The northern portion of our state has spent the last God-knows-how-many years proudly claiming itself the home of the best pizza in all of New Jersey. For a long time they were telling the truth.
Recently, however, South Jersey has upped its pizza game from a wasteland of embarrassing flavorless junk to a spot that actually puts out some incredible pies.
Are we on the verge of dethroning our northern cousins yet? Probably not, but we do make a lot of great pizza, which leads us to the ultimate question: Who makes the GREATEST pizza in South Jersey?
Pizza Palooza, Atlantic City Weekly’s quest to decide who makes the best pie in Atlantic County and Ocean City, answers that very question.
In order to decide this important debate, we asked for your help, and boy did you come through! The voting poured in like so much red sauce, with passionate pizza eaters placing votes in solidarity with their favorite pizzerias. And today we bring you the results of those votes.
The rules were simple – vote for your favorite traditional-style pies – Sicilian and thin-crust square styles were allowed, but no crazy toppings or weird things stuffed in the crust. We allowed you to have your voices heard in the Readers’ Choice category, and we also cast our own in the Critics’ Choice, just to throw in a few expert opinions into the mix.
If you haven’t tried any of these pies, consider it your wake-up call to do so. Eat your way down the list, bicker with your friends about who should have won and in the end, and be happy you live in an area putting out this much doughy deliciousness.
Here are the results of Pizza Palooza:
Top 10 Critics’ Choice
(Chosen by Scott Cronick and Ryan Loughlin of The Fat Boy Munch Club)
10 Black Cat Bar & Grill Absecon
A true bar pie, Black Cat Bar & Grill serves up a paper-thin crust pizza that you have every reason to come back again and again for. The atmosphere at Black Cat is that of a classic old-school South Jersey watering hole that matches the straight-forward, no-nonsense nature of the pizza itself. The pie makes masterful use of oregano, a spice that can be dreadful and completely overbearing if used with too heavy a hand, but here it does a fine job of adding just the right amount of zest. If we have one critique it’s that the flavor of the sauce tends to get lost a little, as the pie is a bit more cheesy than saucy, but overall, it’s one of the best bar pies around. Black Cat Bar & Grill is located at 1 N. Shore Road in Absecon. Go to Facebook.com/blackcatgrill
9 Little Italy Pizzeria and Restaurant Northfield
Smack dab in the midst of the cacophony of businesses along Tilton Road in Northfield, Little Italy Pizzeria and Restaurant stands out for their long list of pizza options. But the best of them is easily the grandma pie, a square pizza featuring a chunky sauce made with San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella and a pesto/basil drizzle on top of a buttery crust that falls somewhere between a Sicilian and a standard pie. A small version of the pie is featured as one of Little Italy’s lunch specials every day for $10. Little Italy Pizzeria and Restaurant is located at 815 Tilton Road, Northfield. Go to LittleItalyNorthfield.com
8 Capri Pizza and Grill Ventnor and Northfield
Although they may be separately owned and operated, the classic round pie at Capri in both Ventnor and Northfield are identical. Why mess with success? Anyone who grew up in South Jersey grew up eating Rocco Giugliano’s legendary round pie, which is about as traditional as you can get. Made with quality ingredients and a perfectly balanced sauce that is one of the best on this list, Capri’s dough has that perfect chew for a New York-style round pie, even if there is quite a bit of flop. The flavor and texture are spot on. If you’re looking for a throwback, classic pie, Capri is the answer. The Northfield location is where you will still find Rocco, who has run Capri, including the former location at the Shore Mall, for 40 years. Capri Pizza and Grill is located at 900 Tilton Road, Northfield. Go to RoccoCapriPizza.com. Capri Pizza and Grill is located at 311 Dorset Ave., Ventnor. Go to CapriPizzaVentnor.com.
7 Bruni’s Pizza Hammonton
You don’t get to stay in business for 65 years without making a pretty good product. Such is the case with Bruni’s Pizza, a beloved spot in Hammonton’s downtown district that serves up a pie that has been pleasing crowds for decades. We found it similar to Manco & Manco’s, which is obviously a good thing. Just glance four spaces higher on the list – with a complex and tasty cheese blend facing off head to head with a generously ladled sauce that never gets overpowered. Bruni’s is located at 303 12th St. in Hammonton. Go to BrunisPizzaNJ.com
6 Tony’s Baltimore Grill Atlantic City
If you are a restaurant that has been around for almost 100 years and pizza is your No. 1 item, it must be pretty damn good. And Tony’s Baltimore Grill in Atlantic City – which opened in 1927 – lives up to those expectations. Since opening, the pizza recipe has never changed. Rando’s Bakery has made the dough since 1987 — previously it was made by Formica Bros. Bakery — and the assembly is key: the dough is placed in an oiled metal pan, topped with a sauce recipe that is simply California crushed tomatoes and some garlic powder, sliced — not shredded — whole milk, low-moisture mozzarella cheese and baked in an old-school oven. The heavy sauce, generous cheese and buttery dough are addictive. It’s hard to drive by and not stop in for a pie. Do yourself a favor and add meatballs as a topping. Tony’s Baltimore Grill is located at 2800 Atlantic Ave., Atlantic City. Go to TonysBaltimoreGrillAC.com.
5 Bakeria 1010 Linwood
The newest kid on the block – Bakeria 1010 inside The Exchange in Linwood – has made quite a bang since opening in 2019. Owner and Pizza Mad Scientist Mike Fitzick, known as “The Pizza Jew,” was named one of the 50 most influential people in pizza in the country by SmartPizzaMarketing.com, and NJ.com named Bakeria one of the best new pizzerias in the state. And we couldn’t agree more. While he sells a variety of styles, the name of the game at Bakeria 1010 is square pizza that is light and airy like focaccia yet crispy and cheesy with an innovative crust that features crispy cheese that somehow towers above the dough, which is made from sourdough that Fitzick smuggled from Naples, Italy, where his wife is from. Although we find it a little heavy to eat every day, there is no denying Bakeria 1010’s awesome flavors thanks to the best ingredients money can buy and a passion in Fitzick that is rare. Order in advance, because like any true artisanal business that makes limited quantities of quality product, Bakeria 1010 sells out regularly. Bakeria 1010 is located in The Exchange, 2110 New Road, Linwood. Go to Bakeria1010.com.
4 Tony Boloney’s Atlantic City
When you consider the insane styles of pizza that Tony Boloney’s is known for – including a pie featuring General Tso’s chicken, another with a burrata on top of each slice and a $90 taco pie that literally has full tacos flanking its entire circumference – it’s impressive that the classic cheese pie still made our list. It also serves as proof that Tony Boloney’s is much more than Instagram-worthy gimmick food. Taste is king here, and it all starts with the crust – this light and flavorful base lays the groundwork for every pie, while the cheese and sauce seem to unite completely forming a single perfect flavor, accented nicely by some Italian seasonings. Nothing is jarringly sweet or pulling too hard in any one direction, which is exactly how a great pizza should be. Tony Boloney’s is located at 300 Oriental Ave. in Atlantic City. Go to TonyBoloneys.com
3 Manco & Manco Ocean City Manco & Manco Too Somers Point
Ask anyone – particularly those from out of the area who are summer visitors — what is the best pizza at the shore, and you will undoubtedly hear Manco & Manco above all others. Of everyone on this list, Manco is the most legendary, the most talked about, the most famous and yes, absolutely one of the best. Ever since opening their first pizza parlor on 9th Street and the Boardwalk in the summer of 1956, Manco made everyone’s taste buds notice, eventually expanding to three other locations including Somers Point. When it comes to eating a pie fresh right out of the oven, we don’t think anyone beats Manco thanks to its thin, light and crispy crust, what may be a blend of cheese that definitely has some cheddar in it and a tangy sauce that has a little heat to it that is artfully swirled on top through a plastic hose. Watching the piemen make Manco & Manco pizza is part of the fun, but eating it while listening to the waves crash on the Ocean City beaches is as much part of Jersey Shore tradition as getting a box of saltwater taffy. Manco & Manco is located on 9th Street and the Boardwalk, 6th Street and the Boardwalk, and 12th Street and the Boardwalk, all in Ocean City, and Manco & Manco Too is located in the Ocean Heights Shopping Center, 19 Bethel Road, Somers Point. Go to MancosPizza.com.
2 Saltwater Margate
You might start going to Saltwater Simply Italian in Margate for the gnocchi — the best around — but take one bite of their rustic pizza and your eating priorities will likely change. Is it the best in South Jersey? Well, even though the recipe took years to perfect and is less than two years old, we can tell you that it’s right up there with the best. It’s also different than most South Jersey pizza. First off, it’s square, made in small batches, cooked in a pan for some awesome crispiness and is thick like Sicilian, yet remains light and airy. At first the $20 price tag for an old-school cheese pie with marinara or the Old Style Classic may make you flinch, but after you see the size of it and then taste the quality, it will seem like a bargain. In fact, spend the extra $2 and get the white version with rosemary and prosciutto, or the Italian vegetable, another white pie with roasted red peppers, sautéed red and green peppers and grilled eggplant with a balsamic drizzle. Made with love and passion, Saltwater may be the least-known pizza on this list, but not for long. Saltwater is located at 9401 Ventnor Ave., Margate. Go to Saltwater on Facebook.
1 Carluccio’s Coal Fired Pizza Northfield
On any given night at Carluccio’s you can sit down and order masterfully executed dishes such as lollipop lamb chops or squid ink pappardelle fra diablo with sautéed calamari, but the pizza will always be the star of the show here. You can choose from various incarnations, including coal-fired, flatbread and traditional New York style, but their best signature pie – the one featured on Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” – is the grandma pie. It’s also our pick for best pizza in all of South Jersey, and after one bite, it’s easy to understand why. The grandma is a square-shaped masterpiece. Carluccio’s uses a thin-crust Sicilian which is crunchy, buttery and just about perfect — you could eat it all by itself and have a fine time doing so. It’s topped with a chunky tomato sauce made with imported San Marzano tomatoes – which, if you didn’t already know, are the absolute best tomatoes money can buy – along with extra virgin olive oil, fresh basil and oregano and their own homemade mozzarella. Unlike thicker Sicilian slices, the thin crust means you can actually eat more than one slice without feeling full, and the flavor combination hits the mark every time. The fresh basil brings in an herbal zestiness, while the sweetness of the San Marzanos serves to balance out any of the heaviness from the cheese, which has a nice sharpness to it. Carluccio’s Coal Fired Pizza is located at 1200 New Road in Northfield. Go to CarlucciosCoalFiredPizza.com.
Top 10 Readers’ Choice
10 La Pizzatega Linwood
A solid place to grab a slice, the pie at La Pizzatega skews heavy on the cheese, much to the delight of many. One of the more traditional, New York-style pies on the list. Try their famous involtini, too. La PizzaTega is located at 210 New Road in Linwood. Go to LaPizzatega.com.
9 Mario’s Pizzeria & Restaurant Ocean City
In business for 44 years, Mario’s crust is a touch thicker than some, with a well-balanced sauce and a nice cheese blend. Mario’s Pizzeria & restaurant is located at 1510 Bay Ave. in Ocean City. Go to MariosPizzeriaAndRestaurant.com.
8 Bakeria 1010 Linwood
The new kid on the block is making readers notice, hitting No. 8 even though they have been open just a little over a year. They made the critics notice, too, hitting No. 5. Owner and Pizza Mad Scientist Mike Fitzick, known as “The Pizza Jew,” is getting raves for his sourdough-based square pizza that is light and airy like focaccia yet crispy and cheesy with an innovative crust that features crispy cheese that somehow towers above the dough. Bakeria 1010 is located in The Exchange, 2110 New Road, Linwood. Go to Bakeria1010.com.
7 Tony’s Baltimore Grill Atlantic City
When it comes to legendary pizza, only Manco & Manco can top the Tony’s Baltimore Grill, and Tony’s even has Manco beat when it comes to history since it has been around for almost 100 years. Since opening in 1927, the pizza recipe has never changed. Rando’s Bakery dough is placed in an oiled metal pan, topped with a sauce recipe that is simply California crushed tomatoes and some garlic powder, sliced — not shredded — whole milk, low-moisture mozzarella cheese and baked in an old-school oven. Tony’s Baltimore Grill is located at 2800 Atlantic Ave., Atlantic City. Go to TonysBaltimoreGrillAC.com.
6 Santucci’s Original Square Pizza Ventnor
Another new kid on the block, Santucci’s opened less than two years ago but made readers notice, awarding them with No. 6. And although Santucci’s is new to the shore, it has been around since 1959, originating in Northeast Philly as the city’s first square pizza. The signature pizza – a square pie, obviously – looks Sicilian, but it’s a medium crust … not too thin, not too thick and made fresh in house daily. It’s also an upside-down pizza, meaning the cheese is on bottom, sauce on top. Santucci’s is located at 6413 Ventnor Ave., Ventnor. Go to SantuccisPizza.com.
5 Capri Pizza and Grill Ventnor
The critics may not have been able to distinguish the difference between Capri’s pizza in Ventnor and Northfield, but the readers certainly did, making the Ventnor location a Top 5 pie in South Jersey. The traditional round pie is made with quality ingredients, including a stellar sauce and dough with that perfect chew for a New York-style round pie. A throwback, classic pie. Capri Pizza and Grill is located at 311 Dorset Ave., Ventnor. Go to CapriPizzaVentnor.com.
4 Maurizio’s Pizzeria & Italian Mays Landing Maurizio’s Pizzeria Express Egg Harbor Township
Maurizio’s makes a top-notch grandma pie — a perfect balance of cheese to sauce with the basil adding just enough seasoning to firmly steer things away from blandness. Their thin-crust Sicilian is thinner than most, which we also love. Maurizio’s barely missed the Critic’s Top 10 list, so they agree that it’s worth checking out. Maurizio’s Pizzeria & Italian is locacted at 4215 E. Black Horse Pike, Mays Landing and 3001 Ocean Heights Ave. in Egg Harbor Township. Go to EatAtMaurizios.com.
3 Carluccio’s Coal Fired Pizza Northfield
The critic’s No. 1 was the readers’ No. 3. Any pizza they offer is superb, but the grandma pie with its buttery crust, homemade mozzarella, basil and San Marzano tomato sauce is the king. They also have the greatest display case for slices in South Jersey. Carluccio’s Coal Fired Pizza is located at 1200 New Road in Northfield. Go to CarlucciosCoalFiredPizza.com.
2 Roma Pizza Ocean City
Sometimes overshadowed by its more famous competition on the Ocean City Boardwalk, Roma Pizza proves itself a worthy rival with a thin crust loaded with cheese and a tangy sauce that many have described as simply “the best.” Roma Pizza surprised the critics for its No. 2 readers’ rank in South Jersey, but it also made us notice that Roma is to be reckoned with. Roma’s is located at 656 Boardwalk in Ocean City. Go to RomaPizzaOCNJ.com.
1 Manco & Manco Pizza Ocean City Manco and Manco Too Somers Point
This No. 1 ranking shouldn’t surprise anyone. When people visit the shore, one of their first destinations is Manco & Manco Pizza, and those who live here satisfy their Manco cravings regularly. The critics agree, naming Manco No. 3. Slinging pies since 1956, nothing beats a Manco pie right out of the oven. Is it the thin, light and crispy crust? The abundance of flavorful cheese? The tangy sauce with an edge artfully swirled on top through a plastic hose? Watching the piemen fling pies high into the air while you wait? All of the above. Manco & Manco is located on 9th Street and the Boardwalk, 6th Street and the Boardwalk, and 12th Street and the Boardwalk, all in Ocean City, and Manco & Manco Too is located in the Ocean Heights Shopping Center, 19 Bethel Road, Somers Point. Go to MancosPizza.com.
Best Pizza In Your Town Chosen By Readers
Absecon Black Cat Bar & Grill
Atlantic City Tony’s Baltimore Grill
Brigantine Aversa’s Italian Bakery
Buena Villa Fazzolari
Egg Harbor City Bulldogs Bar & Grill
Egg Harbor Township Maurizio’s Pizzeria Express
Galloway Township Napoli Pizza Grill
Hammonton Brother’s Pizza
Linwood Bakeria 1010
Longport Caffe Luciano Lamberti
Margate Bocca Coal Fired Bistro
Mays Landing Maurizio’s Pizzeria & Italian
Northfield Carluccio’s Coal Fired Pizza
Ocean City Manco & Manco Pizza
Pleasantville Jo-Jo’s Italian Grill
Somers Point Walt’s Original Primo Pizza
Ventnor Capri Pizza & Grill