Philadelphia: Thin-Crust Pies at The Original Tacconelli's Pizzeria
There are a few things to know about Tacconelli's before you go:
• It's strongly recommended that you call ahead to reserve your pizza dough. They make a limited amount each day, and they usually sell out over the phone. Call between Wednesday and Sunday after 10 a.m.
• Pizza is the only item on the menu, though you're welcome to bring any accompaniments you might want, like olives or salad. You may also bring wine or beer—it's one of Philly's many BYO restaurants—and if you care about drinking either of those in something other than a plastic cup, bring glasses, too. (They serve soda.)
• The hot peppers (75 cents for a small cup) are HOT.
• They only serve dinner, but it's not a late-night pizza joint; last seating is at 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and it's earlier on other nights. They're closed Monday and Tuesday.
• Takeout: Yes. Credit cards: No.
• It's casual, but it's not cheap: Pies run about $20 before extra toppings.
• The restaurant sits in the middle of a crowded residential block in Port Richmond (which isn't a destination for anything other than Tacconelli's), and street parking can be tricky. Note the restaurant's parking lot one block away.
• Don't confuse this location with the one in Maple Shade, N.J. Apparently, they're family, but they're not affiliated.
• Even if you have a reservation, you'll usually wait quite a while for your pizza (that's what the olives and salad are for).
If that sounds like a lot of planning for a pizza joint, it is, but the pies are worth it. They're really thin; to look at them, you might think they're crackery, and the edges are, just a bit. But from the handle to the point of each slice, there's just enough springy, satisfying tug.
They're also sauce-heavy. That's not to say they're dripping or at all soggy, but the tomato pie, regular pie, and popular Margherita pie are first and foremost canvases for the red stuff, which is concentrated, perfectly balanced, utterly smooth, and nicely baked into the crust so that it doesn't slide off when you pick up a slice.
The menu advises no more than two toppings, which makes sense given the thinness of the crust. Personally, I'd stick with the two house specialties—the Margherita, which has a modest (but ample) amount of fresh mozzarella and some torn basil, and the signature white pie, which is actually red and green. Over a thin layer of bubbly mozzarella, there are scattered piles of fresh spinach and tomato, and more than a few shakes of garlic powder. The two make a great combo.
About the author: Liz Bomze lives in Brookline, MA, and works as the Senior Features Editor for Cook's Illustrated Magazine. In her free time, she freelances regularly for the Boston Globe, Boston Magazine, the Improper Bostonian, and Martha's Vineyard Magazine; practices bread-baking and canning; takes photos; reads; and watches baseball. Top 5 foods: fresh noodles, gravlax, sour cherry pie, burrata, ma po tofu.