One More Time, With Feeling: Pizzeria Beddia Reviewed
With a beautiful new space tucked away in a Fishtown alley, Joe Beddia is back.
Let’s get something out of the way right here at the start. This place isn’t the old Pizzeria Beddia. It can’t be — could never have been. The OG Pizzeria Beddia was a once-in-a-lifetime brief, flaring collision of obsession, genius and moment all coming together in one place, at one time. For those who loved it, it was like a pizza mecca — a difficult place one journeyed to with no guarantee of transcendence, only the hope of being transformed. For Joe Beddia — our very own pizza Jedi — it was an atelier. His workshop, his studio. The physical manifestation of his fierce, rigorous, thorny dedication to the pure pizza faith.
And this place, this new place, isn’t that. Since the full, round experience of getting an original Pizzeria Beddia pizza was almost as much about the travails (no reservations, no phone, long lines, cash only, limited supplies, etc.) as it was about the pizza itself (brilliant, occasionally transcendent), this new place is essentially the polar opposite. Here, there are some reservations — all of them taken, for months in advance. Here, they take credit cards, which is necessary since a single pizza will run you 25 bucks, easy. Here, there are tables, a bar, service staff, a hostess and, of course, Joe, standing there in the glassed-in show kitchen, working his hands into the dough.
The pizzas at this new place are better in some ways, mostly because you can actually get one. They serve hundreds a night. If you can snag a reservation, you can eat as much as you want. If you can’t, you can show up early and take your chances with the line (which isn’t as bad as it sounds, since many tables in the dining room are held for walk-ins).
They’re better because they come with drinks — cocktails, natural wine, beers on draft — and better because there are things to go along with them.
The slices of tomato pie have this perfectly grained, soft crust that’s crunchy at the bone. The salad with apple, radish and fish sauce has a perfect counterbalance of flavors, a serious crispness that matches the season. The Spanish judion beans come simply in a bowl with oil, zest and sea salt. But all of these are sideshows to the pies themselves.
There are four right now. The plainest, tomato with mozzarella and Old Gold cheese from Hidden Hills Dairy in Everett, Pennsylvania (same secret ingredient as at the original), is still amazing — soft and the perfect amount of greasy at the center, crisp and stiff the closer you get to the crust. (You can get toppings on it, too.) There’s another with anchovy and garlic, oregano, red sauce. A spicy arrabiatta. The white, topped with whole leaves of Swiss chard, is a showstopper, and an example of the restrained creativity for which Joe Beddia is (rightly) famous.
So go. Wait for a reservation or stand in line. Right now, it seems like everyone in the city is doing one or the other — frantic to get a taste, form an opinion, spout some nonsense about how this new place ain’t cool like the old one was, now that anyone can go.
Which is exactly the point, I think, of this restaurant. It is just pizza, after all. And pizza is meant to be shared.
Maybe none of us (other than Joe) need to take it quite so seriously now.
3 Stars — Come from anywhere in the region
0 stars: stay away
★: come if you have no other options
★★: come if you’re in the neighborhood
★★★: come from anywhere in the region
★★★★: come from anywhere in the country