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It's named Federici's Italian Restaurant, but you come here for the pizza. Folks from the Freehold, New Jersey, area have been doing so since 1946, when brothers Dante Federici and Frank "Spat" Federici Jr. returned from WWII and joined their parents in the family business. With their mother, they put pizza on the restaurant's menu, which had been in operation in some form or other since 1921 (first as a billiard parlor that served food, then as a bar with food, then a full-blown restaurant). The place looks like it never really shook the bar vibe and remains a bit of a throwback to the loungey '70s. Not that that's a bad thing. When you walk into a place like this, you hope they haven't done anything to "update" (read "screw up") the pizza in the intervening years.
Landmark Tavern in Livingston, NJ, is the kind of local haunt that looks like it's been around for years—and it has, inhabiting a building that's been standing since 1882. But its bar pies span the gap between the old world and the new, with classically crispy crusts and modern combos of fresh toppings.
On Boston's South Shore, bar pies reign supreme and Town Spa in Stoughton has long been considered one of the keepers of the bar pie flame. But like so many small-town pizzerias with a base of unwavering loyalists, it can be hard to discern whether the value of the place is in their hearts, or in the pies.
The uniquely crisp, crunchy, slightly chewy underbelly of bar-style pizza comes from a two-stage cooking process. The dough is first rolled and stretched onto an oiled pie plate from which all but the back lip has been cut off. During this stage, the bottom of the pizza begins to fry a bit, the oil working itself up into the crumb.