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Daily Slice: The Works at Santucci's, Philadelphia
Daily Slice gives a quick snapshot each weekday of a different slice or pie that the folks at the Serious Eats empire have enjoyed lately.
Up until a little over a month ago, those seeking the legendary Santucci's square pizza had to make their way out to the far reaches of Philadelphia for these cheese-on-the-bottom, sauce-on-top masterpieces. Lucky for us, this first family of Philly pizza-making made the savvy decision to open up a branch in the heart of the Italian Market, and their pies are as memorable as ever.
Santucci's boasts the city's original square pizza, a Philadelphia area Italian bakery staple. According to local lore, it's a variant of tomato pie. If this style looks familiar, you might be thinking of Stogie Joe's, another South Philly joint serving up strikingly similar pies. This unique style of pizza begins with a rectangular crust with a height that lies somewhere between thin and Sicilian. Pressed into a metal tray, topped with thinly sliced (never shredded) mozzarella, and long simmered, smooth and tangy tomato sauce flecked with oregano, the pizza is baked at 550°F.
Square pizza has an innate ability to stand up to all sorts of toppings; I decided The Works ($8.50/$12/$18) was in order for my maiden pie at Santucci's. Extra mozz, pepperoni, green peppers, mushrooms, onions, and awesome little nubs of spicy sausage are eased into the pie, making for slices that have more than a little bit of everything without feeling overloaded. Whereas others might cave under the onslaught of heavy toppers, the sturdy and tasty crust on Santucci's square pizza can handle the heft. The rich tomato sauce on top seals the deal, making a slice that totally lives up to its reputation.