Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Review: Joe's Pizza, Philadelphia (Rittenhouse Square)

Driving from the western suburbs into center city Philadelphia, we decided we'd grab some pizza for lunch on a summer Saturday. We did a quick Internet phone search to find good pizza, previously untried, near City Hall. 
The usually-reliable Thrillist had a compact list that included several of my favorites in town, such as Nomad, Zavino, Pizza Brain, and Beddia (the latter two not really close to City Hall).
Included on that list was Joe's Pizza, a slice joint near Rittenhouse Square. Thrillist noted "At Joe’s, it’s your standard, no frills pizza, but sometimes that’s just what you want." 
I was hoping for an experience like I'd had at other east coast slice shops, such as Tommy's Pizza in the Bronx or New Park Pizza in Queens. 
Joe's was pretty big inside, with nicer-than-average booths and decor in two dining rooms. No table service - you order at the counter whether you are dining in or taking out.
For our group of three, we ordered a large pepperoni pizza (after determining that the sausage topping was standard grade pre-cooked stuff) and a slice of the white pie with ricotta, just to try it.
A quick note on the white pie - it was pretty bland. There was a generous mix of mozzarella and lumps of ricotta, but it needed garlic, salt, or something to make it more than a ghostly grilled cheese.
The red pie was big - about 18" - and generously covered with thinly sliced standard grade pepperoni. The pie had some eye appeal, with a nice golden brown cornicione.
The crust was thin, a little crisp and a little chewy, and sturdy enough to support the toppings. It was tasty enough that we ate the bones, but it did reveal itself to be mass-sourced dough. This is the same crust you get at dozens of mom and pop shops and local chains. I'd guess it came from Sysco.
Likewise, the tomato sauce was mild and the cheese was a role player. It was all expertly rendered and balanced, but it was a pretty standard pizza; only the orange grease leaching from the pepperoni gave it any zest. Still, I eagerly ate three slices, because even ordinary pizza is still pretty good. 
Nicely cooked crust
However, within a few blocks there are many other pizza shops making distinctive destination pizza. I understand that in addition to this standard pie that we ate, Joe's makes a Philly tomato pie - from scratch - but that you have to call ahead two hours to get one.

With excellent friendly service and an attractive dining room, Joe's is a decent, if unremarkable, pizza stop in this part of center city Philadelphia. A good slice shop is hard to find. Much better is nearby SLiCE for Trenton style tomato pie, or Lorenzos in Philly's Italian Market. 

Joe's Pizza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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