7831 Bergenline Ave, North Bergen, NJ
Ethereal Pizza, particularly anything resembling the genuine Italian article, can be particularly hard to find in New Jersey, or even New York City for that matter. Sure, in Jersey, we have some really good Italian-American places like Lodi Pizza, Pizza Town USA in Clifton, Santillo’s in Elizabeth, Reservoir Tavern in Parsippany, Star Tavern in Orange, or the legendary DeLorenzo’s Tomato Pies in Trenton that make great American-style pies. But the real, thin crust deal like they make in Naples? With a real savory and basil infused sauce that uses San Marzano tomatoes? That’s a very tall order.
So it happened about a week ago I was talking with Daniele, owner of DiPalma Brothers in North Bergen, and asked him where he liked to eat pizza. Daniele and his family are from Naples, and serve probably the best Italian cuisine in the entire area. So when he uttered the following statement, it was like as if an entire shipping crate of San Marzanos had just fallen on top of my head.
“I eat at my uncle’s restaurant — Trattoria Sorrentina, on Bergenline and 79th street. They make the real thing.”
Now you must understand, Rachel and I just ate a full dinner at DiPalma Brothers. But just on Daniele’s recommendation alone we made a bee-line for Sorrentina and got a plain Margherita pie to take home. It was — for lack of a better descriptor — the best pizza I have ever eaten in the entire North Jersey area.
Trattoria Sorrentina uses a gas fired brick oven to make its pizzas. A true Pizza Napoletana as it is made in Naples would actually use a wood fired brick oven and reach 1000 degree temperatures. Sorrentina compromises with the gas oven and cooks its pies in excess of 600 degrees, and they use domestic flour as opposed to Italian “00” flour, so it is still technically American style Pizza, which combines elements of true Italian-style pizza by using high-quality ingredients. However, I actually happen to prefer this pseudo-authentic hybrid Nouveau Italian-American style to what is served at A Mano in Ridgewood, which for all intents and purposes is actual Pizza Napoletana.
Near-Neapolitan Pizza in North Jersey. Bravissimo! Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.
Trattoria Sorrentina is a great casual place to bring family and friends. Be careful about weekend nights though, it can get seriously packed.
At a lot of Italian restaurants the quality of the bread is an oversight. But not at Sorrentina — its a great crusty loaf that comes out nice and hot from the pizza oven,
Sorrentina’s pies differ from most pizzas in that the large pies are oblong in shape, and they have several varieties with more toppings than the true laws of Neapolitan pizza-making would allow. However, for pies that taste this good, I’m willing to cut them a bit of slack from Neapolitan orthodoxy.
One of Sorrentina’s skilled pizzaiolos making a Quattro Formaggi (Four Cheese) pie.
The Quattro Formaggi pie.
Quattro Formaggi closeup.
Fried Calamari. We were a little disappointed there weren’t any tentacles but they were fresh and quite tasty.
Pizza Don Antonio, a mixed vegetable pie.
Don Antonio closeup.
Here’s one of their specialty pies with Rucola (Arugula/Rocket) and Prosciutto ham.
Pizza Margherita, the classic. I urge you to order one of these first before trying any of the other varieties. The sauce has a wonderful acidic and savory flavor, which can only come from real San Marzano tomatoes from Italy, that are grown in the volcanic soil near Mount Vesuvius. The Marinara sauce is infused with basil and garlic, topped with fresh basil, pecorino romano and mozzarella cheeses, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
The small pies have the traditional round shape.
Sorrentina has a full-blown Italian menu in addition to the pizzas, including antipasto and pasta selections and regular meat and fish entrees. This is one of their specialty salads with grilled chicken, mozzarella and tomato.