Last night it snowed. Today the wind howled and you had to wonder if this winter would ever just give up. But Twitter is abuzz with photos and tweets that proved spring is indeed here. Local chefs are tweeting up a storm of the ramps they’ve foraged and already gotten onto their menus.
It was just two and a half years ago that we did our massive roundup of all the best (and worst) pies in the Philadelphia area. But since then, Philly has experienced something of a pizza boom, with amazing joints opening all over the city. Here are the best of the newcomers shaping our scene today.
Trey Popp comes to Pizzeria Vetri with great expectations but too many of the pizzas literally flopped.
The further away I got from the pizza menu, though, the better Pizzeria Vetri got. There are lovely salads: arugula and roasted fingerlings slathered with killer pesto, and a “wood oven” salad that’s a belly-filling medley of corn, chanterelles, blistered green beans and top-drawer ham, studded with ricotta salata. There’s exceptionally fresh-tasting kegged wine from the Gotham Project, and bottled sloe-gin fizzes and Americanos that serve two for $12. The rotolos are instantly the best savory pastry in town: crispy pizza dough coiled Cinnabon-style around mortadella and ricotta, doused with pistachio pesto.
Two Stars – Good
Restaurant Review: The Best Food at Pizzeria Vetri Isn’t the Pizza [Philadelphia Magazine]
Pizzeria Vetri [Official Site]
I was wrapping up lunch at Pizzeria Vetri when a gentleman approached my table. He was skinny and stooped-over and appeared to be in dire straits. Very politely, he asked for help getting a little food. I handed him the last slice of my rosemary-and-mozzarella pie.
A black blister had erupted from the only part of the wedge that wasn’t overburdened with cheese. The slice flopped over in his grasp, as the rest had in mine.
“Is this what they gave you at this restaurant?” he asked.
“Yes,” I nodded, attempting a reassuring smile.
His brow creased. “Were they angry with you?”
That was a little less polite. Save for one flighty server overcome by the dinner onslaught, Pizzeria Vetri’s staff was exceptionally pleasant on all four of my visits. And doubly so when my lunch date required a kiddie cup. Yet my unexpected visitor wasn’t totally off the mark. Pizzeria Vetri has many things to recommend it, but consistently good pizza isn’t one of them.
If Pizzeria Vetri had opened five years ago, Marc Vetri’s Fairmount pizzeria might have been greeted with a parade on par with what the World Champion Phillies received. But in 2013, excellent pizza abounds in Philly. Our children know to check for leoparding spots and blister marks on their slices. Bufala mozzarella and crushed San Marzano tomatoes have us yawning in complacency (like a 2010 Phillies fan). Yes, our pizza scene has come a long way, and on any given day, one of a half-dozen spots might pull the best pizza in town out of its wood-fired oven. But Pizzeria Vetri is certainly in that mix, and as part of Vetri’s stable of restaurants, it certainly has access to great ingredients. Fresh basil pops here. The fennel in the sausage provides a slightly sweet snap. But when you come to Pizzeria Vetri, get the specialty items, like the rotolo—a savory relative of the cinnamon roll that layers pizza dough, mortadella, fresh ricotta and pistachios in a seductive starter you won’t want to share. Combine this with a slice of Roman-style pizza al taglio and a glass of draft wine, and you’ve concocted a winning team—certainly way better than what the Phillies put together this season.
1939 Callowhill Street
Adam Erace reviews Marc Vetri’s temple of pizza, Pizzeria Vetri, and comes away impressed.
They all begin with a dough that eschews oil, per Neapolitan doctrine, and cooks up with a crisp crust and soft but structured center. Most follow with an aurora of the bright, tangy tomato sauce, then a collection of toppings, like house-made sausage, mozzarella, roasted fennel and fennel fronds. That pie, the Salsiccia, was great, but I liked the straightforward Margherita even better.
The shiniest new addition to the Vetri Family is turning out serious pies [City Paper]
Pizzeria Vetri [Foobooz]