For those who didn't know we're the best "pizza state" in the country, where have you been?! Lot's of attention is paid to New York and even Chicago as great pizza locales, but when it comes to sheer volume, variety and quality, you can't beat New Jersey.
Food and Wine Magazine just ranked the best pizza states in the country and, not surprisingly, New Jersey came out on top, as it should. It could be the overwhelming number of Italian immigrants, especially from the home of pizza, Naples Italy, who live and work here. It could be the intense competition since it is estimated there are over 2,000 pizzerias in New Jersey.
That probably doesn't even include the countless number of other Italian restaurants that also make pizza, but don't call themselves "pizzerias." There is a pizza shop on either end of my street within a mile and a half of each other. Then if you make a right at the end of the street, you'll run into another one about a mile down on the left. And this is suburbia, where everything is spread out. In tighter downtown areas and cities, the concentration is much greater.
Interestingly, a good number of these pizza shop operators come from only a few towns in Southern Italy. In my neck of the woods, two towns in the boot account for a large number of these pizzerias. One is the town of Monte di Procida, near Naples, and the other is Carini in Sicily, near the city of Palermo.
One by one, the word of their good fortune here in New Jersey made it back home and more people came to become a part of a flourishing pizza culture here in our state. Perhaps it's the competition between these "old country" rivals that makes the "za" here so good, but whatever the reason, we are definitely the beneficiaries!
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Dennis Malloy. Any opinions expressed are Dennis Malloy's own.