The good news for the folks in and around this tidy burg of 8,000 residents is that NEPA/Old Forge style is getting some national attention. I've neglected the journey to NEPA for a long time because, frankly, this kind of pizza doesn't photograph well. Old Forge pie is pan-baked in rectangles, sold whole as a "tray" or in slices by the "cut." In most pictures, it looks like woefully undercooked Sicilian-style pizza, topped with a ghostly white cheese.
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. I started 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.
I stopped into Revello's around 3:30pm on a Saturday. This large and cheery space was empty, but I was greeted warmly and seated promptly. The decor is kind of 1960s retro, a good setting for a place that opened its doors in 1967.
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.
Here, I ordered 2 red cuts, one plain ($1.25) and one with sausage (40 cents extra). I indulged in a nice pint of Troegs seasonal beer for a modest $4.50.
The pizza arrived within 10 minutes, which makes me think that Revello's follows the method of preparing the pizza on pre-made shells from a local bakery.
The slices arrived together, one bearing two thick slices on sausage on top. My first impression was that I've never seen freshly-made pizza that looked more like the famous frozen pizza of my youth, Ellio's. Medium thick crust, some red sauce, and a scattering of pale shredded cheese on top.
However, even before the first bite, I detected a powerful but lovely aroma of onions. Onions are a hallmark of Old Forge pizza, whether minced in with the sauce (as it seemed here) or sliced and layered on top of the pie.
The shredded cheese looked like standard dry mozzarella, but it had that bland salty flavor of American cheese, as well as the texture. The sauce was a little sweet, tangy, and tasty. The crust was light and airy, with a very nice bottom crunch. The sauce and cheese did not adhere to the crust very strongly, perhaps more evidence that the crust was pre-made.
|Picture from www.revellos.com|
|Porketta sandwich. Image from Revellos.com|
Pat's and Geno's may not be the best cheesesteaks in Philly, but they are the big names and you visit there when you come to town. Revello's is one of the big names in Old Forge pizza, and it's worth a visit if you come to this cozy corner of Lackawanna County.
Many thanks to our friends at NEPA Pizza Review; please visit www.nepapizzareview.com 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: