Pizza Masters (Renato’s)

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I order from Renato’s Pizza Masters in the Heights about every other week. I eat dinner around 10pm (or later), and this place delivers late and quickly.

The funny thing is, I’ve only had pizza here three times. It’s perfectly delicious, don’t get me wrong, but my obsession lies with the fresh calamari salad. I’m apprehensive about buying seafood around here, but PM must get their squid from a great vendor, because this salad always was, and continues to be, magnificent.calamari

This past winter I started ordering soup from there, which is addictive. Pasta faglioli is my fave, but escarole and navy beans a close second.

When you want a really comforting treat-myself meal, get the chicken boscaiola, with portobello mushrooms, prosciutto, shallots, brandy, garlic, and a touch of cream.

I also jones the spicy waffle friesall of the time.

pizza masters waffle fries

What not to get: I’ve ordered zuppida clams. The broth is spot-on, but they always send mussels, which makes me sad. If you like mussels, OK. The caesar salad is over dressed which wilts the lettuce—or the lettuce is wilted anyway, I can’t tell.

All the parm sandwiches are standard, as are the mozzarella sticks, garlic knots, garlic bread with cheese and cold antipasto salad.

Anthony “Rich” De Marchi who currently heads the business alongside his sons Mark and Lorenzo, says the success of the restaurant can be summed up in three words “Quality, Service, and Price. In that order. If you don’t have the quality, you have nothing,” explained Rich. “We started in 1959 so we must be doing something right.”

The thing that many people don’t know about Renato’s, if they’re just walking down Central Avenue, is that it’s not just a pizza joint, which is what it looks like from the street and when you walk in. They have a separate entrance on Cambridge Ave. (with a parking lot) that houses a dimly-lit, fancier back room with a full bar and restaurant service. Totally different feel.PM1

But best of all, over the years Renato’s Restaurant has sponsored numerous little league teams, donated to Jersey City causes, gotten involved with local church functions (i.e. St. Joseph’s, St. Anne’s, and St. Nicholas) and organizations like The Dante Alighieri Society and Police Benevolent Association.

Mangia!
JCG

Click here to see more pictures…

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Best Pizza in Jersey City (Heights)

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I came across this old article and thought it high time I give my opinion: Rizzo’s Bakery (208 Central Ave.) makes the best pizza in Jersey City. I will clarify this by saying “Heights,” as there are tons of pizza places downtown and I have not tried them all yet.

Before you knock me for not saying Pizza Masters or Gino’s (I have plenty of good things to say about them), hear me out on why this is my fave on the cliff:

I’ve eaten pizza at countless places in the metro area. I grew up in northern New Jersey; I lived, went to school and worked  in Manhattan for a long time, and have been to Italy, where they really do make the best pizza in the world. I have yet to have a better slice in Hudson County when it comes to a delivery/take-out spot.

This is one of the best slices you can get, you just need to know what to order.

Instead of going for the regular pie-size slice at the counter (which is the size of 1/3 of a large pie—the pic below doesn’t do it justice; that box is the size of a large 16-inch pie)…

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Order your own fresh pie with vodka sauce, fresh mozzarella and basil (be very specific). The personal size is 12 inches in diameter, so you can definitely share it if you’re not starving. (I’ll get some pics next time I order from there. Or share yours with me at jerseycitygia@gmail.com)

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I think if you order this particular pie, you will change your mind about the other pizza places around here—I also actually believe it may cure hangovers.

My other made-to-order is this sandwich: Prosciutto, mozzarella, soprresatta, hot peppers and balsamic vineagrette. This pic is just a small portion of it (Again, send me a better pic if you have one!) with the house antipasto on the side.

rizzo's sandwich

The Salad al Michelle (shrimp, chicken and romaine dressed in a creamy calorie bomb; ask for the dressing on the side if you need to), Chicken Sorrentino (chicken, veggies and pasta in tomato broth), and the bruschetta are all delish. Try one of my suggestions if you’re going to give it a chance, because everything else isn’t worth it.

Other notes: Buy their dough to make your own pizza or buy their fresh bread. Some ingredient they use makes both addictive. Rizzo’s also has Italian cookies, cannolis and, in the morning, croissants or muffins until they run out…none of which I care about, but that’s just me.

Don’t knock it until you try it—using my ordering suggestions.

 

Buon Appetito!
JCG

 

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The Trolley Car

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Just a lil’ Allagash

The Trolley Car has never failed me. This little gem, tucked into the heights, is the first nice bar we’ve had around here. I’ve been going since it opened in 2011. The ambiance is “upscale but relaxed neighborhood bar” (my words). The service and the patrons are usually friendly. In the warm weather, sit out on the enclosed back patio and admire the Japanese garden and the blue sky. I call it my little oasis, my home away from home. You can smoke in the backyard too, if that’s your thing.

The clean and modern interior is decorated with art from local artists, and all pieces are for sale. The owners are great supporters of the arts and the local community in general—more incentive to spend my hard-earned money there.

The bartenders are unpretentious. Sixpoint, River Horse, Purple Haze and other unique beers (in addition to your basics) are usually on draft. I also discovered Golden Monkey there (bottled), which is a new favorite of mine. The selection of liquor is quite extensive for a bar in the heights, which I appreciate. Last week I had something that tasted like an orange creamsicle. Some of the bartenders like to show off their skills, so ask them to create you a cocktail if you’re feeling adventurous.

As for food, I think I’ve tried every single thing on the menu, and many of the specials. The Trolley fries are a must for me, as they are drizzled in truffle oil. The food here is inexpensive yet the menu items and quality of food exceed expectations, especially considering the other restaurants around here. When I ordered the Ahi tuna sandwich, the tuna was rare and the fish was quality. I’ve had kobe beef sliders and pulled pork sliders (both excellent), wings (juicier than most), the caesar salad (typical), calamari (typical), nachos (typical with those good, thick, probably very unhealthy chips), fish tacos (made just the way I like them, with fresh fish not fried). My boyfriend loves the steak tacos and orders them almost every time. The tacos come with all toppings on the side (cheese, guacamole, sour cream, salsa) so you can build them to your preference. Next I want to try their mussels. They always have specials and the menu changes every month or so, so forgive me if you can’t get one of these food items on the day you go.

Watching sports here is comfy too; there are plenty of HD flat screens and the place usually doesn’t get too crowded. Even if you don’t get a bar or high-top seat (unlikely), you can still see the game from any part of the venue. The jukebox—yes, they have one!—has a wide selection of music. And every Wednesday is open-mic night.

Another interesting note: The ladies room has two toilets yet no dividing stall. This introduces a whole new meaning to the girls going to the bathroom together phenomenon.

For more pictures and their promo video (cheesy but you get a feel for the place), click below…

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Farm Stands: The Best of Central Avenue

 

Many of the farmer’s markets in Jersey City are not yet open, but that shouldn’t keep you from getting fresh fruits and vegetables every day of the week. Get your fresh, local vegetables year-round. Central Avenue has six farm stands; I frequent four.

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Sweet Pineapple has the (overall) best selection of fruit on the block, hands down.

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Young’s Farm has the best basil ever and an overall great selection of greenery. They win in best quality, quantity, and variety of vegetables, usually at lower prices than the competitors.

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Singh Farm has a more limited selection of produce. Their strength is their fabulous hard-to-find of Indian food and condiments, the best tasting and least expensive avocados, and again, the best tasting and least expensive fresh bread.

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Central Ave. Farm often has things you cannot find elsewhere, such as out-of-season vegetables. Key for when I needed to make my asparagus recipe last week.

Shop Locally!

JCG

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