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Crush has been featured in The Boston Globe, The Nashua Telegraph, The Hippo Press, The Union Leader, Encore, New Hampshire Magazine, Best of the Hippo, Phantom Gourmet and more! Click on the logos below to read the articles.
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Fresh take on classic Italian in Nashua
August 14, 2011
We were attracted to Crush Pizza by a tomato-averse teenager who touted a menu that includes several white pizzas, but we found much more. The Neapolitan pizzeria with a wood-fired brick oven serves steaks tips and chicken dishes as well as pizza. Think a northern version of Santarpio’s of East Boston.
The restaurant was opened earlier this summer by Tony Naser, the owner of a chain of jewelry stores. He has a passion for authentic Neapolitan pizza made with homemade mozzarella, fresh basil, extra-virgin olive oil , and Italian tomatoes that have been grown on volcanic plains, then hand-crushed: thus the restaurant’s name.
Crush’s pizzas are cooked in a matter of seconds - 90, the restaurant’s menu says - with the wood-burning oven set at 900 degrees.
Crush has five “pizza bianco’’ offerings: the Toscana ($14), with pan-seared field mushrooms, mozzarella and Romano cheeses, and a garlic cream sauce with a drizzle of truffle oil; Pista ($13), with fresh mozzarella, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, red onion, and pistachio (yes, pistachio); Quarto Formaggi ($13), with four cheeses - buffalo mozzarella, gran cru, caciocavallo, and Parmigiano-Reggiano; Parma ($15), with mozzarella, prosciutto and arugula; and the Pizza del Rey ( $17), with mozzarella, field mushrooms, prosciutto, and black truffle spread.
We tried the Pizza del Rey, which was truly fit for a king and one of the best pizzas we’ve ever had, even without the tomato sauce. The Pista more than met the tomato-averse teen’s lofty standards.
We went back to Crush several times and sampled several other pizzas, each adequate to feed one person if eaten without anything on the side.
We tried the Margherita ($10), with crushed tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, extra-virgin olive oil, and fresh basil; the Capri ($13), with crushed tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, pan-seared field mushrooms, ham, olives, and artichoke drizzled with olive oil; and the Fungi ($11), with pan-seared field mushrooms, crushed tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and Parmigiano-Reggiano, also with extra-virgin olive oil.
But Crush is not just about pizza. The steak tips ($15), 12-plus ounces of meat, arrived juicy and sizzling, accompanied by a cucumber salad and grilled peppers. The marinated beef practically melted in our mouths.
Our Gourmet: Crust is the thing at Nashua's Crush
New Hampshire Union Leader
The recently opened Crush is located in a newer strip mall on busy Route 101A not far from Exit 8 on the Everett Turnpike. The big, bright contemporary room is sort of a hybrid of an Italian restaurant and a standard pizza place. There's a wine/dine bar on one side and a dozen or so tables and chairs on the other. At the end of the room beyond the bar is the imported wood-burning Italian pizza oven. The oven's not as big and showy as some we've seen, but it's definitely the hub of all the “90 Seconds at 900 Degrees” action.
Crush has a fairly straightforward menu, with several categories of three to five items each: appetizers, salads, Panu Ozzu sandwiches, grilled meat entrees, fried dishes and desserts. The biggest number of choices is reserved for pizzas, all individual-sized and all made with Crush's homemade, fire-baked thin Neopolitan crust. There are also a few daily specials.
Our Gourmet: For starters TDC and I decided to split the Antipasto Misto ($12), a large plate of Italian meats, cheeses and marinated veggies including artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers and olives. It was good, and sufficiently sized for two, but it lost points because we didn't receive the accompanying foccacia bread the menu promised. Luckily our need for bread was satisfied by our dear son, much to his dismay. 8/10
Our teen son, The Bottomless Pit, decided he needed a warmup for the pizza to come, so he ordered Pizza Fritte ($9), essentially a deep-fried calzone filled with mozzarella, crushed tomatoes, basil and sausage and served with a cup of marinara sauce. He was a bit disappointed as the sausage was finely crumbled and he prefers large chunks or slices, and he found it very salty. The saving grace here was the marinara sauce, which he loved. 7/10
OG: I'm a big fan of fire-baked pizza and breads, so I was really looking forward to my Crush pizza. I decided to try the Toscana ($14), one of the five notomato Bianco pizzas. From the menu: “Fire roasted garlic cream sauce, pan seared field mushrooms fresh mozzarella, fresh rosemary, Pecorino Romano, fresh oregano, with a drizzle of truffle oil.” The pizza was garlicky, the mushrooms were richly flavored, and it was very cheesy. And the crust? There was a nice, thick, slightly crisp border of crust with spots of char. I enjoyed it, but the thin crust in the middle of the pie had a hard time holding up to the saucy, cheesy toppings. And between the crust and the cheese, it seemed a bit salty. 7/10
TBP ordered a Margherita pizza with sausage, peppers and Parmigiano from the build-your-own section. As with the Pizza Fritte, he found it salty and a bit soggy. 6/10
The Dining Companion: I chose the Salsiccia ($12) — crushed tomatoes topped with homemade sausage, fresh mozzarella, red onion, fresh basil, and drizzled olive oil, to which I added pan seared mushrooms. I tend to prefer a thicker crust, and as with OG and TBP, found the first 2 or 3 inches of each slice had to be folded over the top, or else the toppings would slide right off. I also found my pizza on the salty side. 5/10
OG: The three-item dessert menu was supplemented by a Creme Brulee special ($5.95), which I chose. It was creamy, sweet, and pretty much what you'd expect. But it was a weak second to TDC's choice, which was the hands-down hit of the evening. 8/10
TBP ordered Panna Cotta ($5.95), a traditional Italian dessert of cooked cream with vanilla bean and fresh berries. He found it a little bland and quickly worked a trade for the lion's share of TDC's choice (which, did I mention, was the hit of the night?). 6/10
When our waitress told me they were out of Tiramisu, I was disappointed, but not for long. I knew my backup choice, Nutella Pizza ($7.95) was going to be way too much for one person, even sharing, but I figured I'd get it anyway and we would bring most of it home. That was before OG and TBP tasted it.
It was a homemade crust — baked without toppings, it was more like a Syrian bread — fresh out of the oven, sliced open and spread with Nutella, then lightly sprinkled with powdered sugar. As a Nutella lover, I thought it was very good. TBP, who's not a chocolate lover, was hesitant at first, but after he took a bite from my slice, the Panna Cotta was pushed aside and two-thirds of the pizza were gone in a flash. We did manage to bring home a couple of slices. 10/10
OG: Our grading of Crush reflects our preferences in pizza crust; other diners will feel differently. We tend to prefer a sturdier crust that, after it's been out of the oven for few minutes, is firm enough to allow you to lift a slice to your mouth without having it droop and letting the toppings slip down to the plate. Crush's slices were more safely attacked with a knife and fork. I thought the edges of the crust were great; the smokiness of the char and the crunchy yet chewy texture would bring me back again. Saltiness was also a common issue with the crusts and the cheeses. It could be the nature of the beast, or perhaps someone had too heavy a hand with the salt when prepping that night's dough.
Crush Pizza on Phantom Gourmet
Phantom has fallen in love…and this is no schoolboy crush. This is Crush Pizza in Nashua. With a dining room set on a bustling open kitchen, the folks at Crush are firing up real-deal Neapolitan style pizzas…and they're firing 'em up fast.
"90 seconds at 900 degrees."
"It's a very fast cooking pizza."
Crush's wood-burning oven is as hot as it gets.
Tony Naser- Owner, Crush Pizza: "The fire is very temperamental so we have to keep a close eye on it. Cause at any second if you stop looking at it it could burn."
And the pizza is so deliciously-tempting, you won't mind burning the roof of your mouth!
The margherita pizza is an absolute masterpiece, studded with a blackened, bubbly crust that's crunchy out the inside yet soft in the middle.
The Capri Pizza is topped with mushrooms, ham, artichokes, olives and mozzarella cheese that's made right in Crush's kitchen. And while the process may be painstaking, the results are downright delicious.
"It gives it a much better taste. It's a lot creamier. It melts a lot easier. It does take a lot of labor. It takes time."
And you'll want make time to chow down on The Crush- a pizza topped with prosciutto di parma, tomatoes, and fresh arugula with a drizzle of truffle oil.
Tony Naser- Owner, Crush Pizza: "The flavors are really intense."
All of these intense flavors come in many forms. The Pizza Frite is stuffed with sausage, mozzarella and tomatoes. And yes, it's basically a deep fried pizza.
Tony Naser- Owner, Crush Pizza: "The pizza frite is almost like a calzone where we stuff the pizza and instead of putting it in the oven, we deep fry it. And its deep fried goodness. It's awesome."
Pizza is even served for dessert at Crush, including a chocolatey Nutella pizza that's down right decadent.
Tony Naser- Owner, Crush Pizza: "It comes right out of the oven and we slather on the nutella.... It's a hazelnut chocolate spread. It's really good stuff."
Some other really good stuff on the menu include the crispy zucchini fries served with a lemon aioli. And if you're a real lover of lemon, you have to try Crush's wings marinated in house made limoncello served with fresh focaccia.
Tony Naser- Owner, Crush Pizza: "They're fire grilled wings. They're not deep fried like regular ordinary buffalo wings. So people love the char of the fire grill....They're very juicy. They fall right off the bone."
Crush's sandwiches are so big it will crush any appetite. The Italiano is packed with Italian ham, capicola, salami and plenty of provelone all served on bread made right there in the wood burning oven.
Tony Naser- Owner, Crush Pizza: "Oh it's big. If you got a hearty appetite you'll finish it."
But you won't need a hearty sized wallet, with every entree coming in well south of 20 bucks, which is why Crush Pizza is a Phan-tastic Meal Deal.
Crush: Perfect pies
Photo by Susan Laughlin
Crush Pizza "I just wanted to make the best pizza around," says owner Tony Naser. Naser has done his homework. Traveling to pizza hot spots from Boston to New Haven to New York, he found what he wanted in a small shop in New York city - Neopolitan pizza. This pizza, inspired by Naples, Italy, is characterized by the size -14 or 15 inches across - a puffy crust and simple toppings, starting with just-crushed San Marzano tomatoes on top. Crush's selection of pizzas varies from the Margherita with house-made mozzarella cheese to the fungi with seared mushrooms to the Del Rey with a black truffle spread. The pizzas are built on dough made with flour imported from Italy and raised for two days to allow the yeast to develop flavor. The dough is hand stretched and once in the oven puffs and blisters in the high heat of the wood-fired oven. Sandwiches are made with the same dough and baked fresh with each order. For sides, Crush offers calamari, antipasto and snappy chicken wings marinated in lemoncello, garlic and rosemary before being finished on the grill. Desserts offer a taste of Italy, too, with a boozy tiramisu, panna cotta and even a Nutella pizza. The dining space is family-oriented, but does sport a bar serving wine, beer and a choice of red or white wine-based sangria.
Hot Dish: Pizza Del Rey with fresh mozzarella, field mushrooms, prosciutto de Parma and black truffle spread ($17)
Check it out:
449 Amherst Street, Nashua, NH
Serving: Open through lunch and dinner daily from 11:30 a.m. weekends 12 p.m., delivery in Nashua.
Winner Best of 2012 - Best pizza worth the drive: Crush Pizza, 449 Amherst St., Nashua, 521-7440, crushpizza.com
Pizzeria with authentic taste of Naples gaining fame
By GEORGE PELLETIER
Nashua Telegraph Correspondent
NASHUA – Evidently, New England TV favorite “Phantom Gourmet” has a “crush” on one of Nashua’s newest pizzerias.
That would be Crush Pizzeria Napoletana at 449 Amherst St., which makes everything on its menu from scratch.
Whether it’s the fresh mozzarella, the salad dressings, the breads or the even the dough, Crush has reinvented the pizza wheel. Owner and chef Tony Naser’s dedication to the craft of making authentic Neapolitan pizzas has paid off.
“Anytime we get recognized for our great food is exciting to us,” he said. “As for ‘Phantom Gourmet,’ they called us and I had no clue that they had been here.”
In between filming interview segments Friday, Crush was busy preparing a dozen dishes requested by “Phantom Gourmet,” including its original-recipe, fire-grilled Limoncello Wings, which are marinated in Limoncello liqueur for more than 24 hours.
Other “Phantom” faves are steak tips, calamari fritte, mixed grille and several pizzas.
Crush is one of two authentic Neapolitan – or Naples, Italy-style – pizzerias in New England.
Naser said the oven is heated with “100 percent wood. There’s no gas fire.”
Fire is temperamental; obviously, one can’t control the temperature. It isn’t like you can turn the dial and keep it at 700 degrees. When you throw a log in, it’s going to fire up, Naser said. The oven can hits more than 1,000 degrees.
“The faster you make the pizza, the more flavor that’s retained,” Naser said. “We use only fresh ingredients, which are very moist. Whether it’s the cheese, the sauce, the toppings, everything is fresh.”
When it’s fresh, moist and cooked that fast, nothing has a chance to dehydrate. There is a method to the Neapolitan madness.
Crush pizza is hand formed with dough made daily from imported flour. It’s all-natural, with no preservatives.
“Every day when you’re working with dough and fire, you’re going to perfect your art,” Naser said.
One key factor to Crush’s success is that first bite.
“What you’re going to taste with that first bite of any pizza here is all the ingredients,” Naser said. “We all grew up on American-style pizza, and basically a lot of places claim that they’re Neapolitan or that they’re brick oven pizza.
“Most brick ovens out there are not wood-fired. They’re gas fired. Just because you put bricks in your oven doesn’t make it a brick wood-fired oven.”
Be prepared to wield your fork and knife, however.
“You’re going to have the crunch of the crust,” Naser said, “but in the middle of it, everything is going to be wet from the moisture of all the ingredients. And in Naples, you do eat it with your fork and knife.
“Plus, it comes out of the oven boiling hot, so if you try to pick it up with your hands, the toppings are just going to slide off.”[p>
Naser said Crush has been booming since it opened in May . And now Naser, who researched Neapolitan pizzas for three years before opening his first restaurant, is taking his task to school.
“I’m in culinary school right now,” he said. “I love it. I know how to develop flavors. But I wanted to learn the science of cooking.”
Naser clearly cares about his customers.
“Ultimately, customers are what it’s all about,” he said. “You can serve the best food in the world, but if you don’t have any customers, you don’t have a business.”