|2012 pie from Palermo's in Pottstown|
This year, I accepted the assignment to choose and to haul in the six pizzas. Because I was coming north from West Chester, I calculated that it would not be too much of a detour to swing by the much-acclaimed La Vecchia in Phoenixville. However, Neapolitan pie does not travel well, so I decided instead to hunt for the best pizza in Pottstown.
|Mike's, on 601 N. Charlotte St.|
Internet searches yielded little useful information beyond Yelp, where most reviewers seem to be inordinately fond of the piemaker closest to their homes. No foodies (that I could find) are writing about the glories of any particular pizzaiolo, and no pie maker's website has anything more than stock images.
In fact, Pottstown was beginning to look a lot like West Chester: Pizza Kansas. Lots of pies, none that are special. I finally settled on Mike's because the brick oven seemed to signify that they were making an effort to differentiate their offerings.
I called and ordered six pies: Plain, White, Sausage, Meatball, Mushroom, and a Sicilian with pepperoni. I arrived to a small and tidy place with a friendly staff. The pies were nearly ready, but when they boxed them up, only five of the six were found. They forgot the plain pie, so they hurriedly put one together.
While I waited, I checked out the kitchen and oven. I suspect that the "brick oven" means "brick facade for a conventional gas oven."
Because I had to wait, the staff gave me a free 2-liter soda and a coupon for $5 on the next visit. A great gesture and a sign that they understand good customer service. Soon, I was on my way.
Our large crowd dove in and devoured the bulk of these pies, with most agreeing it was tasty and/or above average. What did I think? To me, they had soft, thick, doughy, Sysco-style crusts, decent tangy sauce, and way too much bland cheese. The meatball and sausage toppings were quite good; the mushroom and pepperoni quite standard.
The Sicilian had a nice fluffy base, and may have been the best of the lot if the cheese on top had been cut in half and cooked longer. The white pie was a mess -- it was simply an over-cheesed pie with no sauce and no nuance and no added touches like ricotta, garlic, or even olive oil.
The six pies came to $96, so the prices were fair. The crust gets a 5, the cheese a 4, the sauce a 6, the toppings a 6. Overall, pretty much standard fare here, given a boost by the nice staff. Fills your belly, but not your soul. The search for Pottstown area destination pie continues. If you know one, leave a comment!