I am a pizza lover. I love the thin, slightly charred crust pizza that New Jersey is famous for. In my town there must be fifteen or twenty pizzerias. Just about every pizzeria is great for a quick slice with a coke for lunch, but in our area there are a couple of places that are true standouts. Today I would like to write about my favorite pizzas at the New Jersey Shore.
When I am hungry for pizza at home, I get mine delivered from Pyro Pizza. It is located in the plaza at 515 Brick Boulevard, near the Top Tomato Italian Market. Pyro Pizza is famous for their gourmet pizza and the two that I like best are their Chicken Parmesan Pizza and their Italian Sausage with Browned Onions Pizza. It is great stuff.
When I am in the mood for something special, it is a toss up between my two favorite pizzerias in the world: Vic's in Bradley Beach, NJ and Pete and Eldas (AKA Carmine' Pizzeria) in Neptune City, NJ. I grew up eating Vic's Pizza as a kid spending my summers in Ocean Grove, NJ and then in high school I discovered the pleasures of the paper thin crust Pete and Eldas pie.
Vic's pizza is distinguished by a thin, crispy and slightly charred crust. Their sauce is homemade and very garlicky. The place has been run by the same family forever and it hasn't been redecorated since it opened. It is a hugely popular place and on a weekend night after 5:30 be prepared to wait, even during the off season. My favorite pie to eat at Vic's is their signature green pepper and sausage pie. The peppers are sliced thin and the sausage is lump sausage without the casing. My mouth water's just writing about it! Another treat to have at Vic's is their garlic bread. They serve little rounds of Italian bread loaded with olive oil, fresh minced garlic and toasted in the pizza oven.
Pete and Eldas Bar and Carmines Pizzaria is another Jersey Shore institution. It is always packed with college kids, families and weekenders. Everyone is lining up for their famous paper thin crust pizza. The crust on these pies is very unique. It is thin and flaky and crunches when you bite into it. I usually just go for the regular pie. One of the unique offers that this place has is a free t-shirt for anyone who eats an extra large pie by themselves. Trying for the t-shirt is a Jersey Shore right of passage. My kids have earned a few of them over the years. There is pretty cool gallery of t-shirts on the web you might want to check out.
When I get pizza at the Seaside Boardwalk, there are two pizzerias that compete for my affection. One is Maruca's Tomatoe Pies and the other is the pizza from the Sawmill.
Maruca's is one of the original pizza stands on the Seaside boardwalk and they are have recently begun selling franchises. There is now a Maruca's right in my home town of Brick. I haven't tried the Brick store yet, but it is on my list. I have to say, though, that for me Maruca's mean the boardwalk. Maruca's is a pretty unique pie in the way that it is constructed. The cheese is put down first and then the sauce i poured on in a signature spiral. You always know you are eating a Maruca's pie by the way it looks.
For shear volume pizza eating at the boards, Sawmill does the trick. At the Sawmill you can eat at a table outside or go inside. The Sawmill is a bar and music venue, but for me they are the destination for a fairly inexpensive tasty fill up. A Sawmill pie is huge. However, it is also a great tasting thin crust pie that pushes all the right pizza lover buttons. My family and my friend Matt's family usually take an annual jaunt to the Seaside Park end of Seaside's famous boardwalk to enjoy the Sawmill experience.
I have heard that because of the price of gas and the general economic slowdown we are experiencing that lots of folks are coming to the Jersey Shore this summer. The parkway traffic bears this weekend bears this out. So if a trip to the shore is in your plans, be sure to check out one of the great Jersey Shore pizza places. You'll be glad you did.