City Paper food critic Adam Erace is a South Philly born and bred pizza aficionado. Growing up in a neighborhood where pizza parlors hold court on almost every single corner will give you the right to tell someone what's good and what isn't. If being saturated with pizza isn't enough, South Philadelphians also hold a Pizza Olympics every year to celebrate the traditions and techniques that define a great pie.
Erace put together a list of his five favorite pizzas, from the shore to North Broad Street and everything in between.
Plain Pie at Mack & Manco's: the pie of my childhood summers spent overeating on Ocean City boardwalk. Thin crust, cheese so molten it becomes one with the sauce.
Pizzazz Pie at Celebre's: the pie of my childhood falls, winters and springs. The strange but lovable combo of bubbly American cheese, hot peppers and sliced tomato achieves the highest excellence here.
Tomato Pie at New York Bakery: back in the day when I worked in catering, one of the waitresses used to always bring in these square, tall-edge tomato pies. I love them because their gravy is not too sweet or applied too thickly, two common tomato pie pitfalls.
Northeast-Style Tomato Pie with Long Hots at Santucci's: cheese on the bottom, sauce on top and lots of fiery long hots. I'm not shy about my love for Santucci's pizza, the real reason for which is the thickish, black-bottomed, bready crust. Secret's in the cast-iron pans.
Lombarda at Osteria: love the thinness of the pies at Osteria, and the sooty black char around the rim. My favorite there is the Lombarda, whose cotechino spices pervade every slice.
White Pie at Francoluigi's: I've been really into this one lately. Discovered it by surprise and really dig the heavy, mysterious garlic flavor on this cheese-only pie. You can see the garlic, but you taste it way back on your tongue.