I’ve been a regular at Vicci’s for a little over a year now—a little too regular. Almost to the point where I had to force myself to not go as often. Why does anyone stop going to a specific eatery? Mediocre food experience? Bad service, which is arguably just as disappointing? Sure, but in this case I was running out of money fast. A reasonable $3.50 for a huge specialty slice and $5 lunch specials do not break the bank, but eating there every single day does. What a way to go broke it would be!
Whenever I’ve gone into one of seemingly a million New Jersey pizza places, you’re bound to see the same routine set up as if it’s a law to be ordinary. The sound of a giant soda fridge motor struggling to get the job done takes over the dimly lit joint. Only one pie’s worth of slices on display, usually only plain and pepperoni left. Otherwise you have to order a whole pizza of what you actually want through the pizza man leaning against the counter dozing off. It is a dispirited routine, like eating for the sake of getting hunger out of the way. Luckily there’s a hidden gem in the Walgreen’s Plaza in Port Monmouth on Route 36 that serves as a breath of fresh air.
At home, with all the effort I put into my own food, I still struggle at times to balance the two most important aspects of any meal: taste and presentation. Vicci’s, without question, rocks the best of both worlds. Endless slices and pies on display from the moment the doors open until the ovens are turned off at the end of a successful night. The ordinary slices are worthwhile, but Vicci’s puts itself on my map with its specialty assortments.
My personal favorite would be the always phenomenal Buffalo Chicken pizza. It has a very wide and lengthy thick crust to fill your core and ensures it won’t get soggy. Slices of mozzarella coat the perfectly constructed base of fresh dough, right before a king sized portion of beautifully seasoned grilled chicken tossed in a unique buffalo sauce come together like a thousand puzzle pieces all over it. It’s topped off with fresh parsley and cooked to perfection with the choice to add ranch. What more could you want? I’ll tell you, just about everything else.
Chicken-bacon-ranch slices are to die for. They are different from your average such slice. Like everything at Vicci’s, there are massive equal portions from the top to bottom of the slice as opposed to spread out with some sort of sauce to fill the empty space. Chicken Francaise slices taste exactly like the homemade dish except on the thick delicious crust mentioned before. There’s Penne vodka, Chicken Caesar, and Taco slices— they’ve got it all.
The only experience that came close to a bummer was when I ordered a buffalo chicken salad. The first time I ordered it, the buffalo chicken was a dream just as it is on the pizza. But I found it a bit off that there were large pieces of celery in it. I did not know that was going to be in there. They were big enough to a point where they still might be able to be dipped. It didn’t exactly ruin it. I ate some but mostly ate around it. So the second time was a no-brainer, I was prepared. I ordered a plain salad with just the buffalo chicken and ranch. Figuring that celery took up half of the dish, this time they would add even more salad to make up for the loss. Unfortunately that was not the case. Only enough salad was put in to cover the tin base of the to-go container. The chicken was hot and while I do appreciate that, it would have been nice if a moment was taken before putting the hot chicken onto the lettuce. It caused steam in the condensed container and slightly ruined the dish. The element that tipped the scale in the negative direction was the amount of buffalo sauce. I might as well have been eating buffalo sauce soup with some lettuce in it. I would contemplate getting the salad again but only if I ate in-house.
With only the pair of average experiences and maximum satisfaction almost every outing, Vicci’s receives 4 out of 5 stars overall. This place gets a very confident recommendation. Stick to those beautiful specialty slices, and you will never have a problem.
Vicci’s Pizza and Restaurant is located at 361 NJ Route 35 in Port Monmouth.
Hunter Dillon is a guest blogger on Eating New Jersey. As a hockey player, he is always on the go, which has served as the inspiration for his “Casual Crusades” column. He has more than four years of restaurant kitchen experience and can cook up the best cheesesteaks outside of Philadelphia.