Editor's note: Slice correspondent Philip G. checks in with an answer to a question I've had for a long, long time. —Adam K.
"The story still doesn't answer the burning question: What exactly is Old Forgestyle pizza?" —Adam Kuban
Well, Adam, it's this:
And this too, I guess:
For those of you who aren't in the know, Old Forge pizza is a style of pie that originated in Old Forge, Pennsylvania, and is served almost exclusively within a roughly 15-mile radius of that town. The streets of Old Forge are dotted with old taverns and specialty restaurants serving up this elusive pizza—some of which have been doing it for more than 70 years. Because of the uniqueness of this pizza, and the sheer number of joints serving it, Old Forge has given itself the title "The Pizza Capital of The World"—a title which has confused (and angered) folks from New York City to New Haven, Connecticut, and all the way to Naples, Italy.
The slices above, which you may (or may not) be drooling over are from Jigsy's Old Forge Pizza in Enola, Pennsylvania. Jigsy's is one of the only places serving Old Forge Pizza outside of that region—the restaurant is located about an hour and a half to the south, just a mile outside of Harrisburg. The purveyors, Migsy and Robin Ardoline, used to own a restaurant in the Old Forge area called Joe Shag's. Legend has it that the restaurant was so popular that people were coming halfway across the state just to get pizza from Joe Shag's and then heading straight back home. Migsy and Robin took notice of this and, in 1999, opened Jigsy's.
OK, So They've Got a Neat Story, But What About the Pizza?
Old Forge pizza comes two ways, "red," which is your traditional crust, sauce, cheese, toppings order, and "white," which is typically served in a double-crusted format. The pizza is available in three, six, or 12 cuts. Trying my best to sound like I knew what I was doing, I ordered "three cuts double white" and "six cuts traditional, with pepperoni."
The pieman made short order of our trays, and we had our food in minutes. At first glance, the double crust of the white pizza looks like your basic calzone. The red tray looks like a mix between a grandma-style pie and that frozen pizza my mom made for me after school when I was a kid. The cheese, both on top of the red and inside of the white, is much sweeter than mozzarella and has a smooth texture. My taste buds tell me that it's a probably mixture of sharp American cheese and provolone, a combo that plays nicely with the spicy sauce on the red and the rosemary-oregano seasoned crust on the white.
The crust on the red, to the best of my knowledge, is parbaked. This method of prebaking lends itself to a very crisp yet light and airy crust. Overall, I was a big fan of the red. If you look at it not as your "traditional" pizza, but instead as something different entirely, the almost-sweet taste of the cheese and spicy sauce is an interesting combination. I won't claim to be as big a fan of the white, which seemed to be just cheese and dough. If it was served with a sauce of some kind or maybe stuffed with garlic, I would have liked it ten times more. I didn't see the "Tomato & Garlic White (white with garlic and diced tomatoes)" on the menu until after I had ordered. That sounds great, too.
In the end, if you are a pizza nut and you haven't met too many pizzas you didn't get along with, I think Jigsy's (or any Old Forge pizza place, for that matter) would make you pretty happy. It's a nice departure from the "traditional" pizza that I'm used to, and there's a sense of community and history that comes with ordering six cuts of this famous pizza.
Address: 225 North Enola Road, Enola PA 17025 (PA Routes 11 and 15)