There are certain food pairings that seem born for one another. Alone they are delicious, but together their unique flavor profiles meld together to create the perfect, well balanced bite. These classic combinations include staples like peanut butter and jelly, tomato soup and grilled cheese, and of course pizza and beer. Put a unique twist on them and you’ve arrived somewhere between childhood and heaven.
So, being an avid connoisseur of all things “updated classic,” I was elated to be invited to a media dinner at Anthony’s Coal Fire Pizza to sample two of my favorite things; artisan pizza and craft beer. I was even happier to learn that the beer for the evening was going to be provided by one of my favorite breweries, Jersey’s own Flying Fish Brewing Company. Talk about having your cake and eating it too. Naturally, my anticipation was building like a kid waiting for Christmas.
When I arrived at Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza in Edison I was met with a warm and inviting interior and friendly service. The space was well decorated with a modern feel; sort of Italian restaurant meets sports bar. If Al Capone and Joe DiMaggio opened a pizza place it would probably look something like Anthony’s. Aside from the décor, one of the first things I noticed was the atmosphere. I was greeted by smiling faces welcoming me to the restaurant. The staff really made an effort to make you feel like family; definitely a great way to start the evening.
The meal began with a fresh salad of mozzarella and tomatoes, a treat for an Italian girl like me. It was paired with Flying Fish Farmhouse Summer Ale; a slightly bitter beer that had a little zip. The mozzarella was rich and creamy with just a hint of salt, while the ale had a crisp bright taste that cut through the fattiness of the cheese. It almost acted like balsamic vinegar that is traditionally served on the dish. When tomato was thrown in the mix it gave it a little bit of sweetness creating a sinfully succulent bite that made my inner Italian belt out Sinatra with joy.
After a surprise salad course, they brought out Anthony’s signature coal fired wings and ribs paired with an IPA. I know right, coal fired ribs, not something you find at a pizza place every day. Nonetheless, both the wings and the ribs were surprisingly delightful. They were definitely far from your run of the mill pizza place fare; you know wings that are sloppily fried and then smothered in hot sauce and dry ribs covered in sugary sauce. The juicy chicken had a subtle smoky flavor; sporting a tasty mix of blackened seasoning. The ribs had a rosemary note that when paired with the juicy pork and citrus of the beer created a taste sensation good enough to make you believe pigs really can fly.
They threw a curveball in the menu with a meatball course, and then served the pie-za de resistance. The sauce, which any Italian will tell you is the foundation of every good pizza, had a zesty but sweet flavor. You could really taste the tomato, a refreshing change from the over-seasoned sugary sauce you find on a lot of pizza. The crust, which can often be burnt or mushy, was light and flaky with just the right amount of char on the outside. The cheese was fresh and slightly salty; providing the gooey richness we all love about pizza without the grease we all hate. I was already enjoying the pizza, but when paired with the Flying Fish ESP; I was floating on cloud ten. The sugar in the sauce really pulled out the sweet caramel undertones of the beer. Holy deliciousness batman; what a dynamic duo!
The meal ended with Cheesecake served with you guessed it, beer. You’re probably thinking “ok that’s a new one;” I know I was. However, I was quickly corrected. The beer, a Belgian style called Abbey Doubel, had a rich spicy dark fruit flavor that when paired with the cheesecake tasted just like a cherry cheesecake. It was so good I ate my entire cheesecake, a pretty impressive feat considering I had already put away five courses. Needless to say I left the restaurant at the end of the night incredibly full and satisfied. I will be returning to Anthony’s soon with an empty stomach and expandable pants.
Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza
80 Parsonage Road
Edison, NJ, 08873 -(732) 744-1500
Disclosure: Food and beverages were provided to all media dinner attendees free of charge. All opinions and ideas for this post are my own. No reviews or mentions are ever promised in exchange for invitations to media events.
Christine Van Arsdalen is a born and raised Jersey Girl; native to central and Costal NJ. As the author of the blog the Dexterous Diner, Christine chronicles her efforts as she indulges her foodie side on her very small budget which she likes to call “champagne dining on a beer budget”. She grew up being yelled at by an old Italian woman in the kitchen who was surprisingly not her mother. Her love of food grew from a combination of cooking in a restaurant and fond memories of creating scrumptious meals from scratch with her father. Today she travels around the state of New Jersey and beyond searching for new twists on her old favorites; foods that bring you back to your childhood in a modern and sophisticated way. She loves unexpected and creative combinations, both in the food she eats and cooks. Though her palate has become more refined, she is still excited by a grilled cheese sandwich; that, and a great cup of coffee.