Friday, July 19, 2013

Review: Jules Thin Crust, Newtown PA (Bucks County)

For more than two decades, I lived in Bucks County, PA, which is just north of Philly and directly across the Delaware River from Trenton NJ, which is the epicenter of the Pizza Belt, that magical northeastern region stretching from northern Delaware to southern Massachusetts. In fact, Trenton is/was home to some legendary tomato pie, DeLorenzo's (reviewed HERE), Papa's Tomato Pies (reviewed HERE), and Joe's Tomato Pies (sadly, long closed).

The point of all this is that, living so close to Trenton, you'd expect to find good, maybe great pizza in nearby Bucks County PA. But my experience did not show that Bucks pie was materially better than Kansas pie. Lots of tired mom-n-pop joints cutting corners with Sysco-type ingredients.
Traditional meat pie, chicken w caramelized onions, and the "Heart Warmer"

I do recall one brief and brilliant exception. A family that owned a wonderful local Italian restaurant - Agabiti's - opened a "Pizza and Video" store on Trenton Avenue in Morrisville. The videos were nice, but the pizza was excellent Trenton-style tomato pie. Sadly, one of the mega-chain video rental stores (it was still the days of VHS, late 80s early 90s) opened nearby. That killed the video business, and we lost that great pie with it.
The new complex on the old Goodnoe site

Otherwise, I spent my Bucks years crossing the river to Trenton when I wanted pizza. A breakthrough came, finally, when the Doylestown-based "Jules Thin Crust" opened a second pizza place in Newtown when a shopping complex was erected on the site of the legendary Goodnoe's Dairy restaurant.
Buffalo Chicken, on left

Jules takes a healthy approach to pizza, and you'd sooner expect to find this kinda pie in hip western towns like Portland (example HERE), Denver, Santa Fe, or somewhere in California. On their website, Jules tells us:


"Jules was created so that everybody would have a great place for a quick and healthy meal. Our organic dough and sauces are made fresh, in-house, every day. No additives. No bad stuff. Only the good. Our ingredients are seasonal, locally-sourced if possible, and organic."

As the name implies, the emphasis is on the thin crust. The pies are crafted in long rectangles with rounded edges, somewhat in the style of pizza sold in Rome. You can buy an entire pie, but when you order a slice, you get an entire cross section lopped into two rectangles that are re-heated in a conveyor-belt system.
Forno Marco Roscioli, in Rome


At Jules' counter; looks like Rome!

There are a LOT of creative vegetarian/vegan offerings, but they also offer a hearty selection of meat-topped pies. Mostly, they are smart enough to avoid overloading the thin crust; you rarely need a knife and fork to eat a slice.

Recently, I visited with a couple of hungry college students, and we chose several different types of slices. Our choices included some of these:

  • Meat #1, which included pepperoni, sausage, and mushrooms with traditional cheese and sauce
  • Veggie #10, the "Heart Warmer" containing roasted poblano peppers, red onion, cherry tomatoes, yellow bell peppers, mozzarella and a balsamic reduction
  • Meat #4, "Kim's Pie" with chicken, portobello, mozzarella, balsamic BBQ sauce, chives, and caramelized onions
  • Meat #8, Buffalo chicken with mozzarella, Gorgonzola, arugula, and celery
  • Veggie #3, "Julie's Pie" including goat cheese, roasted beets, mandarin oranges, red onion, micro greens, with a lemon vinaigrette

I'm generally opposed to chicken on pizza, but these curious toppings on the thin crust -- delicious and fresh as they are -- may not quite qualify as "pizza." They are more akin to especially tasty flatbread, with creative, tasty, and kinda-sorta healthy well-considered and well-mated toppings.
"Julie's Pie" on left

My "Heart Warmer" was terrific, but a bit tame because the mild bell peppers somehow dominated the smoky piquancy of the roasted poblano.

The meat pie was very well constructed, and the quality of the toppings was evident. It pretty well captured the flavor of old-school pizza and tomato pie.
A peek under the hood

The visual star was Julie's pie with the translucent slices of roasted beets and the dots of mandarin orange. The mandarins were a tad wet and a tad mild as pizza toppings, but this slice was a standout nonetheless.

On this visit, I could not order my favorite, which is a pie constructed with fig jam, Gorgonzola, and caramelized onions. The sweet-salty-savory combo really sings on that very nontraditional pizza.
The collegiate faction

Jules continued to expand, and now includes five PA locations and two in California. It's a winner, it's destination "pizza" or perhaps destination flatbread.  I don't prefer it to classic old-school pie, but it's a wonderful variant. The crust gets an 8, the toppings a 9.  Great stuff and a fun place to visit. The Newtown store is clean, modern, and staffed with friendly people who get your slices to you quickly with a smile.


Jules Thin Crust on Urbanspoon

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