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Looking for old pizza shops

I am researching mom-and-pop pizza shops in Pennsylvania for a grad school paper. My curiosity was peaked when I read this article:

http://www.thetimes-tribune.com/site/...

The fact that NEPA tops the list (Johnstown and Altoona are also in the top ten markets) struck me as unusual and made me want to dig deeper. I half-jokingly mentioned the idea to my professor, and he said to run with it.

So, I understand that Lombardi's in NYC was the first American pizzeria. From there, I presume Philadelphia had the first Pennsylvania pizzeria (perhaps the branch of Lombardi's that recently closed).

But when the popularity of pizza really took off after WW2, how did all these little pizza joints pop up all over the landscape? Were they always Italian-run?

So, if you have any suggestions for my research, I'd love to hear it. I'd particularly like to learn of any shops from the 1940's or 1950's that might still be operating, particularly in NEPA. Thanks!

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  1. In Philadelphia, I believe that the oldest, still operating pizza place (although they do a full menu) is Marra's on Passyunk Avenue in South Phila. They don't seem to have a web site, but they do have history on the walls. I believe it is still family owned and operated. There might be someone who could give you some first hand knowledge there. My understanding is that the pizza in NEPA is very different - there was a thread about someone trying to find out how to make a pizza from their youth. Good luck!

    2 Replies
    1. I'm not sure how old they are, but Marra's, Tacconelli's and Celebre's have been around for awhile. Another avenue to possibly investigate are Italian bread bakeries - most of them make tomato pie or stromboli and have been doing so since they opened.

      1 Reply
      1. re: lawgirl3278

        Thanks for all the tips. I had not heard of Marra's or Celebre's, but will definitely follow those leads.

      2. FYI - here is the link to the thread about pizza in NEPA
        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/432880

        1. Pica's in Upper Darby - opened in the 1940s, moved in the 1950s... great unique pie

          1. I've read somewhere that there was a fellow who sold pizza ovens along the East Coast back in the day -- 1940's??. Supposedly one can find good pizza by retracing his sales route. Check out donrockwell dot com.