Here is an excerpt from Craig LaBan's online chat of April 18, 2017:
Reader: What's the must-stop-at pizza place in Philly? Is Beddia worth the trip?
Craig LaBan.: I'm a big fan of what Joe Beddia does, as long as you can put up with the incredible inconvenience - no phone, no bathroom, a limited number of doughs each night, and lines forming out front as early as 4 p.m. But his pizza - super-crispy, made with a lovingly fermented and complex dough, plus the best artisan ingredient toppings - isn't for everyone. Either way, I agree with many of the accolades that have showered down on Joe over the years. He's my favorite pizzaiolo in town, which is why I included his quirky and iconoclastic corner atelier in my top 25 in the Ultimate Dining guide. But Michael Klein wrote that Beddia's days in Fishtown may be over as his lease draws to a close and he becomes a famous pizza cookbook author and figures out his next step.
Yet Philly has so many other exceptional pizza options in all the various styles. For the kind of crispy American/N.Y.-style pies Beddia does, I'd also recommend Gennaro's Tomato Pie (from the man behind Lombardi's in N.Y.C.), Tacconelli's (the original is still great, but I love Maple Shade, too, also at the Navy Yard); for the softer, more supple, and personal-size Neapolitan wood-fired pies, I like Pizzeria Vetri, Capofitto, Brigantessa, In Riva, Nomad (though my last visit there was disappointing), and Medusa in Fishtown. Also, Stella, which was the local pioneer.
Haven't been to Bufad since my review, but I enjoyed that, too. For the thicker square-pie style, try Square Pie, La Rosa, or Santucci's.
Reader: Beddia is always worth a trip, even with the wait. Got his new book in the mail today.
C.L. Just got Joe Beddia's book in the mail, and I'm very excited to put it to the test. I'm especially impressed that he wrote it with home cooks in mind. So many famous chefs write recipe books that are basically food-porn homages to their careers that no normal reader would ever undertake. This is also true for pizza savants, who typically have 800-degree wood-burning Italian ovens at their disposal. This book, if it's as good as I expect it to be, should become a cult classic for pizza people. One thing about Joe Beddia, he's an original who does things his way. That personality comes through every page.
Reader: Speaking of pizza, have you tried Bricco in Westmont?
C.L.: Yes, I did get to Bricco! I thought it was pretty good, legitimate coal-fired pizza. I did not think it was necessarily superior to any of the options I mentioned in Philly, but if I lived in South Jersey, I could see myself eating there often.
Reader: Speaking of pizza, did your AZ trip take you to Pizzeria Bianco?
C.L.: Yes, it did! I ate at both Bianco's pizzeria, and his newish Italian restaurant, Tratto, which reminds me a little bit of Amis. Both were highlight meals of our trip to AZ, and it's fair to say the Bianco hype is well-deserved. Of course, so many great pizzerias have sprouted up in the wake of pioneers like Chris Bianco that the experience of a genuine Neapolitan-grade pizza is not as shocking to the taste buds as it maybe once was, say, 10 years ago. But this pizza was outstanding, from crust to sauce and all the various toppings. . . . Among our faves were two of Bianco's signatures, the Wise Guy (with sausage and thick onion laces), and the Rosa, which doesn't look like much but is completely crusted with crushed pistachios, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and rosemary. That was a revelation.
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