One day, while sitting in a mini-Starbucks at a Barnes & Noble in Edison, NJ, I glanced out the window and spotted Anthony’s Coal-Fired Pizza. Thinking it sounded a bit unusual to see a coal oven in a location other than Manhattan or Brooklyn, my friend Google told me that ACFP was a chain and that former Miami Dolphins QB Dan Marino had something to do with it.
With our Dad now living close by, it was only natural that my brother Brew and I would meet there for lunch the next time I came back to the Pizza State. Such was recently the case, and I have to say that the results were sure surprising.
For the record, Anthony’s is a chain now 68 locations strong in 8 states. There are nine in each of New Jersey and New York and a whopping 27 in Florida—the state where most people from those two states eventually wind up moving anyway. The place is named after its founder, Anthony Bruno, who refers to Marino his partner.
Brew and I hit lunch on its late side and got a table in the big busy square room. With the walls covered with a décor of stock photos of celebrities and star athletes, adding the big screen TVs to the mix, the place had that sport bar feel, albeit a big classier. We watched the action coming from the bustling bar and pizza oven while we waited for our large unadorned 16-inch cheese pizza that we found in its proper place at the top of the menu ($16.99).
I loved their sign on the wall with the alert that read “Warning! Our Pizza Is Well-Done.” They must have known the crisp-crust-loving Pizza Snob was coming. And yes, seeing those burn marks on the end crust revealed that it was delightfully toasted and indeed well-done. While I can’t say that our pie was over-saturated with the taste of coal, this pizza was nothing other than deliciously fantastic.
The crispness of the crust made each slice so friendly foldable—the only way to truly eat and enjoy a slice. Anthony’s slice also belongs in the chewiness hall of fame—it’s best feature was the taste and texture of the crust. The tomato sauce and cheese mix had the light touch of tasty Mozzarella outpacing the sauce which surprisingly only popped up in only a few small red blotches—sort of the opposite of what you often see on a pie like this. A small break from tradition that managed to work out just fine.
As I walked out the door, I spotted a framed USA Today newspaper hanging on the wall with the headline “Is Anthony’s the Best Pizza Chain in America? I didn’t have to think too long that they may just be right. I’m sure ready for an Anthony’s to come my way in Nashville!
While I would have enjoyed some more coal flavor, Anthony’s pie is right up there with the best of what you’d find coming from the coal ovens of New York City. Dan Marino may have lost in his only Super Bowl appearance, but he sure deserves a championship ring for Anthony’s .
PIZZA SNOB RATING ****1/2 Nearer Perfection
Anthony’s Coal-Fired Pizza
80 Parsonage Road
Edison, NJ 08837