Saturday, July 28, 2012

Rosa's Pizza, Riverside NJ: The Pie That Started It All

Over at the Slice / Serious Eats blog, Adam Kuban and others have posited, and I concur, that for each of us, the "best" pizza is our first pizza, or the pizza we grew up knowing.

Arnieri's Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

I grew up eating slices of "extra cheese" pies from what we called "Rosie's" but was actually "Rosa's" (Mama Rosa's?) in Riverside, NJ. It was a classic Trenton-style tomato pie. A thin, crisp-yet-chewy crust that set up the pie for success no matter the choice of toppings. The pie that most resembles Rosa's is Patsy's, in East Harlem, NY. That pie comes from a coal oven, whereas Rosa's was made in a conventional gas oven.

We also ate a lot of "New York style" pie from nearby Angelo's in Riverside. Their pie is more like today's typical storefront pizza joint - soft doughy crust, sweet sauce, and cheese that oozed an orange oil you could mop up with your napkin. Greasy, salty, tasty, but much inferior to the Trenton-style pie. Angelo's is still there, decades later!
Click to enlarge

After Rosie's folded, mid 70s, I spent a decade in pizza purgatory. I gave up on ever eating transcendental pie again. DeLorenzo's in Trenton held me over until I began to explore further. Now there is plenty of great pizza (yet still boatloads of bad pizza). Thanks to Rosa's, I know the difference.

A while back, the Rosa's location re-opened as "Arnieri's" pizza. Some locals say it tastes like the old Rosa's.  I believe I had it once, but I can't recall its merits. For nostalgia, I was going to try it when I took the exterior picture (above), but it was too early in the day, and it wasn't open yet.
From Foursquare; looks good!

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