Two weeks ago, I boarded the Acela Express at South Station and began barreling toward a new destination: Jersey City, NJ. A childhood friend of mine who had lived in Manhattan since we graduated from college, had recently relocated to Jersey City (or "JC" as the locals call it) and had invited me to come visit for the weekend.
After dropping my bags at her place, we headed out to dinner. We were walking to Razza, a pizza place that has received some serious attention. Pete Wells, a restaurant critic for The New York Times, titled his review, "Is New York's Best Pizza in New Jersey?" The restaurant was also featured on the New York episode of "Somebody Feed Phil," the Netflix show where "Everybody Loves Raymond" creator Phil Rosenthal seeks out the best food around the world.
We approached the hostess stand and were holding our breath as we asked, "How long is the wait for a table for three?" She replied, "Ummm, about two hours." We gave her a cell phone number and headed around the corner for a drink.
The wait wound up being just one hour (thank god, I was about to gnaw on my hand). We were escorted to a table just a few seats away from the pizza oven, giving us a great view of all the pies being made.
The Razza menu has two simple columns: appetizers on the left, pizzas on the right.
We were starving, so decided to share the kale Caesar, which thankfully came out very quickly. It was a very generous portion, topped with sourdough croutons and freshly grated parmesan.
Every bite had an equal ratio of kale, cheese, croutons and dressing, just the way a Caesar should be. I was obsessed with the crunch of the sourdough croutons and found myself treasure hunting for them in the sea of kale.
For pizza, we decided to share three kinds - the Di Natale, the Burrata and the Funghi. The Di Natale was the first to arrive. It was topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella, olives, pine nuts, raisins, garlic, basil and chili oil.
After the first slice, my friend said, "The chili oil gives this such great heat. I love the salty, briny taste of the olives. The basic ingredients - the sauce and the cheese - are fresh and high quality."
Next we tore into the Burrata pizza. It had a paper thin crust, delicious, sweet tomato sauce and dollops of creamy cheese. We all agreed that though this was simple, it was the perfection of each of the individual ingredients that made it really sing.
Our third pizza was the Funghi, which was a white pizza. It had mozzarella, scamorza cheese, shaved onions and mixed mushrooms.
Mushroom has always been my favorite pizza, ever since I was a little girl. I used to order it at Newtonville House of Pizza. This take on mushroom was rich and gooey from the two cheeses, and earthy from the bounty of mushrooms. You could really taste pure mushroom flavor in every bite.
When we selected our three pizzas, I had a feeling we'd be boxing up a ton, but we only left three slices! Because the Razza crust is so wonderfully thin, you can eat more than you'd think.
As our plates were being cleared, I asked my friend and her husband to rank the pizzas. They had the same favorites: #1 - Di Natale, #2 - Burrata and #3 - Funghi. For me, it was #1 - Funghi, #2 - Burrata and #3 - Di Natale.
No matter how you slice it, the pizza at Razza is worth the wait.