That we did by finishing off with dessert. The tartufo, sfogliatella, and cannolo was amazing.
This second leg of the NJ Pizza Tours did not have as many stops as the others due to unscheduled events but it only had us craving for more in Jersey. We learned about the tales of tomato pie and are now determined to meet them. Until next time, happy pizza!