The strip mall at 1776 Teasley Lane in Denton has hosted a carousel of pizzerias over the past decade. The unassuming storefront, tucked in between a pet clinic and Vitty's Sports Bar, has been a Zini's, Preppy's, Double Daves, Mr. Gatti's, Olive Branch Pizza and Wings, and most recently Si's Pizza. But word around Little D is that Jonuzi's, the newest pizzeria in suite 103, specializes in legitimate "Jersey-style pizza." Having never lived in a pizza city, I feel no deep sense of kinship toward a particular style of pizza, despite having strong opinions about certain aspects of pizza (NO! FORKS!). Who knew Jersey-style pizza was a thing? When we asked owner Ron Januzi how New Jersey-style pizza differs from New York's, he said "not much." To be fair, he seemed pretty focused on making pizza that day.
A little Internet searching for the difference between New York- and New Jersey-style pizza yielded an appropriately over-the-top origin story. Over 100 years ago, Gennaro Lombardi opened a pizza shop in Brooklyn with fellow Naples native Antonio "Totonno" Pero and thus, commercial American pizza as we know it was born. Pizza in Naples was wood-fired, served one pie per person, and was only crispy on the crust. The inside was thin and floppy, consumed most often with a fork and knife. Lombardi's used coal ovens, so his pizzas were larger and crispier than their true Neapolitan counterparts. Neapolitan-American-style pizza was served sliced and fed more than a single person. Coal cooks fast, and at very high temperature, so they were heavy on the sauce and light on the fresh mozzarella with a lot of peekaboo sauce bits in between. The move to gas ovens in the mid-20th century meant a change from fresh mozzarella to shredded, low-moisture mozzarella because of the decrease in temperature and increase in cooking times. New York-style pizza is much cheesier, but still thin and with a bit of snap to the crust, though it lacks the distinctive soot mark on the underside from the coal ovens. The 18-inch pies are typically cut into eight pieces and sold by the slice, and the only way to eat a slice that big is to fold it in half and hope you're not wearing your best pants.
True to their heritage, the slices at Jonuzi's are big — like, real big. So big they're served across two paper plates. You definitely have to fold them to eat them, and to eat two in one sitting may be excessive. You can also order an entire pie off the gourmet pizza list or design one of your own. Jonuzi's favorite is the pizza al pesto. It was loaded with fresh toppings, which got a little wet in the center of the pizza, but didn't affect the flavor at all. Because this is Texas, the most popular pizzas on the menu are the Supreme and the Meat Lover. Another solid contender: The Philly Style Pizza, topped with steak, onions and green peppers.
Jonuzi's opened in late January. Jonuzi is originally from Atlantic City and the dough and sauce recipes he uses have been in his family for 40 years, he says. He's not a man of many words, but he knows his pizza. When asked why he chose Denton, he said he found an ad for the current space on Craiglist and thought he'd "give it a shot." When he learned his pizza joint has good reviews online, he said it might have something to do with the dough. "Dough's the hard part," he says. "You have to know how to make it, and some people say it has something to do with the water."
Wherever you stand on the crust debate, Jonuzi's is worth a try. They deliver around the Denton area, so switch it up the next time you think about ordering from a chain. As an added bonus, Jonuzi also makes a mean connoli.
Jonuzi's Pizza, 1776 Teasley Lane, Denton, 940-565-0000
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