Sunday, August 30, 2015

Review: Rapidough Pizza Pies, West Chester PA

Although I've been able to report on pizza all across America (and the globe), I began this blog in 2011 to document my struggle to find pizza "worth the calories" in West Chester, PA. Downtown West Chester is a great dining destination, but it's been mostly a pizza wasteland. 

This college town features lots of cheap generic floppy pizza suitable to fill your belly for a few bucks. Up to this point, the best pizza has been a back-menu item at Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant. For a town that boasts so many good dining options, the pizza scene has been a flop.

Now two new contenders are coming to the capital of Chester County - Lorenzo's (of South Philly fame) and Rapidough Pizza Pies, recently relocated from Collegeville PA. On a lovely warm Friday evening in late summer, we stopped in not long after their August 17 debut.
The Ordering System

On that night, the town was bustling with al fresco diners on nearby Gay Street, but it was relatively quiet at Rapidough (on High Street, in the first block south of Market Street). During our visit, though, we saw more and more college kids begin to fill up the rustic-but-modern space.

Spacious and airy interior

The base $6.95 pizza is an authentic Neapolitan 10" pie, cooked rapidly at high heat. The 8" Kid Size pie is $4.95. You get a choice of four intriguing sauces: Tomato with crushed tomato and basil; Garlic-Pecorino with olive oil, garlic, and pecorino; Pesto with olive oil, garlic, basil, pine nuts; or Bolognese with beef, pork, and veal ragu.
The "Supreme"

The staff are welcoming and friendly as they help you navigate the curiously complicated ordering system. You pick your pizza (or pasta or salad) on a tablet, customize it your way, and swipe a credit card.

On the two pies we tried, both featured the base tomato sauce, which was pleasantly fresh but a bit tame - I'm keen to try the other options. Our youngest member chose the "Supreme" ($8.95) because it was loaded with toppings: pepperoni, sausage, peppers, onion, mushroom, olives. As usual, any pizza featuring "the works" is a mistake, and this was overloaded with wet veggies to the detriment of the pie's balance. The flavor was excellent, and some folks like piles of stuff on their pizza, but it generally obscures the crust and other elements.
Tomato sauce, fresh mozza, salami

I opted for a pie with tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella (all the pies feature the fresh mozz), and salami as a topping. I avoided the sausage because I feared it would be pre-cooked crumbles or slices - and indeed that is how the sausage appeared on the Supreme pie.

My pizza arrived quickly, as the Rapidough name implies. It was apparent that it's a genuine Neapolitan pie with a soft pale crust and nice leopard spotting. The crust alone elevates this pizza to the top echelon; I'd like the bottom a little darker and little crisper, but that is quibbling.

Like the tomato sauce, the mozzarella was fresh tasting but mildly flavored. Next time (and there will be a next time), I will spend an extra fifty cents to add some goat cheese or bleu cheese to punch up the flavor. But ideally, I'd like a stronger aged cheese baked in with the mozz. And, of course, the option of genuine Italian sausage topping that cooks on the pie.
Bolognesse Rigatoni - pic from

The salami was wonderful. A bevy of thin slices blanketed the small pie and added the perfect savory edge. Even as a pizza purist, I'm keen to try some of the other suggested pies like the Eggplant & Bolognese or the Fig & Bacon.

We did order the Rigatoni Bolognese, and it was very good, especially considering it was just $7.95. Likewise, our inventive watermelon and arugula salad was spot-on fresh and decorated with wonderful touches like oil-cured olives.

Rapidough places an emphasis on fresh and local, and it shows in the pizza, the pasta, and the salad. The front counter was decorated with a magnificent bowl of heirloom tomatoes from Pete's Produce in Westtown.

There is lots to like about Rapidough. A nice space, friendly staff, fair prices, and really good authentic Neapolitan pizza. West Chester just got a serious upgrade in the pizza department. As a bonus, Rapidough is a BYOB.

Finally, West Chester has a pizza worth eating more than once. This pie is not (yet) as amazing as my two other nearby favorites La Porta (Media) or Anthony's Coal-Fired (Exton), but it is easily the best in West Chester. There is still so much to explore on this menu, and I'm eager to return.

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  1. Looks good Im excited to try it out. I saw your review of Limoncello did you ever have pizza at the actual restaurant? I love their upside down pizza. Plus they have great specials on their pizza for happy there.

    1. I've never been in the WC restaurant, but I did try the Uwchlan location - but not the pizza. Everything was very good, nothing was awesome. I should get to the WC location soon.....

    2. Id recommend going during their happy hour. $7 pizzas and some other good specials too. Their regular pizza is good nothing special but upside down one is fantastic. Never tried any of the other pizzas there but they all look pretty good.

  2. I want to try Mercato at some point too