“Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.” If Mark Twain’s famous quote is true, how would he lead the statement “____ makes the pizza.”?
Flour, water, cheese and tomatoes make not the pizza alone. In our travels, we have begun to attempt to answer that question. Pizza is ubiquitous. Google pizza in nearly any corner of the earth and the choices will be daunting. So how would one go about finding the “best pizza”? Yelp or Google reviews can be of great assistance, as can word of mouth.
We will attempt to post about our great pizza discoveries, using the following methodology and assumptions:
Taste: obviously, nothing is more important than taste when evaluating the quality of food;
Atmosphere: dining out is not always about only the taste. Place contributes greatly to the experience, and since eating out incorporates multiple senses, we found that atmosphere contributes to the experience in a qualitative manner.
Location: as with atmosphere, location can offer value to the experience as well.
Company/Events: It is hard to separate the social experience from the food, at times.
From our base in the northeast, we expect this task to be daunting. It will take us to many places and may cause many pounds to be gained, but it is a challenge we are willing to accept.
PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA – OUR CHOICE: GENNARO’S TOMATO PIE
This is a don’t miss if you like thin crust, New York style, crispy Neapolitan pizza. Street parking available outside, great for a casual dinner out or pre-event at Citizen’s Bank Field, Wells Fargo Center, Lincoln Financial Field, Franklin Field.
This trip started in Downingtown, at Victory Brewing Company. No question, this is the home of some of the best beer on the planet and is well worth the trip if you are in the area. We enjoyed the beer immensely (beware of the monkey), and tried the SAUSAGE AND PEPPERS HEARTH BAKED PIZZA, made with Italian long hots, peppadew peppers, sweet sausage, fresh ricotta, and red sauce. The greatest surprise here were the peppadew peppers, which are very sweet with incredibly mild heat on the finish. Although this was a good pizza when coupled with the excellent beer and atmosphere, the food itself was mediocre, at best.
As far as good beer nerds go, we attempted other beer locals on our trip to South Philly that are worth a quick mention. Tired Hands Brewing Company in Ardmore, Pennsylvania is well worth a stop. A hip, active craft brewery offers more great beer and finger foods. We opted for the PEPPERY DILLS – Kirby cucumbers pickled with shallot, garlic, black & yellow mustard seed, black & white pepper, dill, thyme, fennel seed, dried pasilla pepper, fresh jalapeño, fresno chili & habanero, which were surprisingly good. Their foods are sourced locally, and the menu changes periodically.
Although our final destination was the Wells Fargo Center in South Philly, we stopped in at Gennaro’s Tomato Pie (this is an excellent review written by my former professor at Drexel), located at 1429 Jackson Street in South Philly. We had heard word that this was the place to go for authentic, Neapolitan, thin crust, fresh ingredient pies. Although this Gennaro’s opened in 2013, the owner, Mike Giammarino is not new to the pizza business. Mike ran the Rittenhouse Square branch (closed in 2005 due to demolition of the building) of Lombardi’s Pizza of New York City and owns Lombardi’s since 1994. We had a large white pie. The crust was thin and crispy at the edges, a bit softer through the middle. The cheese toppings were fresh, as the ricotta tasted sweet and like it was just made. The mozzarella was similarly impressive, in that it tasted fresh and just lightly toasted.
Although Gennaro’s is newly renovated and opened (2013), the atmosphere rings true to the 1940’s, with white subway-tiled walls, old posters, big band music, tomato red tables and a cozy 34-seat room, the buzz was vibrant and the pizza won our vote as EXCELLENT. This is a convenient pre-game location, and the buzz this night was about the pending New York Rangers – Philadelphia Flyers game. Local sentiment was clearly Flyers’ centric….so we remained quiet in our support of the Rangers…
Please note that Gennaro’s has a no-reservation, cash-only policy, and has a menu very focused on pizza. In addition, this is a BYO, therefore, bring your own.