Razza in Jersey City Is Expanding — Here’s What You Need to Know

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If you live in Hudson County and you haven’t heard of Razza, there’s a chance you live under a rock. Hoboken Girl recently spoke with Razza’s director of communications, Stephanie Rizzolo, about what it’s like to be an insider at one of the greatest pizza places in the country, on what’s to come for Razza’s expansion, and on the team behind-the-scenes that makes pizza magic happen.

The New York Times once posed the question ”Is New York’s Best Pizza in New Jersey?” and you guessed it – they were talking about Razza. Just this year, Razza was named the fourth-best pizza place in the country The Daily Meal

A Q+A with Razza’s Communications Director

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Stephanie is a native New Jerseyan, an alumnus of Rutgers University, and a former Knicks City Dancer turned hospitality professional. Aside from heading up marketing and communications for Razza, Stephanie is also the co-founder of a travel company called SETTE {with her twin sister!} and a contributing writer for La Cucina Italiana USA. When she isn’t taking photos of mouthwatering dishes or fielding media questions on behalf of Razza, Stephanie loves to cook, practice yoga, teach my Dance HIIT class and play the ukulele.

Now on to the delicious part of this article — working at Razza. Stephanie is sharing all the {literally} juicy details.

Hoboken Girl: First things first! What’s it like being the communications director for one of the most well-known, d pizza restaurants in all of NJ? 

Stephanie Rizzolo: It’s one of the most dynamic, fun, and fulfilling roles I’ve ever taken on. For starters, I get to be a part of a team of incredibly kind and hard-working people, which is invaluable to me. 

HG: What does your role entail? What’s your day like?

SR: My role here has grown and evolved organically {due in part to COVID}, which has allowed me to really tap into my creativity, hone in on my strengths, and learn new things every day. Most days, you can find me in or outside of the restaurant taking photos and creating content for social media, scheduling, and facilitating any on-site meetings or media related projects we have signed on to participate in, liaising with vendors and contractors for our expansion, or assisting Dan with any upcoming projects or collaborations.

HG: We’re sure everyone is dying to know…what’s it like working with famed Razza chef and owner, Dan Richer?

SR: Dan is one of the coolest people I know, which makes working for and with him an absolute pleasure! He is supremely passionate about his pizza, team, and the community, which were the factors that initially drew me to working at Razza. No two days are the same, even though his process and product are inarguably consistent. One day I might be helping him with recipe testing for the pizza book he is writing, and the next, setting up for a Zoom podcast guest appearance. No matter what each day has in store, the overall culture at Razza reinforces that the work I am doing is both impactful and appreciated.

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HG: Tell us a little bit about the rest of the team! Who else adds to the positive culture and morale of the restaurant?

SR: The team is really the glue that keeps everything running smoothly. Carina Clores, a five-year Razza veteran who during regular times, dominated our hostess stand and bar, is definitely a key player in creating the culture that keeps us going. I was talking to her recently and she admitted how appreciative she is that our team feels like family. 

HG: We’ve heard so many stories of how hard the pandemic has been on restaurant staff. What has it been like for Razza employees? 

SR: Since the onset of COVID, Dan prioritized staff safety first and foremost. We ensured {and continue to ensure} that none of our team members had to take public transportation. Their safety is paramount.  That’s huge and I think it says a lot about our people-first mentality here. 

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HG: What are some of the staff’s favorite dishes off the menu? Any new dishes that you or Dan really love? 

SR:  This is probably the toughest question you’ve asked yet! I’m very partial to the burrata pie {the contrast of the cool, creamy cheese against the hot, crispy, sufficiently sauced crust gets me every time!}, and when on the menu, the Project Hazelnut. That pizza is so unique for so many reasons. Not only does Dan use hazelnuts from Rutgers University {our shared alma mater!}, but the play of sweet, salty, nutty, crunchy, and creamy flavors and textures is like a party on a pizza {and in your mouth}!

HG: Razza has gotten incredible press from some major outlets. Do you see rises in guests when this happens? What’s the blend of regulars versus out of towners? Are you still seeing visitors come from far amidst COVID? 

SR: The New York Times article was definitely a catalyst for several changes that impacted the entire staff and the local community. Almost immediately, there was a major influx of out-of-towners who wanted to taste our pizza, which made dining as a regular much more difficult. Our regulars and the local community are what helped get us through these unprecedented times, so it has been incredible to see their continued support. We have maintained a great blend of regular and visiting guests despite COVID, many of who travel to us from near and far after seeing Razza on the Netflix series, Somebody Feed Phil.

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HG: Can you share any exclusive info about the restaurant extension? Anxious over here!

SR: The restaurant extension was paused due to COVID, but construction has resumed and we’re back on track. We don’t have a set timeline, but we will have much more seating and plenty of new additions to the menu!

HG: Speaking of the menu… Razza has started to offer some dishes a bit unique to the standard menu over the past few months. Can you share a bit about the inspiration for some of the menu experimentation and how it might be a taste of what’s to come with the expansion? 

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SR: The expansion of the menu, initially driven by the onset of COVID, was a product of a few factors. First, we had more time and physical space to experiment. To keep up with the demand for takeout, we had to install some new equipment and convert our dining room into an extended prep space and kitchen. This coupled with the fact that there was availability in the oven when we would otherwise be baking bread for service, we had the ability to get creative. 

Dan also prioritized safety and his desire to provide nourishing and comforting meals to our staff and community during this period of uncertainty. No one knew if it was safe to go to a supermarket, so offering provisions, soups, baked pasta, and proteins was driven by a commitment to keeping everyone safe and nourished.

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HG: It feels like so much has changed these past few months {except Razza’s incredible pizza}. What else is coming and is exciting that you want to share with us? 

SR: I feel extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to be on the front lines of Razza’s pivot. This type of dynamic environment keeps me on my toes and proud to be a part of a team and culture that’s focused on safety, support, and resiliency. We’re expanding into the new space. Dan is writing a book on pizza that will be out in 2021. There’s a lot of exciting stuff happening at 275 Grove Street that we’re excited to introduce to our community… soon!

For updates, menu additions, pictures of delicious pizza and any other newsworthy information follow Razza on Instagram @razzanj.

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Nicole Gittleman is a born and bred Jersey girl who grew up in Bergen County but has called Jersey City home for nearly 5 years. Nicole works in content marketing at a JC-based creative studio and loves creating her own JC #content on her Instagram (follow her @nicoleraye_). Outside of her 9-5, Nicole loves to travel, cook, plan events for her friends and family, support small businesses, and cheer on her teams (go Devils and Giants!).