A wild hybrid that marries the best of both classic Neapolitan pizza and old school NYC/Brooklyn pizza, Razza in Jersey City is the kind of place where you just can’t stop eating.
The dough is bubble-charred, puffy and light, like Neapolitan pizza. But the formal requirements of noted Neapolitan rigor are quickly dispensed with and cast aside (San Marzano tomatoes, wheat flour, bufala mozz, etc).
Instead, chef/owner Dan Richer, who has been honing his pizza skills for 15 years, pulls ingredients from high quality local produce purveyors and makes a great deal of his own shit right there on site. “I’m not even close to being done,” he says of perfecting his craft.
If this is only the rising action in the first act, then I can’t wait for the denouement.
The tomatoes are bright, and left largely unadulterated. The cheese is fresh, smooth and creamy. The dough is airy yet crisp from crust to point, showing some backbone on the bottom: Like it’s New York neighbor, it doesn’t flop in the center. This magically allows the toppings to seem as if they’re suspended atop a pillow of edible air.
The crust also takes on a unique grey coloring from being allowed to cook a bit longer at a slightly cooler wood oven temperature than its motherland-cousin from Naples.
Neapolitan pies get real hot real fast. This allows a yeasty aroma to linger in the resulting khaki-colored, leopard-spotted crust, retaining a somewhat more chewy and more dense texture. Could that be called medium rare dough? Perhaps. Anyway the difference here may be slight in execution, but it is noticeable in appearance and flavor.
There’s also none of that soupy sauce or pooled melted cheese that can sometimes weigh heavy both in the center of a Neapolitan pie and in your belly after you eat it. To the contrary I felt light even after eating an entire pie’s worth of pizza all by myself. I could’ve easily had two more, but there was a steak dinner to be had nearby at Liberty Prime. I had to conserve stomach space.
In any case three of us each ate a third of three pies (two slices of each, each). We started with the Margherita, had a mid course of Fungi, and then a dessert of Burrata. I’m hard pressed to choose a favorite among these, but I think that last one left me floating. That deliciously silky burrata with tomato, olive oil and sliced garlic…
I’m fairly certain this is my new favorite pizza joint, possibly squeaking just ahead of the Coney Island stronghold Totonno’s. You really need to get over here to try this shit. But if my words and images don’t convince you to make the trip out here for this pizza, maybe Phil Rosenthal will. It was featured on the Netflix show “Somebody Feed Phil.”
Check it out:
275 Grove Street
Jersey City, NJ 07302