Monthly Archives: September 2013

Marra’s Pizzeria

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Marra’s Pizzeria
1734 E. Passyunk Avenue

Castro:

When Plichter gave me the heads up that the next spot we’d be reviewing came from the heart of South Philly, I gotta admit; I was definitely stoked. 2 of my favorite pizza joints are only a few blocks from here. Stogie Joe’s and Gennaro’s. The excitement started to build. All I could think about was that first cheesy bite. The thought of adding another authentic South Phil’ slice to the blog was making my mouth water. On my lunch break, I decided to manuever my way through 20 minutes of stop and go traffic, and countless F-words, to indulge in the neighborhood favorite “Marra’s”.

Marra’s Pizzeria opened their doors to the residents of Passyunk Avenue, 83 years ago; and in turn, the residents of Passyunk Avenue watched 3 generations of Marra’s sling pies with style. The pizza oven that was used in the 1930’s is still being used to this day, and was built using actual bricks from Mount Vesuvius in Naples. That’s-a-spicy meataball. Their website even fires off claims that stars such as Conan O’Brien, John Travolta and even ol’ blue eyes himself, Frank Sinatra, have crushed a slice or two here. You can’t knock that street cred.

As soon as you make your way inside, you’re immediately greeted with that Italian family hospitality that you’ve come to know in South Philly. They make you feel right at home, kind of like Joe Pesci’s Mom in Goodfellas. You know, when you show up unannounced after savagely beating and stuffing a man in your trunk at 3 a.m for disrespecting you, and then she cooks for you and your friends. “Shut up. You’re always talking.” We didn’t dabble much in their pasta dishes, but from the reviews on Yelp and Urbanspoon, people had nothing but choice words to say about them. Their pizzas come in 3 sizes: A personal 10″ banger, a small (which is a 14 incher) and a massive 18″ extra large monster. Trust me when I say that the small is more than enough for 2 human beings. Even though I was urged to try out their veggie pie, I was feeling rather carnivorous today. I couldn’t decide between the pepperoni or the sausage. So, naturally my inner fat kid spoke, and I got both. I fell in love with the crispy edges on the pepperoni. The sun glistened off the tiny pools of grease that puddled up on them. I did, however, have some issues with their sausage. It tasted strikingly similar to pizza hut’s sausage and was roughly the same consistency. It didn’t pop with any flavor, nor did it have that special zing to it. If you’re feelin’ like you need some meat sweats, stick with the pepperoni. The crust was the perfect thickness, but was a tad too chewy for my blood. I’m all about the crunch (and the benjamins).

All in all, it was a fairly decent pie for a decent price. Especially if you’re gonna be dining in. They’ll ensure you leave satisfied and stuffed, just like any Good Italian Mother would. I’d surely come back to Marra’s for seconds, but for now…my South Philly heart belongs to Gennaro’s.

Plichter:

It’s hard to imagine a restaurant that’s been open for over 80 years. Quite honestly, it’s hard for me to imagine even living 80 years. All too often, restaurateurs of today are too preoccupied with quick financial gain. Call me old fashioned, but I appreciate a restaurant with history over the next hip, trendy spot. For a place to surpass the test of time clearly speaks wonders for not only their establishment, but their product as well. Marra’s has done just that.

A staple of South Philadelphia, Marra’s serves up traditional Italian dishes as well as some of the best pizza around. Having drawn quite a bit of notoriety over the years, celebrities including Frank Sinatra, John Travolta, and Conan O’Brien have dined there. (Is it weird that I’m more impressed that Conan has eaten there than Sinatra?) It was a Sunday when I visited, so a veggie pie was in order after pumping my body full of crap the days before. The Pizza Ortolana comes equipped with mushrooms, spinach, broccoli, roasted peppers, tomato and garlic. Decadent seems like the wrong word to use for a veggie pie, but it almost was a guilty pleasure. The spinach and garlic weren’t too overpowering, and the tomato and roasted peppers melted in my mouth. The seasoned broccoli also had a peppery taste, which only added to the whole experience. It was a gloomy Sunday that day, but this pizza was a ray of light.

It’s no secret that Fishtown and South Philly are home to the best pizzerias in Philadelphia. Pizza Hub, Pizza Brain, Pizzeria Beddia, Isabella’s, Stogie Joe’s and Gennaro’s have all done some amazing things. But let’s see if they can last 80 plus years. If I make it to 80, I’ll celebrating with pizza and heroin. (I have a heroin date with someone if I make it to 80. I mean, what difference does it make when you’re that old??)

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Pizza Hub

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The Hub

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Feeling chalky?

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The Margherita

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Sausage and Muzzzzzarella

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Close up

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A little duck and a little jazz makes everything alright.

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Breaking Pizza

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Rats off to you

Pizza Hub
221 E. Girard Ave.

Plichter:

Oh hey! How was your summer? Yeah, mine was awesome too. Thank you for asking!

Now that we got that outa the way, let’s dive right into the review. I know you’re probably already thinking “yeah, like Fishtown really needs another trendy pizzeria.” And as much as I’d like to agree with you, I can’t. If they can compete with the rest, they can stay. But with the Fishtown pizza community churning out some impressive pies, Pizza Hub certainly had a lot to prove.

Being only a block away from Beddia, Pizza Hub is also in the general vicinity of Pizza Brain and Trios as well. As far as ambiance goes, this place was my favorite of the group. Sure, Pizza Brain has all that memorabilia inside. But I sometimes feel as if it’s a bit gimmicky. The inside of Beddia is nothing to write home about, and Trios is pretty average. This place looked cool on the outside and had decent music playing inside. (I believe they were spinning Frank Sinatra records if my memory serves me correct.) We watched as our pizza was built and cooked within about 10 minutes, which was already impressive enough. Just by the saucy look alone, I knew I’d like it. Sweet and abundant, I could’ve sworn that they picked and crushed a bushel of tomatoes right before we entered. The drizzled olive oil over the fresh basil really complimented the sauce, giving it a really authentic Italian taste. Could there have been more cheese? Maybe. But regardless, their pizza was awesome just the way it was. Pizza Hub has passed the taste test, so stop in and welcome them to the club.

Castro:

Guess who’s back in the muh’fuckin house, with a brand new review for your sweater and your blouse. So, the boys of dough decided to take the summer off from gorging our faceholes with pizza in an attempt to get back into shape. (You’d be surprised at what consuming over 1100 slices in a single year can do to the human body.) But we’re back, and yet again we’ve ventured back into the gates of Fishtown to savor a fairly new establishment which opened their doors a little over 4 months ago. I’m talking about Pizza Hub. That’s Hub, not Hut. Get it right, sucka.

Pizza Hub is just a stones throw away from some of the best pizza joints that I’ve ever had the opportunity to review. Rustica, Beddia, Trios, Pizza Brain. They’ve all offered something new to the Philly pizza pallet. Naturally, Pizza Hub needed to bring the noise if they’re gonna sling pies in the Town of Fish with the rest of them. The owner Scott, who is just about the nicest person you’ll ever meet in your life, summed up what Pizza Hub is really about in a single paragraph. “Were not here to be pompous, bourgeois assholes. We’re not here to compete with all these other pizza places around here. We’re here do our own thing. We make boardwalk style pizza that won’t break your wallet.” I can dig it. He then proceeds to throw on a “Sonny Stitt” jazz record on his record player and begins to fix me a batch of his finest slices. Have you ever listened to some 50’s smooth jazz saxophone while watching someone make your lunch? It’s very relaxing.

What Pizza Hub brings to the table is a truly original, wafer thin crust on their pies. A sheet of razor thin pizza dough is brushed with some olive oil and a layer of mozzarella/provolone mix is generously layered on top. It’s then tossed into their 600 degree conveyor oven which melts the cheese down and crisps up the crust. This ensures that the toppings and sauce do not penetrate the dough, and ultimately turn your pie into a soggy pile of garbage. Brilliant engineering I must say. Next were some zig zags squirts of sweet sauce made from only the best crushed Jersey tomatoes. Top it all off with a handful of their spicy fennel sausage, guaranteed to open up your sinuses. Finally, a block of pecorino romano cheese (which is imported from the old country) is meticulously shaved on top. The shavings softly rained down like a heavenly dairy snowstorm from the Italian gods. Perfection to say the least. My second slice, “The Daffy”, is topped with duck confit, carmelized onions, baby arugula and some balsamic vinaigrette (also fresh off the boat from Italy). I’m not sure if you’re aware of this, but duck confit are hand pulled shreddings of seasoned duck, cooked slow and low for about 6 hours in it’s own fat. This recipe was passed down to him from Scott’s father. It was fantastic. The tender duck and the sweet onion went extremely well with the bitterness from the balsamic dressing. By the time I was finished, my hands were super sticky; like a 6 year old kid after he’s done eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I couldn’t help but lick my fingers clean.

You ever heard the saying “less is more”? Well Pizza Hub definitely took that phrase to heart. The simplicity of this place is what makes it so wonderful. They can go slice to slice against any of the big boys in the area, or in the entire city at that. I had 3 giant slices, slathered from edge to edge in some of the best toppings you can possibly ask for, for only a few bucks. Pizza hub, I think I speak for us all when I say welcome to the family. Salud.