Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Review: Lorenzo and Sons Pizza, West Chester PA

Philadelphia is one of the truly great pizza towns. While there may not be an iconic "Philly style" pizza (other than a Philly tomato pie - details HERE), the best in town can stand with the top places in New York, Chicago, and New Haven. Thus, it was exciting to see a branch of a Philly pizza place open up in West Chester.
Monster slices at Lorenzo & Sons, West Chester
Just ten years ago, Philly trailed nearby Trenton NJ (home to a completely different kind of tomato pie), but the exodus of the great pie makers from Trenton has let Philly pass it by as the top Delaware Valley destination.

Philly has only one legendary pizza joint - the venerable Tacconelli's in Port Richmond. But many of the brightest stars of the Pizza Renaissance call Philadelphia home: Beddia, Pizzeria Vetri, Capofitto, Gennaro's, Zavino, Slice, Osteria, Nomad
Lorenzo & Sons, West Chester
There are some stalwart slice joints, too. One is Lorenzo's Pizza, located on Christian Street in the Italian Market. Another is Lorenzo and Sons, on South Street. For years, I've confused these two Philly pizzerias with similar names. (And let's not even bring Trenton legend DeLorenzo's into the discussion.) 
The Philly Taco
Both are famous for big slices of thin New York style pizza, often served to drunks in the wee hours of the morning. The bigger slices at Lorenzo and Sons are used for the awful "Philly Taco" by which a cheesesteak sandwich is rolled up in a slice of pizza, taco style.
A beautiful char on our slice at Lorenzo's Pizza in Philly's Italian Market
About a year ago, we visited Lorenzo's in the Italian Market, and we loved the $2 slice there. It was a near-perfect rendition of an uncomplicated New York slice. The kind of pizza that was ubiquitous until the 1970s, but which began to disappear as the mom-and-pop shops began cutting corners with inferior ingredients from mass suppliers like Sysco.
Corner of Gay and High Streets, West Chester
Almost two years ago, news broke that Lorenzo and Sons was opening a branch in West Chester in a prime location at the corner of Gay and High Streets. This prime property had been vacant for a long time and seemed like a great location - near West Chester University - for a slice joint. 

I had been thinking that I'd get a West Chester version of that great slice I had in the Italian Market, but it's actually the suburban location for the South Street Lorenzo and Sons, which I haven't experienced.
Second floor dining room
We visited at lunchtime on a sleepy summer Saturday. There are plenty of tables for al fresco dining and a spacious room upstairs, too. We were struck by the sight of the enormous 28" pies and the huge slices. Although one $3.50 slice was probably adequate to feed two people for lunch, we ordered one plain and one with sausage and pepperoni.

Like many slice joints, Lorenzo & Sons makes only a few basic pies for slice re-heating. Here, there is plain and pepperoni. For any other topping, it's added to the slice for the re-heat. Hence, our meat slice had the baked-in pepperoni, with the addition of pre-cooked sliced sausage. This never works out very well, because the toppings aren't properly integrated into the pie.

The staff was very friendly, and our oversized slices came out quickly. Each sliced overflowed the two paper plates on which it rested, and the two slices together filled the entire surface of the tray on which we transported them to the dining table upstairs. 
Good color underneath
The slice was, in a word, ridiculous. Far too big to pick up and eat, even with two hands. If you engage in the bad habit of pizza folding (thereby turning your pizza into a calzone), this was still too big to pick up. Lacking silverware, we simply tore off chunks until each slice was manageable.

I found that the crust had good texture, in the classic crisp-but-not-dry style of the better New York slices. The cheese was a good role player, and applied in near-perfect proportion. The sauce was tame and barely a factor. 
Cornicione was white-bready and bland
The baked-in pepperoni was standard grade, but it certainly enhanced that slice by adding a savory and salty note. The added thin slices of sausage were reasonably tasty, but of course well short of the great boost that chunks of cooked-on-pie sausage can deliver.

We enjoyed these slices, which were a measure better than the standard slice joint in the area. Still, when reaching the cornicione, the crust was revealed to be pretty low on character and flavor. It would have been no sin to leave the bones behind here.
Better slices at Lorenzo's Pizza in Philly's Italian Market
I wondered why this slice wasn't as good as the slices we had at Lorenzo's Pizza in the Italian Market, but of course now I know that this is not Lorenzo's Pizza, but Lorenzo & Sons.

In Philly, then, Lorenzo's Pizza is the hands-down winner for Slice Joint King. The absurdly large slices at Lorenzo & Sons are great for Philly's South Street or this college town, a good $3.50 value to be wolfed down by inebriated college kids. Lorenzo & Sons just won the local "best bang for your buck" pizza award.

Superior pizza at nearby RapiDough
In West Chester, Lorenzo & Sons adds one more decent choice to an improving if not yet great selection of pizza places. This is good pie, akin to the pizza at nearby Couch Tomato, but trailing RapiDough, whose Neapolitan pies are currently tops in town.

Lorenzo And Sons Pizza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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