Tuesday, March 14, 2017

San Francisco’s Go-To Place for New Jersey-Style Pizza and Cuisine

A Taylor Pork Roll Pizza does exist!

By Milvian Prieto
New Jerseyans are filled with pride. Prideful of our Jersey roots. Prideful of not having to pump our own gas. Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi. Having the best damn bagels. And, of course, PIZZA.

If you’re a Garden State transplant in the Bay Area, searching for pizza that reminds you of home can be quite challenging. So if you’ve been searching long and hard, look no further. Located in the heart of the bustling SOMA district of San Francisco lies a hidden Jersey gem. With a brick wall on one side of the bar, a graffiti-styled mural on the other side and a lengthy American flag draping in the front, the interior boasts an urban yet cozy vibe in Jersey. 

Mitchell and Steven Rosenthal | Photo courtesy Jersey SF

The Trenton Tomato Pie
It’s a low-key Monday afternoon during happy hour. ESPN is playing on the televisions, and the cooks are preparing for the after-work rush. I glance through the menu and when I read “Trenton Tomato Pie,” I immediately feel at home. The bartender pours me a beer. “A lot of people from Jersey come here,” he says, with a grin on his face. “You know how I know? They tell me within the first five minutes of meeting me.” (See what I mean? Prideful.)

Steven and Mitchell Rosenthal, brothers and owners of Jersey, are no strangers to the culinary world. With an extensive resume as cooks in various restaurants, the brothers permanently migrated to San Francisco in 1994 to work as executive chefs at Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant, Postrio. This was the stepping stone in the Rosenthal brothers’ journey to creating their own restaurant empire.

In total, the brothers are partners in four restaurants and two coffee shops. While the menus at their first three restaurants—Anchor & Hope, Town Hall and Salt House—range from “East Coast meets West Coast fish house” to southern and new American, they wanted to open a place that represented their Jersey roots. With inspiration from their hometown pizzeria, Ferraro’s Pizza Parlor in Edison, N.J., their travels to Italy and experience as chefs on the West Coast, Jersey was born in 2015.

Bianca Pie
“Jersey is close to our hearts,” said Steven Rosenthal. “From the music to our food, everything about this place represents who we are as people.”

The pizzas in the menu are separated by “Jersey style” and “California style.” The dough’s fermentation process is a bit longer than usual, and the crust on the pizza has a nice crunch to it. The Rosenthal brothers made sure to include menu items that would make any homesick New Jerseyan feel at peace. Key menu items include the meatballs, Trenton Tomato Pie and Taylor Pork Roll pie. So if anyone in the Bay Area is missing the classic Taylor ham/pork roll, egg and cheese breakfast sandwich, they can have it in pizza form at Jersey.

Jersey is located at 145 Second St., San Francisco, CA 94105.
Must try: Trenton Tomato Pie, Bianca Pie, Taylor Pork Roll Pie

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Six Ways to Celebrate National Pizza Day

Happy National Pizza Day! Here are some fun ways to celebrate the best day of the year!

National Pizza Day falls on February 9. Yes, you can celebrate by simply having a slice of pizza, but here are six suggestions to make the most of this special day:

1) Have a Pizza Party

Since National Pizza Day falls on a Thursday, chances are you may be stuck at the office. Whether that’s the case or not, get all of your friends or coworkers together and order a variety of pies for everyone to try. 

2) Go On a Pizza Crawl

Ever heard of a pizza crawl? It’s exactly what you’re thinking: a bar crawl but for pizzas. Sign up for an organized tour in your nearest city or simply plan a route of pizzerias in the area. Grab a friend, and see who can eat the most pizza!

3) Wear Pizza Clothing

Can’t get your hands on pizza on this special day? No problem. You can still celebrate by dressing the part. There are pizza onesies, shirts, socks, hats, and virtually any piece of clothing that is pizza-themed. Check out these on Etsy.

4) Make a Homemade Pizza

Sometimes nothing is more comforting than a homemade meal. To make a pizza, you can purchase the dough pre-made or make it from scratch. Gather your favorite ingredients and toppings, throw it all together and put it in the oven. Here’s a recipe on how to make a simple yet delicious pizza at home.

5) Surprise a Friend with a Pie

Random acts of kindness? More like random acts of pizza. People love surprises no matter what shape or form it comes in. Whether you order a pizza to your significant other’s office or to your grandmother’s nursing home, it is guaranteed to put a smile on their face.

6) Come Up with a Pizza Bucket List

Have you been dying to check out the new pizzeria that opened in town? Or try out a gluten-free or vegan pizza? Whether it’s wanting to consume different styles of pizza or traveling all over the world for the best slice, grab a piece of paper and start writing down your pizza to-do list.

Monday, January 30, 2017

From Wall Street to Main Street -- How This Pizzeria Owner is Fulfilling His Dream in New Jersey

Brooklyn’s Anthony Saporito knew opening a pizzeria was no easy task. So he left his Wall Street job and immersed himself in the field to gain hands-on experience to fulfill his dream.

Wall of Fam - interior of Urban Fire
By Milvian Prieto

Anthony Saporito (left) and Chip Ohlsson
While working a 9-to-5 at the New York Stock Exchange paid the bills, Anthony Saporito was looking to break out of the office job routine and be fulfilled. He wanted more. Through a mutual friend, he met Chip Ohlsson, an owner of Five Guys restaurants. As they begin to chat, they realized they both owned wood-fired ovens in their backyard and shared a mutual love for Neapolitan style pizza. It was at that moment he knew he needed to fulfill his lifelong dream of opening his own authentic pizzeria, Urban Fire.

“Going to college for finance was something I did to find a job,” said Saporito. “But it was never something that was going to drive me to the success I envisioned. Urban Fire does that for me.”

Saporito knew it was going to take time. He quit his Wall Street job and began knocking door-to-door to various pizzerias, searching for that one opportunity that would lead him to gain hands-on experience in the business. While many pizzerias shut him down and declined to give him a chance, Paulie Gee’s in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, welcomed him with open arms. Saporito did everything from prepping the dough to chopping and grating the ingredients and cooking in the wood-fired oven.

Some of Urban Fire's pizzas and rice balls
After two years of working there, Saporito felt it was time to spread his wings and take the next step. Now partners, he and Ohlsson gathered to brainstorm menu items that were true to their Italian heritage but had a modern twist. With months of preparation, Urban Fire was born in 2014 with a “build your own” concept, allowing customers to create their own pizza masterpieces. Creating a pizza at Urban Fire is easy. Customers simply select a base -- margherita, tomato pie, bianco or verde -- and choose from over 30 of the freshest toppings.

“We give them that option to explore and be creative,” said Saporito. “We have signature pies if they want us to help but the choice is always theirs.”

Margherita in the oven
Although the concept of Urban Fire is fast-casual, the interior is cozy and homey. Precisely decorated on the indoor brick wall, a “Wall of Fam” showcases photos dating back to older generations from the Saporito and Ohlsson family. It’s a part of the restaurant that tells a story through food and family. It felt so much like home that the local middle school Italian teacher -- who was born in Italy -- held class in the restaurant because of the nostalgia it brought her.

“It’s a part of the restaurant we are very proud of,” said Saporito. “I think it’s true for many people that most of our fond memories have to do with getting together with family and the food we enjoy. We encourage our guests to bring in some of their family photos and we will gladly find a frame for it and add it to the wall. It’s a great way to really get to know your community.”

Visit Urban Fire at 6 Main Street, Madison, N.J.
Must Haves: The Rocket Specialty Pizza, Pallini Rice Balls, Porchetta Panino