By Isabella LiPuma
Where’s the Best Pizza in New Jersey? Where’s the Best Pizza in New York? Where’s the Best Pizza in Philadelphia?
The bar is set unreasonably high for pizza in the Italianate states of New Jersey and New York. Although I mostly echoed my father’s standards, I was genuinely unimpressed by the pizza of my youth. There’s nothing particularly remarkable about the doughy and gelatinous “by the slice” pizzerias in Philadelphia, and although the more artisanal pies at places like Stella and Vetri are tasty, they lack the wow factor of New Jersey and New York pizzas (a grand exception is made for Tacconelli’s, and Angelo’s, I’m told).
Since pizza is the great equalizer, when I moved to North Jersey, I broke the ice (as much as possible, in COVID-times) by asking Hoboken and Jersey City natives where to find the best pie. The answer, resoundingly, was Razza. I was cynical—I’d grown up going to Rizzo’s Bakery and Pizzeria (which doesn’t even have a website!), and was continually amazed by the size and crispness of the slice, the impossibly thin layer of sauce, and the golden saltiness of the cheese (as you will see, my food lexicon is lacking). Nevertheless, I was determined to give Razza a go.
What is Razza Pizza?
Razza Pizza Artigianale on 275 Grove Street in Jersey City was started by native New Jerseyan Dan Richer. Following a trip to Italy, Dan took it upon himself to “learn everything he could about Italian cooking techniques and ingredients.” The Razza website also boasts that they “aspire to the Italian way of cooking and eating, where location and seasonality dictate [their] ingredients.” The flour that they use is “milled in Clifton, [they] make their own bread and butter,” and “each ingredient is hand-picked, down to the salt that goes on the pizza.” No wonder the average pie costs $19.00!
I first tried Razza pizza as a take-away, which meant that by the time I sat down to eat it, it had already cooled and the cheese had already congealed. That being said, the pizza had good bones—pepperoni that curled into little cups, the perfect ratio of cheese-to-sauce, and a pillow-y crust that complimented a slightly crispier bottom. Suffice to say, I was interested in giving Razza another shot.
The second time I tried Razza was with my parents. Before commenting on the state of the pie, I want to mention that my father accidentally over-tipped (I mean really over-tipped) the man at the counter. While waiting for our pie, a gentleman came out and returned the tip to him (I’m all for an ethical pizzeria!). When the Neopolitan-style pie finally came out, it was perfectly warm and bubbly and the pepperoni was crispy, not overly greasy, and delicious (I will only, for the record, eat pepperoni that curls into little cups à la Prince Street Pizza).
I lack the vocabulary to accurately describe good food (I’m no David Portnoy), so I can only quote my chef friend, who consistently raves about it. “They use incredibly well-sourced produce and follow as closely as they can Italian VPN laws,” Don said, “[Their pizza has an] incredible crust with a slow ferment [that] yields a chewy but still light and crisp mouthfeel while their sauce is the perfect blend of tangy and savory.” And while I’m not sure about mouthfeel, I can attest to the fact that Razza’s artisanal pie is delicious.