That Jawn: Angelo’s Pizzeria Reviewed
Huge pies, perfect hoagies, and neighborly vibes galore at Danny DiGiampietro’s Bella Vista pizza shop.
It doesn’t matter that it was a beautiful day when I went walking to check out Angelo’s for the first time — a gorgeous sun-shining, breeze-blowing kind of day in Bella Vista.
It doesn’t matter that someone, somewhere was playing “Street Fighting Man” by the Stones, or that everyone I passed on the streets was happy and smiling at the taste of summer in the air. None of this matters. None of it has anything to do with me reviewing the second incarnation of Angelo’s Pizzeria (the first one was in Haddonfield), except that it does. Because this place, it’s all about that kind of joy.
It’s all about seeing the crowds milling around outside the door, waiting, or packed inside the tiny shop (the old Sarcone’s Deli), with its single cooler and massive kitchen staffed like they’re feeding a thousand every day of the week. It’s about threading your way through the neighbors and friends, making it to the counter and catching someone’s eye, shouting your order over the glass, hoping she heard you right.
It’s about grabbing a black cherry soda and sitting in the sun on the little stoop at the barbershop next door, wreathed in the smells of the place (sauce, smoke, char, hot cardboard), and waiting. It’s about texting your wife “20 mins wait” and then two frowny faces even though you’re happy to wait. Thrilled, really, because there’s something so simple, so authentic, so vital about Angelo’s right now.
It’s about the food, absolutely. The ideal, thin slices of the plain cheese pies — floppy, foldable, crisp at the crust, greasy but not too greasy, tasting of the oven and tomatoes, a three-cheese mix, and the whole leaves of basil on top. The monstrous sandwiches (meatball parm made with slices of fresh mozzarella and big fat meatballs, enough to feed two people who haven’t eaten since breakfast; the Polli, with breaded chicken cutlets, Parma prosciutto, mozzarella, shaved parmesan and oil on a heavy roll, all of it so thick it takes two hands to hold it).
And it is all about the Upside Down Jawn, which is the kaiju of Philly pizzas — a thick behemoth, done pan-style with the crust blistering up at the edges, a well of gooey melted cheese in the middle, and stripes and blobs of delicious sweet-bitter red sauce on top. It’s too big for a box, bows out the top and sides, and weighs (no lie) probably 10 pounds. The kind of pizza you eat for days. The kind you dream about when it’s gone.
Really, it’s everything. The time and place and day and people. It’s the experience of Angelo’s in full — which is a remarkable thing to say about a joint that does nothing but takeout but still manages to be one of the best restaurants I’ve been to in a long, long time.
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