Thursday, November 13, 2014


I don't know about you, but when I think of American cities, especially those that dot the east coast, I think of them as characters. Each individual in their own right with their own respective history, architecture, and most importantly their "pizza identity." With the massive migration of the late 19th century, many Italians landed along the eastern seaboard, and many of them left their culinary mark on their new hometowns. Connecticut has their New Haven Apizza, Boston has the original Pizzeria Regina, New Jersey has their tomato pies, and of course New York has its own legendary pizza history.

So what's the deal with Philadelphia? With the exception of maybe Tacconelli's (woof), it seems like Philly's new Italian population found more inspiration in the sandwich than the pizza (see: cheese steaks, roast pork sandwiches, etc.). How could this be?

Well there's no point in trying to change the past, but it's never too late to try and make up for its shortcomings. Enter Marc Vetri, renowned Philadelphia restaurateur and Italian cuisine extraordinaire. While Osteria, Vetri's 2nd restaurant, is by no means new, it certainly gives the City of Brotherly Love some depth in the pizza department. 

I haven't lived in or around Philadelphia in years, having spent most of my youth in the Philly burbs, so Osteria had been on my to-eat list for quite some time. After having tried another of Vetri's joints Alla Spina just around the corner, I knew the guy had good taste in beer and decor, but I really wasn't sure what to expect here. I ignored my better judgement and listened to my stomach; instead of ordering my typical margherita as my scientific control, I opted for the "lombarda" - a red pie with mozzarella, cotechino sausage, bitto cheese (?!) and a flash-baked egg on top.

Nice. To be totally honest, I was unfamiliar with bitto cheese - it's a hard cheese used here in lieu of Parmegiano or Pecorino, and aptly hails from Lombardy. While not quite as sharp as the aforementioned, it was subtle but added a nice little accent.

But holy shit- it's not everyday that you find a red pizza with not only sausage, but a perfectly cooked egg as well. SIGN ME UP! This is essentially a breakfast pizza plus a little tomato sauce, right?

After one bite, I quickly understood that Chefs Marc Vetri and Jeff Michaud knew what the hell they were doing. While neither were there the night I dined, they clearly train their pizzaiolos in the intricacies of a perfectly cooked pizza.

Now with the addition of Vetri's new pizza-specific joint Pizzeria Vetri, along with other fantastic new-comers Nomad, Pizza Brain and Pizzeria Beddia, I'm stoked to see Philadelphia making up for lost time pizza.
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