Someone once described Hoboken to me as the “urban Jersey Shore.” Needless to say, that conjured up a pretty unflattering image of a bunch of bros fist pumping to cheesy electronic music in the clubs of downtown Hoboken. But where there are guidos there are Italian restaurants, and Hoboken is home to some very good ones. Michele Spiezia, our awesome, fearless leader at Bespoke App, took us to one of the better ones, an artisanal pizza restaurant called Dozzino. Their gourmet, wood-fire oven pizzas were pretty incredible, putting them in close company with some top-notch places like Pizzeria Paradiso in DC or Delfina in SF.
The rustic, farm-to-table interior was nicely done and comparable to the many cute, charming greenmarket eateries that you find in the West Village somewhere. There were no signs of tacky Jersey decor in this tasteful restaurant–perhaps this description of Hoboken needs to be revisited! There is seating both inside and outside and a BYOB policy, which is great since a wine store is just around the corner. We shared a chilled bottle of white and ordered the house salad and several crostinis for starters, as well as three different pies for the main course. My philosophy on pizza ordering is that you have to get a traditional pie as well as something interesting that you can’t get anywhere else. We settled on the traditional cheese, tomato and basil “La Pizza” pie, as well as two pies on their specials menu, the “Johnny Bismark” and the “Honey Pie.” The Johnny Bismark consisted of cheese, prosciutto and egg, and the Honey Pie had mascarpone cheese, local bee’s honey and prosciutto. I think that order definitely fulfilled the traditional and interesting criteria.
I wasn’t expecting that much from the crostini, but they were surprisingly good. The crostini bread, which is made in house every morning, was perfectly toasted, and a bite into it yielded a great, springy texture. The slices of mortadella and prosciutto were simple but effective, and the special “Garbonzzino” crostini topping of organic garbanzo beans, rosemary and garlic, was particularly well-done.The house salad was light and refreshing but pretty standard.
And on to the pies…there are two very simple criteria for judging a pizza pie, in my opinion: crust and toppings. I liked the taste of the wood-fire crust at Dozzino, especially around the edges. It had that bubbly, chewy quality and some great char that you get at places like Motorino. A really good crust is one you would willingly eat on its own without toppings, and Dozzino checks the box on that, as indicated by my failed low-carb efforts to leave the crusts alone. My only complaint was that the interior was slightly too thin and floppy, but overall, the crust was solid.
In terms of the toppings, Dozzino is better at inventive, artisanal offerings than more traditional ones. The La Pizza was good, but it didn’t stand out. I didn’t crave another slice, which is what usually happens when I eat a really amazing margherita slice. The two specialty pies, on the other hand, were outstanding, especially the Honey Pie, my personal favorite. The subtle use of locally sourced honey paired really nicely with the saltier flavors of the prosciutto and crust, and the mascarpone further blended and refined the appealing sweet-salty combination. I’m always a big fan of decadent egg and cheese pizzas, and the Johnny Bismark was no different, although I thought the egg yolk could be runnier and perhaps a richer, softer cheese could have been used to blend everything more, but these are immaterial criticisms.
And totally random and unexpected, but the coffee here is really good–a great way to recover from the carb coma!
I never hear about the pizza scene in New Jersey since it totally gets overshadowed by so many of the heavy hitters in New York, but Dozzino definitely deserves some recognition for its artisanal pies. I know for some people going to New Jersey sounds like a huge inconvenience, but the ride on the Path train is actually really quick. It’s sort of how we think Brooklyn is really far, but it’s only two stops on the L train (yes, I’m guilty of this all the time!). And, to address the elephant in the room, I understand that Jersey gets a bad rap in general (“armpit of America” and The Jersey Shore are not flattering references), but there are no signs of Snooki, JWow or their sunburnt posse anywhere at Dozzino, I promise! Definitely worth a visit, and less troublesome than cramming your way into an impossibly crowded and tiny Manhattan neighborhood bistro during peak dining hours.
534 Adams Street
Hoboken, NJ 07030