WALDWICK, N.J. — A thin-crusted bar pie made with fresh, quality ingredients sets Waldwick’s Nellie’s Place apart from your average pizzeria, fans say.
The family-owned restaurant established by Irish immigrants Joe and Nellie Roche of Woodcliff Lake -- now managed by their children, Karen Schultz and Chris Roche -- was selected as a top finalist in Daily Voice's DVlicious Best Pizza in Bergen competition.
How does an Irish pub and family restaurant become considered one of Bergen County’s best pizzerias?
It begins 45 years ago, when Nellie Roche took a job as a waitress in Stasny’s Restaurant on Franklin Turnpike. The Roche family bought the place In 1983 and changed the name in 1989.
They also "changed the menu and selections — everything but the decor,” Schultz told Daily Voice.
Twenty-five or so years ago the now-famous bar pie was added after a former manager of Kinchley’s Tavern — a rival in the DVlicious contest — brought his talents to Nellie’s.
“It isn’t exactly the same,” Schultz said. “It may have started out as similar, but our recipe has evolved.”
The "secret" is in the cheese, says her brother, who oversees the kitchen.
“Ours is a white pie,” Roche explained. “It has to do with the age and quality of the cheese. I’m very particular about the cheese and all the ingredients. Everything is fresh, nothing canned.”
“The pizza here is excellent,” said Ellen Reen of Ridgewood, who's been dining at Nellie’s with her sisters for years. “The crust is so light. They use just the right amount of olive oil.”
“I think it’s the cheese,” said her sister, Mary Hawken of Wanaque. “It's a better quality cheese than you get with most pizza — not overly salty. It's just right.
“It’s all very fresh,” she added. “You can really taste the ingredients — not chemicals or preservatives — just fresh, real food.”
The family remodeled the bar and front area in 2013, creating an authentic Irish feel. The back room is being remodeled.
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