Saturday, March 3, 2012

Review: Anthony's Coal-Fired Pizza (Wayne PA, Boca Raton FL)

A few weeks ago, we enjoyed a few days' respite from the Philadelphia winter in warm and sunny Boca Raton, Florida. We loved the sun, the sand, the water, and always being the youngest person in any crowd. This blog is focused (mostly) on pizza in the northeast, but I've been reading some buzz on the national blogs about a coal-fired pizza movement in Boca Raton. We googled and found three such pie slingers quickly. Our first visit was to Nick's New Haven Style Pizzeria (review HERE), and their "apizza" swiftly banished our prejudice that Florida lacks food choices for discriminating epicures. We loved Nick's. We never got to Tucci's, another coal fired option, but before we left town we went to Anthony's on a Saturday night.

Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza on Urbanspoon

Anthony's is a lovely facility in a nice part of town. They have indoor and outdoor seating; we waited almost an hour for a table outside of this lovely evening. While we waited, I learned that Anthony's is a small chain. Most of their 32 locations are in Florida, but there are outposts in Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania. What's more, one is in Wayne, on the Main Line! I'm mostly skeptical about a chain's ability to deliver authentic anything, but I stayed open to the possibility. And I've had excellent pizza from the Jersey City location of the huge national chain Bertucci's (I was shocked; dragged there by business colleagues, I never would have chosen pizza from such a place).
Boca location. Click any pic to enlarge

Anthony's in Wayne PA
About two weeks after our Florida trip, I went to the Wayne PA location for lunch. The building lacked the external character of the Florida location; it was in a newly-built strip mall that housed other restaurants like Five Guys and Chipotle. Inside, however, was an inviting ambiance of dark wood, captivating rock and roll art (mostly black and white photos), Miami Dolphins memorabilia, and vintage rock played at moderate decibels. The friendly service matched the service we'd had in Florida. So let's talk about the pies!
Our Boca pie

Personal pepperoni pie, Wayne

Personal sausage pie, Wayne
Anthony's "warns" you that the pizza is "well-done" and in both places, the thin crust sported a lovely char on the bottom and some un-evenly burned edges. I don't regard the burned edges as a defect; too many places undercook their pies. Crisp pizza with good adhesion of ingredients requires a nice furnace blasting, and I'll gladly sacrifice a cornicione or two for that purpose.

prosciutto slice, Boca

Sausage slice, Wayne
One critical test for me is, can I lift the pizza by the cornicione without major tip sag and the cheese/sauce sliding off?  At Anthony's, both locations, the answer was absolutely YES. Certainly true for pies with modest or meat toppings. At lunch, one fellow ordered peppers and some other veg -- onions or mushrooms, I forget which -- and the combined weight and moisture weighed down the pie enough that he was tempted to eat the first few bites with knife and fork.
Charcoal char, Boca
I won't need to do any elaborate comparison of the Florida pie vs. the Pennsylvania pie, because they were nearly identical. I ordered sausage on my PA lunch pie; our FLA large pie was half sausage and half prosciutto (added after cooking).  In both places, we got some nice if unremarkable side salads (may have been a little better in FLA). In PA, five guys split an appetizer of their onion-rosemary chicken wings. I LOVED these wings, they are probably second only to the Korean Fried Chicken wings at Cafe Soho in Cheltenham (reviewed HERE). One lunch diner did say that he liked them a lot, but he missed the Buffalo sauce found on traditional wings.
Rosemary-onion wings in Wayne
Back to the pies! On top of that thin, crisp, crust (which was neither Neapolitan nor Trenton-style; Anthony's wonderful crust is unique) rested a nice tangy sauce mixed in perfect proportion with what seemed to be conventional dry mozzarella. The sausage toppings were big chunks of genuine stuff (although applied a bit sparsely in the PA location). One lunch diner chose the pepperoni pie and it had much better meat coverage. This pie is all about a signature crust in harmony with the other role-playing components. And it works wonderfully. We arrived just before noon to a nearly-empty large dining room on a Tuesday; by the time we left, folks were waiting for a table.
Pizza photography excitement in Boca

Photography: Enthusiasm curbed in Wayne
In the final analysis, Nick's coal-fired apizza was maybe 1% better than Anthony's. But we have to award MAD props to Anthony's for succeeding with this destination pie in cozy settings from FLA to PA. The crust is a 9.5, the toppings 9.5, the sauce a 9, the cheese an 8, the ambiance an astonishing 9, the service a 9.  Overall, Anthony's gets about a 9.25. It is easily the best pizza we've found west of Philly (Main Line and West Chester). It can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the pricier pies in Philly at Osteria and Stella. Kudos, Anthony!
Peppers and mushroom, Wayne

Interior, 11:40am, Wayne

Interior, 12:30pm, Wayne


Outdoor seating, Boca

5 comments:

  1. You're batting 1.000 with me, CC Pie Guy!

    My wife and I had planned to go into West Chester for a burger, but after reading your review of Anthony's Coal-Fired Pizza, we headed to Wayne, PA instead.

    It was the best pizza we've had in many years...a large pie split between eggplant and meatballs/ricotta cheese.

    It was large enough to satisfy our Sunday afternoon hunger and to offer a repeat performance for dinner tomorrow night.

    It was a great experience in and of itself...and the warm friendly service of the lovely West Chester University co-ed server "Sam" made our first visit a memorable event!

    We look forward to returning to Anthony's with good friends to audition a few different varieties.

    So where in the Philly-area should we head next, Pie Guy?

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  2. Glad you enjoyed it as much as we did. Almost every worthwhile place we eat gets reviewed here - see the index on the right side. We are pretty fond of Olive Branch on Gay Street in WC for tapas-style meals. Just had a fun meal of hot donuts and fried chicken at Federal Donuts in Philly. Review coming soon...

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  3. oohh.. would you look at the pizza pie, really tasty looking! I'm really going to visit Anthony's soon, I just so love all kinds of pizza. Does anyone been to Totino's Pizza Oviedo, FL ? Best Italian restaurant in Oviedo that I've been to. I found this link recently and tried them http://www.flickr.com/photos/115753762@N04/12190752743/ . I think you'll like their pizzas also. Anyways, fired pizza to me is a new thing, hope to try that Charcoal char, Boca the next time I visit there.

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  4. You actually ate at the Anthony's in Delray Beach, FL not Boca Raton. Coincidentally it is about 1.5 blocks from Scuola Vecchia. There is an Anthony's in Boca as well as multiple locations in southern Palm Beach county and Broward County.

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  5. You may be right! Can you tell from the pics?

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