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L&B Spumoni Gardens type pizza in NJ?

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I have been searching forever for a pizza that tastes like l&b Spumoni Gardens (brooklyn) in New Jersey. Does anybody know of a place that serves anything like that?

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  1. I assume you're talking about "the square". I have never found a pie like that one anywhere else. Closest thing we have here in NJ is a good grandma pie or sicilian. Let me know if you find one.

    10 Replies
    1. re: seal

      Yes, there is a place called Piazza Pizza in Spotswood. Haven't been there for a few months, but the square pizza was excellent last time I had it.

      1. re: tootsnj

        I was at L&B last month let me tell you the pizza there doesn't taste anything like it used to years ago by any means...and I should know I lived 3 blocks away growing up...very disappointing.....best Square Pizza I've had around here in NJ was at Scalas in Long Branch West End.....

        http://www.scalaspizzeria.com/

        1. re: Tapas52

          tapas - so glad to finally read someone who feels similarly to us about L and B. We drove from Rockland on Father's Day for some pizza to find out what all the hoopla was about - and we couldn't figure it out. Pizza was good - nothing great - and yes - spumoni was a nice touch - but really folks........

          1. re: smilingal

            smilingal sorry to hear that........... whenever I'm in Brooklyn in my old neighborhood I go to Tortonno Pizza in Coney Island... Excellent.... (pictured)

            Here at home if I yearn for pizza I drive to Trenton and always go to PAPAS Tomato Pies...my favorite !

            http://www.papastomatopies.com/

            I've given up on Square......Scalas in Long Branch I enjoy when in the area....otherwise its a L&B memory of years ago....that has sadly disappeared. :-(

             
            1. re: Tapas52

              Not that it reminds me of L & B square, but I had a really nice and different square pie at Aleo in Lincroft last night. It had the doughier, thick crust of sicilian and was topped with just sauce and a breadcrumb/olive oil mixture. It reminded me of something I ate in Rome. They called it Pizza Rustica. Have to add that it is just as good reheated which is rare in any pizza.

          2. re: Tapas52

            I had a patient tell me not too long ago that Spumoni Gardens had been sold in the last year or so, to non-Italians who don't quite get it. That may be why it was such a disappointment when you went there.

            1. re: Tapas52

              Tap, I happen to like Scalas, but this place in Somerset blows away anything that I've tasted of late. Just wow.

          3. re: seal

            Can someone please tell me what's happened to pizza in NJ?

            I grew up there (18 years) in the 70s and 80s (Ocean County) and we had two kinds of pizza- regular (round, thin crust) and Sicilian (square, thick crust).

            When did people stop calling Sicilian slices "square" slices? Or is a "square slice" something different entirely?

            And what's this grandma pie that's showing up all over the place these days? And tomato pies? People say these are New Jersey pizzas, but it's not the pizza from the New Jersey I knew.

            Granted, I haven't lived there since 1992.

            Is this something I totally missed during my time in NJ, or is this some recent revolution in NJ style pizza?

            Mr Taster

            1. re: Mr Taster

              Pizza has gotten a bit more complicated in the NY metro area in the last 18 years.

              At most places, you'll find the traditional thin crust and thick crust Sicilian, but Brooklyn Sicilian (L&B style, not quite as thick as traditional Sicilian) and Grandma style (less thick than Brooklyn and sometimes as thin as thin crust) have made inroads. A 'square' can now mean three different things. I would say that for 95% of the pizzerias, though, what you remember is still in effect. Grandma's and Brooklyn Sicilians are still pretty unique and confined to a small list of places. They are growing in popularity, though.

              The term 'Tomato Pie' gets thrown around a bit, but it's generally accepted to be Trenton Style. Trenton is basically thin crust NY style with the cheese put down first. It's popular in Trenton, obviously, but it's made it's mark on the Jersey Shore as well, especially further South.

              As far as changes go, though, these are pretty insignificant compared to the biggest change of all- that NY style pizza is not a fraction of the quality that it used to be. Hundreds of great pizzerias have taken a noticeably mediocre turn and the new places that open are garbage. The pizza you get here, for the most part, is what you get anywhere in the U.S.- and that's incredibly sad.

              1. re: scott123

                How interesting.

                Honestly, it's a bit ground-shaking to think that the eternal paradigm of the thin and round pizza or the thick and square Sicilian is being turned on its head. Who is responsible for this?

                The first time I heard the term "square slice" bandied about was circa 2005 when I had my first DiFara slice, and Chowhounds/Slice blog were referring to Dom's "square slice". I wanted to reach out and throttle my monitor, shaking it violently while screaming "It's Sicilian, you putz!" I went through six monitors by the time I got over it.

                I've been away for too long, and now my world doesn't make sense anymore.

                Mr Taster

          4. Brunos In Clifton has the L & B type of square pie (cheese under the sauce).

            1 Reply
            1. re: wblorch

              Bruno's just opened a new location on Rt. 10 in East Hanover. Not as good as La Sicilia in Belleville IMO, but still pretty good.

            2. La Sicilia in Belleville has a square that is very close to what you're looking for.

              There is another place, though, that I just have to get back to one of these days. I used to work within walking distance to Vittorio's in Englewood and fell in love with their square. The sauce on top of the cheese was very garlicy and fresh tasting, lots of fresh herbs. If they are still doing it the same way it may be a contender for an even better slice. Just something to keep in mind if you're in the nabe.

              1. Pronto II Pizzeria in Middletown has in my opinion the closest to what L&B was when I was growing up a few blocks from there. In fact they make the best crust I've tasted from a normal pizzeria, other than coal or wood fired. The food there is spot on!

                Enjoy!

                1. I just had a delicious square slice of what you're looking for. Piazza Orsillo on Cedar Grove Ave in Somerset. Amazingly good.

                  -----
                  Piazza Orsillo
                  120 Cedar Grove Ln, Somerset, NJ 08873

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: JustJake

                    Mario's in Maywood has L&B styled square pie with sauce on top. It called Grandma's style and it is excellent.

                  2. For over a decade, I have been going to the Columbus Farmer's Market (in Columbus/Jobstown area, Burlington County, off US206) but for the "meat-fest" that the Mennonites have there three days a week. I always noticed this hole-in-the wall pizza place that I couldn't even see the name of but never had interest in trying. Then one day it occurred to me that this dive looking place with it's U-shaped seating counter was always busy and I might be missing out on something, so I tried it. Wow! This is one of the best pizzas I have ever tasted and it is made in the L&B style. Slightly sweet sauce(chunky) and perfect crust. And if you look at the retro Pepsi Cola menu sign, you'll eventually see the name of the place; Pete's. Holy cow, how long I have been missing out on this.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: essenmeister

                      It that fried turkey tail place still there?

                      1. re: fourunder

                        Not sure. I rarely venture into the far back area of the market but I did recently and did notice another hole-in-the wall that looked to have an abundance of fried food. It too had quite the line of customers. Hmmmmm?

                    2. Mr. Bruno's in Lyndhurst does a Brooklyn style Sicilian.

                      http://slice.seriouseats.com/archives...

                      http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/inde...

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: scott123

                        Sciortino's in South Amboy, NJ makes a great "tray" pie that reminds me in some ways of L&B, except with a crispier thinner crust and slightly sweeter and more heavily-seasoned sauce. Overall, L&B wins hands down, but Sciortino's is good.

                        1. re: SonicReducer

                          Scorintino's is extremely overrated pizza (IMHO). If that reminds you of it (L&B), I'd be a bit disappointed in the product or nostalgia you're looking to rekindle. I was in Scorintino's about 6 weeks ago, and really didn't care for the product - and it's probably the 3rd or 4th time I had their pie. Sauce is way too sweet, and Middlesex County is a desert when it comes to good pie.

                          I've lived in NJ my whole life and there's far far better out there that is probably serving what you're looking for. As a shore guy who has his favorites down here (Monmouth and definitely not Ocean County), I stand by the Grandma's pie one gets at Pizza Orsillo on Cedar Grove Ave in Somerset NJ. Best I've had - even better than Sea Bright Pizza's Grandma offering (which is wonderful), Scalas, also very good and Gianni's in Red Bank & Oakhurst make an ok (barely) Gm - if you're ever in the New Brunswick Somerset area - it's worth the trip off of #287 (2 minutes off the Interstate). Simply outstanding.

                          1. re: JustJake

                            JustJake, it's a bit statistically improbable that Somerset would have two pizzerias with world class Grandma pies, but try Loduca. If you go for lunch, make sure you get there between 12 and 12:30 and try, if possible, to get a slice fresh from oven. Make sure you don't get any of their other pies, though- they're all pretty lackluster. Loduca, imo, sets the bar for Grandma, and I've had grandma slices all over the NY metro area.

                            1. re: scott123

                              I'll let you know and I'll try to get over there when I'm back to work (on vacation right now in Cape May). Do you work in the area? If so, please take a taste test with Orsillo. I just can't say enough about the place - what does it (for me) is the sauce - best I've had. Crust is there with good cheese and plenty of fresh garlic.

                              1. re: scott123

                                Based on the Jake/Scott posts (who would have thought that Somerset was the new Flatbush when it came to pizza!) I drove up there today to try the two side-by-side.

                                I went into each (they're only 3 [very long] blocks apart) and ordered two slices each of grandma to go. I tasted them side by side, made my notes, and only then went back into each place to ask some quesitons. Here are my notes, and some info based on the subsequent discussions.
                                LoDuca - perhaps the prettiest grandma I've ever seen. A commercial "brick oven" with higher off-the-deck temperatures than a metal box, they're able to subtly brown the cheese as it bubbles up, leaving a beautiful texture. The crust is real Brooklyn grandma - it's not a Sege crust (thick and bready) nor is it a normal "thin-crust" shaped in a square, but rather has more crumb than a thin-crust, but is brilliantly light, with tiny air pockets all over the place. Later discussion uncovered that this is the same LoDuca that's in Flatbush - the old man stays in Brooklyn, but his son alternates which store he's at; I had asked how they managed that crust with Jersey water and the answer was that they don't - the crust is pure Brooklyn. Don't know if they bring over the crust or just the water (didn't think to ask until I was back down near Great Adventure) but in either case, it's memorable.
                                Piazza Orsillo looks, by comparison, like a strip-mall pizza place. There are no "Brooklyn Specials" (those slightly over-sized round pies with everything from lasagna to the kitchen sink) and I didn't see a regular Sicilian pie available, but the grandma was there, along with a dozen normal rounds, and as Jake says, the grandma is what you go there for. The pie wasn't as "artisanal-looking" as the LoDuca pie, and the crust was more like a square-shaped standard crust, but the toppings made this today's big treat. No, I don't mean sausage or pepperoni, etc - I ate each pie without additional toppings, wanting to taste what the pizza-maker had in mind. I mean the sauce, cheese, and in this case, thin slices of garlic. I had thought the garlic might be roasted before being put on the pie, it was so sweetly caramalized, but the owner said he just put them on in a little oil and let the deck do the work. The cheese had more flavor than LoDuca's but the killer was the sauce. It's an old-fashioned southern sauce (yes, there's a bit of added sugar in it) and it dominated the pie and the day. If you judge your pizza by the crust, you can’t beat LoDuca, but everything taken together, Orsillo is the one I’d go back to for compete flavor.

                                Getting back to the original thread, I still maintain that an "L&B" style pie is more than just a good Brooklyn grandma. The place in East Windsor I cite below from another thread on this board makes both a "grandma" (their standard version includes caramalized onions) and an L&B-style grandma (sauce on top, slightly sweeter) which doesn't use or need the added sugar that Orsillo uses, since the tomato blend is different than their normal sauce, which is how I remember L&BSG doing it years ago.

                                All-in-all both places were worth the 45-minute drive, but Orsillo's is the one I'd go back to first.

                                1. re: eapter

                                  Eapter, nice write up.

                                  I met the LoDuca sons and mother in the Brooklyn location on a pizza crawl I attended earlier this year with some of the contributors to Slice (SeriousEats). The father runs the Somerset location and the sons are in charge of Flatbush. The dad will come back every once in a while and whip the kids into shape. Dad's got the better oven (marsal MB), but the kids do a great job with the oven they have.

                                  I'll swing by Orsillo the next time I'm in the area (I make the 45 minute trip to Dawn Foods about twice a year for pizza flour), but I'm a little skeptical that the sauce is better than LoDuca. LoDuca's sauce uses the Stanislaus Tomato Filets. As far as I'm concerned, there's no better tasting canned tomato that you can buy- and I've tasted just about everything. I would kill to find these filets in smaller cans.

                                  1. re: scott123

                                    Agreed that the tomatoes make all the difference - that's how D'Abruscos gets away with not adding sugar and still getting the Sege taste. At home (sinice I don't need a gallon of tomatoes) I use Gustarosso San Marzanos - sometimes (not always) available online at zingermans.com - nice thing is that when they happen to be in stock, I'll order a dozen or more cans and by the time I'm down to the last one, they come back in stock for a week or two...

                                  2. re: eapter

                                    Eapter, a very impressive post and I finally had a slice at LoDuca's. It's all that you described it to be. Very sexy looking, a nice light crust and browned cheese. It's good.

                                    Then I stopped into Orsillo's. I ordered a slice at 12:15 and noticed a guy my age right near the ordering area with one in front of him and two slices at the seating across from him (I gave him a big thumbs up, and he probably wondered wtf I was gesturing about). I finally got my slice, sit down across the way and enjoy what is pure heaven. Theeeee best around. I notice that he's into slice #2 (those slices aren't for a late arriving guest). I make small convo with him as to how good it is. He smiles and tells me that you have to get their early to get one. Damiano will probably make another one as the first one goes, but if you want, get there early he says which I concur.

                                    I was going to order his $16 square GrandMaMa to go, but had a 2pm meeting and the Sr. VP I was with as with all sales/egotists couldn't shut his mouth and I lost a window of opportunity to put one on wheels to bring home tonite. Scott, I'd love to hear your review on this pie - it's simply outstanding in the overall taste that it delivers.

                          2. D'Abuscos, which just opened in East Windsor.
                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/861197
                            They call one of their many square pies an "L & B" and it has that same interesting sweetness that I remember from L&B years ago.

                            1. The owners of the one in Brooklyn actually did open a Spumoni Gardens restaurant in Old Bridge a few years ago. Didn't last very long, maybe a year or two.