Curiosity got the best of me. I sorta knew that Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza wasn't producing the type of pizza that I'm interested in, but something about a sunny 68 degree day and hearing about a bar that opens to the outside motivated me to give it a shot.
You will likely be greeted by a full restaurant. Filled with families, anti-social loners like me, and groups of young professionals from the surrounding offices. To say it was doing a brisk business at 12:15 on a Thursday would be an understatement. The place was really jumpin'.
For good reason. I got the sense the place is run well and managed well. A very welcoming restaurant.
I was greeted at the door, both on the way in and out. There are several TVs all around the dining room, which has a view into the pizza-making kitchen. The restaurant is cheerful and comfortable. Music was on the sound system, at just the right volume. The classic rock selections seemingly from a page out of a WNEW playlist from the early 80s. A large communal table in the bar area separates the dining room from the rowdies, and some outside tables--along with half the bar seating actually being outside--make for some interesting seating options. Certainly this is a family-friendly restaurant, but with just enough sophistication and stimulation to maintain a crowd of couples and groups of friends.
A relatively decent collection of craft beers is listed on the blackboard, complete with provenance and ABV. The latter being quite an important piece of information, given many brews these days are upwards of 9% ABV and beyond. You gotta know what you're getting into if you're not familiar with the beer. Scattered among the interesting beers are a couple of mass-produced duds. Just ignore them.
Even the list of wines-by-the-glass surpassed my admittedly low expectations. Much more than the 4-flavors-of-Chardonnay that you see too often. And, they have a split of Prosecco. Which is nice.
The cocktail list, however, fell squarely into the post-college flavored-vodka vortex of despair. Dreadful from top to bottom, but sure to appeal to many.
The lunch menu is by most any standard reasonably priced, with personal sized pizzas starting at about 8 bucks. The lunch menu has a small order of their famous wings for about the same price (actually, 6 bucks I now see in the picture above). I figured I'd start with the wings, since I've read that they are notable. They are.
The wings are served with a mound of caramelized onions and some bread of some sort. The bread is certainly pointless, unless you're putting the onions on it, I suppose. The onions, too, seem pointless, although they certainly added a sweet element to the otherwise straight-forward wings. The wings here are roasted, with some salt, rosemary, presumably some pepper, and that's about it. No hot sauce or blue cheese or other distractions. And ya know what? The people who say they are good are right. Hot, steamy, moist, crisp, morsels of skin and fat and chicken with a bit of bitter char, they are perfect beer drinking food. Elevated pub grub. And executed very well.
But that pizza. Oh, dear.
The pizza is basically just as I expected. Dry, lifeless, unexceptional crust, whose only redeeming quality could be the bits of char. But even that char isn't enough to convince you to eat the crust. The "bones" of this pie should certainly be left on the plate. Contrasted to Neapolitan-style pizza, where people who appreciate good crust use it to sop up the olive oil and sauce from their plate.
The tomato sauce tastes as if it's applied uncooked (good) and relatively unadorned. There was an element of sweetness, beyond the sweetness of a good canned tomato. The cheese was gooey (good, in this case), and the sausage was crumbled (good) and had some nice notes of fennel, IIRC. And there was salt. Yes, indeed.
As with the wings, this is pretty good beer drinking pizza. A thin-crust bar pie. Similar to the style of Kinchley's and the Star Tavern, but with better ingredients. This pizza is not designed for contemplation, but, rather, for mass appeal.
Anthony's on a whole is designed for mass appeal, and it hits the appropriate marks. And ya, I think it's a concept that will work quite well in this Fair Lawn location. I don't think I'll be going back. Although, some wings, beers, and that outdoor bar seating is a pretty damned tempting combination.
Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza : 16-31 Route 208 North (in the Fair Lawn Promenade) : 201.796.2625