Philadelphia Pizza Crawl of December 2012: Mission Accomplished

FrancoLuigi's Display

Native New Yorker Jennifer had enough.  Another serving of mediocre pizza from West Philly was driving her crazy, and she broadcast, via Facebook, her pronouncement: Philly pizza was crap (except she used a more colorful adjective).

I, for one, will not tolerate anyone disparaging Philadelphia’s pizza scene. Immediately, I touted the city’s great pizza tradition and diverse pizzerias.  Other folks piped in that they wanted to try a lot of these places in town, particularly in a group outing.  One thing led to another, and the Philadelphia Pizza Crawl of December 2012 was organized.

  • Basics – Hit up six Philadelphia pizza spots on a Saturday in December.
  • Objective – Convince a native New Yorker that Philly does have good pizza.
  • Specific stops –  FrancoLuigi’s Pizzeria, Santucci’s Original Square Pizza, Nomad Pizzeria, Rustica Pizza, Pizza Brain, Tacconelli’s Pizzeria.  They may or may not be the six best pizza places in town, but they’ve all been recognized for their excellence and also offer a variety of pizza styles and settings.  Pizzeria Stella, Zavino, Slice, Dock Street and Osteria also were strongly considered but were either considered duplicative or too far out of the way to work with the other spots.
  • Logistics – Every food crawl must account for logistics, such as transportation, payment, food ordering.  The plan was to travel from place to place by walking, public transportation and perhaps cabs.  There was discussion of a bus, which would protect us in case of adverse weather, but it would have been too costly.  With 20-30 people expected to attend, we also decided to collect $20 up front for costs of pizza, water and drinks.  Calls were placed well in advance to each location to ensure they could accommodate us and were prepared for our arrival.  At each stop, we’d order enough for about a slice or more per person, cutting full slices into smaller portions with our own pizza cutters to allow participants to try different pies.  Also, to allow for comparison, we were to keep the pizza selections to plain, pepperoni and perhaps one specialty pie.  We’d also budget about an hour for each spot to allow us to be at Tacconelli’s for our reservation at 5 p.m.
  • Scoring – We thought about a scoring sheet to determine the best pizza, but eating pizza is really a subjective experience.  There’s not one right way to make a crust or use a sauce.  People could decide on their own about what slices and spots they liked best. Continue reading

Philadelphia Pizza: An Evolving Tradition Unlike Any Other

I can’t think of too many other foods more universally enjoyed than pizza.  Whether it’s lunchtime office meetings, kids birthday parties, late night post-bar food and especially any time college students are around – pizza is a good choice and brings smiles to people’s faces.  I personally think it’s Italy’s best creation and export, slightly ahead of Tuscan wines and significantly ahead of slicked-back hair.

Pizza comes in different types and styles for everyone.  There’s thin crust and deep dish, tomato pie and white pizza, chewy crust and crispy crust, round pie and square slice, traditional Neapolitan and modern American style.  I think all you need are mint chocolate chip and pralines n’ cream styles to have 31 flavors.

 

Tacconelli’s Pizzeria: As Good as It Gets

For the first food post here on this blog, there’s no better way to start than one of my favorite foods: pizza.

Let me tell you about Tacconelli’s Pizzeria in Port Richmond, Philadelphia.  It’s a local neighborhood place, it’s quaint and it’s so damn good.  In operation and breaking bread since about 1920, it’s been churning out extraordinary pizza since 1946.

The first thing you have to know is that you have to call ahead and reserve your “dough.”  Tacconelli’s only prepares enough pies for each night.  Then, on the menu, you have your choice of tomato pie, regular pie, white pie and “margerita” (the way they spell it) pie along with toppings.  Because of the varieties Tacconelli’s has, it is essential to come here with a big group and order as many varieties as possible.  Either that or order extra pies to take home.

Continue reading