I'm happy to report that the trend continues, strongly, into 2016. The newest contender is Rize Pizza, a small narrow space tucked into an aging strip mall in Broomall, PA (not far from Philly).
|Wall decor at Rize|
1. "Rize Crust" - square and airy which we let rize for 2-3 hours
2. Traditional Neapolitan Crust - thinner and round like a traditional Neapolitan pie
|Jim and Julia, Rize owners|
The Rize interior is typical strip mall - deep and narrow. There is a counter where pies by-the-slice are displayed, and just a handful of small tables. Beyond the pizzas, the menu included several intriguing salads, fries, soups, and desserts that we didn't sample, as well as an above-average selection of soft drinks.
Let's talk first about the round pie. Despite the name, it is not a Neapolitan nor even a Neapolitan hybrid. It's not baked at 900 degrees, and it didn't have that puffy, flexible, and leopard-spotted crust typical to authentic Neapolitan pizza. No matter - this crust was as good or better than most Neapolitans.
|Sickly looking cheese hiding the merits of this slice|
|Looking good under the hood|
Our three squares included:
- a conventional slice (red sauce and mozzarella) topped with nitrites-free pepperoni
- a slice topped with sausage and roasted orange peppers
- the "Venus" featuring fontina, fresh mozz, & feta cheeses, artichoke, spinach, roasted garlic, and red onion
On all three slices, the Rize crust was spectacular. It had a wonderfully crisp bottom, a light interior that offered both crunchiness and chewiness, and a golden edge that made for a near-ultimate cornicione experience. Underneath each slice was an odd but welcome scattering of sesame seeds.
The pepperoni pizza - excellent overall - was the most conventional. Like the round pie, this slice was covered with a generous amount of the mild mozzarella. The nice tomato sauce was a bit obscured under there. The crust was certainly up to the job of supporting all that cheese, but I'd like to try it with a different sauce to cheese ratio.
|Underside of the square slice|
|Sausage with peppers|
Despite the fairly generous application of both the cheese and vegetable toppings, each bite offered an optimal mix of flavors and textures. Unlike the other two pies, I wouldn't change anything about the Venus.
|Fried chicken and maple syrup|
|Upside Down slice|
The crust on the excellent round pizza is reason enough to visit Rize. The square slices are materially better, and that Venus slice was about perfect. After two visits, I have a good idea of which slice styles suit my palate.
|Underside of my Upside Down slice|
|Cheesesteak stromboli at Rize|
The top tier of pan pizzas include the Detroit style slices at legends like Norma's Pizza and Via 313, the indescribable hybrid at Binge House Pizza, or the classic square at NY Pizza Suprema. The square pie at Rize Pizza now joins that elite group. This pie is so good that there should be a line out the door. Absolutely destination pizza.