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.
Wednesday, Jan. 18
On day three of my Pizza Wars coverage, I found myself embroiled in the Battle of Hopatchung Road, a skirmish that has pitted siblings against each other. OK, maybe I’m getting a little carried away with the war theme of this friendly fundraiser for the Lake Hopatcong Foundation. What I discovered, simply, was that Joey’s Pizzeria, at 47 Hopatchung, and Frank’s Pizzeria, right across the street at 50, have a very clear family tie.
While checking out the selection of slices at Joey’s, I met Irma and her husband Mario, who have been in their current location for 13 years and named their place after one of their sons. I chose the Buffalo Chicken and the Eggplant Focaccia and chatted happily with Irma while the slices were warming up in the oven. She and Mario are both natives of Calabria, Italy, but met in Brooklyn. They eventually decided to tie the garlic knot and settle down in a pizzeria of their own, first opening in Parsippany 35 years ago.
After leaving Joey’s, I drove all the way across the street to Frank’s and was greeted very warmly by Maria who, with her husband Frank, had served pizza in the same spot now occupied by Joey’s before moving to their current location in 2001.
Need a scorecard yet? Imagine my surprise when I asked Maria where she was from and she said Calabria, Italy. It turns out that she and Mario are siblings, adding a fascinating family twist to these Pizza Wars.
But enough of the back story. Frank’s offered a dizzying array of slices, several of them unique, at least in my pizza-eating experience. I had a slice of the Chicken Fajita pizza and one of the Chicken Caesar pizza, both of which were taste-bud ticklers and represented $7.80 well spent.
Back at Joey’s, the Buffalo Chicken slice was blanketed with bite-sized bits of spicy chicken that would have made another native Italian–Teressa Bellissimo, inventor of Buffalo wings–proud. Still, it was the Eggplant Focaccia slice that grabbed most of my attention. Again, I was happy to shell out $7 and change for those two slices.
Throughout history, civil wars have always pitted family members against each other in mortal combat. The stakes aren’t quite that high in this friendly sibling rivalry on Hopatchung Road, but it’s beginning to look like Pizza Wars may be the death of my New Year’s weight-loss resolution.
Part IV This Means War (Give Pizza a Chance)
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!