The 12 Best Pizzerias in New Jersey
This state has some serious pizza cred.
Known for its various regional styles and residents’ fierce devotion to neighborhood pizzerias, the pizza vibe in New Jersey is personal. And everyone is invested in it—the pizza makers included.
“What I’m doing is a sacred duty,” says Al Santillo, third generation owner of Santillo’s Brick Oven Pizza in Elizabeth. “I’m sworn to do it this way.”
Most Jersey locals have their own curated list of favorite joints; some of that is because pizza spots are beloved based on nostalgia and what residents grew up with, and some of it is because in NJ, there are so many different styles of pizza—and not everyone prefers the same style. From tomato pies (sauce on top) to classic, brick-oven Sicilian pies to thin crust tavern or bar-style pies, any pizza tour of the Garden State will feature a ton of variety.
Now, it should also be stated that there are an estimated 2,000 pizzerias in the state of New Jersey, so a list with only 12 pizza spots is sure to be the subject of many debates. But here are our picks for some of the state’s must-try pies for your summer road trip needs.
Bread & Salt
When Rick Easton opened Bread & Salt in 2019, his reputation as a bread and pizza baker had already been established at his Pittsburgh spot of the same name (but with “and” instead of “&”). The Heights version has lived up to the buzz with both Jersey and nearby NYC residents coming in droves for the ultra thin, crackly, light squares of pizza rossa topped with very tomato-forward sauce and not much else. Bread & Salt is currently only open on weekends, sometimes for pre-order and sometimes for walk up. Tip: come for the pizza but don’t miss the focaccia barese (or the mortadella sandwich.)
DeLorenzo's Tomato Pies
One of the old-school, classic New Jersey pizza styles is the tomato pie, where the sauce goes on top and the pies are thin with just a touch of mozzarella. The style originated in Trenton, and arguably the best place to try one is at De Lorenzo’s, a family-run business that first started making tomato pies in 1936. At De Lorenzo’s and at other spots on this list, customers are encouraged to request how they want their pies cooked, but well done is often suggested. Toppings include the traditional favorites but also less commonly found options like Italian tuna and meatballs. Currently, there are locations in Robbinsville and Yardley, Pennsylvania.
Kinchley's Tavern Inc.
Stepping into Kinchley’s, like many dives in New Jersey, can feel a bit like time traveling: wood-paneled walls, drop ceilings, and checker-print tablecloths. But the pizzas—very thin, crispy, cheesy—are perfectly timeless. Kinchley’s pies are cooked on equipment similar to a conveyor belt, meaning both top and bottom see heat application, resulting in an extra crunchy crust. Pies can be made with marinara sauce or fra diavolo, for those looking for a spicier option. Go outside the box with the “kreamed” spinach pizza, and take a tip from the regulars—ask for it with garlic, cooked or raw, on top. You won’t regret it.
Manco & Manco
On the boardwalk since 1956, Manco & Manco (previously Mack & Manco’s) now has multiple locations and is known up and down the shore for tasty, thin-crust pizza with a good amount of sauce and cheese that resembles a swirl. The sauce is on the sweet side and the cheese is rumored to be a cheddar blend. And at Manco’s you get a show. Stop by and you’ll see the pizzaiolo make your pie directly in front of you, complete with dough twirling and tomato sauce application using a hose. This is a spot where beachgoers line up all summer long, either for slices or whole pies.
Papa's Tomato Pies
Papa’s is another of Jersey’s long-standing tomato pie joints. Established in 1912 and considered the oldest pizzeria in the country, Papa’s has another only-in-NJ claim to fame: it’s home to the mustard pie, which is just what it sounds like! Mustard is smeared on the dough followed by cheese and sauce on top. While it may sound outrageous, if you think about it hard enough and then try it, you’ll realize that one can never have too much tang on a pizza, especially if the tomato sauce has a touch of sweetness like it does here. Pizza lovers everywhere need to give this a chance, but if you’re not up for it, the thin crust tomato pie is a sure bet.
How to order: Call 609-208-0006
Another long-standing pie joint, Patsy’s, which opened in 1931, is unassuming in a kitschy, vintage way. But the pizzas are why people keep coming back. Baked in a brick oven, they come out with a nice char and are ultra crispy. Toppings and sauce go almost all the way to the crust, which has uneven and crunchy edges. The garbage pie (pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, onions, garlic) is a popular choice. Cash only.
How to order: 973-742-9596
High-quality, artisanal pizza can be found at Dan Richer’s Razza, where fresh, local ingredients are prioritized and the dough is treated with the utmost care. When Razza opened in 2012, a pizza renaissance was also underway across the rivers in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Like some of those places (Roberta’s, Paulie Gee’s, Franny’s, Motorino), Razza pies are cooked in a wood-fired oven resulting in a pillowy crust and a crisp bottom. The margherita is a perfect order—and should always be on the table your first time visiting a specialty pizzeria—but pizzas like the Calabrese, with toppings including ricotta, oregano, and fermented chili paste, are exquisitely done, too.
The Mike’s (Galluci and Mercuro), two Jersey natives, opened Rosie’s in 2017 and in a few years have become known as one of the best pizzerias on the shore. The menu is concise and consists of both square and round pies, and they are gorgeous. The pizzas are made with a natural starter, which adds a note of sourdough to the crust, and they cook the pizzas well done. It’s common to have your pie blistered and with a touch of char; this is what they’re going for! Mercuro says the team wants the taste of the crust to come through, which is why they opt for a bit less cheese than may be expected. The toppings are great (especially the vinegar peppers) but the plain round with fresh shaved garlic and EVOO can’t be beat. Rosie’s currently also sells slices at lunch, but that may change in the future.
How to order: 732-746-3060
Santillo’s Brick Oven Pizzeria
Al Santillo’s family business started as a bakery and is now one of the best and most beloved pizzerias in New Jersey. The pies at Santillo’s are baked to order in a brick oven (6 minutes for a soft crust, 10 for brown/black) and the menu features lots of varieties, from tomato pie to thin pie and “American style” (soft crust) to Grandma-style square pies. Santillo tells us his pizza is “healthy” because he lets the dough rise twice. He uses heavy steel pans, some of which are 100 years old. “That’s how you can get the crust so crispy,” he says.
Star Tavern Pizzeria
Star is another classic spot for thin-crust bar pies. Open for more than 65 years, the vibe is now more polished; the owners used the pandemic as an opportunity to renovate. But the pies are the same: thin and crispy with a nice, tomato-y sauce. The white clam pie is a very strong choice. The crispy crust stands up to the cheese, butter, clams, and garlic (but only if you eat quickly). Ask for your pie done well if you want to eat slowly, but why would you?
How to order: 973-675-3336
For Neapolitan-style pizza down the shore, Talula’s is an excellent, farm-to-table choice in an inviting and open, warehouse-style setting. Expect sourdough pies that are available in many creative iterations categorized as red and white on the menu. Seasonal toppings like asparagus, nettles, and sunchokes abound, but classics are also available. Try the Super Mario, a white pie, with provolone, fontina, ricotta, fennel sausage, broccoli rabe, Calabrian chilis, Parmesan and olive oil. Co-owner Shanti Mignogna once made bread at Roberta’s in Brooklyn.
Una Pizza Napoletana
UPN has opened and closed locations from the shore to San Francisco to NYC, and the Atlantic Highlands location currently remains the only one in operation. In a sense, Jersey native Anthony Mangieri has returned to his roots; Una Pizzeria Napoletana first opened in 1996 in Point Pleasant Beach. One thing hasn’t changed: artful Neapolitan pizzas cooked in a wood-burning oven made with high-quality ingredients like San Marzano tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella D.O.P. The classic pizzas are a hit, but take a chance on the Catari with capers, raisins, and pine nuts, among other ingredients.
How to order: Call 732-872-4632