Business & Finance

Houdini Pizza Laboratory in Fanwood Serves Magic on a Plate

Houdini Green Pizza
Houdini's wood-flamed brick oven
Darby Road owner Joe Mortarulo is a partner in Houdini Pizza Lab. Credits: John Mooney
Houdini Pizza Habanera

FANWOOD/SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- Harry Houdini had the rare ability to make the impossible seem effortless and became the greatest magician of all-time. We share this level of commitment and a remarkable flavor for life with Houdini.

The original Houdini Pizza opened in Ridgewood, Queens, not far from Houdini's final resting place. It features a wood-burning brick oven  that produces traditional thin crust pizza. The Lab comes to Fanwood though a partnership between Max Bartoli and Joe Mortarulo, who also owns Darby Road. The two restaurateurs have over 60 years of combined experience in the art of hospitality.

"Our belief is that a sublime meal comes from a delicate balance of preparation, freehanded naturalism, and using the finest ingredients available," says Mortarulo. "Our dishes draw from our Italian heritage, others explore the imagination of what can happen when simple ingredients are combined in unexpected ways. Each recipe is thoughtfully selected to evoke its natural essence and to excite the palette. We are bringing integrity and a process that respects traditions."

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Starters include Caesar Salad, the Rocket Salad (baby arugula, grape tomatoes, beets, sliced apple, apple cider tarragon vinaigrette), and the Cheese Lab (gorgonzola, baby arugula, rum soaked cherries & truffle honey)

Pizza choices range from the classic Margherita (tomato sauce, mozzarella, fresh basil) to the inventive Houdini Green (zucchini, eggplant, shallots, savoy cabbage, goat cheese, mozzarella, tomato sauce)

to the creatively named Stinky Feet (rum aged gorgonzola, Spanish onion, raisins, mozzarella), which smells and tastes better than its name might indicate.

Among the pizza topping choices are: zucchini, eggplant, broccoli rabe, truffle honey, goat cheese, handmade nduja sausage, bufala mozzarella, artichoke hearts, prosciutto san daniele, and Moroccan black olives. If you have room for dessert, Houdini offers Panacotta, a traditional northern Italian dessert of cream custard with berry coulis, and Tira mi Su (translation: pick me up), the classic coffee-flavored Italian dessert.

The eatery opened with a soft launch for several months, but is planning Grand Opening celebration that will feature a ribbon-cutting ceremony in May.

While much of the restaurant operation is classic, Houdini also has a modern touch. Customers can order online and specify the time of pick-up or delivery in advance.

"This system makes it convenient to order at home, at work or on the train so that the food is hot and ready when you want it," Mortarulo explains.

Buon appetito!

Houdini Pizza Laboratory
25 South Avenue
Fanwood, NJ 07023
Call (908) 288-7118
Twitter: @houdinipizzalab

Monday: Closed
Tuesday - Saturday: 11:00 a.m.- 10:00 p.m.
Sunday:  12:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Editor's Note: Houdini Pizza Laboratory is an advertiser of For information about advertising, contact is Plainfield’s free daily paper. Sign up for our daily eNews and follow us on Facebook and twitter @PlainfieldTAP. Download the free TAPinto App for iPhone or Android.

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