Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Review: John's Pizza - Frazer (Malvern) PA

In October 2018, Philadelphia Magazine published an article specifying "30 Cheesesteaks to Eat Before You Die" and it included John's Pizza in Frazer PA as one of the best in the Philly metropolitan area:
It's got a huge dining room, a long counter, a vintage Pac-Man arcade cabinet in the corner, and signed pictures on the wall from Paul Anka, the Supersuckers, Kenny Rogers and Mr. Tony Danza. Know what they call that 'round these parts? Bona fides, man. This place has been around the block and back again, looks like it hasn't redecorated since 1981, and turns out a solid roster of 'steaks on crispy bread. The only option here is with onions or without, but if you need anything more than that, you're too bougie for John's anyway.

John's occupies a large rectangle building on Route 30, a particularly dreary stretch between Malvern and Exton with lots of dog kennels, sundry automotive services, a U-Haul store, a bowling alley, and a dive bar. 

Other than the tilted letters on the sign out by the road, there is nothing visually interesting to draw you into John's Pizza. In fact, I've driven by it frequently for nine years in my search for authentic pizza and never imagined it would be more than another mom-n-pop place slinging Sysco-sourced generic floppy cheesey pizzas.

A few years back, I conducted an extensive cheesesteak survey in Philly with a good friend, so I was excited to try this local entry endorsed by Philly Magazine. We stopped by for cheesesteaks and they were excellent, good chopped steak on a lovely fresh chewy roll with grilled onions and American cheese. Folks in this region of Chester County now have at least two great options for cheesesteaks, John's Pizza and The Pepper Mill in West Chester.

That might have been the end of the story, but we saw a nearby couple order a pizza. It looked great! Thin crust, clearly not generic Sysco stuff, and a deep red sauce with plenty of cheese. We vowed to return soon for the pizza, and we did.
Celeb photos from Philly TV newsmen of the past
In addition to the furnishings noted in the magazine article, we noted a group of photos of Philly TV news celebrities, going all the way back to the legendary Jim O'Brien, on air from 1970 through 1983 (trivia note: his daughter, Peri Gilpin, played Roz Doyle on Fraser). There are also framed newspaper clippings of special events at John's Pizza in the wake of the Phillies' 1980 World Series victory.
Our 16" sausage pizza
The staff at John's is casual and very friendly. Our server let me know that all the dough is house made, and that on a sausage pizza, the sausage is applied in raw chunks, as it should be.

We ordered a large (16") pizza with sausage; all of the pizza prices are modest by modern standards. Like most pizzerias, there are fountain sodas as well as a cooler of various soft drinks.

The pizza arrived and that golden-edged thin crust looked beautiful. The red sauce was a vibrant color, but we noticed it was applied in great abundance, resulting in a swirly pool of sauce and melted cheese on top. Without careful lifting on the first slice, you'd be at risk of the sauce and cheese sliding off.

This was less troublesome than it first appeared, because as the pie cooled a bit, the sauce and cheese congealed a bit and had better crust adhesion. I did eat the first bite of each slice with a knife and fork, but the rest was easily consumed without the bad habit of folding.

Despite the sea of red sauce, the crust was uniformly thin and crisp - no soggy spots anywhere. It sported really good char underneath and had a good bready flavor. 
Nice char under the hood
The red sauce, it seems, was so plentiful because it was the star of this pizza. Deeply flavored, both rich and sweet, it reminded me of the pizza at another local old-school pizzeria, Franzone's of Bridgeport. In fact, our pizza at Franzone's was also awash in a flow of wonderful sweet red sauce. In my review of Franzone's, I dubbed it "pizza soup."
Saucy pie from Franzone's
There was plenty of cheese here, but the cheese was largely a role player. The sausage turned out to be a perfect choice, because it was good quality genuine Italian sausage with ideal browning as it cooked on the pie. All told, each bite was delectable and surprisingly balanced, given the volume of red sauce.
Chris, one of the owners, making cheesesteaks (from facebook.com/JohnsPizza610.647.4297)
Our server told us that some customers ask for "light sauce" and I will certainly try one that way. John's Pizza is old school in all the right ways. You can't go wrong with the award-winning cheesesteak or the old-school thin-crust pizza at John's. We'll be back often for both.

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

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