This is basically a pizza love letter
A year ago I read an article on Bon Appétit’s website titled “This Is the Best Pizza in America (Yep, We Said It).” Well, hello there! You’ve got my attention!
The article/review was all about Pizzeria Beddia, and its pizzaiolo-owner Joe Beddia, in the Fishtown section of Philadelphia. It’s also a bold claim to call something the best, especially in an entire country. That said, it’s not only well written, it’s super interesting if you’re into pizza the way we are, and if you’re a food nerd. In 2015 when the article came out, it got our interest for several reasons; we like pizza (a lot), we come from the Connecticut/NYC area so pizza is a way of life, and we’re into Philly’s food scene and visit every single year for a handful of days.
After that article came out, I became obsessed with the idea of going to Pizzeria Beddia, and mentioned it to the guys, thinking we’d surely go. Only we didn’t make it. We already had a full slate of reservations and plans so fitting it in wasn’t going to happen. Our only chance was if we stopped in during the hours of a Night Market that year in Fishtown, but after a couple of food truck bites, the monsoon-like weather kept us from staying in the area that long.
Fast forward to planning our 2016 Philly food adventures. Pizzeria Beddia was at the very top of our list, and we wanted to go on our first night. To make that happen we knew we’d have to show up early and wait in line outside. Some of you not familiar are probably like, “Wait. What?”
Well here’s the deal.
Pizzeria Beddia is only open Wednesday-Saturday from 5:30 – 10:30 or until sell out, which is a common occurrence. They only make 40 pies per night and lines have been known to form before 4 p.m. Basically if there are 20 or more people in line, you might as well just try to get your pizza fix another day. If you’re one of the first in line, you sort of have your pick of time slots to pick up your pie(s). Example: If you’re third in line and the first few people want their pizza ASAP, and you do too, you’re probably looking at getting your order at 5:50/6. Most people seemed cool with placing their order early and picking it up later. Because of this we’ve seen stuff online from haters of Pizzeria Beddia’s business model (limited pies, hours/days). Don’t like it? Get there earlier or order and eat late. Stop complaining.
We gladly stood in line—and were first, btw—and lots of passersby asked, “Have you had it before?” and one kid on a school bus said, “You waiting for pizza? I heard it’s great!” And while you’re waiting you’ll notice people checking down Shackamaxon Street to see how long the line is. Waiting in line, dare I say, was cool, and the anticipation grew while talking to some of Beddia’s loyal customers as we switched from a mean wall lean to parking our asses on the concrete.
When they cracked the door a few minutes before 5:30 and told us to come in, we quickly ordered up a red pie, half pepperoni, half house-made pork sausage, a couple sodas, and decided to dine-in at one of two standing tables. While sipping away at our sodas we just stood at the back table and watched Joe craft our pie to a soundtrack of upbeat, but smooth jazz. Rob and I remarked at how he meticulously builds each one, fixing every little shred of cheese that’s seemingly out of place. His dedication is evident. We enjoyed the rest of what felt like a masterclass in pizza making as he popped it into the 600° gas oven for about 10 minutes, and spun it around and around to achieve a evenly crisp bottom and bubbly crust. When he took the pizza out, he dashed on some oregano, shaved some fresh parm, drizzled it with EVOO, and sliced it up before its arrival onto our table and into our mouths.
The result is a crunch-when-you-bite-it crust, you can taste the age of the mozzarella that’s made in-house, you get the simple but delicious sauce, and the toppings don’t flood the pie, but are there as a compliment. I can’t describe the style of this pizza. I just know it’s unlike any I’ve had before it. If I was to try, it was some hybrid of NY style, meets thin crust, meets New Haven-like dough. It was different. Rob and I liked it so much that we barely said much to one another except for comments throughout on how good it was and how we liked this or that about it, as we continued to watch Joe do his pizza voodoo back there.
We devoured that pie. We’re still thinking about it and will continue to do so until next year. It’ll likely be an endless cycle of eating at Pizzeria Beddia and waiting a whole year to have it again, but it’s a pain we’re willing to endure. We do know that it will be our first stop in Philly every time now. It has to be.
Is it top five? Yeah, easily. Top three? Yes. Best in the U.S.? I’m having a hard time thinking of a better one that I’ve had.
Thank you for a wonderful pizza experience.