New Jersey is notorious for a slew of things. We are the “Garden State” with our water being the color green. If you don’t know “Bruce,” please move to New York. Two New York football teams rented our stadium, but we don’t have one for ourselves. “Boardwalk Empire” and “The Sopranos” show us highly praised mafia recognition. Atlantic City smells like it belongs to Philly. “Water” is “wader.” Oh, and we have Majin Buu as governor. But if there’s one thing that we strive to preserve, it is the boastful right to the state with the best pizza. This is not an argument, Chicago. We are simply the best pizza state, hands down.
Now, with prestige comes responsibility and accountability. Every pizzeria in the state must be held to beyond unprecedented standards: How you deliver the pizza in style. How your pizzeria pays homage to its Italian roots. The sauce. No one forgets or forgives the sauce. The cheese. Need I say more?
A thirst to deliver the best quality pizza to New Jersey residents permeates vividly among pizzerias around the swamp state, as if pizzeria owners are congregating in Tony Soprano’s basement, pledging oaths to give their blood, sweat and tears to every sauce spread and mozzarella sprinkled onto our wonderful circular-shaped dough.
To flat-line my hunger and legitimize my claim of fabulous pizza coming out of New Jersey, I stumbled upon Ah’ Pizz, an Italian brick oven establishment. Now, judging by their name and the fact that they have a brick oven, expectations are quite high, but not maxed out yet. They didn’t start to reach peak levels until I saw that the prices were similar to New York dining prices and the entire menu was in Italian. Sweet! Now, the expectations are out of this world. How would this place fair against my sharp criticism of human necessity (food)? I will simply say it shattered them.
Ah’ Pizz is modern prestige soaked in Italian royalty. If you find a way to escape the clutches of Montclair State’s vibrant campus and “It’s All Here” and no parking contradictory, you will find this place lovely to dine out with friends and loved ones at night. I say night because by the time you walk to your respective parking deck, play “Where’s Waldo” with your car remote, find yourself in campus traffic, scream at your steering wheel while in said traffic and finally make it off the campus’ only exit, it will be pitch black outside.
For the interior, Ah’ Pizz kept it modern but with an Italian flare. Nutella is showcased over the curved counters. Seating arrangements primarily consist of two wood polished tables put together to house four people. This place is meant for your family and friends.
Now, for the pizza. Ordering the Ah’ Pizz felt like a safe choice. With authenticity comes caveats in a restaurant and one of them was that the menu was nearly in all Italian. I used Google to eliminate choices I thought were unfit for my appetite and eventually decided on the flagship pizza, the Ah’ Pizz.
The Ah’ Pizz, a 12” pizza pie with fresh crushed tomato sauce, melted buffalo mozzarella and grape tomatoes, is the homage salute to the Italian bloodline that runs deep within Ah’ Pizz. (The name gives that away too.) Because premium chicken never seems to escape my mind, I instinctively added breaded chicken cutlet to my Ah’ Pizz. The admiration for such originality when it comes to pizza makes me wonder why I actually spent $7.99 on a Dominos carry out personal pie in my life. If Ah’ Pizz is the true pizza pioneer, I have been duped by the red, white and blue domino logo.
When the pie actually came out for the tasting, it was instant gratification. The optimal temperature allowed me to dig right in. The pizza was soft, even foldable. No tongue cutting or gum tearing involved. The mozzarella really stood out. I can almost say it made the entire dish. I’m not really a huge fan of grape tomatoes due to the size and taste, but the mozzarella concealed the acidic taste for me, and it was barely noticeable.
The breaded chicken cutlet came at a price of $4 but that is $4 I would spend again. There is nothing like a lovely topping of premium chicken to seal the deal during dinnertime. Oh, and for all you who usually leave the crust dangling on the plate as you bounce from pizza triangle to pizza triangle, by the time you’re done the Ah’ Pizz, all of it will be gone because the crust doesn’t try to be fancy; it synchronizes smoothly with the overall frame of the pizza.
Pizza runs rampant within the depths of suburbia in New Jersey. You can truly get lost in the sauce if you’re not careful with your pizza consumption. Although New Jersey offers an array of proven pizzeria establishments, only a few represent Italian originality perfectly. Ah’ Pizz has mastered this craft thoroughly, and it is never too late to find out for yourself.
Ah’ Pizz is located at 7 North Willow Street, Montclair, NJ 07042.