With my plans to attend a concert at Monmouth University complete, I began searching for a pizza joint for the Snob to invade in this virgin territory. Googling “best pizza in Monmouth County” led me to a place in Neptune with a rather long name: Pete & Elda’s Bar / Carmen’s Pizzeria. Oddly enough, it was already on my list of recommended places, albeit erroneously as two separate entries.
Heading to the Shore on a Friday afternoon, I learned that both the Bayonne Bridge and Pulaski Skyway were closed and the Turnpike Bridge was under construction (When is it never?). Trapped on the Bayonne Peninsula, it took dealing with a lot of traffic before I finally reached the wide open road of the Garden State Parkway.
Finding Pete & Elda’s, I first came upon its large overflowing parking lot. Finally gabbing a spot as someone pulled out, I made my way to the entrance of the long narrow free-standing building. With cars everywhere outside, it was no surprise that there was a wait. Being in somewhat of a rush, I asked the hostess if I could simply get a pizza at the bar. Her reply in the positive however only led me to the disappointment of circling the bar and not finding a single empty seat. But it was my lucky day. After completing my lap, the same conscientious hostess offered me a seat at a small table that just opened up.
As soon as I was seated, I was quickly greeted by my waitress and ordered a “large” (their middle size) plain cheese pizza for $12.25. I also inquired about the two names. Story goes they were once separate businesses, and the pizza people bought out the bar people when they retired. The building is now one long stretch, but the former separation point is still apparent.
For as busy as they were, my pie came in about only ten minutes. There were eight thin shiny-looking slices on the silver pie platform. The end crust showed some char, and there were some pizza bubbles resting on top. The slices were firm and crisp and the tomato sauce and Mozzarella cheese were cooked and blended together just right.
I certainly had no problem putting away those eight slices in record time, and I now see why they were lining up to get in here. Not perfect by Snob standards, but this pie was pretty darn good and tasty. The two minor setbacks for the Snob were my preference for less oil and the fact that the crust had a dry saltine cracker-like taste. There were even some empty air pockets in the ends.
There is no denying though that Pete & Elda’s serves up a unique, classy-looking and tasty pie. Its execution was brilliant, but the dry brittle taste of the crust just didn’t quite fully satisfy the Snob. Still, this is a legendary pizza place that every budding pizza snob needs to visit if they get the chance.
PIZZA SNOB RATING ****Near Perfection
Pete & Elda’s Bar / Carmen’s Pizzeria & Italian Restaurant
96 Woodland Avenue Neptune City, NJ 07753