“A Good Pie is Personal” At Pizza Den, the Popular Nassau Street Pizza Parlor
MADE TO ORDER: “We are set apart by our hospitality and great customized pizza. Customers know that the owners are always here. We answer the phone ourselves, and we customize each pizza to every person’s taste. I am very hands-on — whether I’m out front helping the customers, or in the kitchen.” Aginah Maltabes co-owner of Pizza Den, is shown getting a pizza all ready to go to a happy customer.
By Jean Stratton
The personal touch is on display at Pizza Den. Owners Aginah and Costa Maltabes are always on hand to be sure that customers receive their favorite pizza, made to order to their taste.
“Pizza is the number one food in the world,” says Aginah Maltabes. “Everyone likes it. It tastes good. It is a kind of comfort food. And at Pizza Den, we make sure it is exactly the way you like it.
“At Pizza Den, we believe a good pie should be personal,” she continues. “The dough is made in-house, using organic, unbleached flour. You can taste the difference in every bite. We also offer a gluten-free crust.”
Opened in 2018 at 242 1/2 Nassau Street, Pizza Den is tucked in next door to Hoagie Haven. Small in size, it is large in flavors and hospitality. Primarily a takeout establishment, it does have small tables for eat-in, and is also available for private parties.
“People enjoy the space,” says Aginah Maltabes. “It’s small, but cozy, and they really feel at home here. It is like a little den!”
In fact, in addition to appreciating the delicious pizza, many customers have commented on the decor in their online reviews: “Great pizza! A quick bite in a stylish setting”; “Inviting décor”; “Chic and stylish”; “Inspired interior”; “Reminds me of Naples”; and more.
Previously associated with Slice Between (the pizza business formerly at the same location), Maltabes has solid experience in the food industry, and she was determined to provide something special for customers.
“I had a clear idea of what I wanted to offer at Pizza Den, emphasizing high quality, fresh ingredients, and a welcoming atmosphere.”
She is pleased that her husband, Costa Maltabes, is her partner in the business. Born in Greece, he has extensive experience in the food business in Princeton. He is proud of Aginah’s starring role and take-charge management style at Pizza Den.
“I like the fact that this is a female-run and family business,” he says, with a smile. “Aginah is the lady in charge!”
Pizza is just about everyone’s favorite food, and customers are enjoying all the choices at this cozy pizza parlor. Everyone seems to have a favorite, adds Aginah Maltabes. “Our most popular pizza is the Brooklyn, (aka Margherita), with fresh mozzarella, tomato sauce, olive oil, and fresh basil. Also, a lot of people like the classic plain pizza with tomato sauce and cheese.”
In addition, she continues, “We have a sauceless pie (aka white), with ricotta cheese, goat cheese, olive oil, and garlic.”
The traditional New Jersey Tomato Pie — with tomato sauce, garlic, olive oil, and fresh basil, but no cheese — also has its loyal fans.
“We have toppings for every taste, including ham and even pineapple,” says Maltabes, and indeed, there is something for everyone’s preference.
Arugula, baby kale, basil, goat cheese, ricotta, fresh milk mozzarella, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, sausage, pepperoni, olives, long hots (peppers), and more are all available to enhance every pie.
Healthy ingredients are key to Pizza Den, points out Maltabes. “Everything is very healthy. All the ingredients are fresh and healthy, and all our meat toppings are beef, including pepperoni, bacon, and sausage.
“Another thing, we have custom crusts — thin, thick, crisp, and less crisp. Whatever the customer wants. We also have a high temperature brick oven, the only one on Nassau Street. This can make crisper crusts.”
While pizza is the main attraction, a variety of other specialties are on the menu. Salads and small slider sandwiches have a big following.
“Our little slider sandwiches are real favorites,” says Maltabes. “They make a great snack. Chicken Parmesan is the most popular, including chicken breast, fresh mozzarella, Parmesan cheese, and Italian herbs. The Pepperoni Slider, with pepperoni, cheese, tomato sauce, and Italian herbs is another favorite, and the Bruschetta Slider features tomato, basil, red onions, garlic, and balsamic vinaigrette.”
In addition, the pretzel knots, similar to garlic knots, tempt every customer, and the Garlic Pizza, including Pizza Den dough, olive oil, fresh garlic, grated cheese, and oil, is another big favorite.
Arugula Salad with arugula, goat cheese, grape tomatoes, red onions, and balsamic vinaigrette is another Pizza Den healthy option, as is Baby Kale Caesar Salad, with baby kale, fresh croutons, shaved Parmesan, and Caesar dressing.
Customers with a sweet tooth will not be disappointed when they order the Nutella Pie with sliced bananas, strawberries, and pineapple. A variety of sodas and bottled water is also available.
Prices range from $9 for a personal-size pizza to $13 and $17. A slice is $2.75, sliders from $3.25, and garlic knots are $1.75 for three.
“We are trying very hard to be environmentally-friendly,” points out Aginah Maltabes. “We have glass soda bottles and special biodegradable recycled paper takeout boxes for sliders and pretzel knots, as well as our special hexagon-shaped pizza boxes. This is very important to us.”
Customers are all ages, including families with kids, couples, and Princeton University students, she says. “A lot of people stop in at the end of the day from 6 to 9 to take a pizza home. We also have a busy lunch time between 11 and 1, and Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights are especially busy.”
She and Costa are delighted that they have such a loyal following, which continues to grow all the time. They are particularly proud of the fact that their eatery attracts a diverse clientele, with many regulars and repeat customers.
“We are so encouraged. We are happy to get to know our customers and their families,” adds Aginah Maltabes. “I like it when I answer the phone, and I know who is calling, and they know me.
“We want to be the ‘pizza place’ in Princeton! We are a popular neighborhood spot, and a real part of the community. We want to be very inclusive for everyone, and we want all our customers to come here and feel comfortable and at home, while enjoying a great pizza!”
Pizza Den is open Monday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Delivery is available in Princeton. (609) 683-8900. Website: www.pizzadenprinceton.com.