Opening night of a new restaurant can be extremely busy and not truly indicative of a typical night. Throw in the additional factor of Marc Vetri opening up his new pizza restaurant, and you would think there was the potential for all-out chaos. Fortunately, while the crowds came in droves to the public opening of Pizzeria Vetri at 1939 Callowhill, the night ran as smoothly as possible for both customers and staff.
Pizzeria Vetri is by no means a large establishment. It seats about 35 and has no bar at which to hang out while waiting for your table. What it does have, however, is a check-in system, in which the hostess accurately gives you an expected wait-time and then automatically texts you when your seats (not necessarily table) are ready. So, getting news of a one-hour wait at 7 p.m. wasn’t the worst news, as I just went one block over to Kite & Key for a drink during the wait.
We received seats in the prime spot: right in front of both the pizzaiolos making the pies and the glorious Renato wood-fired oven. As it was opening night, Chef Vetri, along with Vetri lieutenants Jeff Michaud and Brad Spence all helped out in making pies.
The food menu at Pizzeria Vetri is rather simple. There are eight different Neapoloitan pizza selections along with some salads and house specialties (pizza dough, Roman pizza al taglio and a calzone). There is also an impressive beer list of a couple of drafts and about forty bottles and cans.
We ordered two pies: the Renato (with mozzarella, rosemary, olive oil and sea salt at $12) and Salsiccia (fennel sausage, roasted fennel, tomato and mozzarella at $16). The pies are prepared quickly and cook in the approximately 700 degree oven for a little more than two minutes. The pizzaiolos also make sure to pop the pizza up near the top of the oven to add additional heat and blistering to the surface.
When they emerge from the oven, the pies are fantastic. The Renato, as simple as it is in composition, is amazing in taste. There’s plenty of cheese, and the olive oil and sea salt are added right before the pizza is served for nice complimentary flavors. The crust is so soft and chewy, and the olive oil taste lingers. As for the Salsiccia, well, anything with fennel sausage should be good, and this selection did not disappoint. What’s also notable when holding up a slice is how thin the pizza is while still holding the toppings without flopping over. The end crusts also pop up quite nicely.
The meal was topped off with some fried pizza dough with citrus fennel sugar ($4). They’re like beignets but not as messy without the powdered sugar and a nice wonderful sweet (and cheap) treat.
By the time we left the restaurant shortly after 9 p.m., the dough had run out, and the consistent crowd waiting outside the restaurant had finally dissipated.
With the influx of new pizza establishments in the past few years, you can now find several fantastic Neapolitan-style pies all throughout town. Pizzeria Vetri is now right near or at the top of that list.
- Pizzeria Vetri
- 1939 Callowhill Street
- In a nutshell: Immediately becomes among the best Neapolitan-style pizzas in the city. Soft and chewy crust. Excellent flavor combinations.