Best Pizza of The Caldwells Contest: Cedar Grill

Heavy on the cheese, but overall a solid pie.

Cedar Grill and Pizza opened a couple of years ago, and quickly amassed some name recognition as a "go-to" place. Everyone seems to know of them, with many also calling their pizza a favorite.

Adding to the variety of businesses in The Caldwells that offer similar items, the interior is simple. There's not much to look at except the guys making pies by the oven. There are about 4 or 5 tables, where customers can eat their slices or calzones, presumably for lunch.

The best way to describe the inside of Cedar Grill (295 Bloomfield Ave., Caldwell) is to say it's like many New York City pizzerias, only with better parking. Here, if you're not lucky enough to get a spot in front on Bloomfield Avenue, there are plenty of spaces in the municipal lot in the back.

Cedar Grill offers the usual time-tested array of pizzeria menu items, including hot sandwiches, calzones and recent spinoff items like "white" pizza (ricotta and mozzarella, "baked to perfection").

Living up to its name, Cedar Grill and Pizza offers a lineup of no less than 10 hamburgers (the actual No. 10 is an interesting "Texas Burger") along with wraps, including cheese steak (there are a whole bunch of different kinds of those on the menu, too) and chicken caesar.

The business separates itself from the pizza pack with one surprising item: gyros, available in beef or lamb, which appear to be a steady seller (they are the sole item pictured—and even framed—in the seating area).

In addition to these items, there are numerous daily specials, including the "salad of the day." There are even giveaways at times. 

Though it may appear to be simple, the Cedar Grill has a lot to offer for many tastes; there's something for everyone in the office or house. If you can't decide, just wing it—there are buffalo wings on the menu, too.

And, don't forget to pick up an actual menu—there are about a half-dozen coupons inside.

But what about their basic plain pizza? We the judges of the Caldwells Patch Best Pizza of The Caldwells contest recently met there to find out.

This round's panel consisted of editor Mike Pignataro, contributor Ron Albanese and two special guest judges: West Caldwell resident Doug Rouse and his 7-year-old daughter Bailey


Mike: This was a good all-around pie. It's the old-reliable kind you can pick up any night of the week and it will pretty much taste the same each time.

I really enjoyed the crust, which stood out most to me. Many places like to say "cooked to perfection," but this one really was!

The cheese was good. It stayed with your slice as you took each bite, but there was perhaps a bit too much. It was thick and dominated the pie so much that it was difficult to taste the sauce, which at least appeared to be sparingly spread around the pie.

I liked this pizza, but it lacked the flavor and gourmet feeling Nicco's had last week. But if you're inviting some company over and need to order a few pies, you can't go wrong here.

Ron: The pie hit our table piping hot, and while it made waiting the hardest part, it served well in evaluating. This was a good-looking pizza, very photogenic (I know it sounds funny, but see the photo).

The crust and ingredients on each of the eight slices of the 16-inch pie were almost perfectly equal. You know how it is when you dig into a pie, you first search for the slice you want? There was no need for that here.

As for the taste: The crust was great; it was obviously fresh, doughy, but fully cooked—not under, not over—and on a screen. 

There was a significant amount of cheese—not too oily, a little salty, but good. 

The sauce was a little hard to evaluate—there wasn't too much (I'm a sauce nut). A little more would have balanced out the flavor a little bit.

As is, this was a well-prepared, good-tasting basic cheese pizza—with the emphasis on cheese.

Special Guest Judges: Doug and Bailey Rouse

Dad Doug is a Chicago native, and enjoying pizza comes with the territory—he loves this stuff. "We have no good Chicago-type pizza around here," he lamented, and he's right.

In The Caldwells, the West Caldwell resident likes Forte for its Grandma's pie (the sauce is Chi-Town like, and sauce is most important to him) in addition to the new Tony D's. This was his first time to Cedar Grill and Pizza.

Bailey is definitely Doug's daughter, as the second-grader readily confirmed a love of pizza with a big grin. She too can name some of her favorite pizzerias  in town.

Both judges came hungry and ready to go.

Doug: Mr. Rouse liked the pizza saying, "I could be finding a new pizza place here." He too felt the pie was "a little light on the sauce," but declared the crust and cheese "great." 

Overall: "[This is] perfect for pick-up or stopping by for a quick family dinner."

Bailey: She was tentative at first, pulling off cheese and eating it—"I like the cheese!" Dad reminded her of the reviewing task at hand, and she dug in. 

She liked the crust, calling it "good and crunchy." Again, the cheese was what grabbed her: "that was my favorite part!"

What are your impressions of the plain cheese pizza at Cedar Grill and Pizza?

Cedar Grill and Pizza

Address: 295 Bloomfield Ave.

Phone: 973-403-7787

Cheese pizza price: $12

Tasted on: Thursday, March 18, 2010

Evaluating update: When we first announced this contest, we compiled what we thought was a complete list of pizza places in The Caldwells.

However, we overlooked Domino's Pizza in Caldwell. Have no fear, it's now on the list. One of us got caught in a timewarp, and was thinking of the original Domino's in West Caldwell, that closed sometime in the '90s. 

We've since been struck with the appearance of another new pizzeria: Papa John's (at the corner of Central and Bloomfield avenues). It appears to be just about ready to fully open, and as we work our way along Bloomfield Avenue and other streets, it should be up and running by the time we get there.

By the way, has anyone ever noticed that pizzerias in The Caldwells are overwhelmingly on the west side of Bloomfield Avenue?

If you would like to be a guest judge, please let us know or post your experiences at each pizzeria below. After visiting Forte, Calandra's, Nicco's and Cedar Grill and Pizza, The Caldwells Patch continues along Bloomfield Avenue next week with a stop at Pizza and Sandwich Barn.


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