Cheap Eats: Franzone’s

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Franzone’s may be the best pizza in the Philadelphia area that you have never heard of. It doesn’t have the name or pedigree of a Nomad or Osteria, but to those with a very specific taste for a very specific kind of pizza, it may be better than all of them. And at $9.50 for a small pie and $12 for a large plain, it is certainly the best value.

Franzone’s has been written up in a number of Philadelphia publications–raved about by those who’ve discovered it and fallen for its charms–but it still rarely sees anyone other than locals come through its doors. In some ways that’s a good thing. The place has character. The lack of notice keeps the place honest and local. After all, Franzone’s is a Bridgeport institution, and Bridgeport, as a closely knit working-class community, has Franzone’s as its center.

How could a little dingy pizza place in Bridgeport be serving up a pizza with a sauce that some of my friends had claimed to be the best they had ever had outside of Italy? I didn’t think it was possible. I thought that my friends were crazy until I took a bite–an incredibly good bite, I might add. And ever since then, I’ve been hooked.

The pizza comes out way to hot to eat, but I have to take a bite anyway because it looks so good I can’t wait. The crust, sauce, and cheese come together to make something special. The crust is good (not great). It’s thin with a crisp bottom and the right amount of chewiness. It doesn’t have the flavor of a crust like Nomad’s, but it doesn’t need it because the star here is the sweet, sugared sauce which is just perfect. The cheese is laid on top of the sauce in swirl so that about half of the sauce remains uncovered and this creates a ratio of sauce-to-cheese that skews heavily in favor of the sauce. Usually I prefer more cheese on my pies, but the sauce at Franzone’s is so good and so different that putting on any more cheese would only be a detriment.

As far as toppings, my recommendation is to leave the pie plain. Franzone’s is not the kind of place where you need to mess around to add more flavor to the pizza. There is plenty on the plain pie for you to enjoy, but if you must get toppings go for the pepperoni on a large or the Italian sausage, both for $2.35 more on a large. Both toppings taste great and don’t overpower the sauce, but the pizza tastes just as good (or better) without.

Franzone’s also has a number of burgers, sandwiches, cheesesteaks, and classic Italian dishes on the menu. But seriously? Why bother? You wouldn’t be making the worst decision of your life ordering an Italian hoagie here instead of a pizza, but it would probably be in the top ten.

Franzone’s Pizzeria, 501 Dekalb Street, Bridgeport. 

Franzone’s [Official Site]

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  • Ems

    Love franzone’s!

  • Cronmoax

    your google map appears to be incorrect

  • Jan D

    They also have a location in Plymouth/Conshohocken. For a similar style (i.e., sweet sauce), try Penny’s Pizza in Limerick.

  • BobbyH

    what about the location in Plymouth Township?

  • PizzaLover

    uggh horrible sweet sauce think chef boyardee

  • Nonna

    FRANZONES, it is a filthy place

    • no

      So is the town its in. I had the misfortune of growing up there. I hear its nicer now, but ugh, the memories.

  • phillyjazzdoc

    Franzone’s is an addictive pizza. The crust is light, non greasy and holds up well to the sauce. The sauce is an overly sweet tomato sauce which is also not greasy nor too acidic; no heartburn here! The cheese is unremarkable.

    All that being said, there is something magical going on because when you take that first bite you want more. It’s easy to eat a whole pie as you think to yourself, ‘what is it about this that is so good’. I think the crust and sauce work together so well. The crust has a bit of a toasted corn taste and it is not at all filling. The sauce provides a perfect sweet tomato taste which fills that crust up with chewy goodness.

    As for the cleanliness…well many great restaurants are a bit lacking in cleanliness. It’s not Charlie Trotter’s, lol.

    I also recommend most highly Dimeo’s of Andorra as perhaps the best Neopolitan pizza I’ve had anywhere, including NYC’s best.

    Last 2cents is for Zuppardi’s in West Have, Conn. Skip Sally’s and Pepe’s and enjoy real New Haven Pizza with locals!

    • suburbanite

      Franzone’s is amazing when you are craving something different, their sauce says it all. I agree with you for true Neapolitan pizza, go to Dimeo’s if you’re in the burbs, hands down the best… And surprisingly Rocco’s in Norristown has some good individual pies, and of course Via Venetos for sicilian.