Finding foods from the homeland, or food that tastes like the stuff you grew up with but can’t duplicate in your own kitchen, is an endless quest. For our family, that culinary holy grail is finding a pie that tastes like it came from the ovens of the Star Tavern in Orange, N.J., or the Starlite in West Orange, N.J. Pizza, cheese only, was a meatless Friday tradition in our house.
Among Jerseyans and New Yorkers, there is always discussion about whose neighborhood joint makes the best tomato pie. When Jerseyans and New Yorkers are separated from their home soil, wherever they congregate, the discussion inevitably evolves into what place comes closest to making the perfect pie of their memories. For us, it’s that mysterious combination of sauce, cheese and crust with burnt spots, all imbued with that taste that only a half-century or older oven can make. (One final test is whether or not there is “pizza juice” that runs out over the crust and anoints the paper plate as the pointed end of the slice is lifted to the lips.)
In San Diego, Bronx Pizza [Motto: “Just like back home.”] is one of those places whose name is whispered in hallowed tones among former New Jerseyans and New Yorkers. At lunchtime, the kitchen moved fast, and the line of customers did too.