Back in January, I saw that Old 4th Ward Pizza had opened in, you guessed it, the Old 4th Ward, in the Irwin Street Market. They make grandma-style pizza and appear to be the only folks in town making that kind of pizza. By the name, one would guess that it’s pizza like your grandma used to make. My grandma didn’t make pizza. In fact, I don’t think my grandma ever had pizza. But it does remind me of the pizza that we had in elementary school (back in the 70s, before the USDA ruined school lunches). If you’re not familiar with Grandma-style pizza, it is a New Jersey thing – thin crusted, baked in a cast iron rectangular pan and sliced into squares.
We first encountered this pizza on a trip to NYC, when a buddy of mine who lives there recommended this place in the financial district, Adrienne’s Pizza Bar.
Anthony Spina, the owner, made pizza for twenty years in New Jersey before friends convinced him that his pizza was needed in our fair city. I’m glad that they did. They have this fantastic Bakers Pride pizza oven which takes up most of a wall by the Irwin Street entrance to the market. I appreciate the fact that they sell pizza by the slice and I was by myself, I ordered a couple of slices of pepperoni, with their house-made marinara, fresh mozzarella and basil.
The pizza impressed me, first, when I picked it up and it held up by a single corner. It saluted me. Thin crust pizza that does not waver is a magical thing. There is an Italian term “pizza alla casalinga” (housewife-style pizza) which is also used to describe the grandma-style – it is the type of pizza that someone would make for you in their home if you came to visit. That’s this pizza.