Cheap Eats: Franzone’s

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]