Oct. 11, 2017
Save yourself a little time: take a look at Beddia's menu of pies, taking care to note the many local producers who supply the ingredients. You'll be all ready for an outstanding experience when you get there.
If you haven't yet tried Pizzeria Beddia in Fishtown, you may want to wait a while, for the lines are going to be longer now that Bon Appétit has pronounced its pie "The Best Pizza in America."
"Pizzeria Beddia was one of those beautiful eating experiences that still haunts me," author Andrew Knowlton wrote in his review and profile of owner/chef Joe Beddia. "It was just me and that pizza in a forgettable space. But it changed everything."
Knowlton traces Beddia's obsession with perfect pizza to some of the other outstanding pizza makers in a number of American cities, including veteran Dom DeMarco of Brooklyn's Di Fara Pizza and more recent arrival Chris Bianco of Pizzeria Bianco. But in his careful control of the product and the way it is made, he also has a local predecessor: "Papa" John Tacconelli.
Like Beddia, the proprietor of the Port Richmond legend understands that the crust is the foundation upon which an outstanding pizza is built. And like him, Tacconelli devotes a great deal of time and care to making the dough for that crust and cooking it to the proper degree of doneness and crispiness. (Yes, both Tacconelli's and Beddia deliver crisp crusts with nice char on the bottom.) And both of them limit the number of crusts they make in order to ensure every one is right. Beddia makes 40 crusts per day.
The only differences: Where Tacconelli cooks his pies in a brick oven that he fires up at the start of the day, then lets residual heat do the rest, Beddia's gas-fired oven is a little less romantic but offers precise temperature control. You can eat your Tacconelli's pizza at the restaurant (it's a BYOB), while Beddia is strictly takeout. And John Tacconelli requires you to call ahead to reserve your crust, while it's first come, first served until the crusts run out at Beddia.
We doubt that Beddia and Tacconelli have met in real life, but we wouldn't be surprised if they have, for it seems that pizza masters take their inspiration as much from those who came before them as from their own talent and skill. But while Tacconelli's remains a hidden gem to which those in the know go, now the whole world will be flocking to Girard Avenue and Shackamaxon Street. Bring a comfortable folding chair to sit in while you wait.
This Is The Best Pizza in America (Yep, We Said It) (Bon Appétit)