October 7, 2020

Quality Ingredients, Terracotta Oven Cooking Highlight Popular Tino’s Artisan Pizza Co.

PIZZA PERFECTION: “Our aim is to offer the most delicious homestyle food with fresh organic ingredients and the time-honored method of terracotta oven cooking. We are proud to bring our artisanal pizza and specialty dishes to all our customers.” Tino Procaccini, chef/owner of Tino’s Artisan Pizza Co., is shown with one of his signature pizzas in the popular Kingston pizzeria.

By Jean Stratton

Benvenuta! Buon Appetito!

This invitation to enjoy lunch or dinner at Tino’s Artisan Pizza Co. has welcomed customers for the last nine years. Located at 4428 Route 27 (Main Street) in Kingston and initially known as Osteria Procaccini, it introduced many diners to Neopolitan-style pizza, which is cooked in terracotta ovens from Italy at very high temperatures.

“Because of the high heat, up to 800 degrees, the pizza cooks very fast — in 90 seconds, and this brings out the flavor more intensely,” says owner/chef Tino Procaccini.

Offering high quality food has been his focus since 1999, when he and his brother John Procaccini opened La Borgata Ristorante & Pizzeria in the Kingston Mall. Still in college at the time, Tino attended classes every morning, and then spent afternoons and evenings in the kitchen at the restaurant.

The work ethic has always been a very important concept in the Procaccini family, he notes. His parents had come to the U.S. from Italy 48 years ago, and as boys, he and his brother helped out in their father’s landscaping company.

Work Ethic

That work ethic is still in the forefront of Tino’s business regimen, and he has now added new artisan pizzerias in Ocean Grove and Madison, with a third expected to open in Jersey City in January, bringing the total number to four.

He alternates working in the different eateries, serving as chef and administrator, and overseeing the variety of catering events in each location.

Why he has taken on the added responsibilities of operating four restaurants is rooted in his passion for his work. “I wanted to spread the love!” he explains. “I’ve been in the restaurant business for 20 years, and it has always been what I wanted to do. Kingston was the first location, and then I always wanted a shore location, so we opened Ocean Grove. Next, we found a good place in Madison, and now, we look forward to our new location in Jersey City.

“Interestingly, our locations all have historic relevance, including our Jersey City restaurant, which is in the Paulus Hook waterfront community, which was important in the Revolutionary War. You can see the Statue of Liberty and the Freedom Tower from the location.”

Each restaurant has felt the impact of COVID-19, and each was closed from March until July, except for takeout and curbside pick up.

‘We were able to keep busy,” reports Tino, “and many of our customers stayed with us. In July, we opened outdoors, and people began to come back and enjoy eating outside. We can accommodate up to 35 outside in Kingston. I am very thankful we have been able to reopen.

Second Generations

“Many of our customers in Kingston have been with us from the restaurant’s beginning,” he continues. “We have lots of families, and now we are even getting second generations. We had parties for baptisms, and now we’re celebrating that baby’s graduation!”

What is it about Tino’s pizza and other dishes that is so appealing? Certainly, pizza is one of the most popular foods worldwide, but it varies considerably from place to place.

As he explains, Tino’s is set apart by the Italian ovens, and its pizza is also known for its thinner crusts. In addition, the restaurant’s emphasis on healthy eating is paramount.

“We have a very healthy focus. Our concept is all-natural Italian food, using the highest quality ingredients that are sustainable, local, and organic whenever possible — the way things used to be!

“All our food is free of artificial preservatives, colors, sweeteners, and hydrogenated fats. It’s all about healthy eating. Our passion is great food and sharing it with our extended family — you!

“We also make every effort to be environmentally-friendly, operating our family business with green standards in the hope of helping to have a better environment for future generations. These standards include recycling, composting waste, cleaning with natural agents, and using paper products and supplies from 100 percent recycled materials.

Papa Tino

“Our vision ranges from Papa Tino (my dad) growing our fruits and vegetables during the Jersey growing season to using “to go” plasticware that is made from non-GMO vegetable starch.”

The menu at Tino’s offers something for everyone’s taste — from signature pizzas to salads, sandwiches, and desserts. They include gluten-free pizzas, and vegetarian and vegan choices. Customers’ dietary needs can be accommodated.

“Thin crust pizza is our house specialty,” says Tino, “and all our dough is made with unbleached unbromated flour. In addition, we offer gluten-free cauliflower dough. We also use extra-virgin olive oil from Italy.”

Favorites at the Kingston restaurant include such pizza specialties as Tino’s Margherita, with tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, basil, and extra-virgin olive oil; Dora, with tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, sausage, and pepperoni; and the latest addition, the Meatballer, featuring tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, thin-sliced meatballs, basil and extra-virgin olive oil.

Many others, including white pizzas, are available to tempt the taste buds. Roman Zucchini is served on Roman flatbread, with shaved Parmigiano, garlic, marinated roasted zucchini, basil, and extra-virgin olive oil; Pesto Pomodoro features fresh mozzarella, chilled pesto-marinated cherry tomatoes, balsamic glaze, and extra-virgin olive oil; and the Bori offers provolone, ricotta, roasted garlic, baby spinach, artichoke hearts, red onions, and extra-virgin olive oil.

Antipasti and salads are always in demand, and the choices are abundant. The Real Antipasto includes Italian cured meats and cheeses, marinated vegetables, and olives; Prosciutto Rollatini features thin-sliced prosciutto stuffed with pesto goat cheese, mixed greens, balsamic glaze, and roasted red peppers; Vegano offers marinated beets, haricot vert, artichoke hearts, croutons, almonds, red onion, extra-virgin olive oil, and Italian seasoning.

Freshest Fruits

Popular salads feature the freshest fruits and vegetables, including Mela Noca with Granny Smith apples, walnuts, gorgonzola, baby spinach, and balsamic vinaigrette. La Pera offers pears, gorgonzola, walnuts, red onions, spring mix, and balsamic vinaigrette; and the popular Beet Salad features marinated beets, goat cheese, walnuts, baby arugula, and balsamic vinaigrette. Many more antipasti and salads are on the daily menu.

Both hot and cold sandwiches are available. Two favorites include Balsamico, served on focaccia, with grilled chicken, fresh mozzarella, roasted peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, and balsamic vinaigrette. Gianluca offers fresh mozzarella, prosciutto, baby arugula, roasted peppers, pesto, sea salt, fresh peppers, oregano, and balsamic glaze. Many other choices are offered.

New pasta dishes have recently been added to the menu, including Tortellone, Gnocchi, Chicken Parm, and Nonna’s Spaghetti and Meatballs, among others.

No one forgets to enjoy dessert at Tino’s! The special tiramisu, Dolce Vita, Cannolo Rollatini, and assorted gelato and sorbet are all mouth-watering favorites. They can be accompanied by coffee, espresso, cappuccino, latte, tea, bottled Italian soda, and other quality sodas.

Prices cover a range, with pizza starting at $11 for a 12-inch pie, sandwiches and
salads from $10, antipasti from $9, and desserts from $6.

Catering is a growing part of the business at each restaurant, and Tino’s can provide dishes for all sizes and styles of events, including birthday and engagement parties, and other gatherings.

Warm Hospitality

Noted not only for its topnotch pizza and other dishes, but also for its warm hospitality and friendly service, Tino’s has many repeat customers from all over the area, and the staff is an important factor in the restaurant’s success, reports Tino.

“We have a great staff, and we always try to promote from within. We call ourselves Team Tino’s, and there are employees who have been with us from the beginning. Our customers know we are a special place, and we try to be as consistent as possible, and always keep our standards high.

“I enjoy the interaction with the staff and with the customers. So many have become friends. I am encouraged with the success of all the restaurants, even during the virus, and I look forward to continuing to serve our customers and be the best we can be.”

Tino’s is open for lunch, dinner and takeout Monday through Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday 4 to 9 p.m. Outdoor dining is still available, and heaters will be installed as the weather becomes cooler.

(609) 688-0007. Website: www.nojunkpizza.com.