The 5 Best Pizza Places in Philly, According to a Local

published Jun 17, 2017
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(Image credit: Susanna Hopler)

Philly is known for its gooey cheesesteaks and soft pretzels, but we’ve been known to sling a mean pizza pie, too. Within our city limits you’ll encounter a range of styles, from wood-fired Neapolitan-style pizzas to Brooklyn-style thick-crust pizzas.

My husband, who was born and raised in Philly, insists that no roundup of Philly’s best pizza places would be complete without mentioning two legendary pizza institutions: Tacconelli’s Pizzeria, a brick-oven pizzeria in the Port Richmond neighborhood, and South Street’s Lorenzo & Sons, where $3.50 gets you a humungous, no-frills New York-style slice of cheese pizza served on two paper plates.

While many adore these old-school places, there’s no comparing them to the newer pizza restaurants on the scene, at least in my humble opinion. Not only do these new pizzerias have serious accolades, but each place either honors classic pizza traditions or pushes the envelope, elevating the art of the pie.

Here are five places that are currently making the most transcendent, best-reviewed pizzas in Philly.

This wood-fired Neapolitan-style pizza place from restauranteur Marc Vetri is one of the crown jewels of Philly’s pizza scene. With an open kitchen and communal seating, you’ll feel like you’re part of the action. They tout slow fermentation — three days, to be exact — and fresh flour as the secrets to their soft, chewy crust’s success. Dip into a classic Margherita or opt for an ever-rotating seasonal pie. And be sure to save room for an oven-baked Nutella dessert pizza pie dotted with marshmallows.

There’s a reason Nomad Pizza is the highest-rated Philly pizza place on Yelp. They use locally grown organic produce on their Neapolitan-style pies. It’s perfection on a plate, a trip to Italy in one bite. The ingredients used are simple and the execution is on-point. The Margherita pizza with buffalo mozzarella is my favorite, as the cheese, which is especially creamy and light, pairs well with the bright tomato sauce.

Ever since Pizzeria Beddia was named America’s best pizza by Bon Appetit in 2015, they’ve been at the top of every foodie’s “must try” list. Like Tacconelli’s, Beddia is a cash-only operation. And since the place doesn’t have a phone, you have to order one of their 40 pies per day in person and kill time until it’s ready, which can be anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours depending on your place in line. It’s fussy and not particularly user-friendly. But the pizza? It’s legit. Instead of using a brick oven or wood-fired oven, he uses a gas ­Montague deck oven, which gives him more control over the heat. And he uses Old Gold cheese with a few simple toppings like pickled chiles or arugula.

Bella Vista’s Square Pie specializes in Brooklyn-style deep-dish pies, which are heartier and saucier then anything you’ll find in town. The corner pieces are my favorite because that’s where the sweet tomato sauce caramelizes and you get twice as much crispy crust to chomp on. Nostalgia alert: It reminds me of the pan pizzas I’d inhale at Pizza Hut as a kid. (That’s a very good thing!) Thanks to the sturdy base of dough, feel free to load up on as many toppings as you please.

Fishtown’s Wm. Mulherin’s Sons’ “spicy jawn” pie (pepperoni, hot coppa, caciocavallo, sharp provolone, long hots, and tomato) is Philly on a plate. These guys take some risks with their wood-fired pizzas — the speck and egg pie isn’t something you’d usually find at your corner spot — but they also deliver a pitch-perfect take on the classic Margherita pie. This place embodies what Philly’s pizza revolution is all about: acknowledging the classics but putting a twist on it that’s all our own.

Honorable Mentions

E. Passyunk’s delightful Southern Italian wood-fired eatery Brigantessa, Society Hill’s cozy Pizzeria Stella, Spring Garden’s Neapolitan-style wood-fired spot Bufad, Midtown Village’s Mediterranean-tinged Barbuzzo, and Fishtown’s Pizza Brain, which boasts the world’s first pizza museum inside its halls.

What’s your favorite pizza in Philadelphia? Did it make the cut?