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For Xplanted New Yorkers - pizza that tastes like pizza

I've been here a little over a year (after nine years in Brooklyn) and had just about despaired of finding a pizza place where they make pizza. I'm in the Rittenhouse area and local offerings like Gusto, Tower, Fellini Cafe, Rex's, etc. range - in my opinion - from the bad to the baffling. I have the utmost respect for my new city and its denizens, but they seem willing and able to call some very strange, slouching, misshapen things "pizza" - and then to happily eat those pizza-things. Local favorites - Mama Palmas, Gianfranco's - have been, to my taste, hardly better than the dismal average (the one exception being Tacconelli's, which I thought was terrific; but given the distance and the whole reserve-your-dough thing, it's not an everyday option).

But this past Friday, at one of those nice free-pizza-in-the-conference-room lunches that make working life more pleasant, I bit into a slice of pepperoni pie that tasted stunningly, shockingly and thrillingly similar to my old friend, pizza.

So if you're in the neighborhood, and if you came here from a place where they have pizza, and if you're in the mood for a good - not amazing, but I'll happily take "good" - pizza that you can actually eat right here in Philadelphia (they'll even deliver it right to your home!), I strongly recommend:

Dolce Carini
1929 Chestnut St
(215) 567-8892

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  1. We love Dolce Carinii. Their garlic pizza is amazing.
    Another place that is nearly as good (except their sauce is a little sweeter) is Lazarro's at 17th and South. Thank you.

    1. That place has good pizza? Good to know.

      Also, try the garlic pizza from NYPD (New York Pizza Department). Comparing such to NY is not my strong suit, but it is mighty tasty.

      Though this is not germaine to the whole NY pizza question, I recently found what I believe to be the Platonic ideal (if one exists of such a bastardization) of the buffalo chicken pizza. I was skeptical, but it was mighty tasty and spicy, at Top Tomato.

      1. I am not a fan of Lazaro's but will give it a second try - we ordered it when we moved in and it was far from delectable. And my Gianfranco on Broad experiences haven't hit the mark. So we tried Paolo's pizza the other night (12 and Pine) and were very happy with their thin crust, little tiny sausage nuggets and delivery time. Now, I won't step up to place Paolo's in NY Pizza vs Philly Piza debate either, I'm jsut sayin' i like the stuff and it could be worth a try....let the NYers fill us in.

        3 Replies
        1. re: rumdrinks

          Lazaro's is much greasier than typical, so if you don't like the grease dripping off the cheese, then it's not for you. But it's close to NY style which is what the OP is looking for.

          Dolce Carini is my definite #1 (in CC West).

          1. re: JugglerDave

            Ok, so seeing as how our tastes seem to be somewhat aligned, and we both like Dolce Carini, I'd be interested to know about your other pizza favorites. You go out of your way to say Dolce Carini is your #1 "in CC West" - this implies the existence of other #1's in other parts of the city. I am, accordingly, eager to have my horizons broadened.

            P.S. Is it safe to assume that you, JugglerDave, are somehow entangled with Bride of the Juggler? (not that you have to answer that).

            1. re: GDSwamp

              First, yes Bride of the Juggler and I are married, you may occasionally see us correct (or reaffirm) each others' posts.

              Now, as far as the pizza is confirmed, I unfortunately can't add too much outside of CC West (my residence of the past 12+ years). You hit the nail on the head, about places like Gusto & Tower etc. Although I do like Pietro's and Mama Palmas for what they are (but not NY-style).

              Now about broadening horizons...

              Tomato Pie. two suggestions.
              In town, stop by Sarcone's, they have a pretty good version.

              However, for carbohydrate nirvana, go to Marchiano's Bakery in Manayunk. It's not particularly convenient, on Umbria a couple blocks west of Leverington. A good walk from either the Ivy Ridge or Manayunk R6 station.

              The tomato pie is fantastic.

              The oregenata is fantastic -- a rolled ring of dough, filled with spices, olive oil, etc. so when you slice it you get spirals of layered goodness.

              The stuffed breads, with 5-6 different varieties (think "calzone-like" but not really) are very fresh tasting. For example, in the summer they have a jersey tomato, garlic and cheese version.

        2. Pietro's is my favortie pizza in CC, followed by Mama P's. Unfortunately we just don't have many good pizza spots. How hard is it? Lazaro's is my slice spot. $2 and you get a nice size, better than average for Philadelphia slice. I used to like Gianfranco's but they haven't been good the last few times so they are cut off. NYPD is probably the only other pizza place I would say is better than average. Lorenzo's is decent if you want a slop down but other than that quite bland. I will be trying Dolce Carini in the near future though, glad I heard that on the boards as I am in need of a decent pizza place to order from. Does Dolce Carini do anything else well besides pizza?

          1. There's good pizza in Philly, but what you're looking for is New York pizza, which is best found in New York. When I lived in Michigan for a year, I was amazed at what passed for pizza there (pineapple, ham, and tomato sauce...and their cheesteaks were even more bizarre). I think one's perception of pizza is mostly whatever one is used to. We used to have a Lombardi's (part of the NY Lombardi's) that made New York pizza, but they closed over a year ago. Don't know whether you like Patsy's pizza, but Pietro's here is part of that chain.

            1. I think this gets into the question of whether you believe there is such a thing as objective "good taste" - a question to which I'm not sure I have an answer.

              On one hand I totally agree with you - we all like different things and no one's opinion about what they like can be wrong. I've read sincere, enthusiastic recommendations of places like Tower pizza that had me rushing over for a pie, only to find what was, to me, absolute dreck - but the person who recommended it didn't think so. So clearly, one man's pizza is another man's poison.

              BUT, on the other hand as a 10-year New Yorker and a 14-year New Havener I've spent a lot of my life in places where competition between a large population of pizza makers, with a long history behind it, led to pizza that I honestly think was "better" than stuff like what they serve at Tower - in an objective sense. Great pizza offers a delicate balance of sweet and savory flavors, crisp and chewy and gooey textures. A pizza from Grimaldi's in Brooklyn is a carefully constructed dish; a pizza from Tower is some glop on some dough. So with a place like Pietro's on Walnut, I see the resemblance to its New York cousins, but their sauce is too sweet - bluntly sweet, with no real tang - and they pile on the toppings with no regard for that balance of textures/flavors. The result is o...k... but nothing to write home about. In my opinion.

              Which most Philadelphians clearly disagree with. Which is GREAT for my neighbors, and more power to them. I just think they're wrong...

              1 Reply
              1. re: GDSwamp

                pizza really is a matter or taste and i am definitely not even in the realm of snobbery when it comes down to it. being a south philly italian my family and i always made/make our own pizza which i would definitely recommend you try. pizza joints, no matter how good still turn me off, even in new york, though i have eaten good (not just decent pizza) in both philly and new york. pizza in the south is the most vomiquetesque thing in the world however.

                someone above mentioned sarcone's and marchianno's. i completely agree with their recommendations. sarcone's pizza is made in a style more like focaccia (as is cacia's in deep south philly), thick and square with a thin layer of topings. and they use their bread dough, so tis delicious. i grew up around the corner and we've definitely used their dough to make pizza when feeling lazy. :) and marchiano's is near where my best friend gre up in roxborough, and they make excellent stromboli and oreganata. their tomato pie might not be to your liking though i have always loved it.

              2. GDswamp - I recently posted on the NE board http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                and thought you, as a 14 yr new havener - might be able to help! If so, pls post there or else email me at rumdrinks at yahoo dot com.

                1. Yah there's just not enough competition and no gold standard (or multiple gold standards) like in NY. My solution was to basically just give the stuff up except when I visit my folks. NYPD is decent, like if it were in NY I wouldn't avoid it but I wouldnt seek it out either. I miss the Met a lot more than I miss the pizza.

                  1. Its not exactly in Philly, but if you ever wander up to Doylestown (north/west? of Philly up route 202, the BEST friggin' pizza is at Jules Pizza.

                    Its ULTRA-Thin Crust. Amazing selection of toppings (whole, or half pizzas, large or medium sized) all natural ingredients.
                    They make the pies in a long rectangular shape, and the pizza is THE BEST and could rival anyplace in NYC.

                    They also have a small selection of pizza "slices" sold by the inch, available at the counter, but 2 people can easily eat one large pizza.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Sethboy

                      Jules in D-town ranks as one of the most OVERRATED culinary experiences of my life. It was talked up so much, I was ready for THE pizza experience of my life. My Mom (a Port Richmond native) said, and I quote, "better than Tacconelli's!" It was not. Way more yuppified than Tacconelli's maybe. It was not bad, but certainly not the best. I tried 3 or 4 different styles and toppings, none of which stood out. Tacconelli's remains the best pizza in our fair city, with DiLorenzo's (Trenton....close enough) right up there and worth the trip. And so what, big deal, we don't have good pizza.........if you want pizza go north, if you are here, have a rost pork italian, or a cheesesteak, or a hoagie, or snapper soup, or pepper pot soup, or ice cream or a burger (so many good burgers) or a microbrew or..............you name it! Pizza is overrated anyway ;)

                    2. As a native New Yorker and pizza maven ( our family makes pilgrimages to Pepi's in New Haven when in NE), I too have been shocked by my adopted and beloved new city's pizza choices. Dolce Carina is across the street from us so it is our standby: quite decent and often better. NYPD is a must when walking to the Ritz (it is on 1oth just above Walnut). Last week i was walking back from the Phillies game and stopped at Napoli (I think it was around 7th and Christian)and was pleased. Tower is a major disappointment, Gianni Jr's is inedible, Mama Palma's is fun and Gusto makes great subs.
                      There is also a good place in S. Philly down near the stadiums called Celebre's that has very eatable pies.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: phillydoc

                        There seems to be a consensus that NYPD is decent. The name aroused my instant skepticism (is it safe to assume that, in this case, the acronym stands for New York Pizza Department?) but I will have to give it a try.

                        Also, does anyone have an opinion on Marra's? I haven't seen it mentioned much on the board, but I have one friend who loves it, and on sliceny.com's American Pizza Timeline -


                        - Marra's name appears along with a list of the critical pizzerias in American history (Pepe's and Sally's, Lombardi's and Totonno's, etc.), so I'm intrigued.

                      2. We moved to Phila. in January - my husband had lived his whole life in Connecticut, and I'd lived there for 26 years. He is a self proclaimed pizza snob, having been to Pepe's and Modern in New Haven countless times, not to mention other very good places in Bridgeport, Middletown, etc. He was wondering if we'd be able to find good pizza here.

                        I can't say we'd tried that many places, but we'd tried NYPD and Marra's, and were unimpressed (I was particularly disappointed in Marra's, as I went with high expectations). He'd also tried Napoli's and was equally unimpressed. I'd tried Joe's on 16th St. and also Top Tomato's, but knew neither would be up to his standards. None were bad, just none were great.

                        One day about a month ago, he came home and said he'd happened on a place that was not Pepe's or Modern, but pretty darn good. He'd brought home a menu, for whenever we next felt like pizza. When I read this thread the other day, I told him about Dolce Carini, but he couldn't remember the name of where he'd been. So we dug out the menu... and sure enough, Dolce Carini!

                        We happened to be in Center City West the very next day, so we stopped for slices there. Again, very, very good! Not equal to the New Haven ones, but closer than anything else has come.

                        We've yet to try Tacconelli's though.

                        We've also heard that there's a place somewhere near 11th and Christian, we think called The Pizza Place...has anyone been?

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: lauracohenromano

                          Tacconelli's is worth the trip, in this pizza snob's opinion. I will admit that I had it on the heels of a string of disturbing Philly pizza experiences. But I'm pretty confident that my critical faculties were in reasonable shape.

                          They've got their own style, not exactly in line with either the great New Haven places or the great NYC places, but equally special, I think.

                          1. re: lauracohenromano

                            Are you talking about Lorenzo's at the corner of 9th and Christian? It is now open til 8pm - use to close at 5 or earlier. Great slices, but when I have ordered a whole pizza it hasn't been the same - go figure

                          2. Okay everyone. Other folks must try Celbre's. A native Philadelphian who took me to Tacconelli's took me there too and said it was a close second. I haven't been there since the 76ers were in the playoffs but it was the perfect pre-game meal and my son who is a pizzatarian and went to Wesleyan just so he could be near Pepe's won't visit us in Philly without a request to go back. Worth a try!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: phillydoc

                              I'll try it, definitely. I admit that some of the desperation has gone out of my pizza pursuit since finding Dolce Carini (to think it was right there, all along), but even in normal mode I am always excited to discover new pizza places.

                            2. Most of the Philly pizza I have found so far has been pretty weak, although I had a good pie with garlic crust the other day from Soho Pizza in Old City, so life isn't so bad. Since everyone is naming their fav spot around the Philly area, the best pizza I have found is Italian Delite on Sproul Rd in Broomall. I have lunch there every Friday. The pizza, salads, strombolis are always good and their cheesesteaks are the best I have found. Has to be one of philly's best.

                              1. I'm no pizza connoisseur but I do consider myself to have decent taste buds. Am I the only one who REALLY likes Bucca Di Beppo's Margherita or do I need to run from these boards, screaming, with a bag over my head?:)

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: isadorasmama

                                  Haven't tasted the pizza in question. Taste is taste and as the saying goes: there's no accounting for it. So hold onto the bag for now. I am reminded of how sad I got when I asked a teenager who's father is Italian for her favorite restaurant and she said Olive Garden. Or when someone in Philly goes to Subway. I don't want to go off and pick on you as you seem a nice and sensitive soul and fear the wrath of foodies. Its just that in a city as diverse and neighborhoody as Philly to go the corporate food route seems a shame when there are so many independent places. We thrive when there is diversity in food and not just chains so sure Starbucks has its place and the big steak chains have their place and Bucca di Beppo has its but lets fear losing the small neighborhood places and have everything seeming like a mall. Sorry for the rant. Nothing personal, except a personal peeve.

                                    1. re: phillydoc

                                      As my NN would imply, I do panini for a living. And when I make a tuna panini it's always with good quality imported tuna packed in olive oil.

                                      But, for whatever bizarre reason, I myself occasionally NEED a Subway six inch tuna. I don't know why, but when that urge hits (luckily only couple of times a year), nothing else will do.

                                      That said, haven't had pizza from BdB, but I'll relate something that might get the BdB off the hook. I grew up in Stamford. Everyone in SW Connecticut considers themselves a pizza connossieur, because we were smack dab on the Hoboken to New Haven pizza corridor. So to eat pizza from any chain was simply heresy.

                                      Then Bertucci's came along. It was a chain. It was good. Not Pepe's/Sally's/Modern/Colony good, but pretty danged good compared to most others.

                                      So it's possible that BdB does a good pie. Not likely, but possible.

                                      I'll add I've never had a pizza worth remembering in SE PA. Not that I've had many, and those were mostly in the KoP/Gulph Mills area, where I once briefly owned a home... but that's a different story for another time and another forum...

                                  1. Since trying Angelino's, I never order anything else for delivery. The only place I have found in Philly that uses garlic seasoning and parmesan.

                                    I haven't tried Dolce Carini, might have to stop this afternoon.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. I just read through this entire thread and I have to admit it fascinates me how transplants to Philly view the different offerings the city has. Let me give you a little background:

                                      I'm an Italian-American born and raised in the South Philadelphia area who then moved to New York City and now lives in Chicago (I'm on a hunt for good pizza here, its not been easy). Now, for those comparing New York pizza to Philadelphia pizza, please just stop. I'm not saying that NY is better or Philly is better, but they are very different, and its probably not completely fair to compare as if it was apples to apples. Also, please don't assume that I believe either types are true "Italian", they're also not - pizza in Italy is very, very different.

                                      Furthermore, for those looking for good pizza in the confines of Center City, that also needs to stop - ain't gonna happen. You need to venture a little further out of the Delaware-Schuylkill/Spring Garden-South square to find really good pizza. Interestingly enough, a couple of great places have already been mentioned, but I have a feeling the folks that thought it was 'just ok' didn't know what to order. Here are some suggestions:

                                      #3 Family Style Pizza, 74th and Dicks Avenue, Southwest Philly
                                      This decades-old pizza shop on the edge of Italian Southwest Philly has pizza that probably epitomizes the Philadelphia-style, which actually has GREEK (that's right, Greek) influences. The BEST to order is a small pizza lightly crusted (you have to SAY lightly crusted), I would only get pepperoni on top, the sausage isn't great and once you venture into things like mushrooms, green peppers, ham, etc well then you probably really don't like great pizza. For some reason, the small comes out tasting the very best, so you'll probably need two if you're two people, I can easily eat one (and I'm a small guy).

                                      #2 Celebre's, just below the intersection of Packer Ave and Broad Street, South Philly
                                      There was as time when Celebre's would have been #1 on the list, but that passed right around when Ronnie Celebre, a very good friend of my father's, sold the business near 10 years ago. The name is the same, the pizza is still VERY good, and Gloria, who has waited on my family since I was brought there in a baby carrier near 30 years ago still works there. Trick here is you have to order the pizza WELL DONE, and get pepperoni and extra cheese. Once, I had Celebre's pizza at a bowling alley that was delivered and it was terrible, I couldn't believe it, and when I asked my dad (I was a kid) about it he explained that it needed to stay in the oven a bit longer to be really good. Thanks Ronnie.

                                      #1 Marra's, 12th and Easy Passyunk (that's Pash-unk to us natives), South Philly.
                                      Again, if you're looking for New York-style pizza and want an exact recreation, don't come here. If you're looking for the best pizza in Philly, hands-down, make the trek, and Tacconelli's can go pound sand, its delicious but its A) not Marra's, B) way too pretentious (come on, reserving dough?) C) a little too thin, and finally D) trying to cater to what my dad would call "those Center-City folk" (one of which of course I inevitably became - Queen's Village for 6 years). What he means is that its too "up-scale" (read creative), and not "real freakin pizza", quoting him here of course. At any rate, at Marra's, order a large with Pepperoni AND Sausage, tell them to cook it well but not burn it (the slice should near stand straight when you hold it), and get a Marra's Antipasta to munch on while you wait. Vincenzo behind the bar will pour a healthy carafe of red wine (choices are red or white, thats when you know you're in South Philly), and if you're lucky enough to get Connie as a waitress be prepared to tell her your family history (she's the best, really). After dinner walk a block and a half up Passyunk and get coffee and tiramisu at Rosalena's, you won't regret it.

                                      Now, if ANYONE can make these same type of suggestions for Chicago, for the love of Pete, PLEASE!.

                                      Cheers all

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: mbetoni

                                        Great post. I will try them all.

                                        1. re: GDSwamp

                                          i posted above about pizza snobbery (and being one) and marra's and celebre's both make very good pizza. try the white with broccoli rab at marra's, alot of cheese, but it tastes like butter.

                                      2. Another pizza lover here (from New York). I was in Philly on a brief trip last week and decided to try out Dolce Carini based on the recommendations in this thread. We went by on Tuesday night around 6:45 pm. There was almost no one out on the streets in the neighborhood at that hour, and there weren't any customers entering or leaving Dolce Carini either. We took that as a bad omen and decided to try somewhere else.

                                        We ended up at Pietro's on Walnut, which was quite busy when we arrived at 7, but amazingly had almost completely cleared out after we had been seated for 15 or 20 minutes (I guess folks in Philly have early bedtimes during the week!).

                                        We were very disappointed with Pietro's. Nice quiet atmosphere, although maybe a little too dark. But the bruschetta was bland - basically toasted stale bread slices spread with a soul-less salsa. The pizza was even more of a disappointment. We had half sausage and half pepperoni. The pepperoni was too greasy and too salty; the sausage, which could have been spicier, was not much more appealing. I can be happy with either thin or thick crusts, but Pietro's was thick and tough - a bad combination. And I completely agree with GDSwamp about Pietro's sauce: it IS "too sweet - bluntly sweet, with no real tang."

                                        Gianfranco is my favorite so far after several visits to this pizza-wasteland of a city during the past year (Gianfranco's is quite tasty, but only worth stopping by for a quick bite or takeout). Tried Bertucci's after loving the pizza and hot bread at the Bertucci's in Harvard Square in Cambridge - but Philly's Bertucci's had soggy (yuch) pizza.

                                        Hoping for a better experience at Lombardi's, NYPD's, or Marra's. I doubt I will be trying Tacconelli's (you have to order your own dough? are they kidding??).

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: racer x

                                          You call, you reserve the dough. It's like reserving a table. No big deal.

                                          They fire the oven only once so they can only make a limited amount of pizzas.

                                          1. re: racer x

                                            Tuesday is not the biggest night in town. You should see Dolce Carini's lunchtime crowd on a weekday, though!

                                            Even on Friday and Saturday nights Dolce doesn't have too many sit-in customers (I think they probably do 80% takeout/delivery business evenings anyway.

                                            Please do give it a try on your next visit & judge for yourself if it's as good as I think it is :-)

                                            1. re: racer x

                                              I like how this thread I started keeps resurfacing - as I progress in my own understanding of Philly pizza, the thread grows with me.

                                              racer x: first, Dolce Carini is pretty good, not amazing. When I'm feeling like a trapped, pizza-starved New Yorker it's an incredible relief, but it's not a destination place if you're living the lush life, pizza-wise (as I imagine you are if you live in the City).

                                              second: I loved the meticulous detail in mbetoni's post (above) and recently got around to trying Marra's, where I followed his ordering instructions to the letter. We really enjoyed our pie, and I felt I was starting to get a handle on the distinctiveness of Philly pizza after that meal. It was the first time I had a pizza here that - while it was not at all like my NY favorites - felt like the an honest, high-quality representative of a legitimately different approach to pizza (a different pizza dialect). So I'd recommend trying it out, though it won't remind you of Grimaldi's or diFara's.

                                              third: you can't simultaneously maintain that pizza is an art form AND sneer at Tacconelli's and their reservation policy. It's really not a big deal, and the pizza is pretty great.

                                              Tonight I'm going to Celebre's to continue my education.

                                            2. The pizza capital in Pa. is Old Forge, between Scranton and Wilkes-Barre. Just walk down Main Street. Pizza rules and it is all good and all slightly different from each other.

                                              1. Ok, I've been back to the City of Brotherly Love and sampled several more pizzas this week.
                                                My current take:

                                                1. GIANFRANCO PIZZA RUSTICA - in terms of the flavor experience, the pizzas here are heads above the competition; Gianfranco's will be my first choice for pizza in Philly; now if they only had a real restaurant to sit down and enjoy the experience in - I hate the rushed feeling you get at those tiny tables (and the place could stand to be a little cleaner ...)

                                                2. Dolce Carini - I went back during lunch time and found that it's a pretty popular place during the business day; VERY good pizza, and comfortable seating

                                                3. Soho - tasty pizza, although the presentation left something to be desired: even though the slice had been freshly reheated, the cheese still had that disgusting congealed look that develops after a slice has been sitting at room temperature for a while; I won't be back since Gianfranco's is just across the street

                                                4. Tacconelli's - the pizza wasn't bad - delicious garlicky sauce and thin, clean, crisp crust, but way too much sauce and not enough cheese for my taste; the overall experience though really put me off this place: it's in the middle of nowhere (if you're coming from Center City without a car), you have to reserve your own dough (gimme a break), they are picky about how they combine toppings (you can have one or more toppings on the whole pie OR half-and-half, no other combinations), and no prices on the menu (arghh!) - vastly overrated

                                                5. Pietro's - nice sexy ambience for the after-work crowd, but the pizza sucked (see my comments above in this thread)

                                                6. Marra's - wow, the smells emanating from their Italian kitchen, especially from the seafood dishes, were heavenly! but the pizza was absolutely AWFUL; this was the worst pizza I have had in Philly! From the look and taste, it appeared that they used canned rather than fresh mushrooms (they had that gummy look that canned/bottled mushrooms get); and the cheese, sauce, and sausage were also foul. However, the pizza did look like it would taste good - in fact, the lady sitting at the booth across the aisle from me even commented on how good it looked when the waiter brought it out

                                                Alas, Bertucci's, formerly at 1515 Locust, has closed & their phone is disconnected - anybody know whether they have moved to a new location in the area?

                                                4 Replies
                                                1. re: racer x

                                                  While there are other aspects of your ranking that I don't agree with, the only thing I feel I must respond to is your Marra's bashing. In particular, if you generally have a problem with canned mushrooms (as many people do), well, you might consider ASKING the waitress in advance whether the mushrooms are fresh or canned. Problem solved. Canned mushrooms are not so rare in the pizza world. And it's strange that you couldn't tell whether the mushrooms were canned or fresh at Marra's. I'd know a slimy yellow canned mushroom any day. So this makes me question your categorization of the cheese, sauce, and sausage as "foul." We all have our own preferences for the density/quantity/saltiness of cheese, the sweetness/thickness of sauce, the chewiness and well done-ness of crust, etc... But I can't find anything about Marra's that comes close to fitting the description "foul."

                                                  1. re: ebingerite215

                                                    No reason to take anything here personally. It's just an opinion after all. Chacun à son goût.

                                                    I said that the mushrooms APPEARED to be canned in acknowledgment of the possibility that I could have been wrong and that they weren't canned after all. In fact, had the pizza tasted good, it would have been a moot point. Unfortunately, the pizza was awful, and those rubbery, apparently-canned mushrooms didn't help.

                                                    Surely, anyone reading reviews on a website like this realizes that everyone has his or her own take when it comes to a particular restaurant or dish. I am putting in my two cents so that the next person who comes along looking for suggestions for where to find great pizza in Philly, as I did a few months ago, won't just find glowing reviews about Marra's and Pietro's. (And if twenty or thirty other reviewers laud Marra's and Pietro's, then my lone dissent won't matter very much, will it?)

                                                    1. re: racer x

                                                      Oh sorry I apologize for the tone. As I said above, I know we all have our own pizza prefernces. I just thought it was way too harsh, and I can be a tough critic too, and yeah, I've got the New Yorker credentials to back me up, if that's so necessary for a post on this subject. Not only was it harsh, it just wasn't that helpful because it wasn't specific. I get what you're saying about the congealed cheese at Soho pizza, for example. It's so unappealing and I think you're right about that. But "foul" doesnt help clarify for someone looking for pizza suggestions. So I was truly perplexed and a little bit shocked by the description. I've never found Marra's to be anything but delicious. But I also tailor my ordering when I have strong opinions about toppings or crust, something this board and others like it teach very well I think.

                                                  2. re: racer x

                                                    I've been trying a few more Philly pizza places during recent visits. Here they are, in no particular order:

                                                    Celebre's - I love their crust: thick, chewy, almost like a really good bread; another plus is that they are very generous with the sausage topping (lots of long slices); but their sauce is too sour (and the pizza too salty) for my taste; I prefer a tomato-based sauce that is just a little sweet, as well as spicy

                                                    Slice - the only remarkable thing about their slice was the size (huge) - a single one of their slices would be the equivalent of 2 1/2 slices at a lot of other places; but the flavors of the sauce and cheese were forgettable; and the sausage was just a handful of large bland meatballs that literally rolled around as I lifted the slice; not recommended

                                                    NYPD - the guy pounding the dough in the window really knows what he's doing - the've got the classic thin crust down to a perfect science; now if they could just do a little more with the flavors of the sauce, cheese, and sausage (a generous topping of bland little sausage nuggets); would give them another try and see if their pizzas with other toppings are better

                                                    Gianfranco's - during recent visits, the pizza was not quite as good as I recalled from last year, but still better than most of the competition, so I would rate them along with Dolce Carini as my favorites

                                                    I read somewhere that Lombardi's closed. Are they opening at another site?

                                                    Any other recent finds that have not already been mentioned in this thread?

                                                  3. hi,theres a great new spot for pizza in so.philly.It's on the corner of 10 and federal st.The place is called "SLICE".Thin crust pie.They have a few tables inside and you can bring wine if you like.I tried the tomato pie and the bianco formaggio pie.Both very fresh and very tasty.Hope you try them and enjoy.

                                                    1. I'm a self-proclaimed pizza snob...here's my top 3:

                                                      #1 Tacconelli's - FYI, they have a second shop in Moorestown, NJ, you don't need to reserve anything. That's where I go. Best pie in the area.

                                                      #2 Marra's - Ask for it cooked well done. They tend to use more cheese than I prefer, but when it's cooked well it's delicious.

                                                      #3 (tie) Pietro's - It's not Lombardi's, which was my #1, but it comes close
                                                      Napoli's square pie - it's not thick Sicilian type square pie; it's thinner, crispy and addictive

                                                      I've had Dolce Carini & Celebre's and they are also very good. I need to try Slice.

                                                      1. ya know, i finally tried out tacconelli's a couple months ago and --- did i just order the wrong thing? i had the margherita pizza. sorry to say - i like chain restaurant bertucci's version of the margherita worlds better. i found the sauce at tacconelli's way too sweet, the cheese way too cheap, and where was the fresh basil? maybe i'll just try plain & simple cheese next time. if i do decide to give them another spin.

                                                        i was pretty pissed that i'd "reserved my dough" three days in advance, made reservations, and STILL waited around for 1 hour and 15 mins on a sunday evening for a table to be cleared. i couldn't even get a coke to drink while i waited. surely there must be better than this in our fair city. the place i miss is not in new york, but in gaithersburg, maryland, a little place called italian pines owned by some immigrants in an unassuming shopping center next to a nails shop and a baskin robbins. i want my perfectly garlicky, almost acidic sauce, milky cheese and a buttery-yet-crisp crust. sigh.

                                                        4 Replies
                                                        1. re: rabidog

                                                          You ordered the wrong thing -- the white pizza with spinah and garlic is the right thing!

                                                          1. re: Beulah

                                                            I have one question?? If the majority of us agree that most NY pizzas taste better then what we have here in Philly, why is it so difficult to duplicate A NY City pie here? Is it the dough?....The tomatoes?....The herbs or spices they use?...I really dont think so. It justs seems so simple!
                                                            Just imagine the $$$ one could earn, making a simple NY tasting pie here in our City!

                                                            1. re: layla529

                                                              I think a lot of pizzerias make money whether or not their pizza tastes good. I don't see a lot of pizzerias going out of business, no matter what their slice tastes like. So where's the incentive?

                                                              1. re: layla529

                                                                Really, what is the secret? I lived in and around New York for half of my life, now I live in New Orleans. I have thought that if I could figure out the magic I would open up a place here. Maybe it is the ovens and temperatures within. There does seem to be a Tri State concentration for the best pizza in the Northeast/US.The worst pizza in NYC is better than the best pizza here. How can we fix this.

                                                          2. We are both native New Yorkers and live near Ambler. Volare Pizza at the Ambler train station (R5 line) has the best pizza we have had in the 'burbs. The owner is from Naples, Italy and his wife is from Brooklyn. This makes a good pedigree for no nonsense New York style pizza. They are closed Sundays.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: TeamPhilly

                                                              Oh, I will have to try Volare. We always avoid it because it is kind of dumpy looking (though great pizza places usually are). We usually order from Ambler pizza but its been going downhill lately (too doughy). Maple Glen pizza is my favorite in the area, even though I have heard stories that the owner is a jerk! They make the best cheesesteak pizza... so good yet so bnad for you!

                                                            2. I like Tony & Joe's in Conshohocken. It's on Fayette Street not far from the Conshohocken exit of 76.

                                                              1. I just read this thread and am really surprised that no one mentioned Francoluigi's at 13th and Tasker. seriously: the tomato pie is to die for. Just the tomato pie, nothing else on it. I could eat one every single day and not get sick of it.

                                                                8 Replies
                                                                1. re: the fraulein

                                                                  Slice is a newer place in South Philly that has amazing pizza. Definitely rivals NYC pizza.

                                                                  1. re: philly123

                                                                    Gotta try this Slice place. It keeps coming up. What's it like?

                                                                    1. re: GDSwamp

                                                                      nice thin crust. quality ingredients, but some don't care for the cheese. The space is fairly non-descript - some typical pizza place tables and chairs in a smallish room

                                                                      1. re: Bigley9

                                                                        What's the complaint about the cheese?

                                                                        1. re: GDSwamp

                                                                          Rabidog has said the cheese is bland. I haven't noticed that (although I will pay attn with my next pizza) but I usually get Broccoli Rabe, garlic or hot peppers - very strong flavors - it has been awhile since I had a relatively plain pie. I usually agree with rabidog though, so I thought it should be mentioned

                                                                          1. re: Bigley9

                                                                            i am the girl who likes 10X the black olives though... love salt! it's got to be some strong cheese to compete. the rest of the pizza, especially the crust - is great.

                                                                            it's a total hole, but i'm digging the kalamata olive pizza at george's at 2nd and girard. NOTHING fancy about it, but it's good. crust does not rival slice's, though. i wish you could combine the best parts of both pizzas.

                                                                            now i'm hungry!!

                                                                      2. re: GDSwamp

                                                                        oh - and the only other thing they serve are salads

                                                                        1. re: Bigley9

                                                                          Bah- I lived in NYC for 6 years and ate LOTS of TERRIBLE pizza.
                                                                          anyway, here's my 5 cents:

                                                                          Lazaro's is usually good, and much better when you order something that has to be made fresh- their white pizzas and jumbo pie are about 500 times better than plain, I dont know why, maybe they just put more care into the specialty pizzas??

                                                                          La Rosa Pizza near Broad & Snyder - not new york style, definitely not fancy but their thick crusted sicilian pies are AMAZING. and they deliver all over the city, plain pie is only $10, tomato pies are terrific too.

                                                                  2. Pizza is neck and neck in my book with beer for favorite food!

                                                                    Though I am a native Philadelphian, I have spent a lot of time in NY, and my favorites there are Totonno's Coney Island, DiFara's Midwood, Lombardi's Spring Street and Little Frankies ?First Ave. Unfortunately, I have not had the opportunity to try any of the latest offerings, of which many look awesome, and I will do my best to get there soon.

                                                                    I have been to and love Sally's Apizza in New Haven. We plan our drive back from Maine to get in the line, lol.

                                                                    So, Philly pizza. It's definitely not up to our beer scene(truly world class!!). Definitely depends on where you are looking to go.

                                                                    In Blackwood , NJ, about 15 mins over the Walt Whitman bridge is Alfred's Tomato Pies. Definitely worth the trip. White, red, clam, etc. It's what you are looking for. Go and talk it up with Alfred. you will be comforted!

                                                                    Tacconelli's is good yet it's own style. I personally like a charred crust. White better there than red. The deal with the dough is that they have an OIL BURNING oven which is lit, extinguished, allowed to cool into cooking range, so they have a limited 'window' in which to make pies. Thus the need to plan the timing and number of doughs. Lol, it's always a wait. You would think they would be right on schedule with those constriaints! Still, you have to admit it is a unique scene and setting!

                                                                    I am surprised no one has mentioned the Dock Street Brew Pug at 50th and Baltimore Ave in West Philly. They make a nice wood fired pizza and brew excellent beer. All in an incredibly humble setting. Worth a try for sure.

                                                                    Gianfranco on 3rd Street is good as is Celebres on Packer Ave.

                                                                    Marra's has the oven, but lacks the fresh Mozzarella. As do most of the Philly pizzerias. I love the fresh mozzarella.

                                                                    Finally, about 90 mins up the turnpike is the town of Old Forge, just north of Scranton, PA. They have their own style of Pizza, dating from the mid 1900s. It is a square pan pizza with a nice light crust and does not use the fresh mozzarella. I am told that this stems from the fact that they were loyal to the Philadlphia 'politics', while the NYC 'politics' controlled the mozzarella. Regardless, the pizza is scrumptious and no exploration of pizza style and history would be complete without a visit. Try Arcaro and Genellli's(spelling?).

                                                                    All this being said, I make my own pizza quite a bit. And I look forward to my visits to NYC. I also read sliceny.com often, lol.

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Sun Ra

                                                                      If you're a sliceny reader, have you told them about the Old Forge pizza situation? My first thought reading your post was that I should copy it and pass it on to them - bet they'd be interested.

                                                                      (for everyone else reading, sliceny.com is an NYC-based blog/review site dedicated to pizza. Started out small and totally local but seems to have developed a national readership. kind of like... chowhound).

                                                                      1. re: Sun Ra

                                                                        Sun Ra you have given me my go to visual imagery for a day - a small smoosh faced dog spinning hops into ales, the Brew Pug!
                                                                        Thanks for the (unintentional I'm sure) smile for the day, I needed it!

                                                                      2. I can't believe no one's mentioned Joes @ 16th & sansom. Nice thin crust, lots of varieties, but the plain slice is even great! The sauce isn't sweet and the crust is tasty.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: howiseverything

                                                                          Joe's is damn good but not exceptional. Also they close early (7:30) which is annoying so get there for lunch, and get ready for a seinfeld experience..

                                                                        2. I'll echo what a couple of people have said so far--you miss your regional pizza. Philly pizza is different from New York. Strange, since we're so close, but true. So it's not a matter of "good" or "bad"--just different. There is a place on 11th that calls itself "New York Pizza Delivery". I can't tell you anything about it, though.