Daily Slice: The Campagnola at Springfield, NJ's Saporito
Daily Slice gives a quick snapshot each weekday of a different slice or pie that the folks at the Serious Eats empire have enjoyed lately.
If you've ever been stuck in the rage-inducing stop-and-go traffic along northern Jersey's Route 22, I feel for you. I've been there, stuck with the glorious scenery of big box stores and chain fast food. But there's an oasis beyond the Raymours, Flanigans, and Paneras: Springfield's Saporito Pizza.
Behind the spotlessly clean counter, a display case of pies straight from the ovens showcases more options than the new Barneys shoe department. And despite the worthy contenders—portobello! chicken pesto! bruschetta!—I'm making a strong case for the cheeseless Campagnola.
It's really a pizzeria version of pan con tomate, the tapas menu standard that translates to "bread with tomato" and truly consists of nothing more than a slice of toasted or grilled bread that's rubbed with a fresh garlic clove, then with the cut side of a tomato so the fleshy juiciness smears itself onto the crust. Drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt, pan con tomato is a paean to the simplicity of good ingredients.
Saporito knows good ingredients. The tomatoes, though clearly from a can and not from some hydroponic roof garden soaring over the neighboring Chipotle and TGI Friday's, are fresh-packed, chunky, and gloriously red instead of over-simmered into a sticky burgundy puree. Hints of fresh garlic and just enough salt mean you don't have to bring any shakers of powder to the table. (Well... I did reach for one shaker. Yes, the slice benefited from a healthy dusting of Parmesan. I couldn't leave well enough alone.)
The pan-baked crust has a healthy rise, walking the fine line between a slick upper layer of nearly uncooked doughiness—those of you who like to sneak bites of raw pie dough when rolling out your holiday crusts know what I'm talking about, eh?—and a crispy-edged exterior.
The Campagnola satisfied for a lunch slice, though every pizza in the case looked temptingly well-made, leaving Saporito ripe with opportunities for future Daily Slices. And since the joint is "conveniently located in the center isle of Route 22," as its website states, I won't have to endure too much road rage getting in or out of the parking lot. I really hate New Jersey traffic, but I'll put up with it for good pizza.
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