Food Writer and Baltimore Native (but Philly Resident for almost 15 years) Drew Lazor sits down with Nicole Yates at American Sardine Bar to chat about food writing, what’s native to Baltimore, how he got into food writing and what’s good. Drew definitely knows what’s good.
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I like pizza. I mean I really like it. A lot. I guess I can be kind of a snob, but knowing what you like isn’t really snobbery, it’s just knowing what you like. I don’t like that Dominos (and Food Service) puffy crust. I also don’t like super dense crust. Oddly. I do like cheap, shitty $1 pizza as well as carnival type pizza (frozen shells). So, as a pizza fan, I am always on the lookout for new and exciting places. I am also always talking to pizza fan and comedian Joe Moore about places we could swap, especially because I am always traveling around doing standup comedy shows.
One day I was chatting with Joe about comedy, not pizza, when someone came over and asked him what his absolute favorite pizza was. He responded without even thinking “Easy. DeLorenzos.”. He went on to tell me that the place used to be in Trenton and it moved to a small town right outside. He could not stress it more: it was perfect. Now, I don’t usually get that far up in Jersey to Trenton, or if I do, I go way past it, up to Princeton or further. But one day I booked a show in Robbinsville. The name of the town looked familiar to me so I ran it by Joe and he verified it, it was the home of De Lorenzo’s.
After my show I literally ran to my car and drove over to De Lorenzo’s. The town of Robbinsville is cute, and everything is mostly new because it all used to be farmland that was just recently developed in the last 10-15 years. De Lorenzo’s sits in a shopping development with lofts over it and central parking in the back (someone actually thought about planning, that’s a nice change).
Inside there are some lovely red booths and white twinkly lights. But I was more interested in the ovens! The ovens, while I do not know if they are original, I believe did come from the old place in the Chambersburg section of Trenton, on Hudson street, where the original place stood for over 60 years. Now in thier 8th year in Robbinsville, the quality still stands.
But enough talk about the past. Let’s talk about the present. I walked into the restaurant and ordered a large pepperoni and homemade meatball pie and a medium pepper and onion pie. And then I had to drive an hour home with those pies in the car. I wanted to die! I wanted to dive right in on the highway and start stuff that amazingly smelling pepperoni, meatball, onion, pepper and garlicy pizza right into my mouth. But I didn’t! Why? For journalism! I hope you all appreciate it! Also, scroll to the end for a Photo Gallery!
First up: The pepperoni and homemade meatball pie. I have never had meatball on a pie and I had seen the pepperoni they use: not the sliced super thin stuff that comes 6 pounds to a bag (altho that does have a time and place), they use the quality stuff and aren’t stingy with it. The meatball made me almost burst into tears when I saw it: big slices spread all over the one side of the pie and smelled amazing. It was a little peppery but meaty. It was a perfect meatball. I would have loved to just have a bowl of those meatballs. Mental note: ask about that next time. The sauce was slightly sweet and slightly chunky. The cheese wasn’t 6 feet thick, it was just the right amount to not overpower anything else.
The crust is thin, in that it’s…thin and not a cracker. Some pieces were well done and some were exactly done. As Americans, we are spoiled in that we believe everything should be done exactly the same way all the way around, because we are used to machine and factory made things. We have lost touch with the idea of “homemade”. It’s the tiny little imperfections that make things unique and in the case of this pizza, absolutely amazing.
The pepper and onion pizza, well, I didn’t know if I would like that as much until I took a bite of it. Why? Because it’s sweet peppers! I love sweet peppers and always get them on hoagies! I never had them on pizza, and man was I missing out! The crust on this guy was a little more evenly cooked around the edges but I could care less. It was also fantastic.
Something else I loved is that there is a whiff of garlic to this pizza, but it’s not overpowering. I guess after 68 years, they know what they are doing, so don’t ask questions, just eat!
What I found interesting about this pizza is that they didn’t cut it into wedges. The only other time I have ever seen a circular pizza not cut into wedges was years ago when I was in suburban Chicago. I was at a house and they flipped open the pizza box and I was completely puzzled. The pie was cut into many squares. “WHY!” I thought. “WHY, GOD, WHY!”. This pizza was cut more into rectangles and frankly, I was totally ok with it because you had a shot at crust in every piece. It was probably easier to eat that way as well, because the point would probably break off between the thin-ness and the weight of the toppings. Or not, this is totally conjecture. Anywho, it was fantastic.
Many food websites as well as Zagat have rated De Lorenzo’s the absolute best pizza in the Country. I agree. When I got home and started texting Joe Moore about how I ate it, he asked me what I thought, because he was afraid he might have been overselling it. Spoiler alert: he didn’t. I wanted to build a speedway so I could go to Robbinsville each week and eat this pizza. I wanted to rub it all over me and build a pizza monument to it. I wanted to call the owners and ask them what I did in life to deserve to eat pizza that was so fucking amazing. I wanted to hug them and thank them. I cannot stress this highly enough GO TO THIS PLACE.
2350 US Highway 33
Robbinsville, New Jersey 08691
Lunch: Tue.-Fri., 11-2 • Dinner: Tue.-Sun., 4-10 • Closed Mondays
Nicole Yates sits down with standup comic/sketch guy/improver Brendan Kennedy. Brendan is originally from right outside Philly and now resides in Los Angeles where he appears in sketch videos and is generally hilarious. He also has a podcast with Luke Giordano called Hurtful Things, which is amazingly funny.
Due to a glitch in WordPress and Libsyn, I didn’t realize episode 10 did not post!
Episode 10 is with Blake Wexler, a friend of mine from comedy in Philly. He now lives in LA and works on the show Review and also is hilarious! Oh, and he can eat like he has 2 hollow legs. He was in town opening for Todd Glass at Helium Comedy Club. We had a small surprise pop in. Can you guess who it was?
Have a listen!
Episode 11 is with Chef Wes Lieberher. Wes is a displaced Philly guy living in LA. He is the head chef at Beer Belly and also at Whiz. Check out his restaurants and lsiten to this great interview. A very chill dude, indeed. Special shout out to JP Boudwin for turning me onto Beer Belly and helping me get ahold of Wes too!
Have a listen!
You can also subscribe on iTunes!
I sat down with Philly Cheesesteak King Tony Luke Jr and had a great chat! We covered everything from cheesesteaks in Bahrain to Pizza in Dallas to high school in the 70’s. He was a great interview and a super nice guy to boot!
Check it out here!
or on itunes!
I sat down with Rachel Klein, vegan chef and owner of Miss Rachel’s Pantry, to talk about veganism, running a restaurant without losing one’s mind, and delicious food!
It was a great chat and she is delightful. You should check it out!
Hear it here!
We have a podcast here at DidjaEat?, hosted by me, Nicole Yates, and the very funny Vicki Long and we have been chosen to do a show during the Philly Podcast Fest! We are super excited and have many things planned!
So please come down to Tattooed Mom’s on Saturday, August 23rd at 3PM for some fun talk about food and some exciting other stuff. Also, we yell at each other a lot!
We also have a new episode of the podcast up! Feel free to hit it up at iTunes, Stitcher or hit it up at http://didjaeat.libsyn.com
I live in a city where you can’t walk 5 feet without having some good pizza to eat. Wether you like big sloppy pieces that you could use as a car cover, thick Sicilian pizza, pizza with sauce on the top, the bottom or no sauce at all, crispy wood fire grill type, gas oven type or even little pieces of perfection made in a little South Philly bakery, and anywhere else in between, we got you covered. That’s why I am not a fan of chain pizza. Domino’s and Papa John’s are complete garbage: spongey, overdone crust with salt soaked everything else. Gross.
I do have a small spot in my heart for Pizza Hut. When I was a very little kid, my parents and I would drive allllll the way up to the Northeast to eat at a Pizza Hut on the occasional Friday as a special occasion kind of thing. At the time, it was the closest one to our house and I always looked forward to it. Maybe it was because I was allowed to make my own salad at the salad bar (hello, salad mountain!) or maybe because thier buttery crust pizza was just so damn good. It was different from what the local places sold, and that was ok with me, because it was great.
Over the years I have scaled back my intake of Pizza Hut, mostly because the grease would tie me up in knots. Also, like I said above, local places were so good, and I always feel good supporting the local guys.
A little while back, I signed up for thier email list, mostly because I love the name of it: Hut Lover’s. It makes me giggle, mostly because I am a huge Star Wars Fan. I also do a bit about that in my standup set. But anyway, they were advertising thier new pizza “Hand Tossed” pizza and I felt like maybe this one wouldn’t tie me up in knots. And I was pleasantly surprised!
I thought about calling to order and then I remembered they have an iphone app. I opened the app, chose delivery, pay in cash and then not only was I given the choice of the regular pies and packages they offer, they also list, in detail, all thier daily specials. That was pretty awesome! I picked a hand tossed pizza and in the Super Supreme style. It was $11 and $14.58 with tax and delivery charge ($2.50 but the delivery lady was super nice, so I’m not complaining).
The Super Supreme pizza includes: pepperoni, ham, beef, pork sausage, Italian sausage, red onions, mushrooms, green peppers and black olives. This pizza was LOADED. It only took them a half hour to make it and get it to my door, so it was piping hot, which was nice. Nothing worse then a lukewarm pizza showing up, half congealed. They also were not skimpy on the toppings. Literally in every bite I had at least 4 toppings and the pieces were pretty big. A thing that also used to bug me when eating at Pizza Hut was that I felt like I ate 7,000 tons of salt. But the toppings weren’t salty and neither was the sauce.
Over the years, Pizza Hut has tried to examine every section of the pizza, to try and jam more cheese into it. Let’s face it, when your business is pizza, there’s only so much you can do. With this hand tossed pizza, they decided to cover the outside crust with a garlic parmesan shaker coating. Honestly, it’s delicious. It helps with the seasoning of the whole pie and, well, keeps you licking your fingers. A nice touch, I thought, was that when ordering online, they give you the option of skipping the coating if you so chooses. A nice touch for people who might not dig garlic. It shows the gang at Pizza Hut are paying attention.
But let’s talk about the crust. This thing is supposedly “hand tossed”. I sincerely doubt that the kids working at The Hut are tossing pizzas into the air, but whatever they are doing, they are doing it right. They are shooting for the local pizza parlor look and style and they have hit it, with a flair all thier own.
The outside crust is denser then the pan and chewy, without the patented Pizza Hut grease. I mean seriously, this pie is not greasy *at all* beyond the usual pizza grease you’d get because…it’s a pizza.
The inside crust is thin and still chewy, but not too thin so that when you pick it up it collapses. You wanna fold it? Go for it (altho the slices are still smaller then a regular pizza place). It is as close to a pizza place then Pizza Hut is going to get. They do it with thier own flair and I have to say, they hit the mark.
I feel weird reviewing things without finding something to not like. This might be the first time I like every single thing. The crust is good, the seasoning is good, the toppings were good and even the delivery was prompt and got here right when they said it would. I am sure you mileage may vary depending on where you live, but for a shade under $15 bucks, I was really impressed with this pizza.
Hat’s off to Pizza Hut for a really great job.
I have to admit that I am not really a sweet person. I mean, I’m nice enough (har har) but I’d rather eat a block of cheese then a block of chocolate. My weakness is pie. I love pie. Maybe my lizard brain thinks since fruit is involved, it must be healthy? I don’t know. But I do. And when I found out my friend Alejandro’s roommate Michael Kelly was involved in Daly Pie with owner Meghan Daly, I was all over it.
Daly Pie, started in 2011, is the brainchild of Meghan Daly, and Michael Kelly recently joined the party. They are based in Brooklyn and crank out tons of amazing pies and the new big thing: hand pies (Pies…that can fit in your hand. Amazing, I know). They sell all over the place, mostly in NYC, from bazaars to food trivia nights to coffee shops and beyond. Also, they sell straight to you! Yes, YOU!
I was excited when Michael told me they’d be at the Punk Rock Flea Market, which is a huge, yes, flea market, in Philly.
Figuring out which pies to buy was like going grocery shopping before dinner. So, yeah, I just bought one of everything.
First off are the hand pies. One apple and one Strawberry Chocolate. I’ve only had one other hand pie, from a place in LA in the Grand Market. It was ok, but most of the filling seeped out so I had more of a strawberry flavored shell with some filling that managed to hang on for dear life. When I saw the Daly hand pies, I was a little bit concerned that this might also be the case. I am delighted to say that no, this was most definitely not the case. These pies were chock full of filling.
The apple hand pie was stuffed full of delicious apples with a great cinnamin-y spice that was not overpowering, and just enough sugar to bring out the natural taste of the apple. The apples themselves were not a mushy mess, but had a lovely texture with a little bit of give.
The Strawberry Chocolate hand pie (of which I didn’t get a good picture of because I was too busy stuffing it in my mouth) was also full of fruit and blueberry goodness. It was hard to not eat the thing in 4 bites and be sad that there wasn’t more. It lived up to the precedent set by it’s apple brother and put a smile on my face. But hey, let’s talk about the dough, shall we? You can make as much pie filling as you want but if the shell tastes cardboard like or is incased in sugar to hide the chemicals, no one will buy it (I’m looking at you, Hostess fruit pies). thankfully, these pies have amazing crusts! Both buttery and flakey, plus chewy and dense, this crust wins a prize from me for being amazing. My cardiologist would like to have a word with you, I’m sure.
And now to talk about the headliners, the pie. THE PIE. GOOD GOD, THE PIE. Sorry. Had to get that out. The pie, if you haven’t guessed, is pretty awesome. Let’s go to it.
First off is the Raspberry Peach pie. Most of the time, if you get a peach pie, the peaches are kind of mushy. I also am not a huge fan of raspberries because I can’t stand the seeds. I gotta say, this pie converted me. The peaches were al dente, so you actually felt like there were some things going on in there, 2 types of fruit (and the peach pieces were large). Not just a slurry of something vaguely fruit-like. The pie had a perfect balance of sweet and tart, and it had just a hint of floralness, which was surprising to me, but even more surprising, I loved it! The crust was both buttery and flaky, I could have eaten just the crust and been happy. I normally don’t eat the outside edge of the pie, because a lot of times it’s rock hard or overdone. This was neither of those things, this was dense in a beautiful buttery taste. It was downright great.
The next piece of pie I had was the Salty Lime. When I heard the name, I wasn’t sure what to expect, because at first glance, the pie just looks like a piece of cheesecake. If you licked the edge of a margarita glass and then ate a piece of cheesecake, this is what that tastes like. First the salt hits your tongue and the lime follows right up with a 1-2 punch. Woven in the cheesecake like texture are teeny bits and pieces of lime, giving it a secondary texture that really bumps it up a notch. I was surprised at how much I really enjoyed it! The crust is a buttery graham cracker crust that, again, I could have eaten all by itself! I can’t wait to get my hands on more of that salty, tart, buttery goodness! (please don’t mind the chocolate on the top in the picture. That’s not usual, some of my Chocolate Guinness Pie got on it as I was moving things around).
Graham cracker crust! Looook at it!!
Speaking of Chocolate Guinness Pie, why don’t we? Think of the moistest, chewiest, cakiest brownie you ever had. Then add Guinness. Then add hand made caramel on the top. Then add a nap, because that’s what you’ll need after this monster. I’ve never had Guinness in really anything else besides my glass before, so I was intrigued by this. Would the Guinness just take a stroll thru the pie, or would you actually taste it? Good news! You can most absolutely taste it. The only way I can describe it is if you ate some amazing chocolate cake and then took a big sip of a guinness right at the same time. He beer steps right on out and says a hearty “Hello!” before melding itself into the heart of the pie. The caramel on top is like the big arms of a mom bringing thier 2 kids together in a beach towel, just with more sugar. I can’t say enough about this, and usually I do not care for a super heavy pie like this. It won me over again and again with each bite. Unfortunately, I do not have a picture because I took it so fast before I ate and by the time I checked it, the pie was, well, gone.
So it’s a bunch of thumbs up for Daly Pie and Meghan and Michael! I’m hoping they come back down to Philly more often and if you live in NYC, check out thier website and catch thier amazing pies! They make a ton and they are all on the site. You can order in advance or you can come see them and try whatever they decide to bring. They also make gluten free pies!