August 23, 2011

Ten Things You Need to Know about Tacconelli's Pizzeria

For more than a year, our neighbors raved about some pizza place in Port Richmond and shared tales of renting cars just to drive there on Friday nights. Finally I said enough is enough. A group outing of 10 neighbors was organized, two coolers of beer packed, and our caravan hit the road for Tacconelli's Pizzeria.

Fresh pizza by John Tacconelli in his 20' x 20' brick oven
About an hour later, out of a massive, 20 ft. x 20 ft. brick oven came, hands-down, the best pizza we've ever had in Philadelphia.

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 margherita. 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.

Signature pizza - spinach, tomatoes, garlic
Signature close up.
Red pizza with onions
Must toast to friends!
White with onions and peppers

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

Tacconelli's Pizza on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

thinly veiled advertisement for a hipster eatery

Anonymous said...

I've been to both Tacconelli's and the Port Richmond spot is the better of the two. It's not even close to a "hipster eatery", as one person posted. I've been going there for 30+ years and I am not even from the area. The rules are a bit over the top, but it's a small place and they have to follow some criteria for managing the high demand. I personally find Tacconelli's an interesting food trek.

Anonymous said...

I've never heard anything negative about the pizza before. I've been there a couple times and think it's delicious!

Anonymous said...

I've been to both Tacconelli's and the Port Richmond spot is the better of the two. It's not even close to a "hipster eatery", as one person posted. I've been going there for 30+ years and I am not even from the area. The rules are a bit over the top, but it's a small place and they have to follow some criteria for managing the high demand. I personally find Tacconelli's an interesting food trek. I agree with this 100% and there pizza is not a 6 or 7 it is a 10......Best in Philly by far...

Anonymous said...

I live four blocks away from Tacconelli's and enjoy their pizza. The service is nice and the Margherita (spelling)pizza is great.
Although the pies are a little more than some places it's worth it.

Krista (kristastes) said...

I love tac's...I always visit a few times a year (also with my monthly dinner club) and I agree it's the best pizza in philly, hands-down.

Lisa said...

One of the best things about Tacconelli's is the consistency, week after week, year after year. Let's celebrate John Tacconelli's dedication to simple food, in a humble place, with a great jute box.

Anonymous said...

While the pizza is good enough, the whole experience is far from what you'd find in Italy. Walk into a place in Naples and you'll sit right away, watch your order come together quickly and easily, pay no more than $5 a pie, and have the taste blow you away. Places like this are supposed to be fun - not full of seriousness and rules.

Anonymous said...

I have never been to the original but I live in Maple Shade, NJ and me and my mother go to that location all the time. I love their pizza, we always get the spinach, garlic, and tomato one. It's the best pizza I have tried in a long time. I also like the fact that it's BYOB.

Dude said...

For all you haters thanks please stay away so i can enjoy myself even more...there's a pizza hut on aramingo that might suit you more...

Anonymous said...

This oven is as close as you can get to an authentic Italian pizza oven. And it's thin, the way they make it Rome ans Florence.

minster said...

Papa's Tomato Pies/Trenton, N.J.
Estb:1912 and still going strong.
It's one of the BEST pies you'll
ever eat.

Anonymous said...

I have been going To "Tach's for 40 years and is the best Pizza I have ever eaten. Nobody else is even close. However there are a few things you should know. You have to love garlic, lots of garlic but you can ask them to go light when ordering. They also sell roasted pepper that come in a plastic cup for .50 which used to be free but well worth the price. The peppers make a a great topping on the only pie you should order, "White with tomato". Pop, pop started out as a bread baker and when you add things like spinach,or mushrooms it ruins the perfect texture of the thin dough by making it slightly soggy. White with tomato is the real deal and the only way to go.

Anonymous said...

The haters are other Pizza shop owners trying to promote themselves. Something "Tachonelli's doesn't need to do.

Anonymous said...

Have to make reservations for a Pizza? Nahhh, I'll pass... Can't be that much better than other pies.

Kristy said...

Good call on the white with tomato! Next trip. Appreciate the comments, everyone. To respond to the first few, I can assure that you'll never find an “advertisement” disguised as a post here. As we've done to date, anything sponsored or offered to us for free is fully disclosed, and then we provide our honest opinions regardless. As for this review, what can I say, friends raved about Tacconelli's and our experience lived up to it.

Anonymous said...

Been there-outrageously bad food in in a laughably bad atmosphere. Pizza was burnt, overpriced and this ordering of the "dough" is arrogant and pretentious. Apart from delivering the pies to your table, the waitstaff are almost parodies of bad service. Beverages, when you can finally get them, are served with disposable plastic cups that are so cheap that I'd be embarrassed to bring them to a picnic. How this reputation started is a mystery to me, but only a fool would ever go back a second time.

Anonymous said...

your not suppose to tell anyone about Tacconelli's!!!!... It's not a hipster eatery either since it has been around before the term hipster was invented....also the greatest pizza in the city hands down. Oh and I live in this city and have my whole life, unlike people who live outside the city but say they live in Philly.

Anonymous said...

I've been to Tac's many times and while I find the pizza to be very good, I wouldn't consider it the best. I'm suprised that you had not heard more about the place prior to your visit, as I am pretty sure it is a philly staple when it comes to pizza. Finally, when its just two of us going, we can usually call on our way over and they will work us in.

Doobies Bar said...

Taconellis is what it is. You either like it or you don't. While I have only been here a few times, the pizza was good & we had a good time. The author of the blog was accurate in her description & this isnt an as.

JO said...

I can't believe how controversial this place is. I came down from NYC for an eating adventure in philly, and this was one of my favorite stops. Some of these comments are way off, It is no way hipster at all. and you dope, that 'burnt' on the crust is called char. You want some char.

You have a treasure here. They do it their way, and that's what makes it so good. If you wanted a lowest common denominator, you'd get papa john's or NYPD pizza.