There is absolutely no shortage of pizza at the Jersey Shore.
(Quality pizza? Another story entirely.)
Time for two new pizza options, and both are in relative stealth mode.
One features those small, light Neapolitan pizzas, while the other makes a mighty respectable version of square, Trenton-style tomato pies (the cheese-on-the-bottom pizzas).
Mike Fitzick, a Linwood-born pizzaiola who’s gained a following under the nom de salame Pizza Jew, has been popping up on Absecon Island with a green mobile Roccbox oven that crisps up his rounds to 932 degrees.
Fitzick is a moving target, and his pop-ups are advertised only on social media. (His @pizza_jew Instagram is pure pizza porn. He also created a Facebook page the other day to make it easier to communicate with his public.)
I caught him last Saturday in a private garage in Margate, where despite the rain he quickly sold out of his 40 doughs and perfumed the air around Atlantic Avenue. Plain pies were $12, those with toppings $13.
Fizick, whose day job is a cook at Kessel’s Korner in Ocean City and whose very pregnant wife, Maura, is Italian, has been making pizza off and on for nine years, starting at Jo Jo’s in Northfield and one of the Mack & Manco’s locations before his epiphany: working at Valentina’s in Northfield, where he learned to make Neapolitan.
That inspired him to take road trips to great parlors such as Nomad, Vetri, and Stella in Philadelphia.
Fitzick’s pop-ups will not go on forever. His tomato supplier, based in North Jersey, is planning to help him open his own shop, which will be up there.
They want a more year-round business, rather than the seasonal traffic provided by the Shore.
“Don’t get me wrong,” Mike says. “I love South Jersey, but as of right now, this is the most practical option.”
Maggie Ferrante Barrella, an interior designer, finally gave in to the pleadings of her daughter Liz.
Start selling the pizza you make at home for the kids. Baked in steel pans, they’re 10-by-15-inch rectangles of deliciousness, topped with a mild, slightly sweet sauce, slivered garlic, mozzarella, and Locatelli Romano.
Barrella has an couple of aces up her sleeve: the recipes used by her 89-year-old pop, Benedetto, at his long-ago restaurants in Trenton and Atlantic City, and a friendship with Jennifer Bailey, who owns Barefoot Market in Ocean City.
And so while Barefoot is primarily a daytime operation, with baked goods and 20 seats in an old house decorated in all manner of beach kitsch, Maggpie’s Pizza pops up from 4 to 9 p.m. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings.
Barrella was open for about two weeks earlier this summer when Inquirer critic Craig LaBan popped in and wrote her up. Business exploded. With Labor Day here and gone, you can now snag a pizza. Best to drop her an email early in the day at firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve one.
An original is $18, while a vegan tomato pie (cheeseless) is $17 and a sausage is $22. Mushrooms and green peppers are extra. Two salads — a house and an escarole Caesar — are available, as well. It’s cash only.
Barrella tells me that she’ll keep going all winter.