Monthly Archives: August 2012

Nomad Pizza

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Not mad at Nomad

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Chalkboard shout outs

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The chef puttin’ in work

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2 pies for these guys

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Spicy sausage

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“Antonio Marggghherittti”

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Ohhh, that crust!

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Crispy n’ chewy

Nomad Pizza
611 S. 7th Street

Castro:

The bottom of the menu reads as follows: “NOMAD [noh-mad] : 1. A member of a people or tribe that has no permanent home but moves about from place to place, usually unseasonally and often following a traditional circuit according to the food supply. 2. The best pizza you’ve ever had.”

Out of all the places that the doughboys have reviewed in the last year, none have been backed by such hype and regard as Nomad Pizza. Personally, I didn’t take the numerous recommendations for us to try them seriously until a rather infamous food critic from Philly recently hit them up. I knew right away by the way he so elegantly described their pies that it was time for the doughboys to pay them a visit. Tucked away on the southeast corner of Kater street on 7th (between South and Bainbridge streets) is Nomad Pizza. Nomad started out as a mobile pizza truck before it was ever a sit down restaurant, feeding hungry drunk college kids in North Jersey. The founder purchased a 1949 R.E.O Speedwagon off eBay for a measly 5 grand, restored it and converted it into a sick lunch truck on steroids; complete with it’s very own wood fired oven. After making a killing cooking roadside pizzas for the Princeton University community, they unveiled their first pizzeria in Hopewell, NJ. Again, after slaying the pizza game and putting all other pies to shame in Jersey, Nomad decided to add their wood fired pies this past February to an already stellar list of Philly pizzerias. To me, South Street had always been limited to eating Lorenzo’s giant slices (R.I.P), Jim’s greasy steaks, Ishkabibble’s cheese fries and Pietro’s coal fired pies. After today’s visit to Nomad, my heart was captured by the rookie newcomer.

Nomad’s pizza starts off with dough that’s been left to sit and ferment for no less than 96 hours before it’s officially ready to be blasted in their domed, 800 degree, wood fired, brick and mortar oven. The fermentation process of the dough ensures that bubbly, crispy on the outside/chewy on the inside, crust. The oven itself is massive, arched with brick and bares a striking resemblance to “tick-tock” from the return to Oz. It needs to be fired up well before opening and the oak wood logs need to burn throughout the entire morning to reach the optimum cooking temperatures of 700 to upwards of 1000 degrees by their 5pm opening. At those temperatures, pizzas WILL cook in roughly 2 minutes. Nomad promises that only the freshest ingredients are used on their pies. Locally grown organic produce and all natural meats and cheeses are the standard here. Aside from about a dozen top notch craft beers on tap and a pretty extensive wine menu, Nomad features “Movie night” on Sunday night on their 2nd floor, free of charge. The last movie night showings this month included Rambo: First Blood, Jaws and Wet hot american summer. Show up on one of those nights, grab yourself a pint of Allagash and crush a pie with a flick. Not a bad deal if you ask me.

Today we went with the classic “Margherita” pie $12 (Italian tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, organic olive oil, organic parmesan and sea salt) and the “Spicy sausage” pie $14 (Italian tomatoes, mozzarella, renaissance spicy fennel sausage, caramelized onions, basil, organic olive oil, organic parmesan and sea salt). The pies themselves are about 12″ in diameter. Perfect for anyone of any stature to easily put away by their lonesome. Nomad also features some exotic pizzas featuring spicy soppresatta, shiitake mushrooms and a pie with white clams (which I was told is a must here.) At first bite, the margherita pie was bold. The sweet, tangy sauce had tremendous flavor and kept the canker sore in my mouth wanting more. The fresh basil leaves and the organic olive oil worked well with the clumps of fresh mozzarella. The chef finished it off by grating a block of parmesan cheese onto the pie. It was nothing short of excellent. However, the MVP today goes to the spicy sausage pie. I was told that all of their sausage is handmade from Renaissance farms, right here in Pennsylvania. The spicy kick from the fennel sausage complimented the sweet carmalized onions. I’m looking back through past reviews, trying to find a pizza that I remember being better than this pie, and I can’t. I can honestly say that these were without a doubt the best 2 pizzas I have ever eaten.

From the second that the yeast and flour were initially molded into the balls of dough, to when the chef pieled the finished product out of the oven. I easily could tell that the amount of love and attention that were given to my pizzas were unprecedented. And this was before they knew who we were. From this moment forward, Nomad has opened my eyes and truly raised the bar for what pizzas could and should taste like. Nomad pizza is my new hot spot and will be until something else comes long that knocks my socks of. But until that day comes…All. Hail. Nomad.

Plichter:

Despite the fact that there are plenty of inexpensive pizza options in Philadelphia, I have no problem with occasionally splurging on a pizzeria that I know will be worth it. Freshly grown, local, organic ingredients will understandably increase the cost of an artisan pie, especially when it’s served in a chic and stylish atmosphere. Enter Nomad Pizza, the embodiment of all those characteristics nestled away in the Bella Vista section of Philadelphia. Although they’re located right off of 7th and Bainbridge, it’s imperative to remember that Nomad is more than a typical South Street pizzeria. One visit alone will prove just that.

My own indecisive demeanor was kept at bay despite the numerous options and decisions I encountered upon entering Nomad. “Would you prefer to sit downstairs, upstairs, or outside?” That was just the beginning. With 10 different pies to choose from and an expansive beer selection, my anxiety would typically kick in and prevent me from ordering in a timely manner. But I was in no mood to think anymore than I had to on this particular Sunday afternoon, so my guest and I ordered a traditional Margherita pie and the Spicy Sausage along with a couple of Cokes. Being roughly 12 inches in diameter, you’re probably going to want to order two even if you’re going alone.

After about a ten-minute wait, the familiar look of a true Neapolitan pizza graced us. The crust beneath the San Marzano tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella stretched thin until it was conjoined to the charred yet doughy handles. Whereas most pizzerias only leave their dough out for a day or two, Nomad Pizza leaves theirs to ferment for a week before it’s ready, which gives the crust its truly unique taste. The sweet sauce was to be expected since I’ve become more than accustomed to San Marzano tomato sauce as of late. But the mozzarella was my favorite part of this pie. It was by far the freshest and most tasty I’ve had yet. With the Renaissance sausage supplied from Country Time farm came a savory sausage I had never experienced before, which was only intensified by the organic caramelized onion slivers. Every delicate flavor was essential to making this trip as memorable as it was.

Nomad certainly rises above the South Street competition with their delectable options and bodacious beer selection. If you’re in the mood for dessert afterwards, I highly recommend the tiramisu. Even after housing six slices, the light yet decadent dessert capped off a fantastic experience. But with so many similarities, could this newcomer overshadow another authentic Neapolitan pizzeria only several blocks away? I smell a Pizzeria Stella VS. Nomad Pizza challenge in the near future.

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MIX Pizzeria

Mix Pizzeria

On display

The rolls royce of ovens

2 beautiful ladies

A little close up action

Street pizza

A perfect crust

MIX Pizzeria
2101 Chestnut Street

Castro:

Rittenhouse Square. One of the oldest and most expensive areas of this fine city. Luxury high rise apartments and high end retail stores line the streets, while high class business women read 50 shades of grey on their nooks in the park. One of my favorite movies of all time, trading places, was filmed here. “Once you had a man with no legs, you never go back”. Rittenhouse also offers a plethora of restaurants to getchur eat on at. One can acquire just about anything here. From Mexican to Mandarin. $100 filet mignon steaks to $3 quarter pound hot dogs. One thing that this knucklehead has overlooked for years is the brick oven pizza at 21st and Chestnut. I’ve been to many concerts over the years at the First Unitarian Church, right down the street. I must’ve walked passed this place at least 50 times without stopping in for a slice. Such a bonehead move on my part.

From the outside, Mix Pizzeria looks like a trendy, hipster hangout. You would think you’d need a waxed mustachio and an opinion on government policy just to gain entry. However, the interior is anything but. Intimate lighting, ample table seating inside as well as a handful of sidewalk tables, a full bar stocked with some good brews on tap, and pies as far as the eye can see. Mix’s pizza can hold it’s own with just about any place we’ve been to. The first thing that you’re greeted with when you walk in is a wide array of pies on display to choose from. Pizzas for the carnivore in you, to pies for the leaf eater. They got it all. The first one in line was the “chicken ranch” pie. Huge chunks of grilled chicken topped with a mesmerizing swirl of creamy ranch dressing. They even have a pie that boasts chorizo sausage and jalapeños. They literally have slices for the picky eater in everyone. Standing tall behind the sea of pizzas, is a massive brick oven tiled in stone and ceramics that spells out “MIX”. I was truly impressed. I’d probably compare it to the asshole heater in Kevin McCallister’s basement. “HELLLOOOO KEVVIINN!” Soho in Olde City has a similar setup, but this enormous 600 degree furnace chumps theirs in every way possible.

I kept my picks for today’s review simple. First up, for you lovers of meat, a little pepperoni and sausage to tickle the T-rex in you. Crinkled and curled slices of juicy pepperonis and tiny balls of spicy sausage lined this bad boy from edge to edge. Perfect if you like to simultaneously have multiple pieces of meat shoved into your mouth. The 2nd slice, and the better of the duo, is the broccoli and diced tomato pie. I’m a meat guy. I forever will be. But this veggie delight had me seeing stars at first bite. Mix’s pizzas are way thinner than your average slice and they dangled off my plate at every possible angle. Huge portions to fill you up rather than keeping you wishing you’d gotten that 2nd slice. Prior to getting tossed into the oven, they sprinkle their crusts with granulated garlic. A signature move that really sets this place apart from the rest. Make sure you carry an extra stick of gum with you or you’ll have your friends labeling you “dragonbreath” for the remainder of the day, and quite possibly the rest of your life. The bottom of my slices were coated with the blackened char residue from that sexy brick oven. I kinda wish I got see more of that thoughout our blog journey.

What Mix does that others fail to do, is put a unique spin on their pies. Rather than have the run of the mill plain and pepperoni slices available to order, they make sure their entire starting lineup is on the roster and ready to go. Mix’s crust is hands down my favorite crust that I’ve had in a really long time. I’m definitely keeping notes come December for our “best of 2012” list. Next time you’re in Rittenhouse square and you don’t wanna break the bank to grab a bite to eat, stop into Mix and grab a slice or 2 for the road. You can thank us later.

Chuck E. Cheese’s VS. Brunswick Zone

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Chuck E. Cheese’s: Where a doughboy can be a doughboy.

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Laughs and Memories. We eat them for breakfast.

Don’t tell mom the babysitter thinks Chuck E. Cheese’s fucking sucks

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All pep

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Looks can be deceiving

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Really?

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Force feeding

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The only grown men there without children.

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Doughboys = Family

Originally, we had a 3 way battle royale planned for you guys to include palace skating rink’s snack shop pizza. However, their stuck up doctor’s office hours of 1-4 pm and 7-10 pm didn’t quite work well with the doughboys’ schedule. So today, we’re just gonna keep this a duel for the best entertainment pizza and save the skating za’ for a rainy day.

Chuck E. Cheese’s
9175 Roosevelt Boulevard

Castro:

Chuck E. Cheese’s has been around for decades, entertaining undisciplined children and serving subpar food since 1977. I bet you didn’t know that the guy who invented Atari also founded this place. If you didn’t attend a birthday party at this dump as a kid, then your friends probably just hated your guts because of your daily morning breath. My fondest memories of Chuck’s included winning 432,000,000 tickets and cashing them in for dumb shit like 10 giant bouncy balls and 87 plastic spider rings. The horrific animatronic band, that when awakened from their slumber, could scare the fleas out of a North Philly rowhome. The infamous unsanitary ball pit that was home to such surprises as trash, dirty diapers, syringes, feces and condom wrappers. And lastly, the pizza. Growing up, Chuck’s pizza was always my favorite pizza. If I could go back in time, I’d punch my teeth down my throat for ever thinking such blasphemous thoughts. “Always frozen; Never fresh” should be their motto. Why wouldn’t a plump, little 8 year old Filipino boy like myself enjoy such a pizza? Back in mid 2011, Chuck E. Cheese’s campaigned a new pizza recipe that promised “Fresh dough, crispier crusts, fresh toppings and 100% freshly shredded cheeses.” Those words look great on paper, but to actually incorporate them is a whole ‘nother story. The pizza we got today was no different than the pizza I recall choking down as a kid. It was extremely sloppily made. The rubbery crust took what seemed like hours to chew. The “fresh sauce” tasted like they popped the lid off of a “fresh jar” of ragu spaghetti sauce and went to work. The grease soaked, soggy pepperonis are blackheads waiting to happen. The only saving grace about coming here is knowing the “anti-pedophile kidnapping blacklight hand stamp” you get at the door to prevent the snatching of your pizza filled children by mustached predators. I felt totally safe, yet completely unsatisfied here.

Chuck E. Cheese’s pizza wasn’t good. It wasn’t bad either. It was fucking horrendous. I understand people don’t come here for the pizza, they come for the games and the experience of being a kid or whatever. The pizza is just to keep the kids held over while they impatiently wait their turn to whack-a-mole or ski-a-ball. Why not offer them something fresh and unique instead of the same old garbage you’ve been serving up since the Carter Administration. If I were the C.E.O of this company, I would blow my brains out inside the ticket blaster machine like a gentleman for allowing my customers to be exposed to such slop. This is an understatement, but Chuck E. Cheese’s is hands down the WORST pizza of 2012 and quite possibly my life.

Plichter:

Although it took me 27 years to finally visit a Chuck E. Cheese’s, I probably would’ve been better off never visiting at all. I thought long and hard about my childhood, but no birthday parties at Chuck E. Cheese’s come to mind. I remember Discovery Zone, Sahara Sam’s, and random bowling alley parties, but that’s about it. I didn’t really expect a world-class pizza at this dump, but for $20 bucks, I expected something at least edible.

For starters, as I just mentioned, a large pepperoni pizza was $20 bucks. The whole entire point of pizza is the fact that it’s usually so affordable since it’s so inexpensive to make. Even some of the best pizzerias in Philly don’t charge more than $15 bucks a pie, so needless to say there’s no excuse for charging anything more for this slop. Instead of coming with a metal server to handout slices, our pie came with a plastic knife which could barely even cut through the cheese (which I’m pretty sure was also made of plastic). The bottom line is this pizza tasted gross, had a rubbery texture, and was outrageously overpriced. I honestly have no idea how Chuck E. Cheese’s can get away with serving this crap. This pizza was worse than every chain pizzeria combined. I really shouldn’t have expected much from an establishment whose spokesperson is a cartoon rat. If Chuck E. Cheese were real, I would’ve had him exterminated a long time ago.

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BZ for the DB’s

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Half n’ half

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Slightly better

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barf-o-rama

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C’mon, seriously?!

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Indoor firepit pizza makes up for this atrocity.

Brunswick Zone
100 E. Street Rd, Feasterville PA.

Castro:

Bowling alley pizza. The two go together like peas and carrots. I mean, what better way to have a good time with your friends than to crush a few slices while you crush a few 7/10 splits. I’m probably the worst bowler on the face of the earth, so trips to the alley are pretty scarce. As is dabbling in their snack shop pizza. The first thing that comes to mind when referring to the two is the scene in kingpin when Roy Munson walks through the bowling alley and snatches the pizza off of the one dude’s plate. I had my daughters’ birthday parties at brunswick zone a few weeks ago. I ordered 5 large pizzas for their friends to have a go at while they bumper bowled to “one direction” songs. When the slices started running low, I figured I would be courteous and order another pizza just in case people were still hungry. Nobody ate it. For those that know me, I’m not one to leave uneaten pizza on the table. So I polished it off…the whole entire thing. I went home and cried myself to sleep that night.

Anyway, I’m not even gonna waste your time with this. The pizza here fucking sucks. Plain and simple. It’s frozen, unpackaged and sent through a conveyor belt until it’s finally somewhat edible. It’s basically a partially cooked plain tombstone with a digiorno rising crust. What Brunswick zone lacks in delicious pizza, they more than make up for with killer activities to help you take your mind off of the travesty of a pie that you’re putting into your mouth. Laser tag, first person shooter arcade games, pool tables, a bar that’s stocked with a rather fine selection of craft beers to wet your whistle, and well…bowling. Not to mention the giant indoor firepit.

I gotta say, I’m truly disappointed with both the pizzas that we were given today. I had high expectations for the money that we shelled out for them. Ultimately, this battle ended with both opponents getting disqualified for serving up such terrible pies. Which should you get next time that you’re out and about? Neither. Get a double baconator from Wendy’s and call it a night.

Plichter:

Out of all the bowling alleys and similar places that could host a birthday party in this day and age, I think Brunswick Zone is easily the most ideal. This place has so much going on that it speaks to so many different audiences. The bar setup with pool tables, big screen televisions, decent beer selection and fire pit could occupy anyone over the age of 21 while their bratty kids busy themselves with laser tag, bowling and/or video games. Since they don’t allow outside food or beverages, you’re going to have to choose wisely from their snack bar if you’re looking for some legitimate food.

Brunswick definitely shit on Chuck E. Cheese’s right away by offering pizzas starting at $14 bucks. But as far as taste goes, the two were basically on the same level. Now I know I shouldn’t expect much from either place since they don’t specialize in pizza, but I just expected Brunswick Zone to stand out in comparison to Chuck E. Cheese’s. Their pizza was similarly just a frozen, bland piece of crap that does nothing but appeases the masses of dumb children and parents who walk in the door. Neither establishment wins the pizza battle since the pizza fuckin sucked at both places, but at least you can get drunk at Brunswick Zone