Growing up on 14th street in Union City in the 1970s, we were never far from a pizzeria. We had four in a five-block radius. But the best one of them all was Cristina's pizza located on 17th Street and Bergenline Avenue.

Named after Cristina Pisani, they served an incredible thin-crust pie that was to die for.

The tables had "Swami" machines that told your fortune while you waited for your food.

Many a day I'd hang with Cristina's son Robbo playing Pat Cooper's "Our Hero" to the guys sitting at the bar.

Photo's Courtesy of Rob Pisani
Photo's Courtesy of Rob Pisani
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Robbo tells the story

"Started in 1937-1997 by my grandparents Vincent and Mary Moscatelli.  Grandparents retired in 1966. When Vincent passed away in 1967 the business was run by Cristina Pisani who was the firstborn daughter of Vincent and Mary. She ran it with her husband Andrew until 1997 when they eventually closed Cristina’s to retire."

Photo's Courtesy of Rob Pisani
Photo's Courtesy of Rob Pisani
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What made Cristina customers keep coming back?

"What made customers come back many years later was not only the thin crust, brick oven-baked pizza but also the mussels, meatball sandwiches, and sausage sandwiches that were also popular. The dining room was dimly lit with yellow lights at each booth and on every booth, table was a Genie napkin holder that for a penny you would ask the genie a question, pull the handle and a card with the answer to your question would pop out."

Photo's Courtesy of Rob Pisani
Photo's Courtesy of Rob Pisani
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Of course, many came back to see if their names were still carved in the tables.

"Customers would also come back to reminisce looking at the carved names that they had carved in the soft knotty pine walls of the dining room. Thousands of names and initials some carved in hearts, graduation days, birthdays, etc. were carved on every wall of the dining room. Cristina’s was the place to be after Emerson High, Union Hill high, and Saint Michaels High schools football, basketball games, and dances. It would be wall-to-wall teenagers."

Photo's Courtesy of Rob Pisani
Photo's Courtesy of Rob Pisani
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Cristina's was actually used as a backdrop in the movie "Baby It's You"

"In 1982, the producers for the movie “Baby It’s You” starring Roseanne Arquette and Vincent Spano approached Cristina to film scenes for their movie. They needed a bar/ restaurant with a 1960s theme. The restaurant’s dining room had a Rock-Ola Jukebox that played 45s. Also in the corner was the old-style phone booth. That is what enticed the producer to use Cristina’s."

Photo's Courtesy of Rob Pisani
Photo's Courtesy of Rob Pisani
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But mostly Cristina's was all about people from all sides of the aisle coming together to put politics aside and enjoy a great meal,

"Cristina’s was also dining where even local political foes would come to eat and if they were there on the same night they would be buying drinks for each other as Politics had no place in Cristina’s Dining Room. You came to eat, drink and enjoy the food and the friendly atmosphere or even possibly a visit to your table by either Vincent, Mary, Cristina, or Andrew stopping by to say hello".

Photo's Courtesy of Rob Pisani
Photo's Courtesy of Rob Pisani
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According to my listeners and social media following, here are the best places in Jersey where you can still go and grab a slice


 

Caryn Elizabeth

DeLucia’s in Raritan

DeLucia's Google Maps
DeLucia's Google Maps
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Avni Balwani

Razza in Jersey City

Razza Google Maps
Razza Google Maps
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Susanne Bamberger Kaczun

Arturo’s in Maplewood. They ferment their dough somehow and it takes days to make it and it’s amazing.

Arturo’s Google Maps
Arturo’s Google Maps
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Amanda Alboum

Rocco’s in Bedminster has the best Sicilian I’ve ever had!

Rocco's Pizza Google Maps
Rocco's Pizza Google Maps
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James McWilliams

AMA Pizza in Hillsborough Township

AMA Pizza Google Maps
AMA Pizza Google Maps
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Tricia Larsen

Dominick’s in Raritan NJ

Dominick’s Pizza Google Maps
Dominick’s Pizza Google Maps
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Katherine Barbosa-Ariza

Grandma slice, Nonna’s in Florham Park

Christine Adamo Bruno

Nonna's in Florham Park

Nonna's Google Maps
Nonna's Google Maps
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Christine Adamo Bruno

Sorrento's in Mendham

Sorrento's Google Maps
Sorrento's Google Maps
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Mara Madden

Clemente's Grandma's pizza in Berkeley Heights

 

Katherine Barbosa-Ariza

Penne Vodka slice, Clemente’s in Berkeley Heights

Clemente’s Google Maps
Clemente’s Google Maps
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Joe Nappi

The Sawmill in Seaside Heights. Haven't had a bad experience yet. My friends from south Jersey even prefer them over Lorenzo's in Philly.

@CristinaCFowler

Manninos in Hightstown! Hands down the best grandma pie.

Mannino's Google Maps
Mannino's Google Maps
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@ChuckDender

Ralph’s in Nutley. Napolis in Hoboken a close second

Ralph's Pizzeria Google Maps
Ralph's Pizzeria Google Maps
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Napolis Google Maps
Napolis Google Maps
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@BrianReiss7

Vic’s in Bradley Beach

Vic's Google Maps
Vic's Google Maps
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@BrianReiss7

Federici’s in Freehold

Federici’s Google Maps
Federici’s Google Maps
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@BrianReiss7

For tomato pie style, DeLorenzo’s with Papa’s a close second (both in Robbinsville).

DeLorenzo’s Google Maps
DeLorenzo’s Google Maps
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Cheryl McCloskey

Bunny’s South Orange

Bunny’s Sports Bar Google Maps
Bunny’s Sports Bar Google Maps
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Priscilla Vincent

Prima Pizza Kitchen in Somerville

Prima Pizza Google Maps
Prima Pizza Google Maps
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Rachel Zolna

Hot House in Hoboken

Hoboken Hot House Google Maps
Hoboken Hot House Google Maps
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Alisa Ryan

La Rustique in Jersey City!

La Rustique Google Maps
La Rustique Google Maps
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Jenny Taylor

Pizza One in Wayne

Pizza One Google Maps
Pizza One Google Maps
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Luke Mariano

Sam's Pizza Palace in Wildwood

@dar_meg

Big Slice Pizza in Ocean City and Wildwood

Wanda DePinto

Ridge Pizza in Basking Ridge

Ridge Pizza Google Maps
Ridge Pizza Google Maps
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Christina Bonito

DiMaio’s in Berkeley Height

DiMaio’s Google Maps
DiMaio’s Google Maps
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Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Steve Trevelise only. Follow him on Twitter @realstevetrev.

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