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CraftyLady
05-29-2007, 04:38 PM
Does anyone remember the Leaning Tower of Pizza? It was an Italian restaurant that used to be in Green Brook on Route 22 on the westbound side. When my brother and I were young, my parents would take us their for dinner sometimes.

They tore it down many years ago to build something else although I can't remember what. I think they showed a picture of it in one of the Chevy Chase Vacation Movies or something like that.

Jersey Warren
05-30-2007, 02:16 PM
Does anyone remember the Leaning Tower of Pizza? It was an Italian restaurant that used to be in Green Brook on Route 22 on the westbound side. When my brother and I were young, my parents would take us their for dinner sometimes.

They tore it down many years ago to build something else although I can't remember what. I think they showed a picture of it in one of the Chevy Chase Vacation Movies or something like that.

There were actually two restaurants in New Jersey called the Tower of Pizza (though the restaurants had models of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy on their roofs, "Leaning" was not part of the restaurants' names.) There was the one in Greenbrook that you mentioned (which I never went to) and another one on Route 17 in Ramsey. They were owned by two brothers named Manna. My grandfather was a friend of the two Manna brothers when they lived in Jersey City before World War II. My family moved to Upper Saddle River (near the Ramsey Tower of Pizza) in 1958 and in 1959 I happened to be in the same sixth grade class as Mike Manna, whose father (also named Mike) ran the Ramsey restaurant. The elder Mike's brother (my friend's uncle) ran the Greenbrook restaurant.

In 1963, I talked a group of classmates (including young Mike, my classmate) into going on a 50-mile hike, and we thought about walking from one Tower of Pizza to the other. (We even came up with a slogan, "Tower to Tower in 17 hours") However, Mike's father (of the Ramsey Tower) thought that would look like a promotional gimmick for the restaurants and suggested we, instead, walk northwards to Newburgh, New York, which we wound up doing (in 13 hours, 45 minutes).

Mike's nickname was "Pizza" in grammar school, for obvious reasons.

Mike went to Boston College and Boston College Law School. He worked summers at the Ramsey Tower of Pizza and his Dad told him: "Don't worry, if you don't finish college, you always have a job here." He said that was a great incentive to finish law school! Young Mike is now a lawyer in Ridgewood and has a home in Franklin Lakes worth over a million dollars. His father died some years back.

Back in the late 1960s, the elder Mike went into partnership with a man named Settinari who owned the Roman frozen Italian food company, and they tore down the Ramsey Tower of Pizza and built a fancier restaurant called The Tower (which had been the nickname for the old restaurant) on the same location. However, the new restaurant never found its market and soon failed.

The Manna family originally came from Calabria, Italy, and their pizza was classic, Southern Italian style. A large cheese pizza in the 1960s with 8 slices cost just $1.50! Though it was not the best pizza in New Jersey, it was certainly better than what I've encountered outside of the Northeast over the years.

There used to be a similar restaurant (with a model of the Leaning Tower of Pizza on the roof) on Route One near Saugus or Danvers, Massachusetts years ago that was owned by the Prince Spaghetti company. However, it had no connection to the restaurants owned by the Manna brothers.

Interestingly, the menus on the placemats at the Tower of Pizza, circa 1959, used to note the phonetic spellng of pizza on the menu "Pizza (Peet-zah)" so that non-Italian Americans would know how to pronounce it correctly! Pizza has certainly come a long way in popularity in America in 48 years! However, I cannot say that the quality of pizza has improved with its popularity. I suspect too many grandsons of Italian immigrants who actually knew how to make pizza the way it was created in Italy are now lawyers, like my old classmate, Mike. And too many chain pizza places are run by people whose ancestors came from Sweden, Moldavia, or Kurdistan!:lmao:

JerseyDevil
05-31-2007, 05:23 PM
That was really interesting. I love a GOOD pizza and yes, New Jersey has the best there is. The only time you gte good pizza outside the northeast is from transplants. We found a pizza place in Indianapolis Indiana for instance which was really good, and of course the reason it was was because the owner was an Italian from Brooklyn. Other than that you would would have to suffer with the fast food crap that passes for pizza. There is a reason why such places can offer two pies for $9.95!! Chain pizza versus real New Jersey style pizza is like night and day.

Roadbldr '59
06-06-2007, 12:46 AM
That was really interesting. I love a GOOD pizza and yes, New Jersey has the best there is. The only time you gte good pizza outside the northeast is from transplants. We found a pizza place in Indianapolis Indiana for instance which was really good, and of course the reason it was was because the owner was an Italian from Brooklyn. Other than that you would would have to suffer with the fast food crap that passes for pizza. There is a reason why such places can offer two pies for $9.95!! Chain pizza versus real New Jersey style pizza is like night and day.

How true. When I lived in Los Angeles many years ago there was a small chain with like 3 or 4 outlets called "LaMonica's New York Pizza". The decor was like an old Manhattan subway station from back in the day, before they started to resemble shopping malls... white tile, blue station signs, painted route stripes, and all. Anyway, LaMonica's tasted exactly like New Jersey/New York style pizza... it had that intangible something that makes pizza from the Northeast unique. One day I asked one of the bakers how they were able to do it. His response: Mr. LaMonica imports all of his pizza dough from Brooklyn!

Apparently there really is something in the water back home.

Jersey Warren
06-06-2007, 07:04 AM
How true. When I lived in Los Angeles many years ago there was a small chain with like 3 or 4 outlets called "LaMonica's New York Pizza". The decor was like an old Manhattan subway station from back in the day, before they started to resemble shopping malls... white tile, blue station signs, painted route stripes, and all. Anyway, LaMonica's tasted exactly like New Jersey/New York style pizza... it had that intangible something that makes pizza from the Northeast unique. One day I asked one of the bakers how they were able to do it. His response: Mr. LaMonica imports all of his pizza dough from Brooklyn!

Apparently there really is something in the water back home.

I've heard that it's the water that makes hard rolls (aka "Kaiser rolls") taste the way they do. I used to buy a dozen hard rolls on every trip to New Jersey and bring them back to Massachusetts, where their version (known as Bulkie rolls) didn't quite make the grade. Sometimes I would bring back a crumb cake, too.

I had a similar experience on my first trip to Dallas. I went into a place called Joe's Pizza & Pasta, that had a neon sign in the window reading "NY Pizza," with much skepticism. But, much to my surprise, it was good. When I mentioned to the cashier that it tasted like the real thing, the cook came out of the kitchen (where he had overheard me) with a big grin on his face. He pulled out a New York drivers license with a Bronx address!

JerseyDevil
06-06-2007, 11:36 AM
Apparently there really is something in the water back home.
Actually it has more to do with the flour and less to do with the water it seems. I had asked Sansone Brothers about their pizza and why it had a good crunch to it - like a good New Jersey style pizza should, while other pizza places their crust was limp. In addition to the temperature of the oven, a certain kind of flour is required, which is more expensive than the tradition "All Purpose". He said the crustiness of the crust is really determined by the type of flour. Maybe Jersey Warren can ask his friend, although it doesn't seem like he was much interested in the pizza business. :)

BTW - Water does play a factor in many bakery items. Hard versus soft water causes the dough to react differently. I'm not a baker so that's basically as much as I know.

NJPRIDE
06-13-2007, 07:57 PM
I lived in Green Brook for 30 years before moving to the highlands of Morris county. My friends and I used to go to the Leaning Tower of Pizza to celebrate birthdays. Jackie O also used to go there when in the area, although I never saw her there. The building is still there with no more tower and it is now called Shogun.

131 Dukes St.
06-27-2007, 10:18 AM
Do any of you know what a pizza sandwich is or that just a certian part of jersey where I grew up at.

Jersey Warren
06-27-2007, 11:03 AM
Do any of you know what a pizza sandwich is or that just a certain part of jersey where I grew up at.

I grew up in Bergen County and lived there from 1948-1970 and never heard of a pizza sandwich. I also spent quite a bit of time in Jersey City, where my father's side of the family were all Italian-Americans.

All of the pizzerias in those days were run by Italian immigrants.

The only sandwiches sold in pizzerias were what we called hero sandwiches, also called subs and hoagies in other parts of the state.

On visits back to New Jersey in later years, I saw signs for Strombolis, especially in the shore area. I asume the name came from the island of Stromboli, a volcanic island near Sicily.

But I never encountered a pizza sandwich. Maybe it was a regional thing. Or maybe it was someone's way of describing a calzone.

JerseyDevil
06-27-2007, 04:46 PM
I also never heard of a pizza sandwich, but when I read your post I thought of Calzone. Now a lot of New Jerseyans, like my mother used to do, fold the pizza. For some reason I never liked doing that because I don't like sandwiches. I'm mot exactly sure as a child why I thought folding the pizza made any difference in the taste, but it seemed to.

Were all the ingredients in the pizza sandwich enclosed within the dough?

BTW - Sansone Brothers in Franklin Township used to make deep fried calzones. They were incredible. Sadly because they would go through oil a lot faster - they would ruin the oil because of leakage - they stopped making them. But I still have a craving for deep fried calzone with pepperoni. Mouth-watering good!