November 23, 2014

Philadelphia Pizza Craze Part One: Are Neapolitan Pies the Best Pizza in Philly?

Philadelphia's pizza craze has reached bubble territory with the likes of Capofitto, Square Pie and Brigantessa all opening in the last few weeks, and Pizzeria Vetri, Bufad and several others not too long before them. It's as if the pizza gods are trying to make up for years of limited options by ensuring a quality place is on every city block.

We're big fans of the bubble like anyone else, but as pizza simpletons we take with a grain of salt the constant in-your-face debate about the best pie. It's easy to tell when pizza is bad. But as one of the greatest foods on Earth, pizza inadvertently imposes a real challenge in separating the "best" from 2nd, 3rd and even 4th best - especially when so many of today's popular pies are similar in style (ultra-thin Neapolitan being all the rage right now). 

To help you sample some of the "best" pizza in Philly - new and old - our next two blog posts will share eight great thin and thick crust pizzas.

Let's start with some of our favorite thin crust pies, in no particular order:

Nomad's Margarita pizza. Now with two locations and a food truck, Nomad's Neapolitan-style pizza is never more than a few steps away. And it's super light so you can polish off this whole sucker by yourself. Many say it's the "best" and most authentic Neapolitan in Philly but you should decide that for yourself.

Nomad's Margarita Pizza

Newest to Philadelphia, Brigantessa's thin, chewier pizza reflects the same Neapolitan style found at Nomad. It's flash-cooked in a wood-fired oven and raced upstairs to your table - don't be surprised if your waiter shows up sweating. Fun note: this is the only place we've even been given the option to slice or not to slice our pizza. When we asked why, Brigantessa's staff explained that ripping apart pizza is how the Italians always ate it. So consider that touch of authenticity next time you go. There's more on the history and tradition of Neapolitan pizza on Brigantessa's site

Brigantessa's Margarita Pizza

Pizza Brain reminds us more than most Philly pizza of the thin NY-style slice we cherish so deeply. They have all kinds of wacky flavors but you know what? That super cheesy plain Jane slice is damn well worth the trip to Fishtown on its own. Save room for ice cream at Little Baby's after.

Pizza Brain's Jane slice with a sliver of their 4-cheese special of the day

Last but not least, old stalwart Tacconelli's signature pie with sausage. Love that garlicky crust, those tomatoes, oh boy. Want it now. Well worth all the effort to make plans, call ahead for the dough and trek to Port Richmond. The new Mercer Cafe at the Navy Yard just announced it will feature the Tacconelli family brick oven pizza recipe, too, under the training of Tacconelli's Maple Shade, NJ, location.

Tacconelli's signature pie with sausage

Check back in a few days for our next post on square pies and thicker crust pizzas around town!

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