September 24, 2008

New Jersey Pizza Company *Updated- Again!*

By Angele Sionna

2224 E. Cedar #6
NEW website with updated menu as of August 22, 2009 pizzaflagstaff.com



The Food (taste/flavor/quality of food & drinks)
>>>>>= always great, unique, and flavorful no matter where you’re from

The Atmosphere (environment, wait staff, comfortableness)
xx= nothing to write home about

Price (what to generally expect to pay per person per entree)
$= under $10

Value (what you get for your money)
***** = superb -lots of quality/taste for what you pay


What a refreshing change of pace New Jersey Pizza Company is! Not only do they have great tasting pizza, but they use locally grown and organic ingredients and don’t charge you extra for that (like so many other businesses that seem to think organic means adding an extra $5 to the cost for customers)!

“Our efforts are dedicated to the small family farmers, ranchers, artisan cheese makers, laborers and cooks of the world, whose endless work, wisdom, and passion make it possible to bring this food to the table,” their menu boasts. Now that’s the kind of motto I like to see on the front of the menu. Someone with a passion for food who also cares about how it’s grown and the people who grow and make it. That motto shows in the taste of the pizza.
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My daughters and I went to New Jersey Pizza Company for the first time this week. We were the only sit down diners, but a few other people stopped in to pick up food while we were there. The building is painted with a giant mural of Italian favorites on the outside – from soccer to the Roman Coliseum. Inside the d├ęcor feels like a new (but old fashioned) Italian farmhouse kitchen: very open, a satillo tile floor, colorfully painted walls. You walk up to the counter that doubles as a refrigerated food display and order. Fresh tomatoes of varying colors are on big plates on the counter. Behind the counter you can see the full kitchen (which looked very clean), where they were making their own Mozzarella cheese. That was impressive. I’ve never eaten at a pizza joint before so dedicated to the taste of their food that they made their own cheese (at least not that I know of).

We ordered a small (12 inch) Classic Cheese Pizza ($8). For a dollar more you can get fresh pulled Mozzarella, though I didn’t realize that at the time, as I didn’t browse the menu before placing my order. I just assumed all of the pizza was made with the cheese they were making, as that would make more sense. The kid that took my order was very nice, but didn’t tell me that was the case. He did however tell me about all of their foods, their use of organics and local products when possible. Though some of their organics are shipped in from California, I’m told. Even found out that their chickens are brought in fresh from somewhere in the South. They used to use local chickens but apparently that chicken farm as since gone out of business. Interesting. As nice as he was, he also forgot to get me a drink, but brought one out as soon as I asked. But never came back to refill it.
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We sat down in the small dining room, separated from the entry and kitchen by an arched doorway. There are only a few tables and there’s no air conditioning so it was a little stuffy despite the front doors being propped open. I wouldn’t want to come here on a really hot day.

Note to parents of babies: New Jersey Pizza just got in one high chair. It usually isn't packed with families with babies, so chances are you'll be fine, but you may want to bring a stroller just in case.

Also for kids... New Jersey Pizza has special colorful plastic plates for the little ones to eat on. (Sometimes you have to ask for them, but some servers automatically bring one out.) I was glad to see that they didn’t use throwaway products like NiMarco’s does. Something else that detracted from a pleasant atmosphere (which I’m sure is not the case on other occasions), the owner was arguing very loudly with a supplier or other business associate about money. Unprofessional to do with clients in house, even if it was just me and my two girls. I felt like I was back in New York.
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The sauce was fantastic! Flavors of fresh tomatoes and spices blended well together to make an almost creamy sauce. Thin but plentiful. The cheese was also generously doled out. Salty but not overly so. The crust is very thin and crispy. I expected more of a New York-style thin crust, which is really flimsy, not crispy, almost hard to hold they’re so loaded down with sauce and cheese. I really enjoy that type of pizza. I was spoiled when I lived in New York and had so many options all around. But that is not the type the New Jersey Pizza Company makes. You get lots of cheese and lots of sauce but the crust is crunchy. Our pizza was a little over cooked, though. When one of the guys working in the kitchen brought it out, he apologized for it have a dark spot on the crust and said the chef will gladly make a different one. I declined. It tasted fine. It was nice of them to offer though. And it still tasted great.

New Jersey Pizza has other enticing items on their menu. Some of the most interesting are: Caprese Salad with Arizona grown tomatoes and house pulled Mozzarella (market price); two sizes of Calzones with two types of cheese, your choice of three other ingredients, and sauce on the side ($8 regular, $11 large); Olive Plate (market price); Cheese Breadsticks with extra virgin olive oil, mozzarella, Parmesan Reggiano, and your choice of homemade sauce ($3.50 regular, $6 large); homemade lemonade and fruit sodas, all made with unrefined organic sweeteners; and many homemade deserts. I wanted to get a Farmhouse Ricotta Cannoli, but was told they won’t be making those again until the fall. I’ll definitely be trying that when the time comes and report back here!

All in all, the service may not be so great at New Jersey Pizza, but the good food makes up for it in my book. They knocked Fratelli Pizza down to my second favorite in Flagstaff, though the atmosphere and customer service (and air conditioning) are far superior at Fratelli.

[caption id="attachment_103" align="alignleft" width="180" caption="Cheese Breadsticks"]Cheese Breadsticks[/caption]

**Update: My family went to New Jersery Pizza again tonight and had the Cheese Breadsticks ($3.50) and two different Calzones ($8) - one with tomato, mushroom and their fresh pulled mozzarella, the other with ham, salami, mozzarella and ricotta cheese. Each tasted fresh from the garden and the oven.

[caption id="attachment_104" align="alignright" width="180" caption="Calzone"]Calzone[/caption]

Both the breadsticks and the calzones were served with a cold tomato sauce that tasted like it was just picked off the vine in the hot house. Flavorful because the tomatoes used to make it were flavorful, but I would have preferred a heated sauce with a few more seasonings. Still I enjoyed the meal very much. But would recommend the pizza over the calzone.

Again the service was kind of slow but at least the waiter couldn't be any nicer. I was hoping to try a desert but they were all sold out. Guess I'm going to try to get to the Farmer's Market early this weekend and hope they're serving desert there. New Jersey Pizza sells their fresh fruit juices, homemade mozzarella ($9/pound), and other items every Sunday at the Farmer's Market. (Click HERE for more info on Flagstaff's Farmer's Market.

For more photos of New Jersey Pizza Company, click HERE.
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