Slice of Jersey – Stop 5 – Cafe Napoli in Manchester [VIDEO]
One great thing about the “Slice of Jersey Tour” is that I get to eat pizza for breakfast! And who doesn’t like a little pizza for breakfast! With that said, stop number 5 on the “Slice of Jersey” tour had plenty of it to offer.
Café Napoli in Manchester, just off route 70 in the Lowe’s/Shoprite Plaza in Manchester. Once you enter, you can’t miss your host, Lucciano Venturini. He’s sort of like a 5 foot version of actor Anthony LaPaglia. Lucciano is the embodiment of the American dream, having come to this country in 1978 from his native Monte Di Procita in the province of Naples, where they know a little something about pizza! (After all, who’d know more about pizza than a born and bred “Neapolitan!”)
After having arrived, he first started plying his craft with his brother at the popular DuSal’s Pizzeria on Union Hill Road in Manalapan. And like many family members are want to do, he decided one day to branch out on his own to create Cafe Napoli in Manchester.
If pizza can jump out of the tray to greet you personally, the one that did it for me was the vegetable pie…loaded with broccoli, tomato, eggplant, mushrooms, garlic, and the obligatory mozzarella; baked Sicilian style in deep dish fashion. What makes this pie stand out, was the crust.
Baked in deep-dish fashion, it had the distinctive taste of the kind of pie we used to make in our bakery back in Brooklyn. The bottom of the crust had a nice crunch to it, reminding me of the kind of pizza grandma used to make, only without all the veggies.
Next in the display was a thin crust spinach, chicken, eggplant, and mozzarella pie. It was tasty beyond words!
I’m also a pasta eater. (You can tell by my pronounced girth since having started the “Slice” tour.) In this regard, the “Vodka Sauce” pie doesn’t disappoint. This pie is definitely for pasta lovers and for those about to run a marathon, it’s served up with a generous helping of homemade vodka sauce, complete with a garnish of penne pasta on top.
As we moved forward, I told Lucciano that any pie featuring ricotta is a pie I’d sell my soul for. (You may remember our first stop at Santillo’s in Elizabeth how I gravitated toward the “lasagna” pie with mozzarella, ricotta and fried eggplant.) Same holds true with this pie, only Lucciano’s features sliced tomato atop a bed of ricotta, just a bit of mozzarella, garlic, and some basil for that extra bit of sweetness.
I also have to hand out an honorable mention out to Lucciano’s Neapolitan pie, the obligatory pepperoni pizza and also for their “Chicken Francese” pie featuring small chunks of chicken swimming in a delicate “Francese” sauce and surrounded with a swirl of mozzarella.
You can watch the video of my visit to Cafe Napoli right here:
Ahhhh, but we’re not done yet!
While I was doubling over in pain from having samples so many different slices of pizza, out came 2 different types of Sicilian.
One was a thick wedge topped with a generous helping of tomato and mozzarella, and the other could even be eaten as an appetizer. A Bruscetta Pie, with healthy chunks of diced tomato, red onion and parmesan cheese.
Top that meal all off with a cup of espresso and you’ve eaten like a king!
Café Napoli located in the Shoprite/Lowe’s Shopping Center, on Route 70 in Manchester. Make sure you get there early because with the kind of reputation Lucciano has, he really packs them in!
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