Today, we bring you a review of John’s Pizza, on 87 Sussex Street in the Paulus Hook neighborhood of downtown Jersey City. After some thorough internet research prior to our trip, I did indeed confirm that John’s of Jersey City was an offshoot of sorts from John’s on Bleecker. This excited Elana and I.
The Scene: We went on a Monday night, but even for a Monday, it was pretty quiet. Hopefully this was not an indication as to the quality of the pizza. It’s a pretty large spot for a pizza joint, with wood and stone floors throughout, and an upstairs that didn’t seem like it was getting a lick of use. They had a full bar with beers on tap and, indeed, what appeared to be a coal fired, brick oven. If it was not so dang cold out, John’s would have been most likely sporting their outdoor seating scene, which appeared like a charming option.
The Grub: Prior to the pie, Elana and I sample some of our kryptonite, fried calamari (NOT pronounced cal-a-mod). And while we realize making a crisp fried calamari is not exactly rocket science, some restaurants can still manage to bungle up calamari. But not John’s – it’s close to perfect. It is crispy and tender throughout, not rubbery or soggy. Also, the squid is of sizable portion. (Although it didn’t include the tentacles, which I like). We also ordered what were termed “fried mozzarella wedges” (creative!) which I very much enjoyed. They had a snapping crust and had a moist, even consistency throughout. Each appetizer has an accompanying bowl of marinara, in which there are bits of basil leaves and perfect levels of olive oil lightly swimming about. Chunks of freshly peeled tomatoes lend itself to a very smooth taste.
Onto the pizza. Elana and I both got personal pies. I ordered the “traditional” which was your basic margherita pie, while Elana ordered a pizza bianca – which had ricotta and mozzarella. Both pies missed the mark a bit. The Traditional had a TON of cheese, which was stretching all over the place, and slightly distracting me from the otherwise stellar sauce. It’s definitely the tastier of the two.
Elana’s Bianca was a little bland. Just like the traditional, the cheese is heavily applied, but it’s not packing a serious or sharp enough punch. Both pies are unfortunately not sporting the “as-advertised” effects of a well functioning coal fired, brick oven. The dough is a little crunchy and tough, with a noticeable stiffness throughout.
The Bathrooms – Elana reported: “The bathroom was clean and orderly, but a touch outdated and well-worn. Large mirrors were appreciated, but the potpourri and soap could have used more attractive containers.”
Overall, I must say that I was a bit let down by John’s. Although a purported descendant of John’s on Bleecker, the apple seems to have fallen a bit far from the tree in this instance. We prefer Grimaldi’s and Dozzino in Hoboken should you be looking for artisanal, Neapolitan style pizza within an earshot of an NJ path train.
Overall Score: Vanilla Sky