1900 Grant Ave.
Let me start this off by saying Plichter and I created this blog because we are avid pizza lovers. We believe that we all deserve a local place that we can count on to consistently serve up great pizza. Vince’s is that place. Never have I been this anxious to get home and write a review until this visit. From the moment you walk in it has an unmistakable feel to it. Almost like an old school, corner pizza shop. Between the two toned tiled floor, the lidless “one size fits all” soda cups, and the one sided laminated menu which limits your choices to either pizza or stromboli, you know exactly what you’re getting. Framed pictures litter the walls of the Three Stooges, Charlie Chaplin and the Rat Pack. Everything about it created such an intimate and friendly atmosphere that is seriously tough to find in the endless array of crappy pizza places in Philly.
Our waitress Valerie, the 16-year veteran of the 24-year-old establishment, greeted us upon taking our seats. Not only was she the only waitress on duty, but she also made us and every other customer feel welcomed and at home. I went in there with all intentions of getting the broccoli and white pizza based off Philadelphia magazine’s praises. However, after explaining to Valerie who we were and what we were doing, she immediately suggested we try the white pizza topped with spinach and tomatoes and half sweet/hot peppers. As for the secondary pie, half plain and half steak seemed in order.
In the distance I noticed 6 massive, 500-degree ovens, each capable of taking on 5 pizzas at once. Normally, it would seem like an unusual amount of ovens for the standard pizza shop’s arsenal. However, the man wearing the badass Captain America bracelet who was slinging pies behind the counter informed me that on any given Friday night they would be firing off roughly about 500 pizzas. They also have their own personalized pizza boxes. For some reason I took that to heart. Almost every place that serves pies to go has the standard “hot pizza” box or the stereotypical mustached Italian guy gripping a wood paddle box. This tells me that Vince sells a product that he stands behind and that he’s proud of.
The moment my teeth bit down on that white/spinach/tomato pie it was like an epiphany. I’ve never gotten goose bumps from biting into pizza before, but I promise you they were there. The cheese stretched from my mouth back to the slice, reminiscent of pizza from early 90’s cartoons. It had the perfect balance of garlic and olive oil. The thick cut, seasoned tomatoes exploded with juice. Every topping complimented the next. I’m watching my cursor on my computer blink as I try and find the perfect words to describe this slice of pizza, but my only recommendation is you NEED try it first hand. It was flawless to say the least. The hot/sweet pepper slice was such a unique pick for me but it definitely was a great addition to my slice repertoire. The hot peppers were monstrous and flavorful. I couldn’t have asked for a better pizza.
If you live in the Northeast and haven’t tried a pie from Vince’s, please drop whatever it is your doing at this very moment and pick one up. It took me this long to make it there and I live less than 10 minutes away. I’ve been wasting my life with mediocre pizza when perfection is only a few traffic lights on the boulevard away.
There isn’t only one specific quality that makes Vince’s as amazing as it is. A conglomerate of assorted traits and attributes are the reason why they belong in the upper echelon of the Philadelphia pizza scene. For starters, they only serve pizza and stromboli. This allows them to focus on what they know best: pizza. Secondly, any place that doesn’t deliver and can still stay afloat for 24 years is obviously doing something right. Their pizza is so good, it’s totally worth the short trip to Grant Avenue to dine in or take out. Those aspects aside, one more thing you’ll notice about Vince’s is the relationship between the staff and the clientele. In fact, scratch that. I wouldn’t even call them clientele. Every customer in Vince’s seemed to be intertwined with the next, almost as if everyone in the restaurant was one big family. This was truly a place where friends and family came to meet; where people came to talk the talk and chew the crust.
As Castro mentioned above, we had all intentions of trying the white with broccoli that Philadelphia magazine dubbed “a vacation from the spicy, rubbery norm.” It wasn’t until our waitress Val stepped in did we realize the error of our ways. After all, why would we want to review a pizza that’s already been reviewed in Philadelphia magazine? So at her suggestion, we went for half white with spinach and tomatoes, and half red with sweet and hot peppers. For a more traditional route, we also ordered a half plain/half steak pie as well.
Now I’m not gonna lie; I’m not a big fan of tomatoes. Never have been, and probably never will be. But in this case, I decided to give in to curiosity and take Val’s suggestion. And boy was I glad I did. The cheese, garlic, olive oil, tomatoes, and spinach all came together in an orgy of flavor. The texture of the cheese was just right; more than the average amount, but not overbearing. The tomatoes were cooked in such a way that they almost melted in your mouth. This was more than just a pizza; it was an experience. But as good as this pizza was, the runner-up deserves a great amount of praise as well.
I’ve always loved spicy foods. Anything doused with hot sauce will automatically taste better to me. That being said, it’s funny to think that I’ve waited this long to have a hot and sweet pepper pizza. And looking back on it, I’m glad my first one was from Vince’s. The smell of the peppers flooded my nostrils as soon as it was placed on the table, instantly causing my mouth to water. (It’s kinda pathetic, but just thinking about that pizza is making my mouth water right now.) The tomato sauce and peppers were a winning combination to say the least, almost reminiscent of when my grandmother used to put peppers in her pasta with meat sauce. Our second pie, the half plain/half steak, was equally as impressive. In the future though, I’d probably add steak to the peppers pie as well. The thinly sliced pepper-steak morsels would’ve been an excellent compliment to the hot and sweet peppers.
Our meal was over, but the leftovers remained. As I rushed to work the next morning, I glanced at what was to be my lunch sitting in the passenger seat and knew I had no choice. If there’s ever food in my general vicinity, especially pizza this delicious, I will consume it. At 9 in the morning, I scarfed down two slices of Vince’s pizza while driving like a mad man to work. It was (sadly) the best part of my day.