Pizza is simply a way of life here in New Jersey. It’s a delicacy that is enjoyed but taken very seriously. There has been debate after debate about who has the best pizza here in New Jersey and throughout the country.

In my humble and professional opinion, it is impossible to say who actually has the best. A tweak or two to a recipe and each pizzeria serves up a product that is loved by many.

Pizza customers are loyal, very loyal and that’s why the success of most pizzerias live on and the new places have a tough time making it, but if it’s good and the word gets out, it can become an institution.

The Daily Meal posted their choice for the 2019 top 100 places for the best pizza in the country. While I don’t necessarily agree with the results, there are many of my favorite places for pizza on that list.

New Jersey holds six places in their top 100, New York City, Brooklyn and Philadelphia had quite a few on the list about 10 a piece. I’ve been to many on the list in New York, Philly and in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York state, and other places. All good and deserve placement in the top 100.

I learned how to cook in a pizzeria. At the age of 12 I had moved to Pittsburgh because my mom, a single mother, got a good job in advertising. When I was in high school, I worked at a pizzeria from the age of 14 at Rich’s Pizzeria in Pittsburgh.

The shop was owned by Rich and Toni Roberto, the nicest family you could ever know. Rich became a surrogate father and I learned to take pride in our work and work hard every time. Everything was made from scratch, of course the dough, the sauce and the cheese was a combination that we made consisting of a mix of mozzarella and provolone.

One of my jobs was to shave the wax off the imported provolone, cut it and combine both cheeses through the grinder to make the perfect blend of cheese. I loved that job at the pizza shop and worked every year right through my senior year, where Rich would take in account my football and wrestling practices and games. It was a very rewarding experience and I made enough money to buy my first car.

New Jersey is home to the oldest pizzeria in America. Papa’s Tomato Pies was opened in 1912 in Trenton and moved to a couple of different locations but is still serving their classic pizza today in Robbinsville by the same family. The original owners were Giuseppe and Adalene Papa who were from Naples, Italy and brought the concept and recipe to their first shop in Trenton.

I love the fact that the same family 108 years later still own and operate the shop. I love their pizza, the sauce, crust and spices are really good and the pizza is addictive. The next time you take a slice of your favorite pizza, remind yourself of how lucky we are to have such a great product right here in New Jersey.