Monthly Archives: November 2012

City Tap House

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The City Tap House

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Slingin’ pies for us pizza guys

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The Pulpo Flatbread (peep the octopus tentacle)

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The Abruzzi Pepperoni

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A delicious duo of land and sea creatures.

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Wolfman’s got nards

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Flannel and thumbs

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The perfect crust

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Beers for days

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Cold chillin’ by the fire

City Tap House
3925 Walnut Street

Castro:

University City. Nationally known for it’s award winning hospitals and ridiculously expensive schools. It’s also locally known for it’s hub of obnoxiously loud college bars; where on any given Friday night, you’re likely to run into a pack of faux hawk’d dudes rocking popped collars on their pink polo shirts and the occasional underage chick throwing up in the side alley of a frat house. One thing that University City lacks is a decent slice of za. Believe me, I work in this part of the city and I’ve sampled them all. It’s all places that care more about taking your cash and giving you a loveless product, where absolutely no thought or care went into making. The City Tap House is the exception. I’ve been to the CTH numerous times since they opened 3 years ago, but all of my visits usually involved me drinking an 11% beer from a chalice on the balcony, in front of one of their many outdoor firepits. Up until recently, that’s all I really knew them for. They have one of the most extensive selection of beers on tap in the city. 60+ to be exact. A quick menu search on their website showed that they also sport some pretty legit pizza choices. One that really caught my eye was the “Pulpo Flatbread”, which boasts smoked octopus and chorizo sausage. Yes, I said octopus. Let’s be honest. The thought of a cephalopod slowly making it’s way through my digestive track would normally make me dry heave, but combined with the zesty kick of some Mexican chorizo sausage, it might just prove otherwise. Chorizo is a mexican/spanish sausage made with paprika and chili powder. It’s rare to come by in Philly. When I went to Mexico earlier this year, I was introduced to this sexy meat at the omelet station in my hotel and fell completely head over heels for it. Needless to say, when I seen it as a topping on this pie, I knew I just had to have it. Andy Farrell, the General Manager, was extremely hospitable to the doughboys and welcomed us with arms wide open. He even went as far as to sit down with us and walk us through exactly how each pie is made.

The “Pulpo” starts out with a 14″x5″ hand stretched flatbread. It’s smothered in smoked red onions, plump kalamata olives, octopus that’s twice boiled and then smoked over an open flame, sliced chorizo sausage, manchengo cheese and finished off with a house made romesco sauce. There’s so many interesting things going on with this pie. The texture and chew of the octopus alone is enough to creep the creepiest of creepsters out, but the zing that the spicy chorizo sausage packs offsets that feeling and makes for a killer topping combination. The sweet and nutty flavor of the manchengo cheese is a much welcomed change from the typical mozzarella that we’ve been acclimated to. But what really needs to be highlighted is the romesco sauce. It’s hand made with almonds, day old bread, whipping cream, a splash of red wine vinegar, fresh garlic and roasted red peppers (which gives it it’s luscious orange glow.) Look, I’m a lover of all things food. Anything new to my tastes, I will gladly get just to say that I’ve tried it. Prior to this visit, the closest thing to a tentacled sea creature that I’ve had in my mouth was a little fried calamari with red sauce. I loved everything about it. The “Pulpo” was just about the most unusual thing that we’ve reviewed to date. It takes a lot of balls to top a pizza with octopus, but these dudes killed it. If you hit the CTH, give this a pie a fighting chance. One thing that the boys of dough praise is originality and creativity, and the CTH hit the nail on the head with this concoction.

The second pie that we dabbled in was the “Abruzzi Pepperoni.” Monstrous cuts of spicy, paper thin pepperoni are generously lined from crust to crust on top of fresh slivers of mozzarella and sweet, robust tomato sauce. Before it’s slid into the 650 degree oven, it’s finished off with sliced Fresno chili peppers. A perfect union of toppings and without a doubt, my favorite pie of the day. The “Pulpo flatbread” has somewhat of an acquired taste to it, and if you’re not a fan of staring at the suction cupped tentacles before you eat it, you may jump the gun and your brain will tell your mouth that you’re not going to like it before you even try it. The “Abruzzi Pepperoni” pie is something that pizza eaters young and old can fully appreciate and enjoy. The slight char on the bottom was the epitome of what you want all of your crusts to look like. I personally watched the pizza chef, Dan Mohr, hand make our pizzas and meticulously arrange the toppings as if he were assembling a 1000 piece puzzle. This is how every pizza should be constructed; with pride and confidence. After we polished off all 12 slices like the champions that we are, we sat outside by their open flame firepits and tossed back a few brews. We spoke of past loves and future life endeavors. Just kidding, we mostly talked about the Simpsons and wrestling. The City Tap House is a well hidden gem, and without a doubt one of the coolest spots to grab a beer and a pie in Philly. Head on down to University City and try them out for size. Definitely doughboys approved.

Plichter:

I’d say the only reason I don’t spend too much time in University City is because I hate driving there. Even the other day, when you would expect little or no traffic long before rush hour, it was a bothersome commute on 676. But once you’re down there, it’s easy to forget about. Decent bars, restaurants and stores in a part of Philadelphia that seems like a city in itself. If I had more time to spare, I probably would’ve spent the remainder of the night playing video games at University Pinball. But I was in University City with a purpose: octopus pizza.

Being known more for their extensive beer selection than pizza, City Tap House has still managed to remain on our radar for some time. And with some of the most outrageous combination pizzas, it’s no wonder why. I seriously wanted to try every pizza there, from the Jambalaya to the Margherita. I was craving some classic pepperoni pizza, but needed to try out that octopus as well. Obviously not being your customary pizza, the Pulpo Flatbread begins with exactly what the title suggests: flatbread. Using such a thin base for a pizza definitely has some pros, namely being the decreased cooking time and crispy texture. The idea of eating octopus was a bit unnerving at first, but it essentially heightened the other complex flavors of the pie it shared. The salty, smoked octopus was battling the spicy Chorizo sausage, with the affection of my taste buds at stake. Not to be outdone, the Romesco sauce entered the battle with something to prove (and did so). This pie was interesting to say the least. I love to try new foods and expanding my horizons, and this pizza helped me do just that. But every once in a while, I need a little normalcy in my life. So a nice pepperoni pie was definitely in order.

I don’t think a lot of people realize the difference that adding peppers to pizza can make. Even a boring, shitty pie can be reintroduced to the public with jalapeno or banana peppers and be completely different. Although they didn’t need it, the pepperoni pie at Tap House was only made more magnificent by adding the Fresno chilli peppers. Spicy pepperoni, sweet sauce, and the kick of the crunchy peppers was exactly what this Dough Boy needed in his life. Maybe I’m speaking out of pure hunger, but that pie was one of the best pepperoni pizzas I’ve had in a very long time. Do it.

With Bobby’s Burgers being a stone’s throw away, it may not be an easy decision where to eat if you’re in the area. But do yourself a favor and try these delectable pies next time you’re in University City. Friendly staff, cool atmosphere, and delicious ‘za? It’s a no-brainer. Feel free to wash it down with a chocolate stout by the fire afterwards.

Original Village Pizza

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It should read “you’ve tried the rest, now try the worst fucking pizza on the face of the earth”

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A custom box is about the only thing they have going for them

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Large bacon, “well done”

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At least it’s geometrically correct

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Rainy day car pizza

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Nothing beats the look of sheer and utter disappointment

Original Village Pizza
10006 Sandmeyer Lane

Castro:

First things first. I would like to own up and say that I’m 100% responsible for this weeks travesty of a review. I received a tip from an inside source that “Original Village Pizza” on Red Lion Road makes a fairly decent bacon pie. Upon hearing this, I immediately hit up the jack and texted Plic that we needed to indulge in some extracurricular bacon activities. Just like that, this week’s review was ready to go. After finishing my workout at planet fitness, I figured what better way to get my protein intake then to inhale a hot, bacon pizza fresh out of the oven. Just minutes away from Red Lion and the Boulevard, I was there within minutes.

Now, even before I had this pizza in my mouth, some issues already presented themselves. For instance, the “a $1 fee will be added to ALL debit and credit transactions” sign that’s plastered all over inside. YOU chose the option to allow YOUR customers to pay with means other than just cash. Why charge them an extra dollar just to eat your shitty pizza? How about you fire one of the 10-12 people that you have employed doing absolutely nothing behind the counter, who are obviously making fun of me while speaking Greek, instead of making us responsible for your merchant fees. There’s like 10 states where if you even attempted that shit, you’d get hit with a dickload of fines and penalties. Anyway, after paying for my pizza WITH CASH (for obvious reasons), I was shorted a dollar with my change. I’m not sure if this was their attempt to make good on what they owe their creditors, but rest assured, I wasn’t leaving without that single. After a brief squabble with the cashier, I left with the proper cheddar I was due.

“Me•di•o•cre – adjective. 1. Of only ordinary or moderate quality. Neither good nor bad. Barely adequate. 2. Rather poor or inferior.” Synonyms: characterless, run-of-the-mill, undistinguished, uninspired. This pizza was sub-mediocre at very best. Extremely greasy. The crust was flavorless and easily neglected to the side. I never thought I’d make this statement, but there was entirely too much bacon on it. It was to the point where it overpowered the rest of the pie. And it wasn’t even the good bacon either. It was a generic bacos or bacon bits. If you’re gonna do a legit bacon pizza, break it up by hand. Don’t granulate it and chop it to smithereens. My one wish would be for someone, somewhere, to construct a pizza with thick cut, maple syrup bacon complete with cracked peppercorn edges. And I want it with a mozzarella and cheddar infused cheese blend or some smoked gouda. Fuck. This pizza is by no means on our level. This is kiddie school stuff. I’ve had better pizza from pizza shops under the EL in West Philly that serve chinese food and fried chicken wings. Save your $10, go next door to Lenighan’s, get yourself a few whiskey sours and play photo hunt on the touchmaster 2000. You’ll forever be in my debt for that recommendation.

Plichter:

Although we primarily rely on word of mouth when it comes to checking places out, every once in a while I get a little skeptical. And so begins our most recent visit to Original Village Pizza, right past Verree Road and right off of Red Lion. Castro’s barber insisted on us trying the bacon pie there, and I read nothing but positive reviews online. So, how bad could it possibly be? I was about to find out.

I was a little impressed after learning that Original Village had their own customized boxes. Considering most places settle for the generic “Hot, Delicious Pizza” boxes that are everywhere, I saw this as a way for them to set themselves apart from the pack. Any pizzeria that goes to this much trouble for a box must put twice as much effort into their food, right? At least that seemed like a logical assumption before I actually took a gander at what was in the box. Inside looked like a generic, crusty pizza had been covered in fever blisters and sold to a handsome blogger. I had been duped; Original Village splurged on a customized box, yet filled it with one of the ugliest pizzas I’ve ever seen. It was the type of pizza that you take one look at and know it’s gonna suck.

…And sure enough it did. The crust and sauce were flavorless and bland, while the bacon was fatty and cold. Oh, and it didn’t stop there. I also picked up some fries and mozzarella sticks, which were equally as bad. Had I known the amount of anguish I was about to go through, I would’ve easily ordered from anywhere else instead of having to drive to this dump. If I could sue a pizzeria for the amount of disappointment they caused me, I’d take Original Village to the bank. I’d rather listen to Original Prankster on repeat than eat at Original Village again. It was THAT bad.

Uncle Oogie’s

Custom Oogie’s boxes

Big Lou

Junk Yard Dog

Sizin’ it up

Breakfast for dinner?!

Bubba fries

Originality at it’s best

Uncle Oogie’s
2119 W. Oregon Ave.

Castro:

About a month ago, I was sitting in juvenile court downtown, when I noticed a guy staring at me. He politely walked over, sat down next to me and said, “Hey, are you one of the doughboys?” I can’t help but get super hype when someone knows me from the blog. I imagine it’s similar to how Jonathan Taylor Thomas feels when people recognize him in public. Anyway, we got to talkin’ about the pizza sitch in South Philly. He’s a cop who works the beat down by the stadiums. He proceeded to enlighten me about how most of the places in South Philly weren’t doughboys worthy and that they’d probably just end up being a complete waste of time. He did mention a place that he eats at on the reg with dynamite pizza and signature fries. Uncle Oogie’s (pronounced Uncle Loogies). The name alone is hilarious enough for a visit. This isn’t the first time that Oog’s managed to make it onto my radar. They’re known city wide for their infamous “bubba fries.” Crispy french fries topped with seasoned ground beef, bacon, pickles and smothered in mozzarella cheese. If this were the doughboys french fry blog, I have no doubt in my mind that these would get a killer write up. Here’s a tip. Grab a pinch full and place it on your pizza. It’s like doing a bump of Walt’s blue sky crystal meth. It’s the ultimate high. Since Hurricane Sandy was busy ripping trees from the ground and knocking down power lines, we decided to keep this one a delivery special.

Let’s start with one of Oogie’s top sellers. The “Big Lou.” Marinated chicken, sautéed asparagus, caramelized onions and finished off with a ricotta and mozzarella cheese combo. As soon as I opened the box, I was hit in the face with a scent that can only be described as what your grandmother’s homemade chicken noodle soup might smell like after simmering on low heat all afternoon. The enormous slices of juicy grilled chicken were a perfect mate to the sweet onions and salty, chopped sautéed asparagus. Ricotta cheese on pizza always makes me a bit uneasy. I’m not a fan of the texture and wetness of it. They seasoned it up very well, where I actually didn’t mind this clumpy, moist cheese making an appearance on my pie. I’d like to give a round of applause to Oogie’s crust. Extra crispy and it handled perfectly. I love me an over abundance of crust bubbles. All in all, it was a decent combination of toppings that made for a super unique tasting slice.

Having said all that, the award for best actor in a dramatic role definitely goes to the “Junk Yard Dog.” As soon I laid eyes on the menu, I knew the world must hear about this pie. It’s a breakfast pizza, but to the likes of which you’ve probably never seen. 9 slices of a square, semi-thin, old world style za. First, a blanket of American cheese slices creates a base layer for this monster. Then, it’s lined with scrambled eggs and topped off with some of the best breakfast meats imaginable. Sausage, bacon, ham and….wait for it…WAIT FOR IT…pork roll. Have you ever even heard of pork roll on pizza? Because I haven’t. Considering it’s one of my all-time favorite breakfast meats on the planet, needless to say I fell in love at first bite. All 4 greasy meats worked in unison to create the ultimate voltron of grizzly and manly pizza toppings. Rest in peace to the many swine who thoughtlessly laid their lives down so that Plichter and I could enjoy this breakfast feast. Cue the meat sweats.

Uncle Oogie’s reintroduced South Philly as a major player in this pizza game. They have the originality and top notch quality to throw hands with the best of em’. Undoubtedly, there will come a time in your life when a plain or pepperoni pizza just won’t cut it for supper anymore. You’ll end up needing a break from the same old grind of cheese and sauce. When that day should happen to arrive, I truly hope that you will be at the exit gates of normality to greet Oogie’s “Junk Yard Dog” with arms wide open. Remember, Mom always said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

Plichter:

It’s really a shame that I spent my time in south Philly going to school and work constantly, because I really missed out on some awesome eats. I must’ve driven past Uncle Oogie’s at least 20 times between 2008 and 2010, but never actually went inside. It just never clicked in my brain. Even if I were hungry and driving by, I’d just stare at the place and keep on my way. Only years later when Castro mentioned Uncle Oogie’s did I finally get a chance at redemption.

For over 15 years, Uncle Oogie’s has been serving up a “unique blend of Italian and South Philadelphian cuisine.” After establishing themselves as a force to be reckoned with in the Jersey Shore pizza circuit, they have since added a second location at 21st and Oregon. One look at their menu and I knew that this place was legit. Not only were their options hilariously named, they were ridiculously original. Ordering the Big Lou, the Junk Yard Dog, and the Bubba Fries was a no-brainer.

Even though we didn’t order until about 3pm, I was pleased to find out that Uncle Oogie’s serves their breakfast pizzas all day. So we started off with the Junk Yard Dog; a square breakfast pie topped with scrambled eggs, American cheese, bacon, sausage, pork roll and ham. It’s a miracle my arteries didn’t completely harden after housing three slices of this bad oscar, but it would’ve been totally worth it. Considering breakfast is my least favorite meal if the day, I would have no problem eating the Junk Yard Dog at any given time. The American cheese and scrambled eggs, combined with the chewy Sicilian crust, gave it a taste similar to a breakfast sandwich. No need to pick and choose your favorite breakfast meat on this thing either, since they’re all there for your enjoyment. (I would’ve preferred some scrapple on there too, but I’m not sure if that’s even considered a type of meat.)

Next on deck was the Big Lou; a white pie topped with marinated chicken, sautéed asparagus, caramelized onions and an extra helping of seasoned ricotta cheese. All these toppings together created a taste reminiscent of a Thanksgiving feast. The seasoning of the ricotta, caramelized onion and sautéed asparagus especially tasted like a holiday stuffing after sitting for a few minutes. I can only imagine what this would taste like with a side of chicken gravy, and I’ll be putting that idea into practice in the future.

Apparently no order from Uncle Oogie’s is complete without an order of Bubba Fries, but you didn’t have to twist my arm to order these once I heard about this delicious mess. Crispy fries topped with ground beef, diced pickle, American cheese and bacon? Never have I been more proud to be a fat American than when I read about the Bubba Fries. Uncle Oogie’s is just the place to encourage my hedonistic lifestyle, and will undoubtedly continue to for a while.