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Daily Slice: The Portobello, Pine Nut, and Dried Tomato Pizza from Star Tavern

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[Photograph: Adam Kuban]

Finding myself near Orange, NJ last weekend with nothing to do (we'd come out to pick apples only to discover that Irene had already done picked all of 'em before we got there), I decided to take the only logical course of action: go to Star Tavern for pizza.

Ok, I'm not going to kid around: the thing to get at Star Tavern if you've never been is anything with pepperoni on it. Their pepperoni is fantastic. Small, thick-sliced disks that as they cook curl up into little crispy chalices of grease*. Now put that on top of thin, ultra-crisp crust with nicely charred edges, great sauce, and a good amount of cheese, and you've got a bar pie at its very best (read Adam's take on it here).

* See Grand Prize Pizza Haiku winner.

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[Photograph: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

Of course we did get the requisite Pepperoni Pie ($11.50 and it was as glorious as ever, along with a White Clam Pie ($12.50) (theirs are made with plenty of garlic, and a clam-flavored bechamel-like sauce with just a few chunks of real clam—like no other clam pie I've had, but delicious in its own way), but this time I also opted for one of their specialty pies. Something about the high-low dichotomy of portobello, sun dried tomatoes, and pine nuts on a decidedly non fancy-pants bar-style crust seemed interesting to me.

I mean, they actually roast portobellos and have sun dried tomatoes back in that kitchen?

As expected, the pie was phenomenal. Crisply charred crust underneath, with a nice pliant and chewy layer of dough. The sun dried tomato was chopped up under the cheese and very subtle, adding some rich dried-fruit flavors to the otherwise bright sauce. Portobello and pine nuts dot the surface, but just like with all the other slices here, the predominant flavor is that of salty cheese-grease (does that sound gross? It's not).

There's no fooling yourself into thinking that this is any sort of white tablecloth fare, fancy sounding ingredients or not. This is down and dirty, real bar pizza that just happens to be made for people who like well-roasted shrooms and pine nuts on their pies.

Star Tavern

400 High Street, Orange, NJ 07050 (map)
startavern.net; 973-675-3336 ‎

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