An original-recipe pie fresh from the oven. Carlos Rosas tosses dough for a pizza, below. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)
By SUSAN ERICSON
Self-styled devotees of Mr. Pizza Slice raised quite an uproar when redbankgreen reported the Red Bank stalwart was under new ownership and — heaven forbid — would be updating both the decor and menu.
The beloved Monmouth Street hole-in-the-wall on has now been refurbished with, among other touches, exposed brick walls that replace cheap paneling, giving the room a cozier feel than the laundromat vibe of its predecessor.
More importantly, new owners Nick Napoletano and Tom Cappello had a fantastic idea when they decided to keep a favorite menu item while bringing in plenty of new ones, including impressive sandwiches and gourmet, New York-style pies.
A huge, and filling, Italian hot dog and a nostalgia-inducing order of fries at Mr. Pizza Slice. Below, the spruced-up restaurant facade features an amusing pizza guy statue. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)
Seeing a just-vacated table, Tracey from Lincroft ordered a pie and seated her four-year-old daughter.
“We come in about once a month. The original is my kids favorite,” she said. “I think they did a good job of cleaning it up, and it’s comfortable.”
But even more than the decor, the eruption of comments that accompanied redbankgreen‘s coverage of the sale was about the original pie recipe created by Steve Napolitani, who owned and ran the business for 44 years until his flamboyant retirement in October, 2013. The pie came in two versions: with or without pepperoni.
Numerous commenters pleaded with Cappello and Napoletano to keep the old pie recipe, and they did, in the form of “Steve’s Original,” along with new menu options.
Keeping the original turned out to be a good decision for customers like Craig Schmell, who works at a brokerage house on Broad Street and has been coming in about once a week for 10 years. What does he like about it? It’s a big slice, he said, and makes for a 10-minute lunch.
PieHole was not a big fan of the original, which was admirably thin-crusted but lacking in flavor. So we were pleased to find that the new, Neapolitan style pie is a little saucier and cheesier, but has the same thin, chewy crust with just the right amount of crispness. What constitutes the right amount? You should be able to lift the slice in one hand, fold it over lengthwise and take a bite without it collapsing.
Working behind the counter, Cappello’s son, Mike, tells us the porchetta sandwich is “hands down” his favorite menu item. “It’s filled with seasoned pork, broccoli rabe and provolone, and it comes on bread from Royal Crown Bakery in Staten Island,” he says.
With fond memories of Mr. Pizza Slice’s little golden coins of potato fried to a perfected crunch, PieHole put in an order, priced at $4. We’re glad that’s still on the menu.
Going for something new, we also ordered an Italian hot dog ($7.75). Served in a soft pizza dough pocket, the larger-than-average, juicy Boar’s Head hot dog came covered in marinara sauce and topped with peppers and onions. Thinking this is a big serving, the entire dog was gone in a nanosecond. A tantalizing mouthful, the hot dog can be as addictive as the pizza is here.
Mr. Pizza Slice is pen from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., with delivery is currently offered within walking distance, but extended local delivery is in the works, so stay tuned.