I found Star on Yelp and tried to convince my friend who lives in South Orange to take us there instead of a place he had in mind that boasted of serving the original Sloppy Joe (is that really a selling point?). But then he read this review:
"The drive from my humble neighborhood just 2 miles away became rapidly distressing, with the number of boarded windows increasing with every block. But we persevered in the name of pizza."
He was a bit apprehensive, especially since his 6 month old was along for the ride. Star Tavern is less than 3 miles from his house, but my husband and I were in the mood for an adventure (I have a perverse love of driving through bad parts of town) and good pizza, so off we went. Entering Orange, we spotted a large billboard in remembrance of a young man who had been recently murdered. We made that the number one item on a list of "Ways you know you're entering the 'hood." However, it was all a let down from there, hood-wise. Other than a few check cashing places we passed it wasn't really hood-like at all, and we didn't see a single boarded-up window.
"Drove through the hood and it's so lame, New Jersey gives hoods a bad name. (Bad name.)"
Star Tavern is basically a large bar with wood paneling that looks like it stepped out the late 70s, possibly wearing platform boots. A woman here was also spotted with a feathered haircut also last seen in the late 70s. Since the whole hood thing didn't pan out, that was the scariest thing we saw in Orange.
The prices here for a 14 inch pizza start at $9 which is pretty unbeatable. We had a plain cheese pizza and a half cheese, half pepperoni. The cheese/sauce ratio was dead on and the sauce was good. The crust was a little thin for my taste so the edge around the pizza was only half a fingernail in width. That's okay, but that crust was usually half charred. We all commented on how the pizzas were universally too oily. Otherwise, the pizza was really good.
We were visiting Star from San Jose where if Star existed we would be back every week. However, it was up against some stiff competition in our pizza tour of New York, where we ate one pizza meal every day. (A trip to New York for us isn't complete without a trip to Lombardi's and Spumoni Gardens. Patsy's was a new addition this trip, but we learned a few years ago never to eat at a place with "John's" in the name.)
My Greater NYC Pizza Rankings:
1) Patsy's, East Harlem
2) Lombardi's, Little Italy
3) L&J's Spumoni Gardens, Bensonhurst (Brooklyn)
4) Grimaldi's, Fulton Landing (Brooklyn)
5) STAR TAVERN, ORANGE (NJ)
6) John's, Greenwich Village
7) John's, Upper East Side
Star Tavern & Pizzeria
400 High St, Orange, NJ