September 22, 2023
September 22, 2023

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Sugo Artisanal Pizza and Pasta House: Delicious!

A 27-year-old with no formal training opening his own artisanal restaurant would be impressive on its own, but Gideon Fentin is no regular guy. What he lacks in formal training, he makes up for in experience. After all, he’s already been a restaurant owner for almost one third of his life.

At the age of 19, he opened Giddy’s Pizza in East Brunswick. Eight years later, Giddy’s is considered one of the best kosher pizza shops in the state. With his namesake doing well, Fentin had the ability to focus on opening another restaurant, and the growing communities around Lakewood made sense as a target for the more elevated establishment he was looking to create.

Much of the menu at Sugo Artisanal Pizza and Pasta House consists of items for which the recipes were developed from scratch by Fentin himself by trial and error over the last few years. Fentin’s famous unparalleled mastery of creating bafflingly realistic substitutions for meat using raw textured vegetable protein is on display at Sugo, along with brand-new recipes that kosher patrons might want to go out of their way to try.

When I was invited to see what Sugo had to offer, I first noticed the sleek and casually elegant look of the place. Like the menu, the ambiance is a blend of classic with some modern touches. A great example of this is their selection of artisanal pizzas.

All of the Neapolitan style personal pies are made with 00 flour. For those who are unfamiliar, “double zero” is a type of Italian flour that is ground until it is the finest powder possible. This allows dough to be rolled very thin without tearing and it leads to an amazing texture of the perfect combination of chewy and crispy when baked.

If you’re looking for a very popular artisanal pizza choice, try their Truffle Mushroom pie. This white pie is made with two types of mushrooms and has the slightest sprinkling of truffle oil. Whereas your typical pizza might be too oily for some already, this pizza doesn’t come off as oily even after the truffle oil is added.

More adventurous? Then I’d suggest ordering The Cookout. Sitting atop the fresh garlic, caramelized onions, and mozzarella cheese is one of Giddy’s staples… fake BBQ chicken bites. A drizzle of BBQ sauce is added to the equation to make a truly unique bite. It’s a combination of textures and flavors that you won’t be able to find anywhere else.

Perhaps pasta is the real reason you walked in the door. If that’s the case, my recommendation is the Fonduta Bucatini. A rich parmesan-based sauce with black pepper coats the hollow spaghetti, but the twist that makes the dish interesting is the lemon zest and pistachio crumble. The lemon is immediately present, yet not overpowering, and the pistachios add color and a contrasting texture that is very complimentary.

The menu also sports a fair number of fish options, the highlight of which is the Branzino Filet. Served spanning its side dishes, the filet is crispy on the bottom and flaky on the top. However, it’s the whole plate that makes this one of my favorite pieces of fish ever. First, there are mashed potatoes that are creamy enough that you’ll instantly be sure you’re in a dairy establishment. Second, the sauteed mushrooms add a nice earthy flavor to balance the plate. And finally, the sauce is a thin garlic lemon that is delightfully strong and flavorful. If you can get all the elements on your fork at the same time, you’ll be amazed at the total package they’ve created with this plate.

You probably won’t go to Sugo looking for meat, but you might order the Patty Melt and be amazed that you are abiding by the laws of kashrut. An Impossible Burger on house bread with caramelized onions and cheddar cheese, this BBQ “burger” is the best of its kind that I’ve ever had. Everything comes together to make this a true accomplishment in the realm of imitation cheeseburgers. (The sandwich also comes with a monstrous pile of their crispy hand-cut french fries.)

When it comes to dessert, you won’t be disappointed by the Ciambella Sugo. Who can resist some fried “Oreos” with vanilla ice cream, chocolate syrup and whipped cream? This new American classic lives up to its reputation as being a scrumptious end to a great meal.

One other thing that you should know is that Sugo has some things that other kosher places just don’t. For instance, they aren’t afraid to serve up dishes with some real heat. Both The Spicy (a pizza made with blue cheese and Buffalo “chicken” bites) and the Spicy Arrabbiata (rotini pasta with plum tomato sauce and hot peppers) are not for the faint of heart. To settle your taste buds, you might want to take advantage of Sugo being one of the few kosher restaurants able to make milkshakes in house.

With this kind of variety, Sugo has something for everyone. And if his first restaurant is any indication, Fentin will make this place a true destination.

Sugo Artisanal Pizza and Pasta House

Dairy – Waiter Service

Sunday – Wednesday: 12 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Thursday: 12pm – 10pm

one hour after Shabbat – 12 a.m.


2360 Lakewood Road

Toms River, NJ 08755

Chelkas Hakashrus of Zichron Yaakov

Nati Burnside is a freelance writer living in Fair Lawn and is a man of many interests. He can be reached at [email protected].

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