GABRIELLE LURIE/SPECIAL TO THE S.F. EXAMINERThe tasty chicken Parmesan sandwich at Jersey is a menu item truly evocative of the eatery’s owners' New Jersey roots.

GABRIELLE LURIE/SPECIAL TO THE S.F. EXAMINERThe tasty chicken Parmesan sandwich at Jersey is a menu item truly evocative of the eatery’s owners' New Jersey roots.

Jersey surprisingly has California influences

Upon learning that the Rosenthal brothers (of Town Hall and Anchor and Hope fame) were opening Jersey, a restaurant dedicated to their home state and specifically its exemplary pizza, I was psyched. Save for Tony's of North Beach, no one in the Bay Area has served a Trenton style pie in which crushed tomatoes are slathered on top of the cheese and crust. To heighten my anticipation, the website's hype promised to “fill the void” of “true East Coast pizza out here.”

So it was a bit of a surprise to pick up Jersey's menu at lunch one day and see it dominated by a plethora of Northern California cuisine-inspired creations. There were ahi tuna confit arancini, marinated beets, and a Dungeness crab salad with Thai chili sauce.

What does any of that have anything to do with New Jersey? And the exposed brick walls and dangling light bulbs? More SOMA than Secaucus.

Due to its “jalapeño fontina mornay” topping, I was hesitant to order the meatball sandwich, but my concerns proved to be unwarranted. A hearty, piquant tomato sauce blanketed four large, well-spiced, almost gamey meatballs and the mornay tasted no different than the straight Parmesan that I was hoping for.

Equally worthy was a chicken Parmesan sandwich featuring a perfectly crisped breast and that same stellar sauce. Both of these beauties were layered onto exemplary rolls that shattered on impact. Close my eyes and I could have been in the Rosenthals’ hometown of Edison.

A bulb of burrata played off of crispy celery hearts brought me right back to San Francisco. It's hard not to like creamy cheese livened by a perky romesco, but this unremarkable dish could have been on any number of menus within a mile radius.

We shared a margherita pizza described as having a “California style” crust. It was gummy and literally flopped down, even though it was sparsely sauced and conservatively dotted with fresh mozzarella and basil.

At dinner, we concentrated on the more traditional Italian items. Considering the aforementioned bravado, the under sauced Trenton pie disappointed as it clearly had spent considerable time under a heat lamp, rendering the cheese gloppy and the crust a bit tough. This was due to us asking our server to slow down. Though the dining room was half-full, we were being rushed through our meal at a frenetic pace and found our pastas piled on top of our appetizers. There was certainly no room for a pizza stand.

One of those pastas, an al dente pappardelle bathed in an earthy guanciale bolognese, was the winner of the night. A snappy squid ink fettuccine with tender cuttlefish lacked the pungency that I typically associate with this dish.

Luckily, our second pizza, the New Yorker, arrived fresh out of the oven loaded with sausage, pepperoni and pancetta. Though the distinctively sour tinged crust couldn't hold up under this glorious meat fest, it didn't matter. Thrilled to finally be eating something that screamed New Jersey, we polished the pie off.

I can’t help but wonder if Jersey’s ownership got frightened by our city’s longest tenured critic’s (rhymes with sour) shadow, and tailored the food more to his sensibilities. And with a new Tony’s open nearby, Jersey doesn’t even have the most “Jersey” style food on its own street.

Jersey

Location: 145 Second St. (at Mission Street), S.F.

Contact: (415) 912-1502, www.jerseysf.com

Hours: 7 to 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday-Friday, 5:30 to 10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 5:30 to 11 p.m. Friday-Saturday

Price range: $6 to $28

Recommended dishes: Chicken Parmesan sandwich ($15), meatball sandwich ($15), papparadelle with guanciale bolognese ($15 appetizer, $22 main), New Yorker pizza ($25)

Credit cards: All major

Reservations: Accepted

FeaturesFood & DrinkFood and WineJerseyNew JerseyRosenthal brothers

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Police seized ghost guns and other firearm manufacturing items while executing a warrant in February (Courtesy SFPD)
Ghost guns linked to rise in SF shootings as numbers jump

San Francisco police are seizing an increasingly alarming number of untraceable firearms,… Continue reading

San Francisco Giants pitcher Gregory Santos (78) makes his major league debut against the Marlins in the 6th inning at Oracle Park on April 22, 2021 in San Francisco, California. (Photography by Chris Victorio | Special to the S.F. Examiner).
Giants post fifth shutout of 2021, all caught by Casali

After going the entirety of 2020 without shutting out an opponent, the… Continue reading

Shock G of Digital Underground performs during the BET Hip Hop Awards '10 at Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center on October 2, 2010, in Atlanta. (Taylor Hill/Getty Images/TNS)
Rapper Shock G of Digital Underground found dead in Tampa

Rapper Shock G, who was famous for the hit single “The Humpty… Continue reading

Students walk around campus near the Cesar Chavez Student Center at San Francisco State University. (Steven Ho/Special to S.F. Examiner)
California’s massive UC and Cal State systems plan to require COVID-19 vaccinations this fall

Nina Agrawal, Teresa Watanabe, Colleen Shalby Los Angeles Times The University of… Continue reading

From left, Esther Gulick, Sylvia McLaughlin and Kay Kerr started launched one of the country’s first environmental movements. (Courtesy Save The Bay)
Sixty years of Saving San Francisco Bay

Pioneering environmental group was started by three ladies on a mission

Most Read