I wonder how many write-in ballots there were for 'Pizza' on November 8th.
Maybe that was too soon.
We all know that Pizza doesn't need votes in the Presidential Election to prove its value. All you have to do is walk into a pizzeria and you're instantly reminded. For me, local spots such as Mancinni's and Enzo set the bar for 'pizza excellence.'
If you ever find yourself aimlessly walking on Bloomfield Avenue, or you just want to spoil yourself with a personal pie because you feel like it, you have to stop at Mancinni’s.
This place is just about as ‘old-school’ as it gets when comparing it to my experiences in other local pizzerias. It reminds me of Y2K with the exception of the iPad used at the register.
The branding on the exterior is as conventional as it gets. Traditional white paint on the outside with the phrase “COAL OVEN PIZZA” is bannered in black, bold Times New Roman font and slapped onto a light daffodil background.
The interior doesn’t deviate from this theme of tradition. The daffodil color continues throughout the walls of the narrow yet lengthy establishment. The black and white squares on the floorboard resemble an aged chessboard. The seating arrangements are a bit challenged in terms of capacity. The wooden tables and seats have an old, worn black and brown finish to them and appear to be on age with me or perhaps older.
I could go on about all of the “old stuff” that this place has, but I have to mention the most significant instrument that really makes Mancinni’s a one of a kind experience: the coal oven.
Many including myself will argue that the best pizza is made in old-fashioned ovens like such. The number of local pizzerias that still use coal ovens are quite marginal. Like finger count marginal.
You can feel the heat of the oven by just walking up to the register, which is about 10 feet away. As you place your order, you can tell you're in a quintessential pizzeria.
I ordered the 12” “Classic” pie, otherwise known as the selfish pie because I ate it by myself. The “Classic” lives up to its title by only consisting of tomato sauce, mozzarella and basil on top of the dough. Sounds like a regular pie, doesn’t it? No. This is different. There were a few qualities that set this “normal” pie over the top.
The char on this dough set a new standard for me. Perfect combination of chewy and crunchy by my standards of pizza. I didn’t have to chew the bread for 10 minutes nor did I cut my gums from attempting to bite into it.
The peppery-mint notes from the fresh basil were a strong compliment to the tomato and mozzarella. I’m no cheese expert, but I have only had mozzarella this delicious maybe one other time in my entire life.
Mancinni’s definitely lives up to its “Best Pizza in NJ” ratings and the numerous newspaper articles of acclamation that they previously received. As the gentleman who made my pizza told me, “this is the only place that you can get pizza like this.”
Every time I step into this restaurant I feel as if I just walked right out of a time capsule. The dark decor and the glossy red chairs are nothing short of nostalgic for me. Back in high school I was walking here everyday for lunch. No exaggeration.
I was spending about twenty to twenty-five dollars a week on this triangle-shaped dope they disguise as slices. In a perfect world if timing, responsibilities and health weren’t factors, I would still eat here daily.
Enzo Pizzeria or ‘Enzos,’ as many call it, is clustered right in the middle of the same strip that houses Stuffed Burgers, Cars and Hot Bagels Abroad. You might miss this dimly lit gem if you’re speeding too fast down Valley Road, especially at night.
A little after 8:30pm on a Wednesday is an appropriate time to sit in if you are looking to enjoy your pizza in an intimate setting. Though there are no lines and plenty of seats, don’t expect the same range of specialty slices as there are during the day when the restaurant is packed. This was the sad reality I had to face being that I came here after a late colloquium on campus.
If you’re buying pizza from Enzos, you have to get the specialty slices. This is what separates the basic from the unforgettable. Not to downplay the plain and pepperoni slices, which are also exceptional- but if you ask me, the specialties make the most noise on this menu.
Tonight I was going for my typical order of two BBQ Chicken slices. Instead, I was met with the worst news I heard all day, “we don’t have any left.” I instinctively doubled up on the Buffalo Chicken slices as an alternative. A solid choice, I must admit.
The light cheese and tomato sauce that sits just above the crust are followed by a layer of cubed buffalo chicken and then the slice is finished off with zig-zag-like drizzles of ranch dressing that coat the top of the pizza. Taking the first bite is even more pleasant than staring at it. With each chew, you can taste every ingredient simultaneously, and then you’re hit with a bit of flame from the buffalo sauce. This slice is made for those out there who enjoy challenging their taste buds.
Hopefully my jargon here persuaded you enough to utilize your next few cheat meals on pizza. Ideally at Mancinni’s or Enzo, if you’re smart.