The Passyunk Post welcomes Sequoia Medley as a contributor. This South Philly resident and all-around pizza aficionado compiled a list of her top five local pizza joints in time for Pi day.
March 14th is celebrated as national Pi day, after the unending mathematical constant shortened to 3.14. Although sweet pies are traditionally served-up on this day, a savory pizza pie is another way to celebrate.
Typical round ups of the best pizza in Philly will often name the historic stalwarts such as Santucci’s and the hip new joints, such as Pizza Plus, both of which nearly made this list. But I’ve come to love the dependable pies that are seen being delivered every Friday night around the neighborhood. Whichever style you prefer, here are five South Philly pizzas to order for delivery to properly celebrate Pi day.
First, some credentials…
A pizza, like a cheesesteak, should create an experience where the layered parts meld into a new thing, greater than the sum of its parts. I am a member of a social group that has been meeting, officially, since 2007, to watch bad horror movies and sample much of the take out and delivery pizza that the city has to offer.
Our group, creatively called Pizza Club, has decided a good pie requires dough that’s fresh, supple, but still with a chew, not crunchy. Triangle slices should be able to fold, and have a classic droop when held. Square pies should not be glorified focaccia nor flatbread, but in-between.
Sauce should be neither sweet or too acidic, a little texture, but not too chunky. Cheese should be sparingly used, lest it slide off in one lump, and better mingle with both sauce and dough. A plain pie best exemplifies a restaurant, but creative and quality toppings can make them stand out.
Now, onto the list…
Little Sicily Pizza II
1608 S. Christopher Columbus Blvd.
Don’t let the generic name and the location in the strip on Delaware Ave. fool you—Little Sicily Pizza II makes a delicious basic pie and also offers unique Indian fusion toppings, including very spicy options for the adventurous. Their standouts are the Indian style with jalapeños, onions, and cilantro as well as a dusting of masala atop your toppings of choice, either Indian or Italian-American, paneer or pepperoni. What could be more “traditional” than immigrant ingredients and flavors finding a home in the classic American pizza?
Stadium Pizza & Grill
2400 S 10th Street
What’s Stadium? My personal favorite delivery pizza. I took a chance and have never looked back. I converted almost all of my D&D group to passionate fans (there is one holdout) with their solid, classic East Coast pies. Fast delivery, affordable, and consistent in their quality, I love Stadium and extol them whenever possible . Their plain is never greasy, their toppings well sized and cooked, a detail that many delivery pies fail to achieve. They even converted my husband to white pie with their Mario Lanza. With Francoluigi closed, I’m lobbying for Stadium to become the go-to for family pizza parties, when large gatherings are allowed again.
Rosario’s Pizzeria & Restaurant
1256 S. 15th Street
It may seem like this list is skewing to fusion pizza, as Rosario’s offers solid Mexican pies, with toppings such as al pastor, chorizo, tinga, mole, chipotle, and tomatillo. But I actually think they shine in their plain pie, with nothing but that critical balance of dough, sauce, and cheese. You need to have a solid foundation to build a unique take upon and create a successful fusion, which Rosario’s does. Their American pies offer unique toppings not found at all corner pie shops, proving their creativity beyond the melding of neighboring cultures.
2106 S Broad Street
One of my mother’s favorite jokes is “Pi R squared? No, cornbread are square, pie are round” which is a classic groaner she would tell every March 14th. The punchline kept echoing in my head as I came up with this list, almost choosing not to include square pies, on principle. But La Rosa’s square pies are that good.
I very much respect pizza restaurants that are hostile to seating, encouraging you to grab your slice or pie and go. From the signature potato and rosemary, to the single topping, their Sicilian style pies nails the cheese/sauce/dough ratio, where some other square pies tower atop their fluffy bread. La Rosa is also one of the few restaurants where you can get anchovies as a topping. How retro! Try it and realize it became a cliche because of how delicious it is.
1734 E Passyunk Avenue
I tried avoiding this old-school classic, but Marra’s is a classic for a reason. Enduring from a time when pizza was nearly exclusively eaten by Italian immigrants, the flavor imparted by Marra’s brick oven allows for thin foldable slices of the imagined perfect east coast style.
The favorite pizza of a plurality of Pizza Club members, who enjoy the traditional style of this family-owned institution, they hail the balance of the pie. Sparing with the sauce, not too many toppings, it is the flavor and texture of the dough that makes this a go-to pie. The number of cuts was also cited as a benefit, for when you’d like only half a slice more of a regularly sliced pie. Although best enjoyed in the restaurant, as new pizza styles come and go, Marra’s brick oven remains, and should be included in your take out and delivery rotation.
Honorarable mentions go to Chiquitas, City Pizza, and Uncle Oogie’s all of which would have been included if this was a top ten list. They each are solid delivery pizza and the boxes I most often see on the curb, indicating their popularity among the masses.
Celebrate Pi day ordering from any of these South Philly pizza places, and please let me know of other hidden gems I’ve missed in the comments!