Having met Al briefly at a canned-tomato tasting, I knew he was driven by his own curiosity and a desire to perfect his pizzas. I also suspected that any visit to Santillo's on my part would not be a short one. But, hey, I'm not complaining.
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The phone rings at Santillo's Brick Oven Pizza and Al Santillo Jr., third-generation bread-baker and pizza-maker, picks up. "Yeah? The usual? OK. How's your mother? OK. See you soon." Hidden down an alleyway between two houses in a sleepy section of Elizabeth, it's just the kind of place you'd expect that kind of exchange to happen. Santillo's is a certifiably old-school New Jersey pizzeria. Al says he's been working at Santillo's since he was 5 — he's now 54.
GQ's Alan Richman wrote an entertaining, makes-you-wanna-go-there-right-away piece about Santillo's Brick Oven Pizza in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Santillo's is a place that makes pizzas by decade, so you can order a pizza as it was made there in 1940, 1957, 1964, etc., conceivably eating your way through an evolutionary timeline of pizza.