Last weekend, we headed out on our second stop on our quest to find the best pizza in New Jersey. In case you missed it, our first stop on the tour was Grimaldi’s in Hoboken. This time we headed to Orange to Star Tavern. It’s a place that is pretty well known to anyone who is on their own personal quest for the best pizza in the Garden State, and the tavern even made it as a stop on the Munchmobile Pizza Tour last year.
The interior is very traditional bar with wooden tables and chairs, the requisite big screen TV blaring the current games, and two video games in the front. Nobody came to greet us, so we seated ourselves in a booth near the door. Within a few minutes of sitting down, the waitress came and plunked down a few menus and took our drink order. For die-hard soda fans, be warned. They’re not serving Coke or Pepsi products here, it’s all RC. Blech.
We already knew we’d be getting pizza, but took a look at the appetizer section as well, just to see if anything popped out at us. Mmmm, Mussels Marinara. Sold. For the pizza, we did half plain and half everything.
“Including anchovies?” the waitress asked when we ordered.
I glanced at The Husband, who laughed.
“Yes, it’s ok. I’ll pick them off.” In their ordinary form, I hate anchovies. But melted into a pasta sauce or used in Caesar Salad, and I’m fine, and love the saltiness they impart. Today I was being brave so The Husband could have them.
The mussels arrived and the sauce was a rich, deep red. Nearly a burgundy color. We dug in. Mussels Marinara should come with bread. How else to eat all that wonderful sauce? No bread came with it, but we requested and received some (no charge). The sauce was terrific, with crushed red pepper flakes spotted throughout. It was fairly spicy, so I was surprised that Nick kept going back for more (for the sauce, not the mussels) , but it was almost too good not to. One caveat though. They gave us paper plates to dole out our portions. Um, have you tried putting a thick tomato sauce on a thin paper plate? Not such a smart idea, and by the end, everything had soaked through to the table. Hello? And the napkins are the paper thin kind that are dispensed on your table. Between the pizza and mussels, we went through a lot; they’re just too thin for this type of food.
Just as we were finishing our mussels, the pizza arrived. If you like thin, crispy pizza, this is the place for you. The edges are a little bit charred (love that!) and while the pizza side that had everything on it was full and generous, it wasn’t so much that the thin pizza base couldn’t hold up to it. No flopping here, which was good. This pizza is more sauce than cheese, and the sauce is an interesting one at that … I spotted a few strips of red peppers, so it’s a little off the beaten path.
The vote? Nick said if we tried all the pizza in the world, this one would be his favorite. He ate 2-1/2 slices, which is a lot for him. Oh, that reminds me, the slices are a little bit smaller than the average pie. The Husband said he liked this pizza, but that Grimaldi’s is still his #1 so far. As for me, I love the charred bits of the crust, and I love that it’s a thin pizza, but I think Grimaldi’s is my one to beat for now.
If you go at night, particularly on the weekends, be prepared for a little bit of a wait as they get pretty busy. There are quite a few tables (placed fairly close together) and booths, and additional seating at the bar.
The prices? $31 got us three drinks plus one refill (that they charge for), Mussels Marinara and the pizza. Not too bad. Bar pizzas (smaller, more individual size) are also available for $4.50, but be careful if you add toppings, because they can be as much as $3.50 each.
400 High Street