Mattei Family Pizza Brings “Molise-Style” Pies to Point Breeze
“This area is about to blow up. All of the chefs are going to be coming down here, just like on East Passyunk Avenue,” said Mariano Mattei, chef and owner of Point Breeze Avenue’s freshly-opened pizzeria Mattei Family Pizza.
But how does Mariano plan on coaxing Philly’s hungry diners across Broad Street? With pizza, of course. “Molise-style” pizza.
Molise is a region of southern Italy once part of Abruzzo. In 1963, Abruzzo’s Campobasso province broke off onto its own to become Molise, taking with its own particular version of Abruzzese cuisine. “Molise-style” pizza, though, is just a name; there isn’t an official designation or certification process like there is with Neapolitan pizzas (Brigantessa’s Joe Cicala’s got that covered anyway). It’s what the Matteis made when they settled here in Philly back in 1955, when they baked pies out of their homemade South Philly basement ovens.
Mariano, a man who wears many hats (he’s a musician, a producer, a chef and co-owner of Philly Sound Studios), found a spot at 1260 Point Breeze Avenue perfect for his first restaurant, and in it his family built a new brick oven.
Imagine a cross between Neapolitan — smaller, blistered, with a chewy crust and soft center — and your neighborhood American pizza. He’s got all of the classic options — marinara, margherita, potato and rosemary, four-cheese, etc. — but he’s got some fun stuff too: pear and fontina (which he’s especially excited about), n’duja, mortadella, and tuna on red or white.
The menu’s biggest game-changer is the arrosticini, grilled lamb skewers. The only other restaurants in Philly you’ll find them are at Le Virtù on East Passyunk Avenue, or Gran Caffe L’Aquila in Rittenhouse, where the servers wear fedoras and the chefs mix gelato into their pasta. Now we can add Mattei to the mix, where one order brings you five skewers with pita for just $7.
The full soft-opening menu is here for your perusal; expect the menu to expand once the dust settles. Hours are 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day of the week.