31 S. 11th Street
I would say that roughly 1/3 of my illustrious career is spent downtown, within the scummy confines of the criminal justice center. I would also imagine that a majority of y’all have a decent amount of dealings in the center city area as well. Jury duty, baby mama drama at family court, riding the duck boats, gettin’ your stupid last names changed at City Hall. Regardless of why you’re down in the city, you gotta eat…right? For me, finding new locations to scarf lunch downtown doesn’t come particularly easy; especially when you have a limited amount of time grab to a bite to eat. Not to mention sniffing out places with a wallet friendly menu to cater to your weekly budget. Needless to say, when I heard of a hole-in-the-wall pizza joint right off 11th & Market that serves unique specialty pies like “General Tso’s” and “Big Mac”, I knew right away that our followers needed to get the scoop on it.
Located right across the street from family court, is a place that you would walk right by if you don’t keep your eyes peeled like bananas. Paulie’s may look like your average pizza parlor on the outside, but their menu carries so much pizza cred that it’s almost mind blowing. (A little insider secret: order 2 large pizzas and get a half dozen sweet n’ creamy canolis to stuff your face with.) The sad thing is, people probably come here all the time and order a slice of plain or pepperoni because they’re skeptical about trying anything new. I gotta be honest, when I initially got wind that they offered a “General Tso’s” pizza, I kinda laughed. My first thought was that it was just gonna be another poor attempt at creativity by another shitty Philly pizza shop and another notch on the pie bashing list. This visit proved it was anything but.
The “Big Mac” pie: First off, I know it’s not called the “Big Mac” pizza but rather the “Famous Cheeseburger Pizza.” For obvious copyright infringement purposes, they’re legally not allowed to call it that. Well this is my blog and I’ll call it what I please. The reason I keep referring to it as “Big Mac” pizza is because if your were blind folded while you were eating this pie, you would be unable to decipher if you were consuming an actual Big Mac or not. They hit the flavor nail right on the head with this one. It’s got seasoned beef, shredded lettuce, chopped pickles, a sprinkle of sesame seeds and a criss cross drizzlin’ of special sauce. The sauce isn’t thousand island dressing and it’s not a ketchup and mayo mix. It was an identical match to McDonald’s sauce. I distinctly remember Plichter smiling when he took that first bite. I just laughed and said “this is incredible.” Remember in houseguest when Sinbad is eating that big mac on the bridge with Phil Hartman? That’s how I felt at that very moment. Like Sinbad eating a big mac. Undoubtedly one of the most creative and delicious speciality pizzas I’ve encountered to date. If you do make your way to Paulie’s, the Big Mac pizza comes highly recommended from this doughboy.
General Tso’s Pizza. When I think of really good “General Tso’s” Chinese food, I think of the food court at Neshiminy Mall. I know. Retarded, right? Mall chinese food places always have the tastiest General Tso’s around. Most places that serve it are either entirely too spicy, or the chicken is completely soggy after being submerged in that thick, MSG infused sauce. Especially Chinese stores in the hood. Paulie’s does their General Tso’s proper. Crispy breaded chicken, seasoned with fiery spices and smothered in a sweet oriental glaze, topped off with fresh broccoli. I’ve never had something like this on pizza before. It totally makes you want to break out the chopsticks. One would think it’s an impossible combination of toppings to cover a pie with, but Paulie’s definitely handled their business with this concoction.
Paulie’s is the prime example of the ideal spot that the doughboys would like to visit. Forget the popular places that everyone already knows about. We want a taste of good ol’ fashioned american ingenuity, and Paulie’s has just that. Next time you’re stompin’ around the city, forget the Reading terminal and stop in for one or both of these slices. You won’t break the bank and you’ll leave just a little bit more satisfied.
Every once in a while, a pizzeria comes along that redefines the way I think about pizza. While the standard cheese, sauce and crust is never turned away, I sometimes crave something new and ridiculous. Originality always gets an A for effort in my mind, but the execution is what makes it truly worth it. So when I heard of the pies offered at Paulie’s Pizza, I expected them to live up to the hype. And they certainly did.
Without first doing your research, you would probably have no idea Paulie’s even existed. Nestled away on 11th Street between Market and Chestnut, they might just seem like your ordinary pizzeria to the untrained eye. But what they’re serving up inside is anything but ordinary. With options such as lasagna pizza, penne vodka pizza, and spaghetti pizza, Paulie’s easily redefines the way we think about pizza. But we came here for two reasons: General Tso’s Chicken pizza and Big Mac pizza.
As Castro mentioned, Paulie’s can’t actually call it “Big Mac” pizza since those fat cats at McDonalds would probably throw a shit fit. But don’t let the “Famous Cheeseburger Pizza” name fool you; this isn’t your run of the mill cheeseburger pizza. This pizza tastes EXACTLY like a Big Mac. It was incredible. Topped with lettuce, pickles, sesame seeds and their own special sauce, it’s the closest thing possible to a Big Mac without going to McDonalds. And since I’m not even a fan of McDonalds or their Big Mac, I have no problem with endorsing this pizza and I believe it to be even better. This is a fine example of actually thinking outside the bun.
Already being a firm believer in Paulie’s after the Big Mac pizza, I was sure that the General Tso’s would also live up to the hype. The only difference between this and the typical General Tso’s is the fact that Paulie’s uses breaded strips of chicken instead of the traditional deep fried at most Chinese restaurants. But once again, this was the closest thing to General Tso’s you could have on a pizza. Broccoli, chicken, and General Tso’s sauce atop a white pie solidified Paulie’s as one of the most delicious and original pizzerias in Philly.
Diehard ‘za lovers will probably argue that what’s served at Paulie’s can’t even be classified as pizza. But when it tastes this good, who cares? If Big Mac and General Tso’s pizza is wrong, I certainly don’t wanna be right. Keep up the good work.