FANWOOD, NJ — Harry Houdini had the rare ability to make the impossible seem effortless and became the greatest magician of all-time. The new Houdini Pizza on South Avenue in Fanwood shares this level of commitment and a remarkable flavor for life with the illusionist.
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," said 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."
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 and 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 Tiramisu (translation: pick-me-up), the classic coffee-flavored Italian dessert.
The eatery opened with a soft launch several months ago, 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.
Houdini Pizza Laboratory
25 South Avenue
Fanwood, NJ 07023
Tuesday - Saturday: 11 a.m.- 10 p.m.
Sunday: noon – 9p.m.