Esposito’s Pizza & Pasta
Final Grade: A-
For those of you who know me really well, you know my experience with pizza. For those of you who aren’t as educated in my past culinary adventures, let me quickly enlightened you….About 2 years ago, I was chosen to be part of the NJ Star-Ledger’s Pizza Patrol. The patrol, led by Peter Genovese, traveled the state in search of NJ’s best pizzas. After around 6 months, we completed our task and named winners in various categories. Check out www.nj.com to find out who came out on top. Needless to say, I’ve eaten a lot, and I mean A LOT, of pizza. And although some would expect me to be sick of the cheesy delight, I am far from it! I absolutely love pizza and enjoy it even more than I ever did prior to my “patrolling.” In fact, because I learned so much about the intricacies of pizza-the crust, sauce, cheese, seasonings, baking times, etc., I am always looking to find a great slice and discuss what could make it so good.
That being said, I recently dined at a local pizzeria/pasta establishment that had delicious pizza. Esposito’s Pizza & Pasta in Matawan is the sort of place that, if you weren’t looking for it, you would unfortunately pass it by. Situated by many traffic lights and busy Route 34, it is a small, unassuming eatery that offers eat-in and delivery services. The dining area is cozy and casual, with red and white checkered tablecloths and a glass-cased pizza counter that will definitely be catching your eye. Pizzas go from the oven to boxes and the oven to tables quite frequently, providing an appetizing aroma of pepperoni, sausage, and bubbly mozzarella.
Hubby and I did want we love to do when ordering pizza; order fried calamari ($9.95) to start. Honestly, it is one of our favorite combinations and one that is very hard to come by. Meaning both the calamari and pizza could stand by themselves as the star. Esposito’s conquered the challenge by serving us quality calamari and an outstanding pie.
The calamari quickly joined our table after placing our order. The rings and tentacles were plump, tender and perfectly fried. The coating was just right; making for a crunch yet also being light enough to let the seafood flavor shine. The accompanying marinara was noteworthy as well: piping hot and simmering with chunky tomatoes. With a squeeze of lemon and a dollop of sauce, each bite was ever so satisfying.
As for our pizza selection, we went with the sesame-crusted margherita ($19.50: $14.50 + $3.00 for sesame seeds + $2.00 for ½ sausage). Both being sausage-lovers, we ordered the pie half sausage too. When it arrived at our table, it was a beauty. The fresh mozzarella was glistening and nicely browned, while the fresh basil leaves garnished each slice amidst the vast amount of plum tomatoes. After taking some well-deserved photos, we discovered it tasted better than it looked! The crust maintained a nice crunch in due part to the baking process and sesame seeds spread throughout. The cheese was creamy and mild enough to allow the plum tomatoes and basil to dominate. The sausage was full of fennel and offered a nice balance to the tart sauce. One of the best parts of the pie though was the crust around the edges, well-coated with sesame seeds, each bite was crispy on the outside yet so light and airy on the inside. It was just a great slice from beginning to end!
All in all, Esposito’s was a great casual dining experience. The staff were helpful and courteous, the setting was relaxed and comfortable, the bill was short and inexpensive, and last but certainly not least, the food was excellent.
Esposito’s Pizza & Pasta is can be found at 930 Highway 34, Matawan, NJ 07747.
Total score 21/25
Final Grade: A-
A: 21-25 B: 16-20 C: 11-15 D: 6-10 F: 0-5
Bland, boring, overcooked, underdone
Very little flavor, not much aroma
Flavors apparent, basic ability to please palates
Flavor worth discussing, chef’s use of ingredients impressive
Great flavor, taste lingers and leaves diner wanting more
Inattentive staff, no regard for wait time
Staff average in helpfulness, timing alright, either more/less needed
Staff knowledgeable and attentive to needs without asking, timing very well executed
Remarkable and noteworthy, service so good you forget it is ever an issue elsewhere
Cover it up please
Sloppy and the eater can tell little thought went into it
Descent presentation: looks alright, not worth a picture but enough to make you hungry
Admirable, it is apparent the chef plated with a consideration for presentation
Presentational talents are here. Looks beautiful and too good to dig in
Prices match quality
Prices are too high for quality
Prices are still too high but not outrageously
Some items are priced accordingly but not all
Most items are priced accordingly
All items are matched accordingly
Would I go back?
Not a chance ever
Looking forward to it
What time should I arrive?!?