In Montclair Eats, Food writer Steven DeSalvo compares dishes at Montclair restaurants. DeSalvo has a degree in Hospitality Business Management from the University of Delaware, and has worked extensively in restaurants and hotels.
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Back in April of 2018 I did a column comparing slices of pizza from local places. I wanted to revisit pizza, but from the perspective of places that were known for their pies, rather than their slices. I decided to feature Bivio Panoficio, Fiamma, and Grindage (Formerly Mancinni’s). I wanted to feature a different pizza from each location so that I could experience the variety that each has to offer: three distinct styles of pizza, all available in pie form.
- Neapolitan-style pizza at Bivio Panoficio
Bivio specializes in Neapolitan-style pizza. On any given day, two special pies are offered. I have always found that they are consistently exceptional. This particular one featured baby Brussels sprouts, pancetta, pecorino pepato (pecorino cheese with peppercorns in it) and fresh sage. One of the main reasons for this pizza’s brilliance is the dough. It is made from a starter and clearly undergoes a long fermentation, which results in incredible flavor and texture. The oven temperature of over 900 degrees causes the pizza to cook in under 90 seconds. The water in the dough and other ingredients immediately turns to steam, which makes for a light-as-air experience. The temperature also leads to a delightful char on the Brussels sprouts, pancetta, and melted cheese, which is all brought together by the fragrant and floral sage.
- Mixture of Neapolitan and
New York at Fiamma
Fiamma is a mixture of Neapolitan-style pizza and New York-style pizza. They make their pizza in a wood-burning oven cranked up to close to 900 degrees, just like Bivio. However, the architecture of their pizza is more similar to New York-style: thinner crust and a larger pie. The one that I opted for was the Burrata Roberto with Pepperoni with fresh tomato sauce, sliced cherry tomatoes, Burrata cheese, and a healthy amount of sliced pepperoni. This pizza is also incredible with crumbled fennel sausage as well. The saltiness of the meat is a perfect balance for the sweet, creamy burrata. The high fat content is balanced by the acidity from the tomatoes and tomato sauce, which leads to an immensely enjoyable experience.
- Exemplary plain pie at Grindage
Finally at Grindage I decided to go the simpler route: the plain pie. This pie is definitely the most New York-style of all of the examples here today. The texture of the dough is also exceptional. I firmly believe that wood-fired pizza makes for the best pies because the high temperature keeps the inside of the dough incredibly moist. This pizza has a great balance of salty cheese and perfectly acidic tomato sauce that are in harmony with the crust. You don’t often find a traditional New York-style plain pie that has been baked in a wood fired oven. It makes for a perfect mid-point that every pizza lover can agree upon!
All three of these places provide a distinct example of pizza by the pie. (Fiamma and Grindage do offer slices though.) The variety between the three of them means that you should obviously try them all and decide which is the one for you— or be like me and love them all!
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107 Pine St.
558 Bloomfield Ave
438 Bloomfield Ave