Author Topic: Star Tavern NJ memories from former employee  (Read 7571 times)

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Offline waltertore

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Star Tavern NJ memories from former employee
« on: January 21, 2014, 07:15:10 AM »
Hi All:  I remembered yesterday my youngest brothers best friend worked at Star for a bit. His family owned Bunny's bar in South Orange.  They made a good bar pie.  I remember it was $2 when I going there.  It was only a few blocks from our  house and they let us in to eat at any age and drink when we hit 16.  The Santasiere's bought Bunny's from the Cucciniello's (lived 3 houses from us) and their son Joe worked the pizza and then went to star.  I emailed Joe and here is his response.  This was circa 1985.   I was amazed neither place made their own dough and it was same day dough.   I have no idea if this is still the case for either place.  Joe and his family now live in AZ and I am here in OH. Anyway, not much info here but I thought some of you would appreciate it.  Walter

from Joe Santasiere:

Unfortunately, I can't be of much help in the pizza arena. Both Bunny's and the Star Tavern purchased the pizza dough from the same place and I have no idea who they were and even if they are still in business. The dough is the key to good pizza and that is why those pizza joints had the best. The dough was made daily and they used to bring it to the store fresh, still a little warm. We would then separate the dough in small canisters specific to the size pizza we wanted, large & bar pie. Then we would cover the canisters with wrap and refrigerate until an order came in. We cooked the pizza at 550 degree's. Not much too it, again it was the dough. That's the big secret of Jersey pizza. I do not remember the name of the tomato's or the mozz cheese used. I do remember that both the star tavern and bunny's did not pre-cook the tomato sauce


Offline norma427

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Re: Star Tavern NJ memories from former employee
« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2014, 12:21:19 PM »
Your pies look delicious Walter!  ;D  Did they taste like a Star Tavern pizza?

Norma
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Offline waltertore

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Re: Star Tavern NJ memories from former employee
« Reply #2 on: January 21, 2014, 12:29:41 PM »
Your pies look delicious Walter!  ;D  Did they taste like a Star Tavern pizza?

Norma

Norma: Those are photos of star tavern pies not mine.  I get one that comes close.  I figure I would post the pictures so people that are not familiar with them could see the product and part of the baking process.   Walter

Offline norma427

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Re: Star Tavern NJ memories from former employee
« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2014, 01:38:48 PM »
Norma: Those are photos of star tavern pies not mine.  I get one that comes close.  I figure I would post the pictures so people that are not familiar with them could see the product and part of the baking process.   Walter

Lol Water I should have caught that those were photos of star tavern pies.  That was one of my duh moments.  :-D  I am glad you get one that comes close.  ;)  I have an old pan I would like to cut and experiment some day when I find time to try and make a star tavern pie.  First I have to go to star tavern to see how their pizzas really taste and also watch what they do.

Norma
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Offline waltertore

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Re: Star Tavern NJ memories from former employee
« Reply #4 on: January 21, 2014, 02:35:10 PM »
Norma:  I was going to claim them as mine but I figure somebody would catch it :-D  I think the key to stars crust is the oil on the pan and then the few minute bake with it in the oven before removing it.  They use steel deck ovens and when I do a clone it makes a mess of the stone.  I ate probably 1,000 or more of their slices in my life.  Walter

Offline JConk007

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Re: Star Tavern NJ memories from former employee
« Reply #5 on: January 21, 2014, 02:40:43 PM »
Lack of crumb indicates they use a sheeter or rolling pin to flatten dough skin can he conform that?
John
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Offline waltertore

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Re: Star Tavern NJ memories from former employee
« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2014, 03:15:50 PM »
Lack of crumb indicates they use a sheeter or rolling pin to flatten dough skin can he conform that?
John

I can give you the process. I watched thousands of pies being made. 

dough balls are floured
hand shaped/flattened and then rolled with rolling pin to pan size
pans are oiled
doughs put on oiled pans
sauce, cheese, toppings added
put in oven for about 3 minutes
dough slid off pans and finished
extreme burned edges removed
served
plus women make almost every pie- all in all a total upside down NY/NJ process :)
 
« Last Edit: January 21, 2014, 03:17:37 PM by waltertore »

Offline tommy

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Re: Star Tavern NJ memories from former employee
« Reply #7 on: January 21, 2014, 04:58:54 PM »
In the interest of giving credit where it's due, those photos are from Slice (seriouseats)

http://slice.seriouseats.com/archives/2011/01/star-tavern-best-bar-pizza-orange-nj.html

Offline norma427

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Re: Star Tavern NJ memories from former employee
« Reply #8 on: January 21, 2014, 04:59:31 PM »
Norma:  I was going to claim them as mine but I figure somebody would catch it :-D  I think the key to stars crust is the oil on the pan and then the few minute bake with it in the oven before removing it.  They use steel deck ovens and when I do a clone it makes a mess of the stone.  I ate probably 1,000 or more of their slices in my life.  Walter

Walter,

I know some day I will make an attempt at a Star Tavern pizza if I live long enough.  Thanks for telling me you think the key to Star's crust is the oil on the pan.  That also looks like a very thin pizza.  I have read of Adam Kuban's quest to make an authentic Star Tavern pizza.  Sorry to hear about the mess on your stone when you make a clone.  I love the photos!

Norma
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Offline waltertore

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Re: Star Tavern NJ memories from former employee
« Reply #9 on: January 21, 2014, 05:08:22 PM »
Walter,

I know some day I will make an attempt at a Star Tavern pizza if I live long enough.  Thanks for telling me you think the key to Star's crust is the oil on the pan.  That also looks like a very thin pizza.  I have read of Adam Kuban's quest to make an authentic Star Tavern pizza.  Sorry to hear about the mess on your stone when you make a clone.  I love the photos!

Norma

Norma:  Adam and I email back and forth about star tavern pies.  I originally sent my friends memories to him and then figured some people here woud like to hear it.  Yes you roll the dough out thin, the same thickness I do for a stromboli basically.  Give it a shot some time.  The oil on the bottom of the pie and the spill over of ingredients/sauce on the stone blackens it for a couple days like if you get a torn skin on the deck.  The oil adds that texture/taste that you get when you cook the dough in it.  Adam's pie will blow away star.  His dough will have much more flavor because  he cold ferments it and his sauce, cheese, toppings, will be top shelf.  Star is your typical NJ good pie made with average ingredients- kind of a tradition so to speak but todays smaller volume pizza makers are raising the bar big time with using such good stuff.  That is why I will always stay low volume like yourself- you get to make a really good pie and can control the entire process.  Walter
« Last Edit: January 21, 2014, 05:11:00 PM by waltertore »


Offline norma427

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Re: Star Tavern NJ memories from former employee
« Reply #10 on: January 21, 2014, 05:45:19 PM »
Norma:  Adam and I email back and forth about star tavern pies.  I originally sent my friends memories to him and then figured some people here woud like to hear it.  Yes you roll the dough out thin, the same thickness I do for a stromboli basically.  Give it a shot some time.  The oil on the bottom of the pie and the spill over of ingredients/sauce on the stone blackens it for a couple days like if you get a torn skin on the deck.  The oil adds that texture/taste that you get when you cook the dough in it.  Adam's pie will blow away star.  His dough will have much more flavor because  he cold ferments it and his sauce, cheese, toppings, will be top shelf.  Star is your typical NJ good pie made with average ingredients- kind of a tradition so to speak but todays smaller volume pizza makers are raising the bar big time with using such good stuff.  That is why I will always stay low volume like yourself- you get to make a really good pie and can control the entire process.  Walter

Walter,

I will try an attempt on a Star Tavern pie sometime.  I need to cut my old pan first and that probably won't be until the weather gets warmer.  Does Adam or you have a special formulation to use for the dough and what kind of flour, or flours do you both use?  I have a blackened stone that won't get clean from reheating slices so that might work in my favor.  I can understand why Adam's Star Tavvern pie would be better.  Also do you know what kind of cheese Star Tavern uses?

Thanks!

Norma 
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Re: Star Tavern NJ memories from former employee
« Reply #11 on: January 21, 2014, 06:06:42 PM »
I can give you the process. I watched thousands of pies being made. 

dough balls are floured
hand shaped/flattened and then rolled with rolling pin to pan size
pans are oiled
doughs put on oiled pans
sauce, cheese, toppings added
put in oven for about 3 minutes
dough slid off pans and finished
extreme burned edges removed
served
plus women make almost every pie- all in all a total upside down NY/NJ process :)
Walter,
The crust gets some frying going on in just 3min. on that cut away pan at just 550 degrees?  Do they pre heat those pans(I'd guess not/difficult transfer)?  I'm trying this tonight... do you think it will work in my dark anodized cutter pan...interior is not chared black like Star's pan though.
Thanks Walter! :chef:

Bob
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Offline waltertore

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Re: Star Tavern NJ memories from former employee
« Reply #12 on: January 21, 2014, 06:10:04 PM »
Walter,

I will try an attempt on a Star Tavern pie sometime.  I need to cut my old pan first and that probably won't be until the weather gets warmer.  Does Adam or you have a special formulation to use for the dough and what kind of flour, or flours do you both use?  I have a blackened stone that won't get clean from reheating slices so that might work in my favor.  I can understand why Adam's Star Tavvern pie would be better.  Also do you know what kind of cheese Star Tavern uses?

Thanks!

Norma


Norma:  There is much debate as to whether star uses semolina flour in their dough or not.  My friend Joe who worked there said the dough was made off site(as in my original post) and delivered daily in bulk still warm.   His family owned/ran Bunny's Bar in South Orange (where I lived).  He worked there for years and a short time at Star making pizzas at both places. Bunny's is about 2 miles from Star and he said they both got their dough from the same place.   I couldn't say for sure if there is semolina in it or not.  My gut says if they do it is not much and that oil on the pan really changes the taste from what you get with a traditionally wood peel launced NY style pie.   

Both Star and Bunny's have very small kitchens.  In all my times watching at star all I saw was people getting dough boxes with balls inside.  I never saw a mixer in the kitchen which makes me wonder if they still have their dough made elsewhere of maybe they do it themselves now in a space you can't see or somewhere else.  The mystery surrounding NY/NJ pizza making is really something- right up there with the guarded coke and pepsi formulas!

I have no idea what kind of cheese they use but would say it is straight mozz.  The sauce is similar to yours in that it is smooth sauce with no tomato lumps in it and doesn't jump out with any extreme sweetness or herbs.  I don't know Adams dough formula.  I know he is curious about if they use semolina or not.  You should email him.  When I do a star pie I use our regular dough.  You are more of a cloner/scientist than me.  Next time I am in NJ I will buy a cheese pie on our way out and drop it off for you.  Walter

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Re: Star Tavern NJ memories from former employee
« Reply #13 on: January 21, 2014, 06:16:46 PM »
Walter,
The crust gets some frying going on in just 3min. on that cut away pan at just 550 degrees?  Do they pre heat those pans(I'd guess not/difficult transfer)?  I'm trying this tonight... do you think it will work in my dark anodized cutter pan...interior is not chared black like Star's pan though.
Thanks Walter! :chef:

Bob

Bob: They may stay on the pan for 4 or 5 minutes.  To be honest I have watched them make pies for decades and what happens to me when I get in a pizzeria that arouses my interest I just drift into the process.  No thoughts and timing takes a lot of thought.  I hve gone into places with specific goals like timing a pie, trying to see the temp dial, etc,  but once I get in the door, smell the smells, I am like a kid on the merry go round and off I go.............  I am not a math guy.  I am the other side of the brain so take what I say with times/measurements, temps, and all math stuff very lightly.  I don't mean to mislead but to be honest I am forever slightly tinkering with my dough, sauce, cheese, and never measure or write it down in relation to the base formula.  so things come out slightly different oftentimes.   Sometimes it is good and I wish I did write it down :)  Walter
« Last Edit: January 21, 2014, 06:18:29 PM by waltertore »

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Re: Star Tavern NJ memories from former employee
« Reply #14 on: January 21, 2014, 06:25:00 PM »
Bob: They may stay on the pan for 4 or 5 minutes.  To be honest I have watched them make pies for decades and what happens to me when I get in a pizzeria that arouses my interest I just drift into the process.  No thoughts and timing takes a lot of thought.  I hve gone into places with specific goals like timing a pie, trying to see the temp dial, etc,  but once I get in the door, smell the smells, I am like a kid on the merry go round and off I go.............  I am not a math guy.  I am the other side of the brain so take what I say with times/measurements, temps, and all math stuff very lightly.  I don't mean to mislead but to be honest I am forever slightly tinkering with my dough, sauce, cheese, and never measure or write it down in relation to the base formula.  so things come out slightly different oftentimes.  Sometimes it is good and I wish I did write it down :)  Walter
Fair enough...I hope that happens to me tonight.  :)
I'll post 'er up a lil later.

Bob
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Offline dmckean44

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Re: Star Tavern NJ memories from former employee
« Reply #15 on: January 21, 2014, 07:36:12 PM »
Besides being uncooked, what else can you say about sauce? Is it your basic NY tomatoes, salt and basil or is it more seasoned than that?

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Re: Star Tavern NJ memories from former employee
« Reply #16 on: January 21, 2014, 08:02:18 PM »

Norma:  There is much debate as to whether star uses semolina flour in their dough or not.  My friend Joe who worked there said the dough was made off site(as in my original post) and delivered daily in bulk still warm.   His family owned/ran Bunny's Bar in South Orange (where I lived).  He worked there for years and a short time at Star making pizzas at both places. Bunny's is about 2 miles from Star and he said they both got their dough from the same place.   I couldn't say for sure if there is semolina in it or not.  My gut says if they do it is not much and that oil on the pan really changes the taste from what you get with a traditionally wood peel launced NY style pie.   

Both Star and Bunny's have very small kitchens.  In all my times watching at star all I saw was people getting dough boxes with balls inside.  I never saw a mixer in the kitchen which makes me wonder if they still have their dough made elsewhere of maybe they do it themselves now in a space you can't see or somewhere else.  The mystery surrounding NY/NJ pizza making is really something- right up there with the guarded coke and pepsi formulas!

I have no idea what kind of cheese they use but would say it is straight mozz.  The sauce is similar to yours in that it is smooth sauce with no tomato lumps in it and doesn't jump out with any extreme sweetness or herbs.  I don't know Adams dough formula.  I know he is curious about if they use semolina or not.  You should email him.  When I do a star pie I use our regular dough.  You are more of a cloner/scientist than me.  Next time I am in NJ I will buy a cheese pie on our way out and drop it off for you.  Walter

Walter,

Thanks for telling me more.  It seem like they would not mix their dough if you never saw a mixer in the kitchen.  I know there are many mysteries about NY/NJ pizzas.  I am friends with Adam on facebook so I will send him a message to see if he can give me anymore tips. 

I am not really a cloner or a scientist but I do like to try and make different pizzas. 

Thanks so much for saying you would purchase me a Star cheese and drop it off to me.  Maybe I can get to Star Tavern in the meantime.

These are the pans that I am thinking of cutting one.  They are 12.

Norma
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Offline waltertore

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Re: Star Tavern NJ memories from former employee
« Reply #17 on: January 21, 2014, 08:51:37 PM »
Besides being uncooked, what else can you say about sauce? Is it your basic NY tomatoes, salt and basil or is it more seasoned than that?

It is a very simple sauce with not any spice jumping out. 

Offline waltertore

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Re: Star Tavern NJ memories from former employee
« Reply #18 on: January 21, 2014, 08:58:05 PM »
Norma:  those pans look right.    Cut off about 3/4 of the rim and you are done.  Until you cut the pans try it with them as is and cook the entire pie in the pan with a good dose of oil in it. Make the crust slightly smaller than the size of the pan and sauce/top to the edge of the dough. That way it will run over and carmalize.  Use your regular dough, sauce, cheese, and see the difference the oil and pan makes on the taste/texture of the crust.  You could also cook it in the pan till the dough gets fairly stiff and then get a spatua under it, tilt it/slide it out and finish on the stone. I am sure you know about that effect from all your ventures into different styles.  Walter
« Last Edit: January 21, 2014, 09:02:14 PM by waltertore »

Offline norma427

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Re: Star Tavern NJ memories from former employee
« Reply #19 on: January 21, 2014, 09:10:51 PM »
Norma:  those pans look right.    Cut off about 3/4 of the rim and you are done.  Until you cut the pans try it with them as is and cook the entire pie in the pan with a good dose of oil in it. Make the crust slightly smaller than the size of the pan and sauce/top to the edge of the dough. That way it will run over and carmalize.  Use your regular dough, sauce, cheese, and see the difference the oil and pan makes on the taste/texture of the crust.  You could also cook it in the pan till the dough gets fairly stiff and then get a spatua under it, tilt it/slide it out and finish on the stone. I am sure you know about that effect from all your ventures into different styles.  Walter

Walter,

I am not sure if the pans are right because I don't think they are steel.  I think they are aluminum that have just been used many times.  I will see what I can do with trying to make an attempt.  I do have a steel round Blackbuster pan at market but I hate to cut it up at all because it was fairly expensive.

My dough in a pan gets fairly puffy so I will see if I can try a different formulation.

Thanks for the tips.  ;)

Norma
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