Posted by: Jeffsayyes | June 10, 2011

Northern Jersey Pizza Tour – Kinchley’s, Nellie’s, A Mano, Bruno’s, Patsy’s

We’re trying to be comprehensive with these Jersey Pizza Tours. On this Sunday, we went top-down, starting a mile or two from the northern New Jersey border. Kinchley’s Tavern, the first stop. The regular pie was extra thin, with a nice cheese and sweet sauce. We also got a Fra Diavolo pie, which was the main highlight for a few people on the tour. It gave some heat, and mixed with the cheese differently than the regular, fooling some on our tour to believe it was of another variety. It wasn’t. One hypothesis was that the regular pies are ready assembled, while the freshly applied cheese on the fra diavolo come from a refrigerated bin, leading to a less burnt top… the world may never know. Checkerboard tablecloths, model trains and homeyness added to the experience. The waitress telling us that the Fra Diavolo is too spicy for her was endearing. Kinchley’s is a treasure if you’re a townie.

Kinchley’s Tavern
586 N Franklin Tpke
Ramsey, NJ 07446-1182

horse

Fra Diavolo Pie

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Nellie’s Place
9 Franklin Tpke Waldwick
NJ 07463-1774

Nellie’s spurred the discussion of What IS a bar pie? Does it have to be thin, does the oven matter, or is it just to come from a bar? Is Spirito’s a bar pie? Also, We talked about why some places were called Taverns and other Pubs. We concluded that taverns were of Italian origin (taverna) and pubs from Irish. Makes sense, right? This was again a thin pie in a bar, definitely a bar pie. They also have pretty outdoor seating, and a salad bar which both give the sense of being a little more tame than I prefer. The pie was nice and crispy, but I think it’s fair to say that Kinchley’s would be more of a destination. We also got the Nellie Special, which is basically a pie with everything on it – a favorite of one of our tour members.

Story of Nellies
Song of Nelly

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A Mano
24 Franklin Avenue
Ridgewood, NJ 07450

Inside A Mano is a cafeteria, with two wood burning ovens and strict standards of method and ingredients. Two of the owners are even importers of Caputo flour and San Marzano tomatoes. That can’t hurt.

We tried the Regina Margherita, the A Mano (bufala mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, proscuitto di parma, arugula, gran cru, evoo, basil), and the Tartufo (truffle and porcini mushrooms, pecorino cheese spread, homemade mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, parmigiano reggiano, evoo). The crusts held some integrity and were something to be proud of.

As is the standard, these pizzas are made by hand in a wood burning oven, and is one of only 3 restaurants in the U.S. certified with both the VPN (Verace Pizza and Napoletana) and APN (Associazione Pizzaiuoli Napoletani). For more evidence, check out their descendants. This was where Roberto Caporusico was before Keste. This is where Robert Cino was before Ah’Pizz.

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Bruno’s Restaurant and Pizzeria
1006 US Highway 46
Clifton, NJ 07013

We came for the Sicilian. Its construct is cheese below the sauce, a luscious formula. The sauce gets spicy and heavy in oregano, with the crust springy and fried below from the pan. For me, it was one of the best Sicilians I’ve ever had, and this was echoed many times from the crowd. The extra crispy bottom could even take it above L&B.

We even got to meet the “best pizza server in NJ” – Michelle. They must love her here, because look at the receipt below!

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Patsy’s Tavern
72 7th Ave
Paterson, NJ 07524

Last stop was Patsy’s in Paterson. This neighborhood is holding on, as the Italians move out and ruffians move in. And the bar is never open past 10pm, which seems sensible. It’s family, with the restaurant area operating on and off throughout history. Now headed by 2 brothers of their third generation, it’s a relic, a throwback, and a destination.

They do a 2-step cooking method for pies, first in a pan for 12 minutes, then in the original 1931 oven to finish it off. It basically fries the dough in the pan, then bakes the rise. It’s the same way they cook at Star Tavern, which leads to an overly crispy and scrumptious crust. Beauty on a disc.

This brings up a factoid I learned from Scott of Scott’s Pizza Tours… After prohibition, many drinking establishments opened up, and because it was a highly Italian region, pizza seemed like a natural thing to accompany beer. It’s one of the best things to come out of that terrible time in our nation’s history.

Patsy’s had the most memorable end crust of the tour. The char on the crust rolled all the way over and into the pie. Lots of times I talk about the coastline of a pie, likening the area where the cheese and sauce meet the end crust to where the water hits the sand on a beach. This one was like the wave barreling onto the beach, curling over the end back into the cheese and sauce. It’s a polarizing slice, and I love it for that. While it was probably my favorite of the trip, it was at least one other member’s least favorite, check out Jim U’s reviews of the trip on yelp.

And to answer your question about the name, Patsy’s: no relation.

If you do this trip, save room for Guernsey Ice Cream in Paterson.

Lots more Jersey to go…


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