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Ah' Pizz -- Authentic Neopolitan pizza in Montclair

Great news! For those of us who love real-deal Neopolitan pizza (read: NOT foldable 8-slice American pizza), we have a new spot in northern NJ: Ah' Pizz, which is on North Willow Street in Montclair, is doing it right--it's just that simple. And simple is the key to this style of pizza, imo.

I got turned on to Neopolitan pizza thanks to the Tommy: Eats blog, and became a big fan of Roberto's stunning pies at A Mano in Ridgewood. I have since become a big fan of Keste, Roberto's NYC restaurant, and have introduced many friends who weren't familiar with the genre. This is not, as I said above, American style pizza. There's nothing wrong with that kind(when done right), but there's something more satisfying (to me, at least) about this simple list of (mostly imported) fresh ingredients being put together with TLC and love, then thrust into an 800 to 1000 degree oven for 2 minutes or less that makes me feel like I'm eating something GOOD. This is NOT takeout food. This is eat-it-the-minute-it-arrives food. And SIMPLE is the key.

Tommy's recent post about Ah' Pizz sent me running to check it out last night, along with a good friend who's also a Keste fan, and a bottle of my favorite sangiovese. Again, simplicity is the key here...there is a parking lot, so no circling around looking for a spot, and we were greeted by a genuinely friendly manager and then waitress and handed a short menu of maybe 3-4 salads, half a dozen pizzas, and a couple of specials. My friend went for the special, which had sopressata, red onion, Kalamata olives, and smoked mozzarella. I had the salsiccia, which is a margherita with big chunks of wonderful sausage on top. Let's put it this way...unless I'm meeting friends who live up that way, I don't need to go up to A Mano any more to get my NJ Neopolitan fix.

Desserts include the expected, but again, done with the best ingredients/purveyors. The cannoli was freshly filled, and the gelato comes from Sotto Zero in North Arlington--where the owner makes the gelato, including the base, from scratch. UNHEARD OF.

A full report that really tells you more than I can is here: http://tinyurl.com/2bgmpee

Bottom line: If you're not familiar with Neopolitan pizza, go, and go with an open mind. Order your own (they only come in one size, as is standard in Italy), share with others if you're so inclined, but try something new, and enjoy it! And if you know Neopolitan pizza, go check it out and see if you agree that this place is a welcome addition to this part of northern NJ.

Ah' Pizz
7 North Willow Street
Montclair NJ

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  1. Wow! thanks for the heads up. I'll have to check it out the next time I'm in Montclair.

    1. I tried it too - I hope they make it. They're going to lose a lot of business since they won't take phone orders or deliver due to the nature of the pie. It's a small shop.

      I thought it was good - but not as good as Keste.

      3 Replies
      1. re: harrison

        I'm really hoping that they politely explain WHY they don't take phone orders or deliver, and based on my conversations with the manager, owner, and wait staff, they should have that ability; these folks are definitely service-focused!

        People wouldn't call Fascino expecting delivery because it's not THAT type of restaurant. And Neopolitan pizza just isn't THAT type of cuisine; hopefully those who are really interested in good food will go in and try it so they can understand!

        And fwiw, I do think you can go in and get a pie to go, but again, that's not the idea...

        331 Bloomfield Ave., Montclair, NJ 07042

        1. re: Curlz

          Per their website:
          Since our pizza cooks at 900-1000 degrees and cooks in only 90 seconds, we only accept walk-in orders for take out."

          1. re: Curlz

            You can walk in and order and take it home of course...and I totally get why.

            I was just trying to do the math to see how long they'll survive.

        2. Ah'Pizz received a shout out in the New York Times last month. Short, but the PR should help this place.


          1. I took you at your word on Sotto and was quite disappointed by what I found.Sadly the lemon rosemary was not available,but I did try a number of others and they all pretty much missed the mark for me.I tend not to like many of the domestic Gelateria offerings as they are often over sweetened to suit American tastes.The problem I found here was that there was no consistency or balance in any that I tried,apart from good texture.The Chocolate was dense and intense,but really needed more sugar.The Pear wasn't bad (and this is usually a difficult one to get right ) but was weak in flavor.Overall the Strawberry was probably the most satisfying,but I couldn't even call that a standout after many weak samplings.Amanos Gelato s always seemed like an afterthought to me and of questionable consistency.The PreGel packages just don't cut it for me.
            I hope to hit the pizzeria in Montclair sometime soon.A lot of aspiring people have been through the Neapolitan pizzerias in the area,some have been good and some not ,so it's a crapshoot what you get and where and when IMO.

            1. We've only been there once, back during their soft opening. We found their ingredients and product to be first rate. the owner's mother also makes first class cannoli. In the short time they've been open (judging by what we see when we drive by, which is pretty frequent), they seem to have attracted a following. Their proximity to the Wellmont on concert nights, along with their price point (as an absolute, not just for pizza), have to be helping. I wish them well. For us, pizza is normally a takeout thing, and this pizza is really meant to be consumed on site.

              1. OK, so i finally made it today for lunch. They had an appetizer special of roasted asparagus with prosciutto. It was fabulous - not your usual charred asparagus - but nicely cooked and the prosciutto was practically melting. I am assuming this has to do with the heat of the oven. It was dressed with a balsamic reduction and olive oil. I t was truly sublime. I ordered the signature pizza, Ah'Pizz with plum tomatoes, mozzarella, basil and parmigiano. It was excellent, though I though the crust was just a little too chewy. Having lived in Italy, it was a great experience and it was a wonderful stroll down my gustatory memory lane, but seriously - $16.00 for an individual pizza? As much as I loved it, I'd have to think twice about going back.

                8 Replies
                1. re: bropaul

                  $16?? REALLY? That's obscene--I have to agree. Unless it was one of their specials, that sounds high even there. For giggles I just looked at the Keste site; in the W. Village w/high rent, Roberto's pizzas range from $9 to $19, with the higher end including prosciutto or salame or other more expensive ingredients.

                  1. re: Curlz

                    The same pizza is 16 at A Mano. At Keste it's 15. At Nomad it's 14.

                    16 dollars for a great entree? I can afford it.

                    A Mano
                    Ridgewood, NJ, Ridgewood, NJ

                    1. re: tommy

                      And I agree with you...I just didn't remember the prices as being that high at Ah' Pizz. And fwiw, it's rare that I can eat an entire pizza at any of these places, but most of my friends finish them. Still, nobody walks out hungry... :-)

                  2. re: bropaul

                    I'm agreeing with bropaul about heading back, but it isn't the price that keeps me away...I thought the pizza was only ok -- and bropaul is right that the prices is a bit high. I was expecting a lot, and the decor is great. But the pizza was only ok. Three star rating is helped by the nice space but the pizza could have been more flavorful.

                    Ah' Pizz
                    7 N Willow St, Montclair, NJ 07042

                    1. re: NJfoodstuff

                      Which Neapolitan style places serve pizza with more flavor?

                      1. re: tommy

                        I'm a fan of Bivio in Little Falls for brick oven, and find the pizza at a lot of other places have more flavor...Star Tavern, Calabria's, Star Light, Frank's, and others.

                        1. re: NJfoodstuff

                          Is Bivio making Neapolitan style pizza? The term "brick oven," although used a lot, doesn't do much to describe the style of pizza that a place is making.

                          1. re: tommy

                            Real brick oven -- in a very, very similar oven to Ah'Pizz. Check out the pictures online at http://www.biviopizza.com/Photos/phot...

                  3. This place is average.  The sausage pizza, cheese pizza and the Nutella pizza was nothing special.  I was expecting better... For similar wood/brick oven pizza of a much better quality, I would suggest trying "A Mano" in Ridgewood, NJ.  The service at Ah' Pizz was just passable.  There are so many better restaurants in Montclair, so I will not be back.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: syber

                      We recently went and had the Margherita pizza and a beet/goat cheese salad. Really enjoyed both and the service was very good on a Friday night.

                      1. re: syber

                        Syber, I have to respectfully disagree. I was an early fan of A Mano and even continued to go after Roberto left, but after the experience I had there a couple of weeks ago, which included OVERCOOKED pizza + some of THE. WORST. SERVICE. I've ever had, I'm done with A Mano.

                        My conclusion is that in expanding their menu, they're catering to the people who (as a pals says) don't 'get' what real Neopolitan pizza is (see: Ewwww...it's wet in the middle!), so now the place is busier and serving what was, imo, a very bad version of what used to be stunning pizza (there). Whereas Ah' Pizz is cranking on all cylinders these days, and they still have excellent dough, know how to cook it, AND you can finish your meal with the best cannoli!

                        ETA: The service issues at A Mano were truly appalling, and included having our wine dripped all over the glasses and table, a waiter who was completely MIA (as in, he probably went home--we never laid eyes on him again and had to pull someone else over), and a truly 'dirty' cappucino. I seriously can't recall a night of such awful service anywhere else!

                        1. re: Curlz

                          I went to A Mano about two weeks ago and thought it much better than Ah'Pizz... My Neopalitan husband thought so too. The answer is, you can go to Ah' Pizz and I will go to A Mano....:)

                      2. In the now-never-ending Neopolitan pizza wars here in NNJ, and in the spirit of honesty, I'm here to say that I have to agree that Ah' Pizz has lost its luster for me. (Note: this is NOT simply because I am now swooning over Mancinni's - see tommyeats.com for more info about that)

                        I've been back to Ah' Pizz recently and it was just...okay. We sat at the 'bar,' so I can't say the pizza wasn't hot and right-from-the-oven, but I found the crust a little tough, the smoked mozz a little saltier than usual, and it just didn't WOW me. And that's without going in to any service 'issues' (Sidebar: whywhyWHY do places object to writing down orders? I don't care if there are only 3 of us...WRITE IT DOWN). Friends who are regulars there also say something has changed.

                        I continue to hear mixed reports from A Mano as well, which leads me to wonder if these places are potentially changing their ingredients, perhaps to cut costs--and/or not sticking with pizzaolas who have been properly trained or are experienced enough to put out consistent products. I just read that Don Antonio (Roberto's partner in midtown NYC) was at A Mano in the last couple of months, so maybe they're stepping things up (again). Still, with Mancinni's (Montclair) and Arturo's (Maplewood) within easy reach, I don't have much reason to go to Ridgewood for pizza.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: Curlz

                          A Mano has been consistently exceptional for me for over a year now.

                          1. re: Curlz

                            Curlz, interesting to hear that. It seems pizza is usually the one food item that stays consistent, whether its good or bad. Maybe a change in the people making the pies. I assume the owner is the same.

                            1. re: Curlz

                              We went to Ah' Pizz last week. Within 3 minutes of ordering, the appetizers came out. Which tells you that everything is precooked/prepared in advance, although I did enjoy the meatball sliders. The pizzas were undercooked on top, burnt on the crust, OK in taste, but worth the price? No. In fact, they are generally a little expensive, for salads with a couple of ingredients they charge around $10. Meh. I'm with Curlz, for good pizza, I will stick with Arturo's.

                              1. re: tootsnj

                                Our pizza was a glop of cheese that slid off when you raised it. Pasta unimpressive. We weren't fans . Won't be back.

                              2. re: Curlz

                                I've been to Amano twice in the last 6 months- both times with a group of Neapolitan pizzeria owners and/or serious hobbyists (soon to be owners). Both times were very early in the day so the place was relatively empty and the servers were not at all taxed. We had one or two people that were blown away and the rest of the group was impressed. I prefer the extra bit of chew and moisture in Forcella's crust, but, compared to Keste, Motorino, Don Antonio, Paulie Gees, Robertas, Barboncino, and Nomad, Amano more than stands it's own. At least from a crust perspective. Toppings wise, they have nothing that touches Keste's Lardo, Motorino's Brussels Sprouts or the Hellboy at Paulie Gees.

                                Roberto has recently gone a bit toppings crazy at Keste, so hopefully some of that creativity will bleed over to this side of Hudson.

                                I still have yet to visit Ah' Pizz. Between Robert getting caught up in a fib about knowing Roberto and their lack of gravitas in the promotional video, I just wasn't feeling it. Being in Montclair didn't help either.

                                If they were located in a more accessible area, like Morristown, I definitely would have given it a shot. Speaking of Morristown, when I spoke with Roberto 6 months ago, he told me that one of his students was opening a Neapolitan pizzeria in Morristown. I've googled this a few times and come up with nothing. It could be a Morristown/Moorestown thing. Anyone hear anything?