Florida Style Pizza
2052 S. Beechwood Street (20th and Snyder Ave.)
While I was watching the travel channel, looking to see Adam Richman do what he does best, there was a show on called “deep fried paradise.” It highlighted the country’s best deep fried chicken, burgers, dogs, and desserts. Which reminds me, if you haven’t checked out “pizza paradise” by now, you probably should kill yourself. Anyway, after 60 minutes of pure heaven, I noticed there was definitely a lack of deep fried pizza. Which got me thinking…are there any places in Philly that flash fry pizza? The answer is no, or at least not that I’ve found. However, I did find a spot in South Philly whose claim to fame is something called the “Inside-Out Pizza.”
It’s essentially the cheese, sauce and toppings wrapped inside pizza dough. It’s then battered and tossed in the deep fryer for a couple minutes. FSP’s “inside outs” got rave reviews from a quick internet search. Based off the sign out front, you might not even give this place a second look if you passed it on the street. In fact, I believe Plichter asked me if I had my gun on me before we went in. The bulletproof glass in front of the register was somewhat intimidating and had me second-guessing our choice of post-dinner snack, but we stood our ground for a little taste of that deep fried goodness. Now it might not sound like much, but these things were absolutely amazing. Crunchy on the outside, with a soft and warm chewy center. The fried batter coating on the outside combined with the great taste of pizza on the inside is a much welcomed change to our diet. As the grease drizzled down my face, it left me believing that this has got to be one of the best and unique variations of pizza I’ve ever eaten.
While there are a few places that do offer a similar item called a “panzarotti”, it’s most likely mass-produced in a warehouse somewhere across the river. Vinnie, the owner, assured us that his inside outs are made fresh by his own little Italian digits. Word on the street is people drive from Jersey and Delaware for a dozen of these at a time to throw in their freezer. If you’re in the area (to buy heroin or maybe to gun down a few snitches) I dare you to savor one of these for a quick bite while you’re on the road. I wish more places would put stuff into deep fryers, especially descendants of the pizza family. I mean, for 3 bucks a pop, how can you go wrong?!
Just as Castro mentioned above, we were a little skeptical of this place before we actually stepped in. Although I’m familiar with the area, it looked especially ominous after walking down brightly lit Passyunk Ave just moments earlier. But the promise of a unique pizza-eating experience pulled us in and never let go, not even after that first bite of the inside-out pizza.
Now I’ve had plenty of panzarotties in the past, so when the owner Vinnie and his co-worker Steve informed me that the inside-out was rooted in the same style, I was a little bit disappointed. For those who don’t know, the United States version of the panzarotti is pretty much a combination of a stromboli and calzone, which is then deep-fried to perfection. Combining the style of a stromboli with the size of a calzone, they usually consist of mozzarella cheese, sauce, and various toppings. But the unique selling point behind Florida Style Pizza is the fact that their inside-out pizza is made in-shop, as opposed to many pizzerias who simply deep-fry some frozen piece of garbage. It was time to put their pizza where my mouth is.
Whereas a typical panzarotti is only lightly fried and a little doughy, this thing was fried to crispy and crunchy perfection. The contents exploded out of the pocket and into my mouth, with residual pepperoni grease and cheese flooding my taste buds. Remember the scene in Requiem For A Dream where Jared Leto and Marlon Wayans shoot up and their pupils dilate instantly when the heroin pumps through their veins? Yeah, it was like that. Except instead of heroin, it was pizza. The moist filling left the inside edges of the pocket flavored with pepperoni, while the outside remained crispy and well done. Words can’t even describe how unique this bastard was. Next time you’re in the area, be sure to pick up a dozen or so.
I cannot stress enough that the Inside-Out Pizza is not the same as a panzarotti. If you visit Florida Style Pizza, leave your previous pizzeria and panzarotti knowledge at the door. But if you must call it a panzarotti, it was simply the best one I’ve ever had. Well done.