Pizza. We've covered it extensively on the blog for sure: whether it be Neapolitan or American, thick crust or thin, delivery or done at home. But one genre of pizza I'm pretty sure we haven't covered: the bar pie. What makes a bar pie a bar pie? I'm not quite sure exactly, but I'm sure you could reasonably create your own list of plausible criteria. I suppose a good entry qualification for a bar pie is for it to be served in a, well, bar. It also seems typical that your average bar pie is thin crust, and its diameter is typically less than your stereotypical pizza.
Nonetheless, if there is one rule when it comes to making pizza, it is that there are essentially no rules - other than that it be awesome prior to receiving JohnandElana praise. Quality pizza can take many shapes, forms and sizes - there need not be one "right" way it is furnished or fantasized over. And, in light of the foregoing, I'd be simply inattentive towards my duties of both a citizen of the Garden State and a lover of pizza if I did not disclose the addictive awesomeness that resides within Star Tavern, in Orange New Jersey.
Admittedly, Star is situated within a neighborhood which seems to have seen better days. The preceding blocks to Star feature houses with wildly overgrown lawns and boarded windows. In fact, the first time I went (which was actually only a couple of years ago) there were security cameras in the parking lot of Star, the contents of which were being broadcasted throughout the restaurant so that one could, potentially, simultaneously keep an eye on their car while they got drunk. Comforting, isn't it?
But, on this day, I'm not here to drink or watch my car get stolen, nor are the majority of people who frequent Star Tavern (In fact, Star seems to have done away with the surveillance cameras since visiting last time). I'm here on a very focused lunch time mission for a Star Tavern bar pie.
The Tavern itself is a dark, well air conditioned bar with dull tiled floors and a drop ceiling like that found in your back in the day, basement sleepover party. Modern fixtures are lacking, although it does indeed boast a few well places plasma TV's. There are seemingly a few hundred neon signs, classic rock played at a moderate blare, and a generous offering of booths, tables and bar seats. Off in the near distance, I overhear a bunch of old men arguing over their favorite bowling alley. Meanwhile, my waitress/bartender rocks a hairdo and accent which offers a striking resemblance to what I would imagine a Bon Jovi groupie looked like back in the day (or what one still looks like today).
I put in my order: fountain soda coke and a plain bar pie. Indeed, the fountain soda has a semi-funky, fruity presence throughout, but I am thankfully distracted of its mediocrity by the arrival of my bar pie - a glistening masterpiece of semi burnt cheese, sauce and bread served a tin tray. All mine. Just beautiful.
The pie itself has nice "character" - it does not uniformly offer precisely the same consistency throughout. As you can see from the picture above, some portions of the pie are a tad more charred than others. Yet for the most part, the pie is on the well-done side - although it is able to achieve some remarkable traits of coexistence: it is stiff, yet foldable. Crunchy, yet moist.
The entire pizza has an almost sugary sweet taste to it. The cheese is generously applied, without it being excessively stretchy or shifty, with certain portions bubbling up towards an almost creme-brulee type snap. It is perfectly salted, with a noticeable, not overdone olive oil presence throughout. The crust however, is the pie's finest asset. Check this out:
It is so good, I find myself employing my semi-oiled fingers as magnets to pick up remaining blackened portions of it. As for the sauce, there is not a whole lot of it swimming about, but there is indeed a sweet tasting, tomato presence throughout the entire pie which adds to its impressive resume. It is, overall, a wonderful pie, with a tastefully charred crust not too dissimilar from that of the quality and texture of an Artichoke or DiFara slice - seriously, I just said that.
To be expected, the bathrooms were nothing fancy - a tight, cozy space where you can get in, wash your hands, and get out.
Overall, making the mildly treacherous trip to Orange for a Star Tavern Bar Pie is well worth it. At $4.75 per, and an up to date car insurance policy, it could just be the greatest pizza eating investment on the planet.
Overall experience - The Big Lebowski