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How many pizzerias in your town? Do we need that many in NJ?

As a small business owner I try to support any new business/mom & pop. When you open the 8th pizzeria in a small town and close soon after- I really have no sympathy. Seems in NJ, someone comes to a town and says `hey you know what,the other 7 long term pizza places in town don`t have anything on me,I need to open up another pizza joint` (I think its the same folks who open up an `Italian Deli` that simply think stacking imported pastas up on wire racks shelves,slap a Boars head sign in the window and miraculously an Italian delis is born). Where are the demographic studies people? How about opening something NOT in town already. BBQ/Fried Chix/Mexican/ Greek/etc etc. I`m all for pizza,but c`mon, so my question to you is, my small town has 7 pizza joints (not including Dominos and the bar pies you can get at the pubs). How many does your town have and do you think its`s too many already?? (Oh yes we have 4 chinese take outs & 1 chinese buffet thats teh next topic ,along the same line!) Plus does NJ have more per capita pizza places or what?

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  1. so true...I'm in Robbinsville, so setting aside Delorenzo's because it is a different style than the "average" pizza place...if you travel down Rt.33 into Hamilton, there are 2 places within walking distance of Delo's (both good in different ways), just a few blocks further down I think there are 4 more pizza places plus Pizza Hut.
    My husband and I always make the same comment you made, when we see a new store being fitted out, someone must think they have the secret formula that will overcome all the competition (applies also to an italian restaurant in a terrible location which has had 4 different owners in 12 years).

    Pizza Hut Restaurants
    2002 State Route 27, Edison, NJ 08817

    6 Replies
    1. re: BeeZee

      It's a free country. They wouldn't be there if they weren't making a living. All of that real estate would be empty without them. One hand washes the other. They are good members of the "Money Chain".

      1. re: FoodDoc

        I don`t know if all real estate would be empty w/o pizza joints using commodity cheeses & sauces.But,as to the money chain paradigm,I would assume with a mostly (?) cash business,how much actual income goes into the stream that`s being reported (if that`s your argument).When you use suppliers from NY & Philly (most do) how much $ is going into the LOCAL food chain? Are they supporting local suppliers or commodoty suppliers ? Are they using local farmers or Restaurant Depot?.The free country argument/money chain thing is not a valid point for this post...It`s about PRIDE,creativity,unique,serving an unfilled need in a community etc etc. I know personally if I was a restaurateur (not), I would be embarassed to open up the umpteenth pizza joint in a town.I would be ashamed. I would do some studies and see what was lacking and where my skill set lies.I would take a pssion (bbq?) and turn it into a profesison if I had to.Just my opinion,on topic not off

        1. re: rapidnj

          If it's about pride, why are 99% of the slice pizza joints in NJ just plain LOUSY? Oxidized slices, mediocre ingredients, blech.

            1. re: aklein

              Yeah, so much for pride. Profit trumps all of that.

            2. re: menton1

              Thats what I`m saying-have some pride-don`t serve embarassing glop

      2. I too find it to be a laughable phenomenon in the Garden State. A year ago or so, my wife and I counted thirteen places in town that made pizza. A couple of them were bars that make some pretty foul pies and a couple were seasonal, but that’s still a lot of pizza options in a town that’s barely one square mile. I think there are twelve as of today, including a Domino’s that I am amazed anyone frequents.

        The other thing that is ridiculous here at the Shore is the number of Irish bars. What's worse is that they all seem to think serving sushi is a good idea. Yuck.

        Hey, wait, maybe there’s something about the ethnic composition of our community to this whole thing. No wonder there are more taquerias opening lately.

        1 Reply
        1. re: MGZ

          Wow! I could only come up with 10 - and that is with cheating as I had to look at the directory on the Chamber of Commerce website.

          Every time a store front is empty I hope it will be something good and it always turns out to be a pizzeria, a nail or tanning salon. I am not holding my breath waiting for the former Mother Mary's space to reopen.


        2. Driving down 33 in Hamilton, starting at where it crosses with Nottingham, you have Vincent's (newly reopened), JoJo's, Pizza Steak Wings And Things (I think that's still open), Da Vinci's, Brothers, Dominick's, Vito's, Maninno's 3 (Still there?), that place where Shank's used to be... OMG, how many more are there? And that's just on 33!

          Da Vinci Restaurant
          411 Washington St Ste A, Hoboken, NJ 07030

          1 Reply
          1. re: Heatherb

            There appears to be some sort of zoning requirement on Route 9 that mandates all strip malls must have a cleaners and a tax preparation business in addition to a pizza place.

          2. It seems to depend on the perspective.
            From that of the consumer, it's probably just going to be another mediocre pizza place.
            If we consider the pizza shop owner's view, It's very cheap ingredients and a cash business.

            1. So true. In my small town in S Jersey, I think we have 7 pizza parlors. Only one serves a decent slice IMHO). We also have 11 hair salons. Withink 15 minutes of my house, I can have decent Italian food at well over 20 restaurants. How about something different for a change? OY.

              2 Replies
              1. re: mschow

                In the Monmouth County Tr-cities area (Red Bank, Long Branch, Asbury Park) we have literally dozens of little authentic Mexican places, and I'm not complaining! :-)

                1. re: equal_Mark

                  "we have literally dozens of little authentic Mexican places, and I'm not complaining!"

                  I'd have to agree. Who am I to structure someone else's interpretation of their American dream?
                  The good places will (hopefully) survive. The not so good will fade away.
                  In the meantime, stores will not be empty and become eyesores or targets for Vandals,
                  and property owners will derive some benefit from the rental income.
                  Sounds to me like a healthy dose of capitalism in progress.

              2. Here in Middletown along 35 there are about a dozen in the 3 mile stretch between Holmdel and Red Bank, plus several more within a mile or so of 35. Many have existed for years and years (and one got Munchmobile'd last year). But one spot in particular is trouble. This location was a Li'l Caeser many moons ago. When that one left, a new pizza/italian place moved in. Every couple years or so a new one comes in. Some have been decent, some I tried once and never returned. I can remember at least a half dozen in the last 20 years. None have had anything about them to make them stand out. According to one owner, the problem was that they couldn't make any money on sandwiches, since a Jersey Mike's was next door (literally) and a Quizno's was 100 yards away.

                1. Only One Good One................
                  we have several in our town
                  still looking in the area we live in - Somerset, NJ

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: loveeatin

                    My town in only 1 square mile and we have 6 "by the slice" places and about 5 other restaurant / bars selling pizza ... 3 of them constantly changing hands.

                  2. My town only has 1 pizza place and it's mediocre. A nearby town has about 6 and all mediocre. I think if a new place that made great pizza opened up it would make a killing.

                    1. Especially in these hard times, pizza places are among the few who can squeak by on the razor thin profit margins.

                      Flour, cheese, spices, etc they all aren't cheap anymore. You have to sell a lot of slices to make any money, especially in this state of high rents, high expenses, high everything.

                      There's been plenty of places who serve great food and different concepts, and most of them are gone now.

                      The reason that even the "bad" places survive is that they sell enough food to make it. It's what the market demands.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: coldsolderjoint

                        While I don't dispute the validity of what you explain, I find the underlying meaning sad - mediocrity rewarded by the mediocre.

                      2. 14 Pizza joints in Washington Twp., Gloucester Co. (at least). No book stores.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: mmgth

                          Book stores are dead. Barnes and Noble and Borders killed them and then Amazon.com killed borders, along with the kindle/ipad. And Barnes and Noble is on life support... dont hold your breath for a rebound in bookstores anytime soon!

                          1. re: cwdonald

                            Nonsense. Barnes and Noble is a great place to browse books to decide which ones I want to go home and download.

                            1. re: ebchower

                              And not actually buying books at Barnes and Noble serves to keep them in business... how?

                              1. re: equal_Mark

                                I buy food at their cafe, silly! Why else would we be discussing this on chow?

                        2. I call it the "Red Sauce & Dough" phenomenon. It seems that dismal restaurants all over the state can survive as long as they keep red sauce and dough on their menu. It's everywhere and it's depressing.

                          So in Red Bank we have in no particular order:

                          The Brothers
                          Tommy's Coal Fired
                          Basil T's
                          Earth Pizza/Pizza Fusion
                          New Corner
                          Front Street Trattoria
                          Mr. Pizza Slice

                          That's 16 in a town of 10,000 or so, not including surrounding areas. There were more, but a number have gone bust in the recent recession.

                          This of course does not include places that serve more "elevated" forms of red sauce and dough, such as pasta and parmegiano. If you include these my guess is that something like 30 restaurants in town serve some variation on the theme.

                          By way of contrast we have one soul food, no german, no spanish or portuguese, no bbq, one scandinavian and two mexican restaurants. We also have only two asian restaurants, one chinese and one vietnamese.

                          Finally, the local Windmill is ranked higher on Tripadvisor than Char, which is our new high end steak house in town.

                          9 Replies
                          1. re: vikingkaj

                            what soul food place are you referring to?

                            1. re: corvette johnny

                              Bon Jovi's monument to his own ego masquerading as community service.

                              1. re: vikingkaj

                                HAHA! That is funny. I never thought someone would classify that as soul food.

                                Also, what is the Scandinavian place? I don't recall but I might be forgetting something.

                                1. re: corvette johnny

                                  Danish Cafe in the Galleria. Perhaps I was being generous in including this as a "restaurant" but it does have tables.

                                  1. re: vikingkaj

                                    Oh ok, I was thinking maybe some delicious Norwegian whale meat or something ; )

                                2. re: vikingkaj

                                  Not a fan? That's fine. I get it.
                                  But just curious... why do you characterize his restaurant that way? Did you have a bad experience there?

                                  1. re: The Professor

                                    Nope, foods ok. But like many locals I'm a little indifferent to Mr. Bon Jovi.

                                    Btw, we caught him having a burger and steamers at Barnacles a couple of months ago for lunch.

                              2. re: vikingkaj

                                windmill is better than Char - so shouldn't it rank higher?

                              3. I hear what you are saying loud and clear. I would love to see more BBQ places personally, but good BBQ is hard to cook correctly and its time consuming. It seems each county has like one or two decent places.

                                How about Thai? It seems within the last few years they are all over the country. I see them all over the US when I travel and even in very remote areas. I guess Chinese places became too abundant. LOL I can't remember them being around much a decade ago. (or maybe I never noticed)

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: corvette johnny

                                  Damn, I forgot Siam Garden. (Can't imagine for the life of me why I forgot it ;-) So I guess that makes three asian in RB.

                                2. Well, we happen to have 7 pizza joints (a couple which are quite good), 2 decent Chinese, a Paki/Afghan, a real Mexican (not Tex-Mex), a Middle Eastern deli, 3 Japanese (two which are quite good), and Indian, 3 great delis, 2 Sports pubs, an excellent northern Italian (one of the best in the county), a pedestrian Italian as well - then the usual suspect chains/franchises.

                                  So, I guess we're doing a bit better than most. I also patronize most of those 7 pizza joints during the year and I happen to like the idea of having a pizza joint each way you turn in this state --- it's far better than McD's, Booger King et al.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: JustJake

                                    I've lived in Baltimore, DC, Philadelphia, and Wilmington (as well as Reading, PA and a few towns that I am actually embarrassed by). Through all those years, whenever I came home to see my parents, I had two priorities - hiding my wallet and weed from them, and eating pizza. Fuck me if I'm a Jersey guy who has had time to reflect upon certain weaknesses in his own genes. The Atlantic was cold this morning, but warmer than the air, and less caloric than gettin' an ice cream headache the traditional way. (Paddle out with me Thanksgiving at sunrise if you want to hear what I truly think!)

                                    Most importantly, my attempts at more esoteric comprehension, have permitted me to come to these understandings:

                                    (a) When it comes to pizza love, it's akin to that of the love of the opposite sex.

                                    (b) Physically, sometimes, you simply crave that dark, crispy bitterness of a pepperoni pie at Brothers.

                                    (c) Other times, it's when that perky blonde pie at Porta, Biaggio, or Mossuto's, with a coupla of those nasty, dark streaks at the edges, havin' just been subjected to the smokey fire for a few, blistering minutes, is all that can satisfy what burns inside you.

                                    (d) There are also times when the paper thin model that is P&E reminds you that there's a solid reason why some of those pretty, skinny models out there are makin' gobs of money.

                                    (e) Oh, and sometimes, there are days when the bulky, Grandma's pie from some joint that also sells "still warm Vodka sauce" in recycled, plastic containers is the culinary down comforter when it just helps to not be alone.

                                    (f) Then there's a place like Mr. Pizza Slice where the classes mix like at a Rolling Stones' concert in a London, church basement before the news that Kennedy was dead crossed the Pond. Play some Miss Pac-Man, and realize that smart classmate shares certain primal pleasures with you . . . .

                                    Ultimately, I've come to understand this. We're Fuckin' Jersey! We do PIES! Put Pork Roll on mine if you wanna prove a point. I'll take down your extra-cheese. And, I am not alone - Have you seen the size of the Governor?

                                    One thing I'm wonderin' though. Does anybody else think we need a State Constitutional Amendment forbidding Chain Pizza places from the Pizza (I mean, Garden) State?

                                    1. re: MGZ

                                      I find the thought of (e) "still warm Vodka sauce" in recycled containers to be microbiologically scary if not perhaps against code.

                                      But then this being Jersey there is probably no real cream in the sauce and/or the fix is in with the local inspector.

                                      As they say "Mangia, mangia!"

                                      1. re: vikingkaj

                                        One piece of free and unsolicited advice: When you're behind 3-0 in the count with runners on and the cleanup hitter at the plate, you throw the next pitch hard and away. Savor the moment when he flails and misses and think through what is to come. You don't bounce a slider off his feet. If you do, the fella in the five slot is gonna take you deep after he digs in.

                                  2. So riddle me this batpeople, how many Attilios Pizza do we have in this state and are any of them related?

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: vikingkaj

                                      The relevant question that you seem to be missing, pup, is: "Are any of 'em good?"

                                      1. re: MGZ

                                        That depends on whether you like your slices well aged...

                                        1. re: vikingkaj

                                          I have cherished some slices that showed the ripeness of age,
                                          and others who were underdone, though perfumed with sage.

                                          I have reveled in in the beauty of that piece congealed by the morn,
                                          as well as those sweet pies, who's makers I knew before they were born.

                                    2. Back in the day in South Jersey permission was needed to open a Pizza Shop. Without it you were assured to have a fire.

                                      If you did get permission, and you wanted to stay open & healthy, you had to buy your ingredients from the people who gave you permission to open.

                                      Back then, pizzas were $5 ea. Today they are $10 - $12. When adjusted for inflation they are pretty cheap today. One reason is that all the "old world" costs are gone today.

                                      The reason there are so many today: For the most part, all of the above are gone. They are cheap to start, easy menu to cook & still mostly "Cash" sales. Many of these factors also apply to Chinese takeout.

                                      1. PA isn't much better!

                                        I live on the border between Carlisle and Boiling Springs:

                                        Papa Johns
                                        Roma Pizza
                                        Misenos II
                                        Pizza Hut
                                        Little Caesars
                                        Napoli Pizza
                                        Two Brothers
                                        Pizza Grille

                                        Approximately 21,000 people and 19 pizza shops. I mean come on...

                                        1. I do notice a lot of pizza places, but it is a cheap tasty meal and many people cannot afford to go out for dinner but can afford a pizza for their family or self . Its portable and convenient and yes there are way more here than say in Alabama. Its a NJ thing .
                                          What is your solution to this "problem"? You cant force someone who only knows how to make Pizza into opening a different kind of place . I doubt that it would succeed to make a pizza maker open an Estonian or Ecuadorean restaurant . That wouldnt work would it ? Out of business in no time.

                                          1. So believe it or not there is actually a trade magazine that tracks crap like this.

                                            According to PMQ magazine's annual survey, while above average NJ does not even rank in the top ten for pizza places per capita by state:


                                            The top ten in order are:

                                            New Hampshire
                                            West Virginia
                                            Rhode Island

                                            This doesn't make sense at all since none of West Virginia, Iowa or New Hampshire are states that any self respecting Soprano would be caught dead in, unless of course they were trying to dump a corpse.

                                            We should demand a recount!

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: vikingkaj

                                              Love your answer. Didn't even know they knew how to make pizza in some of these states.
                                              In my little neck of Middletown (Belford, Port Monmouth), there are SEVEN pizzerias within walking distance of each other. Plus, if you were desperate, you could order delivery from any of the national franchises like Dominos, Papa Johns, etc. None impress. Some have been in business longer than I've lived there (>20 years), some are relatively new. I've picked one that I can tolerate, but $25 for two plain pizzas with no flavor, come on.

                                                1. re: corvette johnny

                                                  Yes, Naples is still around and is one that I rate simply average. The older couple that ran it for years, retired and sold it to a younger couple about 15 years ago. In general, the place stayed the same, except for the prices. They, of course, went up.

                                            2. This thread has reminded my drug and alcohol polluted mind of the old Mel Brooks joke: "Sex is like pizza, . . . Even when it's bad, it's still pretty good!"

                                              I always figured it wasn't until the morning when you knew the difference.

                                              The folks at Craked have some funny spins on it too:


                                              1. In the end, I don't think you can have too many _good_pizzerias. I'm fortunate to live in a part of the state that has quite a few excellent family run places doing quite well even with the national chains starting to infest the area.

                                                So the real problem in NJ is that there are definitely too many PizzaHuts, Papa John's, Domino's, and places of that sort. Admittedly, even those are not nearly as abysmal as the Shakey's pizza I endured when at college in the midwest. The quality was indeed shaky. The only redeeming thing about eating there was the pitchers of decent dark lager beer for $3.00

                                                12 Replies
                                                1. re: The Professor

                                                  I don't consider the pizza chains here in NJ to be a problem. They serve an important function of reducing waits at the good places.

                                                    1. re: The Professor

                                                      Actually the PMQ survey covers this aspect as well:


                                                      82 % of the pizzerias in NJ are independent, which puts us close to the top of the list. We are probably viewed as a difficult market for the chains because we have so many independents, and because people are so loyal to them.

                                                      One of the things that I find interesting is the demise of Uno, the Chicago chain. While they have plenty of restaurants in NYC, most of their NJ attempts have closed leaving only three in the entire state.

                                                      1. re: vikingkaj

                                                        "One of the things that I find interesting is the demise of Uno, the Chicago chain. While they have plenty of restaurants in NYC, most of their NJ attempts have closed leaving only three in the entire state."

                                                        Yes, interesting. It's ironic. I remember their Paramus location...Paramus! Shopping mall capital of NJ, congested, traffic, population, etc. Yet, the shopping center they were located in has always been a "wassteland" so to speak. The one in Clifton seems to be "better located" and it appears to "do well" and so forth.

                                                        I don't know and I am not an expert -- but perhaps it has to do with "who" and "what" they are trying to be. It's a pizza place -- yet the menu seems to have an extensive offering of pasta, seafood, steak, etc. Normally, an immediate reaction is that's a good thing -- but who/what are they trying to be. Is it the core product? Deep-dish pizza? I don't think so, not for me. Personally, I like it. But if deep-dish is their core market, vis a vis Pizza Hut...what are they doing?

                                                        Last time I checked, they had around a half-doezn locations in NJ, other than Metuchen and Clifton, the others were in South Jersey.

                                                        1. re: ELA

                                                          There's still an Uno on Route 1 in Edison, I think.....

                                                          1. re: OGguy

                                                            Sorry, I thought it was Metuchen. It was there the last time I passed by.

                                                            1. re: OGguy

                                                              Yup...the one variously known (depending upon whom you talk to) as the Edison/Metuchen/Menlo Park one is still there. It is also houses it's own brewery.

                                                              Basically though, the beer they make (which is not bad at all) is the only reason to go there. The food is mediocre at best.

                                                            2. re: ELA

                                                              While I'm sure it came down to economics for the disappearance of Pizzeria Uno in the state.....the specific reasons are speculation at best. Same store sales were down, the low carb craze, partnership disputes....etc., etc..

                                                              As far as two specific locations, in Paramus and Wayne, it could have come down to poor leases, or more simply expired leases. As noted, the Paramus location has always has tenant disputes...At the Wayne, even a McDonald's vacated right next door.

                                                              1. re: fourunder

                                                                Agreed. The Paramus location was just not a good one. I don't know anything about tenant disputes in the Paramus location, but it was just a "dead" location. Being on Route 4W is not a bad thing, but that shopping center/plaza is not a "destination" spot. It is somewhat in-between Riverside and Garden State, and now with the re-birth of the Bergen Town Center/Outlets and that complex there's even more offerings. Not that it matters as others do well along that corridor, but that shopping center is doesn't draw.

                                                                Wayne was similar I think. Sure, situated in the mall complex is a good thing, but specifically, it was just a poor spot. You would think that being in Willowbrook, how can you go wrong...but they did, LOL. It was on the outskirts of the complex, difficult to capture traffic, limited entrance/exit, difficult, etc.

                                                                1. re: ELA

                                                                  5 Unos left in NJ. I meet up with friends in Clifton a lot and we usually hit a restaurant on Route 3, but Unos has never been suggested.


                                                                  1. re: ebchower

                                                                    For a funny overview as to Chicago style pizza and the Second City's claim that they also have better pizza (for those of you who may not have seen this). Pretty funny stuff.



                                                        2. A relatively new trend in Middlesex County are Indian pizza shops where you can get Masala chicken pizza and chicken tikka pizza.