When you’re headed to the beach for a vacation, you’re expecting a lot of things – you can’t wait to feel the warm sand under your feet and to dive into the water. You’re dreaming of salty boardwalk fries and ice cream and other treats.
But there’s one more element to the perfect beach trip, and if you aren’t looking forward to it already, you should be. And that’s boardwalk pizza.
If your beach destination is Ocean City, NJ, then you’re in luck. It’s no secret that OCNJ has some of the best restaurants on any beach – and pizza shops are no exception.
Maybe you’re already a pro at hunting down the best pizza in OCNJ. But in case you’ve missed a few, we’ve compiled a list of the best places to get pizza in OCNJ. Some of them are not only the best pizza shops in OCNJ, but they’re also the best restaurants there as well, serving everything from pizza and sandwiches to subs and pasta.
In no particular order, here are the best pizza places in OCNJ.
1. Manco & Manco – 8th, 9th, 12th Streets and Boardwalk
When it comes to pizza, experience counts. If a pizza shop has been around for over 60 years and is still successful, that’s a powerful statement. That’s the case with Manco & Manco, which has been family owned and operated since 1956. They’re an OCNJ tradition, with many loyal customers who would never dream of getting their boardwalk pizza anywhere else.
They’ve got three locations on the boardwalk as well as a fourth location in Ocean Heights Shopping Center that’s open all year long. They also deliver to anywhere in Ocean City for free, easily making them one of the most convenient places on this list.
Manco & Manco’s is not only convenient and classic, but they’re known for their thin and crispy slices of pizza, and for pairing with Pennsylvania Dutch Birch Beer.
They only accept cash though, so be prepared. The menu at their boardwalk locations is also fairly small, being limited almost exclusively to pizza and beverages. Their most popular styles are their plain and their white pizzas.
If you’re visiting their year round location Manco & Manco Too, the menu has a little more variety, offering things like wings, chicken and appetizers. At this location, the Ricotta & Garlic, the Buffalo Chicken and the Hawaiian pizzas are all crowd favorites.
2. Piccini – 1270 West Avenue
If you’re looking for pizza that’s a little more gourmet that Manco’s traditional boardwalk pizza, give Piccini’s a try. They have one location on the corner of 13th and West, and they’re open all year round.
Piccini boasts more of a restaurant experience, with indoor and outdoor seating and a wider menu that includes pasta, chicken, sandwiches and seafood. Even with the other options, they’re still best known for their wood fired brick oven pizza.
Don’t feel like going out? Piccini also delivers. Having a party? They also cater. No matter how you want to enjoy Piccini’s pizza, there’s an option for you. The prices are affordable, and the portions are huge. Like Manco’s, they only accept cash, so be sure you’re prepared.
Piccini’s is always packed in the summer. Give yourself plenty of time or plan your trip around peak dinner hour. Seating inside might be crowded, but there’s plenty of outdoor seating to accommodate you and all of your friends and family.
3. Bennie’s Bread – 1159 Asbury Avenue
This is another Ocean City pizza shop that’s had a long history of success, all the way back to 1957. The story of the shop is fascinating in its own right. The shop itself has taken various forms and changed hands multiple times. Most notably, it was recently rebuilt and restyled after Hurricane Sandy swept through in 2012.
Bennie’s is best known for their famous “tomato pie.” They bake true Neapolitan pizzas in a wood-fired brick oven in a variety of styles and with a broad range of toppings. Their menu also includes sandwiches, soups and salads.
They aren’t just a pizzeria and restaurant, however. They’re also an Italian market, and they bake and sell famously delicious bread and rolls that they then use on the sandwiches in the restaurant. Their bakery menu also includes cakes, pies and other pastries, and the market sells a wide selection of meats and cheese imported from Italy. They also sell a line of homemade sauces.
Whether you’re looking for a pizza restaurant, an authentic Italian market, or just a fascinating piece of OCNJ history, you’ll find it at Bennie’s Bread.
4. Preps – 1004 Boardwalk
Preps is another boardwalk pizza shop tradition, open since the 60’s and located near 10th Street. They don’t deliver, but perhaps they make up for that in one significant way. They sell ice cream.
Not only do they sell ice cream in every flavor and color of the rainbow, but they also sell milkshakes, frozen yogurt, brownies, waffles and other sweet treats. Their toppings menu is particularly tempting, featuring everything from fruit like pineapple and strawberries to sauces like hot fudge and marshmallow and everything in between like sprinkles, gummy bears and cookie dough.
On top of that, they still sell pizza. Their specialty is called the “red pie,” which is a pizza made and served with no cheese. They serve a wide range of pizzas and toppings as well as a delicious assortment of sandwiches, salads and sodas.
Their prices are extremely reasonable, and they also offer large portions. The dining atmosphere is a casual, old-fashioned diner feel that’s perfect for a group of friends or a family and kids. Preps is a great spot to hang out and get dinner or to drop by later in the evening to get some sweet treats for dessert.
They also sell an assortment of fun Preps gear, like t-shirts and hoodies with the Preps logo on them, in case you’re a longtime customer and want to rep your favorite pizza shop.
5. Express Pizza – 719 Battersea Road
This place is a North End/Gardens favorite spot. They’re not located on the boardwalk, which allows them to stay open all year round. They are an eat-in restaurant, but they also offer fast delivery to anywhere on the island, and they offer the takeout option as well.
Their pizza, which has been around since the 1980s, is known for its thick crust and its sweet sauce. Customers can choose from Neapolitan, New York or Sicilian pizza, and their menu doesn’t stop with pizza, either. They also serve burgers, wings, subs and sandwiches, including their specialty Express Steak Sandwiches.
One of their most notable claims is that they’re the best-priced pizza in town, which makes them a popular and affordable destination for your pizza needs all year long. They’re also family owned and operated which gives them a cozy, non-commercialized atmosphere.
6. Angelo’s – 1328 Boardwalk
Angelo’s is another boardwalk pizza shop located near the OCNJ Fishing Pier at 14th Street. They don’t deliver, but they do offer a sit-down restaurant with waiter service, as well as a take-out option.
They serve a classic New York-style pizza with a wide range of available toppings. Their menu also includes the standard varieties of Italian style dishes such as pasta, subs and chicken.
The restaurant has a casual atmosphere, fast service and plenty of indoor seating which makes them ideal for taking the whole family or going with a large group of friends.
7. Ventura’s Greenhouse – 106 S. Benson Avenue (Margate)
Looking for an adventure off the island? Why not visit Ventura’s Greenhouse! They have a lot of fun offerings that set them apart from other entries on this list.
Ventura’s Greenhouse has a tiki bar that’s open during the summer months, as well as a heated rooftop bar that’s also open during the summer. They have regular seating in their café, and their Ocean View Dining Room. This lets customers have the option of choosing their dining experience.
Regarding their menu, their pizza is best known for its sweet crust, and they’re also known for their delicious white pizza and pizza with long hots. They also serve a variety of other foods and offer an extensive drink menu as well.
One of the best things about Ventura’s Greenhouse? They offer free pizza in the Café, Monday through Friday from 3-6pm.
8. Bocca Coal-Fired Pizza – 7805 Ventnor Avenue (Margate)
One of the newer entries on this list, Bocca is located in Margate City on Ventnor Ave and has only been open for a few years. Like, Ventura’s Greenhouse, customers can choose from multiple different dining experiences. There’s a casual pizzeria, a formal dining room and a bar and lounge area.
Bocca’s specialty is their coal-fired pizza. The rest of the food at Bocca’s is cooked in the same huge coal-fired oven as well, giving all the food a crisp, charred crust and a distinct flavor. Their menu is also much wider than a lot of other pizza shops on this list, featuring items such as scallops, crab and ribs. They also have an extensive drinks menu.
They also offer catering, making them even more versatile, and Bocca’s is also home to fun events as open mic nights and live music.
And there you have it. With this list as your guide, you’ll have no trouble tracking down the best pizza in OCNJ. Whether you’re just looking to grab a quick snack on the boardwalk, a casual place to sit down with a group of friends or a more sophisticated bar atmosphere, there’s something on this list for everyone.
To help you get the most out of your pizza shop adventures on your beach trip, we’ve also included a couple of our favorite tips.
- Make sure you plan when you’re visiting a pizza shop. Most of them are popular destinations among beach-goers and are always packed with crowds during peak meal hours. If you’re looking to avoid the crowds, you might want to eat a little before or a little after dinner time.
- Remember to carry cash. A lot of boardwalk restaurants only accept cash, so be sure to plan and carry a few bills instead of your credit card. Some places do accept a card, though, so be sure to check before you go to make sure you know what to expect.
- Don’t be afraid to go off the beaten path. Everyone goes to the places on the boardwalk, because they’re the most convenient, but some of the places on this list are way off the boardwalk and may be less traveled because of it. Be adventurous and give one of these places a try.
- Visit during the off season. Granted, most of the boardwalk shops will be closed, but the off-boardwalk ones will still be open. Not only that, but there will sometimes be a different crowd and atmosphere when they aren’t packed with summer tourists.
- Be daring with the menu. Everyone gets the signature items, and for a good reason – they’re delicious. But let’s be honest, you’ve had it a hundred times. Why not mix it up a little bit? The menus at these pizza shops are full of hidden treasures. Why not try the seafood at Piccini’s or a wild pizza topping at Prep’s? You never know what new favorites you might discover.
Whether you’re planning a beach trip for a week or the whole summer, make it a priority this summer to explore some of these great pizza shops in OCNJ. Find one you love and make it part of your beach traditions, or mix it up and explore them all.