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Apr 8, 2009 01:12 PM

Star Tavern & Pizzeria in Orange: Sadly Not in the Hood, But a Great Pizza Just the Same

I found Star on Yelp and tried to convince my friend who lives in South Orange to take us there instead of a place he had in mind that boasted of serving the original Sloppy Joe (is that really a selling point?). But then he read this review:

"The drive from my humble neighborhood just 2 miles away became rapidly distressing, with the number of boarded windows increasing with every block. But we persevered in the name of pizza."

He was a bit apprehensive, especially since his 6 month old was along for the ride. Star Tavern is less than 3 miles from his house, but my husband and I were in the mood for an adventure (I have a perverse love of driving through bad parts of town) and good pizza, so off we went. Entering Orange, we spotted a large billboard in remembrance of a young man who had been recently murdered. We made that the number one item on a list of "Ways you know you're entering the 'hood." However, it was all a let down from there, hood-wise. Other than a few check cashing places we passed it wasn't really hood-like at all, and we didn't see a single boarded-up window.

"Drove through the hood and it's so lame, New Jersey gives hoods a bad name. (Bad name.)"

Star Tavern is basically a large bar with wood paneling that looks like it stepped out the late 70s, possibly wearing platform boots. A woman here was also spotted with a feathered haircut also last seen in the late 70s. Since the whole hood thing didn't pan out, that was the scariest thing we saw in Orange.

The prices here for a 14 inch pizza start at $9 which is pretty unbeatable. We had a plain cheese pizza and a half cheese, half pepperoni. The cheese/sauce ratio was dead on and the sauce was good. The crust was a little thin for my taste so the edge around the pizza was only half a fingernail in width. That's okay, but that crust was usually half charred. We all commented on how the pizzas were universally too oily. Otherwise, the pizza was really good.

We were visiting Star from San Jose where if Star existed we would be back every week. However, it was up against some stiff competition in our pizza tour of New York, where we ate one pizza meal every day. (A trip to New York for us isn't complete without a trip to Lombardi's and Spumoni Gardens. Patsy's was a new addition this trip, but we learned a few years ago never to eat at a place with "John's" in the name.)

My Greater NYC Pizza Rankings:

1) Patsy's, East Harlem
2) Lombardi's, Little Italy
3) L&J's Spumoni Gardens, Bensonhurst (Brooklyn)
4) Grimaldi's, Fulton Landing (Brooklyn)
6) John's, Greenwich Village
7) John's, Upper East Side

Star Tavern & Pizzeria
400 High St, Orange, NJ

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  1. If he was going to take you to the Town Hall Deli for a Sloppy Joe had it a few weeks ago and just did not understand all the hoopla, thinking maybe should have ordered the Favorite rather than the Original. If you do go, order a half that was MORE than enough food and much cheaper!

    In regards to your Pizza adventure yes those 3 miles are quite scenic! Good Post.

    2 Replies
    1. re: shabbystorm

      Star is one of the many old time taverns serving thin crust pizza throughout New Jersey. Not too far away and in the same ilk, are Reservoir Tavern in Parsippany? and Kinchley's Tavern on the Ramsey / Mahwah border.

      1. re: DrewEck

        Closer yet is the Town Pub in Bloomfield. Same style of pizza.

    2. This is soooooo unfair. This made jfood sooooooo homesick. The Star Tavern was his go to place when he lived in Glen Ridge for 367 days. The surrounding neighborhood is interesting but remember that Edison lived not far away.

      And the pizza at Star goes back several decades as the best in the 'hood. So whoever told you to go there knew his/her stuff. Give him/her a big hug of thanks.

      But you should also be upset for missing one of the greatest sandwichs in America, up there with Katz's Pastrami and Central Grocers Muffaletta, the NJ Sloppy Joe. And here is a photo for the drool effect.

      It is even better than it looks.

      2 Replies
      1. re: jfood

        Strangely, the sandwich looks both repellent and delicious to me at the same time. It's because of the meat (which I don't like so much these days) and the Russian dressing (which looks goooood).

        Too bad we didn't have time for one more meal in New Jersey...

        1. re: jfood

          Star has been around a long time. I grew up a few blocks away and it was the pizzeria of choice even then . . . which is more than 40 years ago!

        2. Don't knock the NJ sloppy joe.

          "(I have a perverse love of driving through bad parts of town) "
          lol, is that what yuppies do now? poverty tourism? are you serious?

          1. I havent had Star in years! I grew up in the area and Star has always been known for good pizza or whats sometimes known as "Bar Pie".
            I always thought it was too oily too but now I'd like to give it another try.
            My Dad would always get Clam Pies here, wish I had a slice right now!

            I also grew up eating Sloppy Joes from Town Hall and they're also really that I no longer eat meat I go on Fridays for their fried fish sandwiches wich are perfect.

            9 Replies
            1. re: venezuelan

              See if anyone makes a Smokey Joe. Similar but novey and white fish instead of meat. Also the Millburn Deli makes a Saturday Special which is egg salad and tuna salad.

              1. re: venezuelan

                Question Venezuelan - have you ever had a sloppy joe at the Millburn Deli?

                Which one is better? Thanks for the insight

                1. re: shabbystorm


                  If you wanted the best SJ in Millburn, you needed to go to Tabatchnicks. Further down into Union many moons ago there was Kartzman's and then over to ELizabeth to Goodmans.

                  The pastrami and CB at Millburn deli cannot hold a candle to the other three. And jfood ate a ton of sandwiches there. Friends bring with when they visit the jfood in CT. Still better than any sandwich up in FFD county, but Tabatch, Katz and Goodmans were the standards for jfood.

                  1. re: jfood

                    Do you know, Is Tabatchnicks in Union still in business?
                    2933 Vauxhall Rd
                    Vauxhall, NJ 07088
                    (908) 686-7077

                    1. re: shabbystorm

                      jfood does not, but you have the phone number so give them a call

                      1. re: jfood

                        Ok, thank you. I did call yesterday at lunchtime but it just rang...rang..

                      2. re: shabbystorm

                        might have been closed for Passover...

                    2. re: shabbystorm

                      jfood got it...Tabatchnicks had the best in Millburn for many years...Back then I also used to love the hot dogs at Syd's..
                      Havent been to Millburn deli so I cant make the comparison, but Town Halls is def worth a try.

                      And the smokey joe sounds awesome! Im a big smoked fish that I live in the city make many weekend trips to Russ & I'm on a hunt for that smokey joe!

                      1. re: venezuelan

                        And syds was second best to Dons for a hot dog. The dons hot dog was the best, even greater than Swanky's and Super DUper up here in CT. And jfood is one of the few people who does not like Papaya, yes, he thinks it is too salty, but hey others love it.