The Pizza Snob is constantly on the prowl for new great-tasting pizza. While referrals from faithful readers are my most reliable source, I also review the numerous “Best Pizza” lists flooding the internet. One problem I have with the latter is their lack of respect for what constitutes pizza. Witness how on the top of several lists is a place in Connecticut that puts clams and white sauce on top of a crust that looks like a cracker.
My home state of New Jersey sits smack dab in the middle of “Pizza Nation” and boasts quite a few critical faves. Through reading a few “Best of Jersey” offerings, I became aware of Orange, NJ’s Star Tavern. The word “tavern” usually implies a thin-crust pizza—what I like to call a “bar” pie as compared to a “joint” pie, and such would be the case with the Star.
One Friday night, my brother and I took a drive to the city of “plain” Orange, as compared with West, East and South Oranges, (sorry no North) that is just west of Newark. Located in an otherwise residential neighborhood, the Star sits on the corner where High Street T-bones into Washington Street. Expecting a busy evening crowd, we arrived early enough to still find a spot in their adjacent side parking lot. There we were greeted by a large sign labeling the Star as a “World Famous Pizzeria.”
We entered to find a long rectangular wood-decorated baseball-themed room full of tables and a long bar to the left. The Star was full so we joined the short but continually regenerating line that was queued up along the far wall displaying a plethora of pizza accolades. My eyes walked over the room and spotted some happy-looking diners and what appeared to be a mouthwatering thin pie.
Bro and I were soon seated, and we wasted no time in ordering some salads and a pair of “Regular” (plain cheese) “one-size fits all” pizzas at $10.50 each. The opening salad was a delight, and the good-sized (14-inch, 8-slice) pies followed shortly thereafter served atop a slick double-deck silver serving tray.
The Pizza Snob’s heart was so in the right place to enjoy one of Jersey’s best bar pies, but right off the bat, the excessive shine coming off this pie was sending me a message. After my first bite it was obvious that Star’s pie was drenched in olive oil—way beyond my liking. Without a doubt, this was the oiliest pizza I have ever had in my life. Both of our pies were swimming in the stuff!
This was such a shame since the ingredients in this pie were otherwise so right. Aside from the heavy dose of oil which made my stomach unpleasant after I sloshed my way through six small slices, the Star pie was nicely built with some fine-tasting mozzarella and tomato sauce on top a thin crust. I also would have preferred the crust cooked a little crisper and without the flour remnants that messily coated my oily fingertips.
After all my expectations, this was very disappointing. I would like to hear about your experience with the Star. Did I catch them in an off moment with perhaps a heavy hand on the olive oil bottle? Or am I missing something entirely about this immensely popular place with such a great reputation?
PIZZA SNOB RATING ***1/2 Working on a Good Thing
400 High Street
City of Orange, NJ 07050