Troja est ….pizza

Troy is….pizza

I’m fascinated with pizza. (hence this somewhat narcissistic blog)..

I find it incredibly interesting how the simple pizza can be created in so many different ways.
So many different pizza styles, so many different oven types, different pizzaioli, different pizzerias…
All producing what is called PIZZA.

Sometimes these differences are associated with a location. Think “NY-Style”, or “Chicago Deep Dish”, or “Trenton Tomato Pie”.
Sometimes a pizza style is associated with the particular oven type. Gas-deck ovens usually equal “NY-Style” , while wood fired ovens usually equal a “Neapolitan” pie.
Sometimes its a combo of the two, location and oven, that define the pie, like New Haven’s coal fired pizza.
You may not care for some of these pizza adaptations, but they’re all still PIZZA.
(I have another post bubbling-away that will address my view on the “definition” of pizza)

I find these many faces of pizza to be fascinating.

What if there were a place where you could try many different versions of the pizza?
Where you could try different styles of pie, made in different oven types, by different types of pizzaioli, in different types of establishment?
All within walking distance..
Wouldn’t that be grand?

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“there is magic in the night” (NJPT-’16) Pizza Town USA

This post is part of my New Jersey Pizza Tour-2016 (NJPT-’16)
The NJPT-’16 is documented in the style of a “choose your own adventure”.

Click here to jump to the beginning of the journey.
Click here to jump back to Trenton Pie @ Papas
Click here to jump back to Urban Fire
Click here to jump to Star Tavern

Let’s end the trip with a smile.
I spent the day travelling through the great Garden State eating alot of cheesy, doughy pizza.
I still had a few hours of NYS Thruway driving ahead of me. But I knew a trip to
Pizza Town USA was in order.
2016-pizzatown-hero
You can’t help yourself but smile when you go to Pizza Town USA..
Come on…it’s an 8 foot tall illuminated Uncle Sam and a G-I-A-N-T neon red
PIZZA TOWN USA sign.

Everything about Pizza Town USA makes me smile.

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“A Hungry Heart” (NJPT-’16) Papa’s

As you may recall, I had a few objectives for my NJPT-’16.
First objective; find a good example of “Trenton Tomato Pie”.
I’ll wait a moment while you follow the links and familiarize yourself with “Trenton Tomato Pie”.

In summary:
“Trenton pie” (AKA “Tomato Pie”, or specifically, “Trenton Tomato Pie”) can be a wonderful thing.
Like most good pizza, Trenton Pie is about a wonderful marriage.
A wonderful union of crust, tomato, and cheese (sometimes toppings).
Like most pizzas (and marriages) there’s usually something that stands out, something that defines its greatness.
With Trenton Pie it’s the tomato (hence the “TOMATO PIE” moniker); tomato plays a very prominent role in the Trenton Pie.

Trenton Pie is also built a little differently than the ubiquitous “NY pie”.
Trenton Pie is built with the cheese on the bottom (under the sauce), similar to, but not exactly like, the COB pies you may be familiar with (as in, The RedFront, Troy – review post coming soon).

That cheese on the bottom accomplishes a few important things.
Number one; it protects the crust, creating a barrier from the wet tomato, allowing for a better bake.
Number two; It helps unify the pie.
Have you ever bitten into your “Friday-night-pie” and pull away all the cheese (and tomato) in one acrobatic bite?
Well, “Cheese on Bottom” helps to keep it all together.

But what really helps set the Trenton Pie apart is not only its tomatoey-ness, or the sequence of construction, but also its great crust.
You really can’t be a great pie without a winning crust.
Trenton Pie has a GREAT crust, not too thick, more on the thin, crispy side (some say “cracker” but I don’t think it’s quite there), and it’s very tasty.

It’s also worth noting that the Trenton/Tomato Pie is not about uniformity, every bite is not the same.
Your “Friday-night-pie” will be fairly uniform, each bite like the rest, an even distribution of cheese, “sauce”, and toppings.
Trenton Pie is a marvelous experience in diversity and variety.
Some bites will be heavy cheese, while some will be wonderful mouthfuls of pure tomato.

Each Trenton Pizzaiolo has a unique “tomato” signature that he applies to each pie.
Some will dollop, while many will put their version of “the swirl” into their tomato application.
You never know what each bite will bring.

papas-001

I wanted an iconic Trenton Pie.
I researched myself into three possible spots, (to be honest I actually thought I could eat in all three).
I just couldn’t decide between:
1. DeLorenzo’s
2. Mamma Rosa’s
3. Papa’s

But fate placed her wise/knowing hand on my adventure and made my decision.
1. DeLorenzo’s wasn’t open for lunch on Saturday (WTF?) – strike one
2. Mamma Rosa’s was supposed to be open but wasn’t (WTF Trenton?) – strike two
3. Papas was meant for me. – grand slam
This was all very fortunate because I had a full day ahead; one Trenton Pie would be enough.

maybe I was just in a stupid, pizza deprived hunger but I stood there, looking at that sign, pulling on the door for 5 minutes. trying to comprehend why no one was there for lunch on a sunny Saturday.
maybe I was just in a stupid, pizza deprived hunger but I stood there, looking at that sign, pulling on the door for 5 minutes. trying to comprehend why no one was there for lunch on a sunny Saturday.

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A cheesy start

star-001I feel it’s appropriate that I start this endeavor with a story of my pizza beginnings.
Any self proclaimed pizza-nerd can tell you all about their favorite slices, their pizza memories, or when their oddly, obsessive love of pizza began.

"WORLD'S GREATEST PIZZA"
“WORLD FAMOUS PIZZERIA”...it must be true it says so on the side of the building.

For me, it all started with the Star Tavern in Orange, NJ.
Consistently ranked among the BEST PIZZAS.. period.
They’re not only placed in this high regard in the sub genre of “Tavern Pie” or “Bar Pie” but also consistently ranked highly among ALL PIZZA.
Ask any pizza-nerd where to stop in NJ, and Star will be on their list.

It was certainly on my list.

It was on my list not because it’s a known powerhouse, or a “must see” location.
It was on my list because I needed to find my “pizza roots”, I wanted to better understand the origins of my pizza-love.

My memories of Star Tavern pie are my earliest pizza memories.

The Star Tavern pie is ONE OF MY FOUR MOST PERSONALLY, INFLUENTIAL PIES
That’s an important statement to a pizza-nerd.

This is a story of good fortune, good beginnings, and great pizza.

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