Lorenzo’s: For the Love of Real-Deal Philly Pizza

There's nothing wrong with the latest wave of trendy, artisanal, micro-batch pies. But sometimes you just need to inhale a slice as big as your face.

Real deal Philly pizza. Photo | Lorenzo's Facebook

Real deal Philly pizza. Photo | Lorenzo’s Facebook

Looking back, I was naive to think that I was going to score a Beddia pizza last Saturday.

It was almost 5 by the time I lined up outside, and I had plenty of company. A quick headcount indicated that even if most people resisted ordering a second pie, it was unlikely that I would walk away with one. Beddia only releases 40 pizzas onto the streets of Fishtown on a given night, and since Bon Appetite declared this micro parlour the “best pizza in America,” slices have been hard to come by.

Two quick things:

  1. Beddia is goddamn delicious and well worth both the hype and the wait. I’ve never been to Italy, but according to the gentleman behind me, their thin-crust, perfectly charred pies are “just like this little place in Naples that you have to try.” If you can spend a half hour next to this guy without stabbing him in the eye, then by all means, fight that good fight and stay in line. You will not be disappointed.
  1. At some point, our boy is going to pronounce “mozzarella” with a lot of flair, so maybe check your self-control reserves before settling in.

I cut my losses and headed back to South Philly, making a game-time decision to stop by old-friend Lorenzo’s when a parking spot from the pizza gods opened up out front. Not that it had much competition, but it was the best decision I made all week.

If it’s been awhile since you’ve paid a visit to Lorenzo’s, now is the time to do it. Pizza is a personal business, so I’m not going to try to convince anyone that this big-as-your-face plain slice is the most beautiful and perfect plain slice on the planet. Maybe it is (it is) and maybe it isn’t (lies). That’s not the important part here. What’s important is what happens when you walk through the door.

The fluorescent lights wash over you like a warm, radioactive bath. You jostle for a spot in the dense but quickly moving line, then briefly survey your competition (although purely for sport as the Lorenzo’s oven never runs dry). A makeshift paper plate sign lists the prices, and a just-scary-enough counter girl keeps things in order. By the time she hands you that pie, you can think of nothing more than finding a spot — any spot — to devour it. Should someone try to Instagram it first, you would sooner eat his phone than let another pizza-less second pass.

It’s not that there isn’t room for the Beddias and the Pizzeria Vertris and the Nomads. There’s plenty, and there’s nothing wrong with their artisan crusts and organic tomatoes and wild mushrooms foraged by yogi garden gnomes. It’s just that the more of these these that pop up, the more I find myself craving real, honest, down-and-dirty Philly pizza.

Would you ever come across a slice of Lorenzo’s in Naples? No. Or the pages of Bon Appetit? I hope not — Mr. Mozzarella doesn’t stand a chance in the line at 305 South Street. But, well, that’s kind of the point.

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