Friday, March 10, 2017

Review: Arcaro & Genell, Old Forge PA

After years of reading about Old Forge style pizza, I made the 2.5 hour drive on a Saturday to discover "tray" pizza in Old Forge, just outside of Scranton PA.

Main Street in Old Forge is lined with Italian restaurants and pizza joints, and there are several more on the side streets. Census stats say that more than 40% of Old Forge residents have Italian roots, so perhaps that ties in to the ratio of pizzerias to the population.

Most Old Forge pizzerias offer two basic styles of pizza. The red pie is a conventional rectangular pizza with red sauce, topped with mild white cheese that could be American, mozzarella, or a blend. The white pizza is typically made with a layer of dough on top, dusted with herbs, so it really is like a funky grilled cheese sandwich.

I started my day with the two rivals who are within a block of each and are the best-known: Arcaro & Genell, and Revello's. You might think of them like you think of the New Haven pizza rivals, Sally's and Frank Pepe's.
The bar inside Arcaro & Genell
Most of the Old Forge "pizzerias" are more like a full restaurant or tavern. Revello's had a diner-like feel, but Arcaro & Genell was dark, big but cozy, and felt like a trip back in time. I'm sure it's been updated (and expanded) since opening in 1962, but I found it to be very Italian, very friendly, and curiously packed with happy patrons (some at the bar, others in groups at tables) around 3:15pm. This is not a "drop in for a quick cut" (slice) kind of place, but that was my agenda.
A cut of red
I was seated in a booth, and I ordered a cut of plain red pie, and a cut of the white spinach pie. Service was excellent, and I was treated warmly even though I was clearly an outsider here.
Under the hood of my red cut
The slices arrive in about 15 minutes.Many Old Forge pizzerias use pre-made shells for the crust (baked locally) on the single layer red pie. I was pretty certain that the crust at Revello's was a bakery shell. Over at Elio G's, all the crusts begin with fresh dough. Here, the white pie was made with fresh dough (as I suspect all are), but I'm still not certain if the red pie used a bakery shell.
The white cut, with spinach
On the red pie, the sauce was deeply flavorful, a little sweet, and displaying a lot of the onion that is common to Old Forge pizza. The top was blanketed in what looked like sheets of pale white cheese; I could not discern if the highly processed cheese was molten shreds or if it had been applied in slices. The ghostly white of the cheese blends used in Old Forge always makes the pie look undercooked, but it's a signature feature. Anyway, this mild cheese added mostly a creamy and salty element, which are both good things by me.
Cross section of the white cut
The crust was medium thick, but light and airy. It sported a nice, oily, golden crisp on the bottom. All told, this was a well-balanced slice that delivered great flavor and texture. In my notes, I concluded that it "tastes much better than it looks."  A nice cut for $1.30.

The cuts from white pies, with the double crust and hefty cheese filling, are about double the weight; my slice with spinach was $2.50. My big corner cut was about the size of a generous grilled cheese sandwich, but so much more dense. The top and bottom both sported an almost pretzel-like crunch, and it was dusted with a nice mix of Italian herbs, most prominently rosemary.
Underside of the white cut
Some reviewers have suggested that the cheese blend includes some mozzarella, and it might. In my notes, I indicated that this hefty molten ooze of cheese tasted like American cheese. Regardless, I loved this belly bomb. Yes, it is some odd hybrid of a calzone and a grilled cheese sandwich, and I'd enjoy it even more with some piquant red sauce for dipping.

Overall, Arcaro & Genell is a winner that, alone, justified my trip to Old Forge. When I return, I'm coming with friends and family for a full sit-down meal. I can't argue with those who prefer the across-street rival Revello's Cafe, but for me Arcaro took the prize hands down. It may be that Arcaro & Genell is better for adult groups, while Revello's is more kid-friendly. It certainly was a great introduction to Old Forge style pizza. Two thumbs up.

Many thanks to our friends at NEPA Pizza Review; please visit for a wealth of reviews of pizza in Old Forge and all over the NEPA region. Also, check out the coming documentary on Old Forge and NEPA styles of pizza at:

Arcaro & Genell's Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


  1. Make your way back to Scranton to sample Vince the Pizza Prince. An unusual and addictive version of Neopolitan pizza. Molten, orange, spicy, terrific. Also, cross the river toward Trenton and head to Hamilton Square for Corleone style pizza at (yes, that's their name) a takeout-only pizzeria whose signature pie I wrote about for Edible Jersey magazine, Fall 2016 ( You will see the roots, if not the predecessor to Old Forge pizza in the Corleone. An iconic pizza.

    1. Rich - Holy cow, that Corleone pie goes to the top of my list. I can't beleive this is the first I've heard of it, I worked in Trenton for 19 years and lived in Yardley, still lots of roots in Bucks/Mercer area. I do plan another NEPA trip, need to hit Senapes and Victory Pig and some more of the Old Forge joints. Vince is on the list now too. Thanks!