8500 Henry Avenue (Andorra Shopping Center)
Roxborough. A working class, blue collar neighborhood. One of the few areas left in Philly where you’ll surely find a tight knit community of residents who really do know everybody by first name. Personally, I consider it a suburb of Philadelphia rather than an actual section of this awful city. It’s quiter, there’s virtually no crime and it has some pretty good drinking spots. However, one thing that Roxborough lacks is a decent pizzeria. What’s that you say? What about Roma’s? Maria’s? Tony Roni’s? Fiesta? Stop it, you’re embarrassing yourself. I’ve had them all, and they should be ashamed to bare the title of pizzeria. Ladies and Gentlemen, please allow me introduce you to Pizzeria DiMeo’s .
Pizzeria DiMeo’s is tucked away within the confines of the Andorra shopping center; almost acting as a shield to protect it from any outsiders looking to expose this hidden gem. Trust me. The 15 minute drive across Henry Avenue from the Boulevard is worth every second of your precious time. The moment you walk through the front doors, you’re instantly greeted with Authentic Italian decor and hospitality. A gigantic painted mural of Naples’ Mount Vesuvius and a handful of blown up photographs of the DiMeo family overlook the crowd of die hard diners who came for one thing and one thing only: The infamous wood fired, neopolitan pizza.
On this particular occasion, Scott Stein, DiMeo’s head of marketing, welcomed us with open arms. He immediately sat us down and schooled us on their history and their ultimate goal. One of the first things he said to us was “we feel that our pizza can hold it’s own against any pizza in not only the city, but in the country as well”. That’s something Scarface or Frank Lucas would say. Confidence and pride in a product that they firmly and wholeheartedly believe in. It rocked me to my core. He could’ve been trying to sell me a vacuum cleaner or a chia pet and I would’ve bought 12 of them based off his personal assurance and determination in what it is they do here. They’ve been open for a little over a year now and business has been steady booming. Sunday nights are considered “Italian night” at DiMeo’s. Italians from as far away as Newark, Vineland and Pottstown flock here to talk with their hands while they down a bottle of red with this truly authentic Pizza from the old country. They can’t pump these pizzas out quick enough. Not that that’s a problem, considering they’re running an oak fired pizza oven. Pizzas blasted at 900+ degrees are done in no more than 90 seconds.
Antimo DiMeo eventually greeted us and sat down to get our take on things. Let me paint you a picture of this guy. He’s 20 years old, looks and parties like Andrew W.K and literally knows anything and everything about pizza. He didnt have a single sauce stain on his fresh, white t-shirt and slacks. His pony tail had many godlike features. It reminded me of John Stamos’ hair when he was in his prime. Gracefully blowing in the heat emanating from the 974 degree oven. You know what I was doing when I was 20? I was wearing thick glasses and trying to sell kitchen knives door to door. This guy has one of the most up and coming pizzerias in the city, and will undoubtedly go on to accomplish many great things with this business. He has strived everyday since day 1 to perfect this recipe. “Pizza is an art, that’s what people don’t understand”. He says “the perfect pizza can be described as the crust having an eggshell skin with a warm pillowy center.” Such a detailed description made my mouth water and had me demanding the main course. Let’s eat.
We tackled 3 of their of most popular pies. The first was the Margherita. It’s the pizza that started it all at DiMeo’s. Simple. Elegant. Just like it’s done back in Naples. Nothing but crushed San Marzano tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, buffalo mozzarella and fresh basil. The crust was littered with perfectly placed leopard printed burn marks. This pie was absolutely stunning. It easily puts some of the finest wood fired margheritas that we’ve had to shame. It’s a similar style to Bufad’s or Nomad’s Margherita pies but with a taste just superior on every single level. If you come during lunch hours, you can get this big, beautiful bastard for only $9. I implore you to make this one of your 2 picks when you finally grace them with your presence.
The second pie we got, at the suggestion of our tour guide, was the “fica”. Simply my favorite of the night. A jelly fig spread, burrata, baby arugula, truffle oil and some of the most succulent prosciutto you will ever have the pleasure of tasting. This is the part where I’d usually talk up how delicious the prosciutto was, but the sweet fig jam was the show stopper here. It’s like a light grape jelly which is spread on the pie, in lieu off any type of sauce, and explodes in your mouth. It amplifies the taste of every other ingredient and really brings them all together. The sweet jam combined with the salty meat was an incredible combination. I highly recommend sampling this pie for yourself. You will NOT be disappointed.
The last pie we were put up against was the “panna”. DiMeo’s sexy buffalo mozzerella, a little house made cream, red onion, oak roasted sausage that’s cooked within the walls of their 900 degree oven. Finally, it’s polished off with a fine grating of parmagiano-reggiano cheese that’s imported straight off the boat from Italy. The cream sauce that Antimo whips up himself from scratch was a new addition to my pizza palett. I thought it was paired well with the spiced sausage.
It’s always a plus when the owners of a pizzeria are equally as passionate and share the excitement for a good piece of pizza as yourself. I loved everything about DiMeo’s. The intimate atmosphere. The top notch, impeccable service. The unbelievable pies. I couldn’t have asked for a better place to review. DiMeo’s definitely stole this doughboy’s heart with a Margherita pie that will go on to live in Philadelphia pizza infamy.
The most impressive thing about Pizzeria DiMeo’s? They fly in their ingredients from Naples on a weekly basis. It’s a welcomed change of pace from most of the slop served in Philadelphia. Don’t get me wrong, there are some really decent pizzerias that get by on using what they can. But the little extra effort that DiMeo’s puts into their food really makes all the difference.
Before a restaurant can even worry about the ingredients, they need to have the right team in place. Scott Stein brings years of marketing and restaurant management to DiMeo’s, while Antimo and Pino bring years of dedication to the kitchen. And yes, I said years, despite the fact that Antimo is only 20 years old. When he sat at our table and began talking about the pizza, I couldn’t believe how articulately he described his pizza making process. When I was 20 years old, I slept til 2pm every day and worked at a shitty hospital. This guy puts in 12 hour days almost seven days a week. Impressive.
We almost always have to try the Margherita everywhere we go. That’s a no-brainer. And even though we’ve had plenty of plain Marg pies in the past, the quality of the ingredients made all the difference this time around. It doesn’t put Bufad or Nomad to shame, but it does taste better. The oak-roasted sausage of the Panna pie really brought out the secondary flavors of the red onions, house made cream, mozzarella di bufala and parmigiano reggiano. But my favorite of the night had to be the Fica pie. With fig spread, burrata, prosciutto, arugula and truffle oil, it was both a salty and sweet treat. I’ve had prosciutto on pies before, but this was undoubtedly the best I’ve ever had. The prosciutto at Tacconelli’s or Bufad cannot compete with this. And I don’t even like prosciutto!
Scott asked us an interesting question while at DiMeo’s. “Where else can you get this kind of quality at this kind of price?” The answer is nowhere. You will not get a better dining experience for the price anywhere around. It’s elegance with thriftiness. And while you’re there, be sure to try their delicious desserts that you can wash down with their homemade limoncello.