|Fresh pizza by John Tacconelli in his 20' x 20' brick oven|
Tacconelli's dates back to 1918, when Giovanni Tacconelli arrived in the U.S. and started baking brick oven bread just as he'd done in Italy. Today, the same spot is a stronghold of Port Richmond and a well-kept secret among pizza lovers in Philadelphia. Save for a mention of the giant oven in Philly Mag, we'd never heard a peep about Tacconelli's beyond our neighbors. And yet, it's packed every Wed-Sun night.
It would be a tough trek for tourists, but is a must-visit for locals. Before you go, consider these points, as Tacconelli's is far from your average pizza joint.
Ten Things You Need to Know about Tacconelli's:
1) Go with a group. More people = more pizza to try. The slices are on the smaller side so you can handle a lot.
2) You must call ahead to reserve a table and order your dough by number of pies. Tacconelli's doesn't make more dough than is ordered in advance. More on how to order on the Tacconelli's website.
3) How much should you order? We had 10 people and 7 pizzas. That was a smidge more than enough but you can always take the extra home. Or just keep stuffing yourselves until every last slice is gone like we did.
4) Expect to wait. Even if you made a "reservation" at 7:30pm, you may not sit right then. And if you do, it might be a while before your pizza arrives. That's just how it is. You can bring your own salad or other appetizers to hold you over, but the pizza is so damn good you don't want to fill up early.
5) There is a three topping max on each pizza but the owner sometimes prefers to limit it to two. We suggest at least one regular pie with cheese, red sauce and your favorite toppings, and one white pie with toppings. The white is loaded with garlic. It's freaking amazing.
6) Order the "signature," even if it's not listed on the menu. It's white pizza with spinach, chunks of tomato and garlic. A guaranteed favorite on its own, but even better with sausage added. Some nights the owner isn't cool with adding sausage (we suspect it could be tough on the thin crust, or he just prefers it as-is) but it is worth asking.
In addition to the signature, we devoured a pepperoni, a red pizza w/ onions, a white pizza w/ onions (another favorite of Tacconelli's regulars), a sausage, and a margarita. I don't think you can go wrong with any options.
7) Ask the waitress (likely a Tacconelli family member) for other suggestions. Otherwise, we never would have had our final pizza, and a new group favorite - white pizza with onions and peppers. Ahhhh I want some right now.
8) Bring cash and beer/wine - not just because it's a cash-only BYOB but also to feed the awesome old school juke box.
9) Look up the directions and location on a map ahead of time. Tacconelli's is just minutes off the Girard Ave exit on Rt. 95 but if you aren't familiar with Port Richmond, I could see it being a little confusing to navigate. Drop off whoever is carrying the cooler and park on the street wherever you see a spot.
10) Don't expect a jolly old Italian singing "That's Amore" behind a counter. John Tacconelli is a super nice guy, but he is also the extremely focused and devoted one-man show making the dough every morning and the pizza every night, so he rarely spends time out chatting with customers. He and the waitress were nice enough to let me take one really quick shot of John at the oven, but then I raced out of the kitchen before he got annoyed. Our neighbors are regulars and have started a friendly relationship with him, but you may only see his serious side.
If these photos of Tacconelli's pizza don't make your mouth water, you need to take a serious look at your love for pizza.
There is a second location in Maple Shade, NJ, that some will say is better and has more stuff on the menu, but our trusted neighbor regulars swear by the original. Perhaps we'll get out that way to compare, but for now the legendary Port Richmond pizzeria is tops on our list of local favorites.
The Original Tacconelli's Pizzeria
2604 East Somerset Street
Philadelphia, PA 19134
Philadelphia, PA 19134