Words and Photographs by Mark Horowitz, Special to Slice .::. Ninety miles from the Holland Tunnel and 80 miles from the Verazzano-Narrows Bridge, just across the Delaware River from New Jersey, is bucolic Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Long known for its numerous inns and beds and breakfasts, its artists colonies, its meandering riverside drives attracting daytrippers and motorcyclists, and its gay-friendly ambience, gentrification and development have made their marks on the region. With development has come the opening of several notable restaurants. In April, the area saw the opening of Jules Thin Crust in Doylestown, the county seat and its most populous town.
Housed in a spacious building steps from the center of town and featuring indoor and outdoor seating, Jules presents itself as distinctively different from the moment one enters: Posted by the entrance are "Jules Rules," which include the declarations that Jules offers "the world's finest, best-tasting all-natural thin crust pizza," which uses "wholesome, organic ingredients," including "extra-virgin olive oil, imported 00 flour" and "organic and locally grown salad produce." Jules Rules go on to declare that the company is operated in "a manner that enhances the lives of our employees, our customers and our local communities" and that it promotes "work practices that enhance the earth and environment."
The focus of action at Jules is the ordering counter (right), where 18-inch long, thin-crust oval pies with various toppings are set out as soon as they come out of the oven, which is in a rear kitchen. They are sliced into three-inch slices, selling for $2.50 to $3.25 each. After ordering slices, drinks, and salads (Jules is BYO and staff will provide a corkscrew and plastic cups for those bringing wine), customers pay for and pick up their order at one of three registers.
During two recent Friday evening visits, I sampled at least six different toppings and watched the Jules team in action. Jules has become quite popular, and the line at the ordering counter usually extends nearly to the entrance. Although the ordering process goes relatively smoothly, there is usually a bottleneck at the registers, where, apparently, customers must be rung up by the employee who took their order once. This results in needless delays and cooling of pizza.
Jules purchases its tomatoes from New Jersey farmers, its vegetables from Pennsylvania farmers, and its salad greens from a nearby organic farm. The freshness of its product is immediately apparent: Mushrooms, eggplant, zucchini, and spinach were flavorful and nicely complemented the sauce. The sauce was sweet but not sugary and was applied in a layer about equal to the thickness of the slice.
Jules does not take reservations, and, despite its size, tables fill up. Pies are available for take out. In addition to slices, whole pies can be ordered at the registers.
JULES THIN CRUST
Location: 78 South Main Street, Doylestown PA 18901
Hours: Daily, 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. (possibly later, depending)
Price: $2.50 to $3.25 per slice
The Skinny: Long, oval pies ordered in 3-inch increments. Organic, locally grown vegetables and toppings; Tipo "00" flour imported from Italy. Quickly becoming a favorite among Bucks County residents.
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