Every so often a kosher restaurant will be mentioned as great even compared to non-kosher competition. This is often regarded as the highest of compliments because kashrut comes with a number of restrictions, whereas a non-kosher restaurant has an unending list of options to accomplish whatever it is it chooses to serve its customers.
That’s why it’s noteworthy that Zevy’s Pizza in Fair Lawn won the Fair Lawn Award Bureau’s award for Best Pizza Restaurant of 2022.
“I am very honored to receive this award,” said owner Zev Rocklin. “I’m excited to continue providing the community with great food for years to come.”
What makes it even more impressive is that, in the non-kosher world, Fair Lawn is known for its pizza. In fact, one of the places Zevy’s was up against is over 60 years old.
“Fair Lawn could be the pizza capital of New Jersey, without question,” Fair Lawn Councilwoman Gail Rottenstrich told NorthJersey.com in 2020. And if you think that’s just some run-of-the-mill local political braggadocio, you might be wrong if you check the math.
Earlier this year, Hoboken received a lot of online buzz as the potential pizza capital of the state. The city has two dozen pizzerias jammed into less than two square miles. And while that is almost certainly the area that’s most densely populated with pizza places, it isn’t quite the most pizza shops per capita.
Hoboken checks in at one pizza joint for every 2,445 residents. That’s almost twice as many per person as the state average of one per 4,644—but it’s not quite enough to best Fair Lawn’s average of one pizza parlor for every 2,344 Fair Lawnians.
The state of New Jersey really likes pizza. So much so that there are more than 2,000 pizza places in the state. That might explain why in 2020, New Jersey declared itself the “Pizza Capital of the World” in a tweet from the state government’s official account.
So what makes Zevy’s Pizza better than the other 14 places in town?
“It’s the ingredients,” said Rocklin. “We try to use the best and freshest ingredients possible.”
The high quality ingredients take center stage in his two most popular deluxe pies. The Grandma Pie is a square pie with a fresh mozzarella and plum tomato sauce base, topped with fresh basil and parmesan, while the Drunken Grandma Pie substitutes vodka sauce for plum tomato sauce.
Even the more basic topping slices are shown some extra love. Two popular toppings are fried onions and roasted mushrooms, each of which takes an extra step (frying the onions, roasting the mushrooms) that some other places don’t take the time to do. Zevy’s goes the extra mile.
If you want to get pizza from Zevy’s on a Saturday night, you might want to call in advance. And earlier in the evening might not be early enough. Rocklin had to deal with so many orders on Saturday nights that he started taking orders on Friday afternoons and assigning people slots in five minute increments. After the word got out, lines of up to three hours would sometimes stack up before the night had even begun.
People come from all over New Jersey, Rockland County, and sometimes even New York City, in order to try the offerings at Zevy’s. Many of these pilgrimages are spurred on by word of mouth (word in the kosher community travels fast), while others are prompted by the restaurant’s strong social media presence.
Why such a focus on social media? Because even though Zevy’s regular menu is popular enough to drive traffic, they’ve also been known to get creative in the kitchen. That means that on any given day you might see them trying out something new and posting a picture on its Facebook or Instagram (@ZevysPizza).
Sometimes those new inventions make their way to the permanent menu, like the new Potato Pie (seasoned potatoes, fried onions, drizzles of homemade ranch and Russian dressings), while others like the Flag Pie (square pie with cheese on bottom, diagonal stripes of plum tomato sauce, vodka, and pesto sauces on top) may only be available if you’re lucky.
So, if Zevy’s Pizza is the best pizza in Fair Lawn, which is mathematically the pizza capital of New Jersey, which is the self-declared pizza capital of the world…does that make Zevy’s Pizza the best pizza in the world?
Maybe. You’ll just have to make your way over there right now and decide for yourself.
Though perhaps you might want to call first.
Thursday: 11a.m.-7:30 p.m.
Friday: 11 a.m.-1:45 p.m.
Saturday: 1 hour after
10-16 River Road,Fair Lawn,
RCBC (Rabbinical Council
of Bergen County)
Nati Burnside is a freelance writer living in Fair Lawn and is a man of many interests. He can be reached at [email protected]