In a true hit to the pizza universe, legendary Elizabeth pizzeria, Santillo’s Brick Oven Pizza, was heavily damaged by a fire early Saturday morning. The 100-year-old pizzeria has become known for it’s relic of an oven, which contributes heavily to the final product.
Owner and operator Al Santillo has also become a fan favorite for his no-frills attitude and pizzas. Santillo’s pizza tends to be on the well-done side and comes in a variety of styles, specified by era, with the 1967 being his most popular pie. The Sicilian pizza has also been called the best in Jersey by many.
Santillo’s is consistently rated among the best pizzas in NJ and even in the entire country by some. It has received glowing reviews from Dave Portnoy and other well-known pizza aficionados.
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The fire began in the ceiling above Santillo’s according to officials and was reported around 9:30 a.m. The fire was soon controlled, but not before ravaging the building—specifically the interior of Santillo’s Pizza. The custom-built brick oven is irreplaceable and the hope is that if that remains usable, then the rest of the operation can be fixed. Without the oven, though, Santillo’s is a shell of itself.
Elizabeth-born Chef Tom Colicchio took to Instagram to offer support for the beloved pizzeria. Likewise, Portnoy has said that Barstool Sports and himself will offer “whatever Al needs” in the wake of the tragedy.
I’m aware that Al Santilllo’s had a fire this morning. Al is okay thank god. Obviously Barstool will be there for whatever Al needs. pic.twitter.com/5OLrYVZxrU
— Dave Portnoy (@stoolpresidente) January 6, 2024
State Senator Mike Testa (R-Cumberland) has also expressed his support for Santillo’s, stating: “Team Testa will be with David Portnoy and Barstool Sports every step of the way to make sure this iconic NJ institution is fully restored,” in a post on Facebook.
Luckily, no one was hurt in the fire. Pizza fans across the nation hope to see Santillo’s make a full recovery.
About the Author/s
Peter Candia is the Food + Drink Editor at New Jersey Digest. A graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, Peter found a passion for writing midway through school and never looked back. He is a former line cook, server and bartender at top-rated restaurants in the tri-state area. In addition to food, Peter enjoys politics, music, sports and anything New Jersey.