By Bill Woolley
As a newcomer to the area and a supporter of the Lake Hopatcong Foundation, I was eager to enlist in the current Pizza Wars fundraising effort. Motivated by a strong sense of fairness and a deep desire to become an informed voter (and maybe a mild mozzarella addiction), I set out to sample slices from all 10 participating pizzerias over the course of one week.
Tuesday, January 17
Day Two took me up the east side of Lake Hopatcong for a lunch stop at Frank’s and Pizza & Restaurant and Vinny & Son Pizza & Restaurant, less than two miles apart in Lake Hopatcong. Coincidentally, both places have been in their current locations for 14 years.
Situated on busy Route 15, Frank’s shows no sign of suffering by standing in the shadow of some golden arches. Shortly after I placed my order, a line of six formed at the counter to place orders. Six!
There were at least a dozen pies on display, all of which looked appealing and were available in slices. I went for one of the Chicken Francese and one of the Frank’s Special, which was described to me as including “everything,” meaning pepperoni, sausage, onions, peppers and mushrooms. Far be if from me to decline a slice with the owner’s name on it, right?
I’d never heard of Chicken Francese pizza before, but it sounded strangely similar to the name of a guy I listen to on sports radio, so I thought I’d give it a try. The crispy crust was piled with fresh, lemony chicken and I became an instant fan. Both slices were loaded and the crusts held up nicely. One slice, alone, could easily make a meal and my tab was less than seven bucks.
Vinny & Son is located in more of a neighborly locale along Espanong Road, but also has a strong fan base. I was greeted by Vinny’s son, who quickly identified each of the dozen, or so, pies that vied for my attention. Admittedly, I’m the kind of guy who has trouble deciding whether to be black or white for a game of chess, so the choices at both pizzerias I visited, this day, left me nearly paralyzed.
As a Pizza Wars correspondent on the front lines, my goal is to avoid reporting on the same slice twice, so I went for a Cheese Steak & Onion and a White Spinach at Vinny & Son. There was enough spinach on the latter to make Popeye muscle up, and the amount of steak on the other slice wasn’t at all wimpy, either. Sure, I could probably have slipped Olive Oyl into this review, but … more importantly, I got away for less than $6.
Part III – This Means War (Slices Among Siblings)
Participating Pizza Places
|Cambiotti’s Tomato Pie Café||102 Shippenport Rd||Landing|
|Frank’s Pizza||181 Howard Blvd # H||Mt Arlington|
|Frank’s Pizza||50 Hopatchung Rd||Hopatcong|
|Frank’s Pizza||725 NJ-15||Lake Hopatcong|
|Grotto Restaurant||454 River Styx Rd||Hopatcong|
|Joey’s Pizzeria||47 Hopatchung Rd||Hopatcong|
|Knot Just Pizza||49 Lakeside Blvd||Hopatcong|
|Little Nicki’s Italian Restaurant||120 Brady Rd||Lake Hopatcong|
|Sal’s Pizza & Restaurant||175 Lakeside Blvd # 7||Landing|
|Vinnie & Son Restaurant||312 Howard Blvd||Mt Arlington|
|– and –||215 Espanong Rd #312||Mt Arlington|
A HUGE thank you to Hopatcong Lake Regional News and all of the Pizza Wars sponsors!