Monday, December 31, 2012

The 12 Breakout Pizzas of 2012

I began this pizza blog in 2011 to chronicle my quest to find "destination" pizza anywhere in the western suburbs of Philadelphia -- on the Main Line or near my home in West Chester. I found lots of top-rank pizza, but mostly because I was travelling to Brooklyn once or twice a week. I was able to sample legendary pizza like John's in Manhattan, Denino's in Staten Island, and Totonno's in Brooklyn. But the west-of-Philly offerings weren't strong.

2012 turned that around in a big way. The 2012 highlights include TWO newcomers on the Main Line (still nothing special in West Chester). Let's take a quick look at the breakout pies -- new and old -- of 2012.

12. Brick Oven Pizza 33 (Manhattan). I had the great fortune to attend a New York summer party where the owner of Pizza 33 brought some pies. Saucy, square, simple, sumptuous. Brick Oven Pizza 33 Review
Brick Oven Pizza 33 at the summer party

11. Pizza Quixote Carbonara Square Pie (West Chester PA). From eating great pie and perhaps more so from reading about pizza techniques on Slice (, I made some pretty decent pies at home. I'm not yet a dough maker, but I can buy some good frozen pizza dough at the Franca Bakery stand in the Trenton Farmer's Market. I steal a little bit of technique from a bunch of sources, such as putting on ingredients (fresh basil, grated cheese) after the bake, in the Dominic DeMarco (Di Fara) style. My Own Pizza Carbonara (review/recap)
Pizza Quixote home creation

10. La Montecarlo (Rome). Just a whisper-thin crust that managed to be crisp but not cracker-like, with a smear of tomato sauce and garlic chunks. Simple and delicious for 5.50 Euros. American pie slingers could learn so much here. La Montecarlo Review
Pizzeria La Montecarlo

9. 2Amy's (Washington DC). This place has a big reputation for great Neapolitan pizza and for crowds of faux hipsters who let their children run through the place screaming while ignoring them. Our visit there pretty much confirmed that. Despite the hipster wannabes and their unsupervised offspring, this was the best Neapolitan pie I've had. I'm not keen on Neapolitan in comparison to a slice of Trenton or New Haven pie; it's softer and frequently too damn wet. But the execution here was superb; no soggy bottoms. 2Amys Review

8. Wiseguy NY Style Pizza (Washington DC). Another DC entry! This was a separate trip; we went there for the preview party and discovered the NY slice. He's doing so well, the phone is off the hook. The NY slice is not my preferred style -- it ranks after Trenton style and Neapolitan, but I did gain a fuller appreciation. Still, folding a slice is just wrong!  Pizza is not a sangwitch. Wiseguy NY Pizza Review
NY Slice, executed flawlessly

7. Santarpio's (Boston). Classic family joint near Logan Airport. Thin, crisp crust, salty sauce, reminds me of Denino's in Staten Island. I love finding a neighborhood joint where the staff doesn't regard your suspiciously. With an appetizer of grilled meats, how can you go wrong? Beautiful classic pie. Santarpio's Review

Santarpio's Pizza, Boston

6. Nick's New Haven Pizza (Boca Raton, FL). This coal-fired monster proudly backs up its New Haven heritage, and stands alongside Modern Apizza and Pepe's as the real deal. Nicks New Haven Pizzeria Review

The awesome char at Nick's

5. Papa's Tomato Pies (Trenton NJ). It took the closure of the Trenton DeLo to push me to Papa's, and I'm so sorry I missed it all those years I lived nearby. It's a vanishing style in a vanishing neighborhood. Get there soon. Papa's Tomato Pies Review

Throwback pies at Papa's

4. Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza (Boca Raton FL, Wayne PA, and other locations). Like Nick's, I discovered this gem in Boca Raton; after a long wait on a summer night, we were rewarded with astonishing coal-fired pie. To my further amazement, it's a 30-store chain with a Wayne, PA location just minutes from my home. Consistently awesome. Anthonys Coal Fired Pizza Review

A coal-fired slice at Anthony's

3. La Porta (Media PA). Famed Philly chef Peter McAndrews opened up this pie-and-small-plates place out in Philly's Main Line (Rt 352, Gradyville) and cranks out artisan pies of great taste and modest prices. With La Porta and Anthony's, the western burbs of Philly phinally have destination pie. And if the killer pie was not enough, the "Dutch Fries" are an exotic delight. La Porta Review

La Porta knows how to cook a pie

2. Forno Marco Roscioli (Rome). Giant rectangle pies, hacked into smaller rectangles sold wrapped in wax paper. An astonishing introduction to Roman pizza. Everywhere in Italy, I found crust and sauce SO DAMN GOOD that the cheese was a distraction. Forno Marco Roscioli Review

Forno Marco Roscioli - pizza as pretty as the Mona Lisa

1. DeLorenzo's (Hudson St, Trenton NJ). This has been my favorite pizza since 1980. There have been strong challengers -- Di Fara in Brooklyn, and Papa's Tomato Pies on Chambers Street in Trenton, but the original DeLorenzo's remains #1. It was a mecca-like trip to return there for one last visit before that original location closed forever. Happily, the family is still making that same pie in their Robbinsville location. DeLorenzos Tomato Pies Review
DeLorenzo's - Still The Best

2012 Honorable Mentions: 

Comet Ping Pong, Washington DC

Bar Foscarini, Venice

Ricca Pizza, San Gimignano, Italy

Zavino, Philadelphia

Nomad Pizza and more at the S.Philly Pizza Olympics

1 comment:

  1. Seems like you’re a pizza fanatic! Pizzas that are cooked using brick ovens are the best pizzas that I’ve ever tasted. I also have my own industrial brick oven at my yard and we usually make many varieties of pizzas and bread that my family always enjoy. Anyway, you’ve got a great list of pizzerias here. I’ll try one of them one day. :D

    -Nohemi Tutterrow-