Update: Biagio's Facebook Page notes that they are closed.
There's a whole lot going on in Red Bank. Steakhouses, Vietnamese, shopping, lots of parking, wine shops a record store with actual records. Who knew?
A t:e reader recently asked for some Red Bank recs, which led me to some googling, which led me to the realization that there's a restaurant making Neapolitan-style pizza. Biagio. It went on the list immediately.
But on to the pizza.
I ordered a Margherita, which is the barometer by which all pizza places should be measured. It didn't disappoint.
The pie didn't have the wet, soupy consistency that I prefer in Neapolitan pizza. You can pick up a slice and give it the old fold treatment, and it will stand at attention. This will probably make the average person happy, but for me, I don't mind the floppy Neapolitan pizzas.
Sauce, EVOO, and cheese were used sparingly, as they should be. However, I would have preferred a bit more cheese. There were spots where there was no cheese, and since this version is a somewhat dry take on Neapolitan, there wasn't any of that cheesy/saucy mix that can normally help uniformly spread that milky flavor around the whole pie. The sauce had a nice acidic note, and the pizza was seasoned nicely. Too little salt on a simple, straight-forward, pure pizza like this can lead to a bland product.
Basil was applied both before and after cooking. I don't think I've seen this approach. It should certainly be applied before cooking, so those oils and aromas permeate the pizza. A couple of fresh leaves on the cooked pie doesn't hurt, I suppose.
The pie came out of the wood-burning oven in an impressive 90 seconds. Right up there with Ridgewood's A Mano. There was some nice oven spring (the process by which the puffy crust forms), and the undercarriage was nicely charred. The crust was tender and chewy. Overall this pizza was cooked well.
I generally don't mention service in any sort of negative way if I've only visited a place once, but I am compelled to note that while there were specials, I was not informed of them until I inquired. This is a pet peeve of mine, right up there will not presenting a customer will all of the available menus (bar, booze, cocktails, wine, etc.). Really annoying. Please fix this, Biagio.
Seating is largely communal, and you can indeed sit at the bar, which is preferable even when there's no booze being served.
Overall Biagio is a pleasant place, with friendly service, and some good ol' rock and roll on the sound system. Biagio is certainly worth a looksee, and Red Bank is no doubt worth a visit.