Sunday, March 27, 2011

Emma's Brick Oven Pizza

Some restaurants are emotionally evocative. A type that evokes emotion on the broadest possible scale is the pizzeria. I have seen people cry in focus groups when describing what a pizzeria meant to them. With so much potential at stake, getting it right yields big rewards. Like satisfaction for owners who see happy faces in the dining room.

Emma's in downtown Cranford, NJ is an up to date pizzeria. It makes no effort to replicate the old days, or the old country. It is not a carrying place with tables. And if they deliver, they have the courtesy to keep it quiet. The decor is simple and communal, like any pizzeria. Like any up to dat one, they use a wood burning hearth oven, and have to good taste to design it well and feature it as the focus of the whole restaurant.

But how about the food? My perusal of the menu could not get past the first item, a Margherita. Emma's is made with fresh buffalo mozzarella, crushed San Marzano tomatoes, ( the world's best due to the soils fertilized by volcanic ash), and a thin crust. Thin between New York and Napoli.  We ordered a "personal" size- good choice for two.

The pie was so good, I burned my mouth on it! Part of the joy of great pizza right from the oven- something no delivery can replicate. Nor can delivery replicate the delicate crisp of a thin crust.

We also had a bowl of white bean and escarole soup, one of the best soups I have had in a restaurant. Real care and love.we left happily stuffed. All this for a sawbuck, including tip.

Emma's dining room is always full of families enjoying each other over a pie. That is what a pizzeria is.

Local pizzerias make me happy. Searching for one makes me frustrated. Discovering one makes me triumphant.

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