Chefs enjoy when their food's the primary topic of discussion, but at Pizzeria Vetri, it's the oven that captures the conversation. Six feet across and four-plus tons on the scale, the Renato Riccio-made beast is definitely a looker, but it's the peculiar schematics—dual facing mouths, with counter on one end and kitchen on the other—that allows peel wielders to shout orders into the oven and have them float out the other side. Calling up a Caesar or checking in on a calzone? For best results, yell directly into the fire.
'Pennsylvania' on Serious Eats
Fresh, interesting toppings make for an enjoyable pizza experience at Bufad; the summery Pomodori is a highlight of the season.
New to a largely industrial strip of Washington Avenue jammed with warehouses and construction wholesalers, Kermit's was opened by Adam Ritter, a Philly publican who runs the craft beer bars Sidecar and Kraftwork. Named after New Orleans jazz fixture Kermit Ruffins, the beautifully muraled space has an edgy-but-accessible commissary feel, with its buzzing-about-in-aprons staff, high-output equipment, and towering ceilings. We paid a visit to pizza chef Brian Lofink to chat about his pies.
Journalists Michael and Larissa Milne are serious about their pizza. When they told us they'd paid a recent visit to Old Forge, PA as part of a worldwide pizza tour, we wanted to know more. Here's what they had to say about the town that calls itself "Pizza Capital of the World."
The 5th annual Pizza Olympics in Philly was an amazing, overwhelming, gut-busting time. With strong showings by J&J Pizza, Cacia's Pizza Pizzaz, Chickie's and Pete's plain slice, and Paulie's sloppy joe pie, over 10 pizzerias offered up slices to satiate a wide variety of palates.
I envision myself on a day where everything goes wrong: where I have PMS and I lose my wallet and I slip and fall and get mud all over my jeans and have a huge fight with my bestie. On this day, 13th Street Gourmet Pizza's dessert pie is exactly what I would want.
A one-man pizza station is one thing; a pizzeria run by a solitary man is another. And ever since Joe Beddia opened the latter, he's had to address the unforeseen on his own. We take an early look at his eponymous pizzeria in Philadelphia's Fishtown.
Jioio's Pizza, just east of Pittsburgh in Greensburg, PA, has one of the most unusual crusts you'll encounter: sweet like a pie crust, and pan-baked thin and crispy.
To be clear on definitions right off the bat—the "Tomato Pie" we're talking about here is very different from Trenton Tomato Pie, or even the Northeast Philly version. In the Tomato Pie Belt that runs roughly from South Philly through the western suburbs of Manayunk , Conshocken and Norristown, it's a square pie that consists only of soft, foccocia-like dough, thick, slow-cooked sauce, herbs and a shake of parm or romano, and is ideally purchased at room temperature at a bakery, not a pizzeria.
The veggie slice ($2.50) at Pizza Rustica in University City is really all about the vegetables. The super-thin, cracker-like crust is merely a vessel for a cast of veggies featuring fresh mushrooms, spinach, artichoke hearts, caramelized onions, sun dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, and little blobs of sweetly roasted garlic. A bit of crème fraîche mixes in with the mozz, accounting for a base that's a little bit more creamy than cheesy, adding a lightness that matches its veggie-centric toppings.
Celebre's Pizzaz begins with a medium-thick crust with plenty of good chew and crunch. It's topped off with a layer of the tell-tale American, slices of fresh tomato, a generous scattering of bright yellow and red pickled peppers, and finished off with a good shake of oregano and salt. All together these gooey little slices are salty, spicy, and totally satisfying in a way that honestly has more to do with a hoagie or a grilled cheese and tomato sandwich than a slice of pizza.
The Philly 'burbs are a vast reserve of uncharted pizza territory, chock full of neighborhood pizzerias that have been around forever—some just OK, others outstanding—but rarely mentioned outside of a 5 mile radius. Vic & Dean's was recommended as one of the best in the Wayne area.
We're at a point in pizza history where just about every mid-sized American city has a Neapolitan-style pizzeria. But the Pittsburgh area has had a fantastic one since 1996, when Ron Molinare opened Il Pizzaiolo in Mt. Lebanon.
Night Market Philadelphia, organized by The Food Trust is a roving gathering of the city's best food trucks and stands that sets up every few months in unique locations. June's special, Philly Beer Week Night Market brought a sneak peak of Nomad Pizza, a wood-fired pizza oven truck with plans to open a brick-and-mortar location in Philly in the fall.
Looking at Wolf Street Pizza's menu I was intriguied by the "sheet pie" listed separately from the Sicilian and the regular pizza. Thinking it might be similar to the square bakery pizza or tomato pie that's fairly common in Philly, I inquired about the sheet pie, and was told "It's sheet pie. Square." Hoping to discover a sub-variant of an already obscure regional pizza variation, I ordered a "half sheet" ($9.25). For lovers of ridiculous amounts of stretching, oozing, ribbons of sliding mozzerella without the bready crust of a standard sicilian, this is your pie.
Joe's Pizza rightly calls itself the best kept secret in Center City, Philadelphia. Located on an unremarkable stretch of 16th Street, Joe's has been there for years serving quick, cheap slices to a lunch hour crowd. It's the sort dime-a-dozen pizzeria that you'd walk right past if you've never stopped in for a slice.
Usually portobellos and balsamic on pizza have me running for the hills, but on Kim's Pie ($2.50) they totally worked when paired with shreds of roasted chicken, caramelized onion, mozzarella, balsamic barbecue sauce, and chives. Way more hors d' oeuvre or ladylike snack than a classic slice, Jules has its own thing going on — light, healthy flatbread pies done very well.
On a recent Saturday night, they featured a chalkboard special, the Blanco ($15), topped with stinging nettles, ramp piccalilli, and stracciatella. It was the kind of pizza that could only happen in the first days of April.