Here’s an adventure that came courtesy of my younger brother. This past Fourth of July weekend, he suggested we visit one of his old Jersey haunts for a Sunday afternoon lunch with our Dad. The place was the Sun Tavern on busy Westfield Avenue in Roselle Park just west of Elizabeth.
With three large spaces (bar area, dining room and outdoor patio) Sun is more of a complex than just a simple tavern. The place is massive and all that space made the place feel quite empty on this hot sweltering holiday weekend that kept most people indoors or at the beach. On a day so hot that even a lizard would have wanted to sit in the shade, we found a nice cool and cozy table inside in the dining room.
Looking around the room, the assembled artifacts (New York Yankees and Bruce Springsteen) let you know you were in Jersey. You also got the feeling that this place has been around forever. The classic wood paneling and brick motif, along with items like a vintage phonebooth, gave this place an old school feel that reminded me of my childhood days. I was therefore quite surprised to learn that Sun only took over this space in 1989, and that it is the descendent of a Sun Tavern in nearby Union that has since closed.
Just for the record, seeing the word “tavern” in a name of a Jersey pizza place usually means that you won’t find them selling it by the slice. It also implies that you will be getting a thin crust. As expected, both wound up being the case for Sun Tavern.
Advertising oneself as serving “World Famous Pizza” is a bold statement. However, I would soon discover that Sun Tavern’s pizza recipe is as classic and timeless as the surroundings in which it was served.
Ordering family style, we split a big chicken Caesar salad ($14.99 and just perfect) and a cheese pizza ($11.99). I was surprised to see the menu state “try our thin crust,” and after checking found that they offered no other option. I do have a warning for you though. Not that it was over-priced, but Sun’s pie is small, and we came close to ordering a second pie.
Size aside, Sun’s pizza tasted totally fantastic! Getting it out of the way that it surprisingly carried a little too much cheese for a thin crust pie, this obstacle was more than overcome by its delightfully blackened crust and overall fab flavor of the fresh tasty Mozzarella and the rich tomato sauce. The sauce, and even the oil that lightly dripped on my plate, were deep dark and delicious. Each scrumptious bite cracked into a crispy crust that was also good and moist from front to end. Sun’s pie is a winner!
Although just slightly under the Snob’s bar for a perfect pizza, overall, the Sun Tavern experience clearly qualifies as a worthy destination for a pizza fan. This is a fabulous pizza served in a top-notch venue to take a bunch of friends! By all means give Sun Tavern a try. I promise you’ll love it.
PIZZA SNOB RATING ****1/2 Nearer Perfection
600 Westfield Avenue
Roselle Park, NJ 07204