Editor's Note: Please welcome Casey Barber, editor of Good. Food. Stories.. Casey will be sending pizza intel from the Garden State. Today, she's starting in Clifton, NJ.
Strip mall pizza places are a dime a dozen in the Jersey 'burbs. So what makes me go back to Villa Roma time and again when I've got more counter joints than I can count on both hands within a mile radius of my kitchen? The Absolut pizza ($15), slathered with vodka sauce instead of regular tomato sauce, turns a basic, unassuming takeout pie into a classy affair.
I'm a girl who could stick a straw in a stockpot of vodka sauce and drink it like a milkshake, and this is quality gravy, with well-balanced creaminess that brings out the tomatoes' tangy sweetness. Though there's nothing rhapsodic about the crust—flimsy in the center and sturdily chewy near the edge, with a trace of metallic char from the deck ovens—it serves its purpose as a vehicle for the sauce.
Villa Roma loves to load their pizzas up with cheese, an undisturbed ocean of mozzarella that reseals itself nearly seamlessly after the initial cut. The creamy sauce makes this titanic slick of cheese even more prone to sliding off the crust in one molten blob, making each slice a knife-and-fork situation for the first few bites, at least.
But the thrill of eating my favorite pasta sauce on a pizza is worth the potential melted cheese landslide. Get the pie to go; there's no ambiance to speak of at the few tables hidden past the counter in the corner space. Instead, come over to my dining room, grab a real plate and silverware, and eat in style.
849 Clifton Ave., Clifton, NJ (map)
About the author: Casey Barber is the editor of Good. Food. Stories., a freelance food writer, and a transplanted Pittsburgher making the most of the Garden State. Find her on Twitter: @GoodFoodStories