By Felicia Ho ’19
Craving a slice of pie in the cold days of winter? Dreaming of that crispy brown crust crumbling with a satisfying crunch and that smooth tomato sauce melting with a fresh layer of mozzarella cheese? Put down the phone for Pizza Brothers, Dominos, Pizza Hut, or wherever your pizza pangs typically lead you. Instead, stop by the nearest Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza to dig into some hearty Italian fare.
With six locations in New Jersey alone, Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza has exploded in popularity since its first doors opened in 2002. Anthony Bruno, the founder, takes pride in every step of the process – picking the freshest ingredients, making and stretching the dough daily, handling orders, sliding the pizza into an 800-degree coal fired oven, and presenting the pie to customers. In fact, every single item on the menu (excluding the cheesecake and the salads, of course!) is baked in the 800-degree coal fired oven and delivers a smoky and crunchy first bite.
While you are anxiously waiting for that first bite, take a look around the restaurant. Hanging on the walls are a few signs left behind from those who came before you. There’s a framed, signed jersey, probably from legendary quarterback Dan Marino, who frequents Anthony’s Pizza in Florida and is the inspiration behind the Eggplant Marino pizza; some magazine and newspaper clippings; and a series of black-and-white photos with celebrities. In a few moments, you too will join their ranks.
When ordering, keep in mind that portion sizes are large, as the dishes are meant to be shared with family and friends. As for appetizers, try the Coal Oven Roasted Chicken Wings with caramelized onions and focaccia, a flat oven-baked Italian bread that is nicely seasoned with a mix of spices that accents the flavor of the onions. The drumsticks are incredibly juicy, and the blackened char adds an edge to the tender, white chicken.
If you’re feeling adventurous, go for the speciality pies; personal favorites of mine include the Philly Cheesesteak and the Eggplant Marino. Topped with caramelized onions and marinated steak, a slice of the philly cheesesteak does a great job of rekindling memories of Philadelphia’s best. The Eggplant Marino is a must-get – especially for any vegetarians in the family. Even though the eggplant is sliced into paper-thin pieces, each bite is juicy and tangy, complimenting the thickness of the cheese. Of course, there is always the trustworthy build-your-own-pizza option to solve any arguments at the table.
A few thoughts to consider before you wrap up your order: if you are ordering the calzone, be prepared for a small pool of oil oozing out of the ricotta and cheese stuffed into the shell. It is definitely not a finger food, and even the length of a small calzone is about the diameter of small pie. Experiment by adding a little color to your plate – try the Arugula Pizza or the classic Arugula Salad with Burrata.
One of the downsides to Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza might be just how filling it is: by the end of every lunch at Anthony’s, I am ready to fall into a food coma. Of course, that blissful happiness of finishing a meal well done attests to the rich flavor even in the crispy, thin pizzas. Where else can you grab a slice right out of a 800-degree coal fired oven?