Chasing the Perfect Slice, Bread and Salt in Jersey City Looks to Rome

The restaurateur Rick Easton bakes Roman-style pizza al taglio.

Comments: 93

  1. I am neutral to the debate of pizza either "whole" or "by a slice", because I always prefer a home-made variety. But it seems to me that "by a slice" is totally street-food, eaten in a trot on a sidewalk.

  2. @Tuvw Xyz While by-the-slice is often just what you suggest, a quick delight consumed while in motion, I really enjoy modern slice restaurants. When the six of us go out every month we love going to slice joints because we typically order at least 3-4 different pies, and sometimes get six different ones. We're not in motion (certainly not a trot) nor in any hurry, we just love the camaraderie, the conversation, and eating some really good pies.

  3. This is the rarest of rare Pete Wells reviews. There's more stars than dollar signs. I think it's been more than a year since the last one like that. I'd try it if I lived a little closer. Otherwise it'll have to wait for my next NYC visit.

  4. I suggest that Bernie concedes that given his age and heart disease, he must gracefully withdraw from the Presidential race. It is called facing the reality of his precarious health and realizing he is not realistically up to the rigors of the Presidency and the campaign for that office. He gave it a good try but in good faith he must end his campaign.

  5. @IN -- True...Time to relax and enjoy a nice Pizza Slice!

  6. @IN I am sorry to hear about your recent loss.

  7. Was just here on Saturday at 1. Line was already formed. Man inside was prepping the dough. Left to a farmers market up the street and came back at 2 to a full house. The Heights area isn't too far from NYC (20 minute bus ride or quick uber from the Path in Hoboken). Well worth the trip!

  8. Nice. Made me recall Jonathan Gold's gift to us in LA: that great food talent at all price points are equally worth supporting.

  9. Have to say the crust is the best....however, the toppings are really salty

  10. @Scott So are the toppings on pizza al taglio in Rome.

  11. Pittsburgher who misses bread and salt. It was awesome. You’re lucky to have it!

  12. @Michael Like Andy Warhol, Rick Easton aspired to be FROM Pittsburgh. (I, as well.)

  13. @Michael My daughter was a student at CMU. This was a regular stop we made every time we visited. Absolutely wonderful!

  14. This stuff looks amazing! Beautiful photography, Ms. Moon. Great-looking food, Mr. Easton—but why burn your bread? I still may go way out of my way to get there . . . after the buzz from this article dies down.

  15. What’s more photogenic than pizza?

  16. Mr. Wells seriously thinks John's is "maintaining quality"? It never had any in the first place.

  17. The pizza sounds really interesting. I also love Peter Wells’ descriptive and easily flowing writing style. Really well done!

  18. I love this place. Recommended trip: stop by Riverview Wine on the way there. It’s 2 blocks away and specializes in natural wine. Grab a bottle and head to the restaurant. After dinner, grab ice cream across the street/down the block at milk sugar love, then head to Riverview Park and stare at the skyline while wondering why you don’t live here.

  19. Two writers — my wife and I — just read this gorgeously written review out loud. We can’t wait to sample these delights, but the prose itself was delicious enough for the time being.

  20. Sounds great, but one line caught my attention: I wonder at what point the decades at the end of a pizza paddle hit a plateau in terms of useful experience.

  21. You are right about he mortadella sandwich made with plain pizza ("pizza bianca"). It is perfect as is. In Roman slang it is called "pizza e mortazza", a classic.

  22. @Silvestro De Falco I ate a Pizza e Mortaza at a small restaurant a block away from Santa Maria Maggiore about a week and a half ago, and have never been so transported as I was by that very simple crust + warm mortadella + pistachio oil combination. It was amazing.

  23. Sounds fantastic but let’s calm down. It’s a pizza parlor and at present a one man band.

  24. Born & raised in Yorkville. For years living in the Portland Oregon area. Apizza Scholls on SE Hawthorn will convince you NYC pizza can live and prosper even @ 2800 miles from the Big Apple. Delicious!

  25. Not very helpful: "Wednesday to Friday for dinner, Saturday and Sunday for lunch and dinner." I understand that may not be the reporter's lapse, but the management...But when exactly does "lunch" start or end, and when does "dinner" start or end? I can eat lunch as early as 11 am, or dinner as late as 11 pm depending. Help!

  26. @SmartenUp Allow me to do the Google-fu for you. And these reviews never give hours, juat which meals. Wednesday 5–10PM Thursday 5–10PM Friday 5–10PM Saturday 1:30–4:30PM 5:30–10PM Sunday 1:30–4:30PM 5:30–10PM

  27. Pete, would love to know how B&S holds up compared to PQR on the UES. They seem to be cut from the same Roman cloth?

  28. @Save I like both but Bread and Salt's toppings are higher quality and applied more carefully, for lack of a better word. One of the things I didn't get into for lack of space is that Bread and Salt makes mozzarella daily, so it is very tender and new. The vegetables are farmers' market fresh. And while I like the crust at PQR a lot, Bread and Salt's is lighter, crisper and more flavorful.

  29. A cake is baked whole and then cut into slices for eating. So why is there an argument of whether someone sells Pizza by the slice or whole? Is it great pizza or is it a greasy mess should be the only question? Serving size seems rather silly.

  30. @KJ Peters The difference is a pie is cooked fresh for you. The slice is merely reheated.

  31. Too good for Pittsburgh, huh? I hope he flops in Jersey City.

  32. @Adrift Too disorganized to run a business. It was good, but so are lots of other things.

  33. The best pizza in Pittsburgh is still Mineo's (Squirrel Hill and Mt Lebanon). No designer pizzas just homemade, hand tossed and excellent!

  34. @REZ Mineo's was 2nd best in Dormont. Beto's on Banksville Rd was always the gold standard.

  35. Is Sal’s still around? Also, some swear by Vincent’s, but i found its pizza more like pizza soup!

  36. This establishment is entirely overhyped. Also, the staff is almost unbearably unpleasant, and seemingly confused about how to actually operate a restaurant. The abundance of coverage about this place is...confusing. As a service worker, I have never experienced (or achieved) such radiant apathy and scorn for the customer.

  37. @A good to know! I was thinking of visiting, but I can't stand that kind of service. so i guess I'll stay away for now.

  38. @A maybe they take the cue from the owner? Exactly the same when he was in Pittsburgh, plenty of people can do what he's doing but be more pleasant.

  39. @Bear cub And here I was half hoping it was just a period of awkward adjustment, considering all their talk about how they want to be ‘good neighbors’. Maybe that only applies to people of a certain class aesthetic...

  40. Good pizza like beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. Two big questions I have they I did not see answered (correct me if I am wrong). What is the price of a simple slice (if they have one) and what are the costs of the toppings. Also, can you get a slice without toppings? I would not go near a pizza with some of the toppings especially baby tomatoes that ruin a pizza imo. Finally if their slice is four or five dollars I don't care if it is made in heaven, give me my local guy, almost as good for $2.25.

  41. @Paul Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Baby tomatoes are actually cherry tomatoes and when roasted, they taste nothing like a fresh tomato. You should at least try it. If I were nearby I would make up the difference of your $2.25 slice.

  42. @Sage55 -Thank you for your reply. I tried cherry tomatoes on just about everything and they go with nothing, good by themselves though. I don't know what this guy's slice goes for but if it is 3-5 dollars I better get dancing girls with it since I would go broke since I eat pizza a lot.

  43. @ Paul Brooklyn & @ Sage55 North west OH I am with you about the tomatoes on a pizza. I did not want to belabor the point I made earlier of my disliking all ripe tomatoes with their seeds floating in the viscous and mucous liquid. Cherry tomatoes are OK, one can crash them by the pressure of the tongue against the palate, and make a cherry tomato float in a Bloody Mary. No tomatoes on a pizza for me, please.

  44. When this was in Pittsburgh everything was by weight so you had no idea what anything would cost. First time in they rung me up a single loaf of bread for over $30. Second time I showed up right when they opened (along with a couple dozen other people) and we were all told to return around 9:30 when the bread would be ready. Their stuff was tasty, but that they only lasted a few months here was the least surprising thing ever. Best of luck in Jersey.

  45. Lots of the bread in the photos are burnt. The toppings look incredible but I'm not a fan of burnt bread.

  46. If you want to enjoy great artisan pizza in Jersey while waiting for the buzz to die down on this place try 10th Street Pasta and Pizza in Hoboken. The square pie with Buffalo Mozzarella and homemade sauce is a thing of beauty. Oh and you can BYOB.

  47. Not exactly the best place to open a store. It is not within walking distance of the business area, nor is it close to the high residential area. Both would be interested in such fare. Where it is mostly a middle class working neighborhood. They are not into $30 pizzas.

  48. Then how do you explain the long lines out the door on a daily basis? This isn’t the neighborhood you describe but, rather one where a restaurant like this will continue to be a success even after the river crosser’s curiosity dies down.

  49. Its walking distance to my home. I visited several weeks before this article dropped, on a Friday. I saw few or no empty (communal) seats while there. People were standing and waiting to sit or take away. As soon as pizzas were hitting the bar, they were selling out. The location is just fine. It's also very close to handfuls of other excellent bars, cafes, and restaurants that all sought the lower rent. It's what allows these places to be creative, have fluctuating menus, and still not compromise the quality of their ingredients. Plus, be BYOB.

  50. Being someone who lives in the area, I am happy that we are gaining more establishments that are of this quality. I am also heartened by the influx of quality restaurants that are not replacing or (yet) seemingly displacing long time haunts and residents. For those of you who feel that it's too far of a stretch to travel, too expensive, or in the wrong neighborhood, please continue to frequent your normal establishment of choice. Bread and Salt should be just fine without you. Cheers.

  51. I would like to know how an oval pizza tastes different than a circular one?

  52. @Ryan Bingham maybe it's similar logic as Yogi's allegedly asking the pizza man to slice it 8 ways instead of 6 because he was feeling very hungry?

  53. @Ryan Bingham Technically, the circumference of a round pizza is as short as it can be. An ellipse or oval pizza will have more "edge" so maybe there is more crispy edge per "area" of pizza so you get a little more browning overall.

  54. I was at a local Jersey City pizza joint and ordered a large pie. The guy asked if I wanted it cut in 6 pieces or 8. I said “Better cut it in 6 pieces because I don’t think I could eat 8,”

  55. @Howard Tarplin Soooo bad. I.e., Soooo good!

  56. @Tom Benghauser It's what my kids call "Daddy Humor."

  57. @Howard Tarplin -- laughing out loud! Made my day.

  58. We in Pittsburgh miss Rick Easton and Bread and Salt so much...Jersey City is lucky to have such a warm, talented soul...he is a true uncompromising artist of the bread...and pizza.

  59. As one who grew up in Jersey City in the “old days”, i.e., before the city was “cool” (& expensive) I never thought I would see the day when a JC pizzeria merited coverage in the NYT.

  60. @Ray Lambert ah, but it already has. a year or two ago, Pete Wells declared the best pizza in NYC, was actually from a (different) pizzeria in JC.

  61. Eating pizza al taglio while walking the streets of Rome was my favorite thing on a trip to Italy. Almost all the pizza was white. This food is not that difficult to make. However, finding quality ingredients as in Italy is problematic. When you travel to Europe, one sees how corporatized, synthetic, and inferior the food supply is in the United States.

  62. @Wordsworth from Wadsworth Say what? There is outstanding food to be had, here in America. One point made in this article. Get thee to a farmers market! Tomorrow (Saturday) is the best day to get to your nearest FM. You'll find vegetables like in fairytales. Cabbages to dream about. Cavolo Nero that practically jumps out of its box, its so fresh. Cheeses, pasta, flowers, all mostly picked, or harvested or made by hand, by the sellers themselves. Don't miss out, but do bring a good wad of cash. This stuff's not cheap, nor should it be.

  63. Making a pizza bianca with grapes, rosemary, and pepper tonight. Thank you for the appetizing picture inspiration.

  64. I lived in Rome for many years where I remember this being called pizza rustica (as in...wait for it, rustic). Contrary to one comnent here, it is not generally white. Pizza bianca (white) can be bought at some bakeries or delis but the taglio/rustica storefront places have a variety of mostly vegetable toppings. The food served in the center of Rome is declining in quality of late but, in the good old days, there would have been no place in the US with taglio pizza as good as what could be found in Rome. If New Yorkers can claim that NYC pastrami owes its excellence to the city's water, the Romans can make a similar claim when it comes to the link between water and pizza dough. My local Cosi location closed a whi le ago, which is a shame since their flatbread was quite like the pizza bianca in Rome.

  65. @arp In Sicily and Naples, pizza rustica is a thick, savory ricotta pie with mozzarella, salami, ham and sometimes hard boiled eggs in a slightly sweet short crust. (Sweet and savory is very Sicilian.) A specialty at Easter. Buona Pasqua!

  66. After tasting many varieties at "PQR" on 2nd Avenue I would conclude their Roman-style pizzas are a delicious sensation. But I will make a trip from Manhattan's UES to Jersey City toexplore the "Bread and Salt" version of Roman-style pizzas. Will it be worth?

  67. Call me an old-fashioned purist, but I will not eat a slice of pizza adorned with Concord grapes. You've got to draw the line somewhere!

  68. @bauskern this is a traditional roman style... gotta go to Italy bud!

  69. @Tom We've been to Italy three times (Dolomites; Tuscan countryside; Torino and Milan) but somehow that combination was not on our radar screen. Is it a thing in Rome?

  70. Your loss. It's fantastic.

  71. I utterly adore Roman style pizza al taglio. Nothing’s better for lunch than some great pizza, followed by great gelato and great coffee, all eaten while walking the beautiful streets of Rome. There are two Roman pizza al taglio places with outposts in the U.S. Pizzeria Alice is an amazingly good chain of restaurants in Rome, and I stumbled over one in Philadelphia a few months ago. More here than just pizza, and I wouldn’t say as wonderful as in Rome, but still not bad at all. Also, Bonci has two, I think, restaurants in Chicago. I’ve never been to their place in Rome, but the Chicago restaurants serve very good pizza, some with unusual toppings (but the best for me remains Alice in Rome....and then there’s a different place in Trastevere, and.....).

  72. Thank you, new-school pizza makers that are thinking of “hydration levels, fermentation periods and digestibility” as highlighted in this article. Because of you, I’m able to enjoy pizza again.

  73. How about a pizza with a taste of salty sea? There are recipes for seafood pizza. My wife made once pizza with shrimp, but it called for no repeat. Susan Fass, of Upper Upper Manhattan, once warned justly against the use of lobster meat on pizza. I am thinking of a pizza crust, covered only by a mild cheese, such as fresh mozarella, ricotta and/or white muenster (not ripe), baked and chilled. Then one puts on top a layer of salmon eggs (red caviar), of thickness of choice. And voilà, bon appétit! In my area, red caviar sells for $37 to $47 per pound. For people with more refined tastes, there are several varieties of black caviar, at prices more than 15 times higher than the red. I realize that I may be criticized by pizza purists for "my proposed pizza" to be served cold. But, a spirit of innovation imbues me.

  74. @Tuvw Xyz In Italy, they rarely if ever use cheese with seafood. (No shrimp parm but baked clams are the rare exception.) Some years ago, the Times ran a recipe for clam pizza from Frannie's in Brooklyn. A white pie with whole little necks and something like a bechamel sauce. Delicious.

  75. I'm grateful that this column informed me of another restaurant I'd like to try on my side of the Hudson. Good on ya, Jersey City. And frankly I'm amazed that there's a positive review of a New Jersey restaurant in The New York Times that doesn't have any snarky or snide comments. Hope springs eternal.

  76. A marketing thought for pizza vendors, inspired by my contribution to the making of home-made pizza, mainly by my wife. Divide the dough-base of pizza crust into marked sectors, 30 degrees of arc each for 12 slices, 60 degrees each for 6 slices. Put unmixed ingredients, singly or in mixtures of two at most, on each sector, and different cheeses likewise on top. Now the pizza is ready for bejesus to be baked out of it in the oven. Separate the sectors and price them according to the topings. Good luck!

  77. ‘Others are celebrated for achievements in the square slice, a descendant of the Sicilian, with an airier, less doughy crust; leaders’ ....and Joe’s (formerly Golden Pies location) on Carmine St.

  78. @Danny Boy Plenty of great slices in the world. For me the thinner and crispier the better, and please none with kale or cauliflower or other stuff. Straight up square pan pizza and I don't mean thick Sicilian (a different breed of cat). If you cannot get to Campo di Fiore in Rome, try Iggy's Bakery in Cambridge, MA. If the humidity doesn't puff up the dough too much it is sublime.

  79. @Jonathan campo di fiore! that place is amazing. everything about it.

  80. @Jonathan I ate some excellent pizza al taglio in Rome three weeks ago that variously had kale and ricotta, cauliflower and pine nuts and raisins, and a number of other delicious vegetarian "other stuff" slices. You're missing out.

  81. "Others are celebrated for achievements in the square slice, a descendant of the Sicilian, with an airier, less doughy crust" I grew up in New York where we always distinguished between the extremely thick, Sicilian squares and the "normal" foldable circle sectors dripping with grease. The I moved to Sicily for seven years and never saw anything that looked like it's Sicilian-named NY counterpart. In the bars, alongside the pastries, there were often square pan pizzas made in standard ovens, but never with the huge crusts found in NY. Also, save for maybe one or two examples I can think of, all the pizzerias used wood burning ovens and made their pizzas in the more Neapolitan tradition (albeit without that amazing Campagna mozzarella di bufala). It reminds me of what we always refer to as Alfredo sauce, which I never saw so named while living there. Funny that.

  82. Serious pizza shops must have an unshaven middle aged man in a white t-shirt behind a counter shouting out things like "large roni for Mike".

  83. Sao Paolo has some good pizza.

  84. Tried to look at the pizza slide show -- three advertisement slides interrupted. Ads in the right margin, ads at the bottom, ads inserted throughout to "sign up" for this newsletter or that chance to subscribe someone else. I really AM a subscriber, and still have to wade through all this to read a little article about pizza. And yes I do run adblocker and it indicates having stopped TEN additional ads. You all have lost your minds.

  85. I think we are pizza heaven lately. So much good pizza to had. We should have a pizza competition like they do in the south for bbq. Maybe we already do, I dunno. But as a native of Pittsburgh though, not sure why bread and salt left Bloomfield for Jersey City. Although every time I tried to visit you in the burgh you were closed. So go figure...

  86. "others abandon commercial yeast altogether in favor of the natural leavening in sourdough starters." As a scientist, I am having trouble with this statement. Yeast is natural (commercial or not). It is alive and it rehydrates with water and then multiplies, leavening your bread/pizza. Sourdough is natural too. According to Wikipedia: Sourdough bread is made by the fermentation of dough using naturally occurring lactobacilli and yeast. Sourdough bread has a more sour taste and better inherent keeping qualities than breads made with baker's yeast, due to the lactic acid produced by the lactobacilli. This combination of yeast and bacteria in sourdough starter does not make it any more natural. Just different.

  87. Ack, When Bread and Salt was in Pittsburgh, there were rumors about how great the food was. But it was impossible to find out when/if it was open, and though I tried to go multiple times, I never succeeded in finding it open. It was always closed for one reason or another, usually not clear why. It was impossible to find out their hours of operation. Did they even have regular hours? Who knows? Sounds like some of the same in New Jersey. The guy may make great food, but he doesn't know how to keep a business going.

  88. @RCH I live a block away. They do very well; the place is always packed when open.

  89. Food was very good. Excellent pizza. Salad was superb. Long wait but that's to be expected. I thought the service was pretty good as they worked like crazy to accommodate the crowd.

  90. I am amazed at the cross-the-board positivity in the comments section!!! Thank you fellow restaurant review fans.

  91. I enjoyed bread and salt when they were in Pittsburgh. Enigmatically craveable yeast creations. It was like a slot machine (closed, open, what’s on the board?) and I played with delight.

  92. Stopped for lunch before flight at Newark. Small line at noon Saturday, then a steady crowd. Had 3 rounds of pizza al taglio: margarita, rosso, mushroom, potato and spicy salami spread. All great. Can keep returning to counter as new pies come out. Also a beautiful huge porchetta.Took 2 sandwiches to go: mortadella, and a simple broc rabe with evoo and hot pepper. Espresso, cookies and some fun groceries: Sicilian finishing salt, whole grain pasta, fig confit and colatura--the anchovia sauce from Cetara on the Amalfi Coast. Definately worth a trip!