|This cheese pizza from Angelo’s Pizzeria in South Philadelphia earns my All-Time Highest Rating!|
Angelo’s Earns My Highest Pizza Rating of All-Time!
Angelo’s Pizzeria in South Philadelphia has been atop my pizza bucket list for some time now. I live only a couple of hours away but the logistics of my various trips to Philly over the years never seemed to work out – until now! Countless readers have recommended trying Angelo’s over the past 5 years or so. Each glowing recommendation that rolled in usually included additionally that “Danny (the owner) is the best.” So much has been written and spoken about the pizza and this owner that I felt there was a growing hole in my pizza review resume – I needed to get to this place and meet this guy!
A Pizza (and Cheesesteak) Review Experience I Will Never Forget
Long story short, Gregorio helped connect a few dots, and it landed me on 9th Street standing in line as Angelo’s Pizza was about to open among a smattering of what were clearly experienced locals as well as more touristy people like myself waiting to place their order . It was easy to tell who was who – we were the awkward people taking selfies and face-timing friends to capture and share the moment. The seasoned veterans were presumably checking Sixers and Phillies scores and news updates as they already knew the drill. My turn came to go inside and place my order and I was struck by the flurry of activity that was going on in the kitchen. There were 2 wonderful and friendly ladies working the front counter, what looked like a dozen people making pizza, several making hoagies, and just so much going on in a relatively small kitchen. The striking thing was that the music was loud, everyone was moving at a ferocious pace, never bumping into one another or getting in the way, but also laughing, cracking jokes, singing, and having fun! I’d never encountered a work environment like I witnessed at Angelo’s – it was like fast moving poetry in motion!
|Tomato pizza (no cheese) at Angelo’s Pizzeria in South Philly.|
The tomato pizza was the first to make its way up the stairs to check out. Philly is known for their bakery style tomato pizza served on a chewy rectangular crust, smothered with thick sweet sauce and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese. Angelo’s version of this pizza stayed true to those philly roots, but traded the spongy square crust for a round, light crispy, slightly charred and remarkably flavorful crust! The sauce has some sweetness and a ton of complexity to it – it wasn’t overpowering and really let the crust shine in all of its glory. A sprinkle of parmesan and Italian seasoning completed the pie, and it was an incredibly easy eating, vibrant, and refreshing slice of pizza. Eating the entire pizza would have been an easy task, but there were more pizzas to try so I exercised restraint and awaited the arrival of the next pizza.
Following the tomato pie, I tried the fabled pizza that I had sought for so long – the classic round cheese pizza. Being a plain ole cheese pizza guy, this pizza adorned with fresh full basil leaves on top has spoken to me every time it’s passed through my social media feeds for years. The fact that I was here, in the upstairs of Angelo’s about to try my #1 bucket list pizza represented a moment of pizza utopia for me. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t totally geeking out and trying to take in every moment of this once in a lifetime pizza review opportunity, but I resolved to keep it together, and objectively review and score this pizza.
With that all considered, my expectations were sky high for this pizza and the anticipation was at a fever pitch. I set the pizza box on the table and slowly opened it to take a look and it looked exactly like every beautifully photographed version of this pizza I’d seen on instagram smell but better because this time I could the char of the crust, the light scent of the basil, and I could see it all unedited, no filters (not that it needs any, but you know how social media can be), and right in front of me!
I was blown away by the light, crispy crust that had so much flavor. The smooth sauce had a little texture to it and the flavor profile was powered by what had to be simple, quality, and fresh ingredients – this wasn’t a heavily seasoned sauce, the tomatoes did the talking. The cheese was beautifully melted, delightfully varied, and velveted across the pizza. I wasn’t sure how I’d like that much basil on top, and I found myself wondering, is it really heavy on the basil flavor, does that much basil eat like a salad and slide off when you bite it, or does it get stuck in your teeth? The answer to all of those questions is NO! The basil was so light and tender, it was consumed just as it was a part of the pizza. The flavor was subtle, and it was as if the basil melted right into the cheese. The pizza was incredible. Among the best I’ve ever experienced. I can’t say enough about it – it lives up to the hype and more – believe the hype!
|Angelo’s Upside-Down – Thick crust square pan pizza w/ the sauce on top of the cheese|
The upside down pizza was next, and let me tell you this box was heavy! I heard some people call this a Sicilian or grandma pizza. It’s described as “thick crust square pan pizza w/ the sauce on top of the cheese” on the menu. It’s density lends it closer to a traditional grandma pizza than it does a fluffy American Sicilian, but this thick pan pizza is sort of in a class of it’s own. The box flung open and a deep dramatic color palate of vibrant red, deep green, yellow, dark brown, and golden brown greeted my eyes. I took a bite to find that again, the crust again was quite flavorful, with the added taste of some amazingly caramelized cheese against the side of the pan along with some more char on the dough that just created a flavor adventure in every bite. The dough was thick, fairly dense, wonderfully soft and chewy on the inside, and crisp on the outside. The cheese was applied on top of the sauce, which provided a beautiful canvas for what amounted to a wonderful and naturally sweet sauce that really shined. I can’t be sure, but I sensed there was something unique and delicious drizzled on top that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Whatever it was, it left a lasting impression on me!
I came in with high expectations for the pizza and by every measure Angelo’s Pizzeria blew those expectations away. Now, a ton of people also refer to Angelo’s as having the best cheesesteak in Philadelphia – a bold claim in a city that boasts many longtime heavyweights as well as some legit relative newcomers to the cheesesteak market. To be fair, I will not be the person who determines the best cheesesteak in Philly. I have eaten many cheesesteaks in the City of Brotherly Love, but not enough variety to credibly render an opinion on who is best in town.
|Cheesesteak with onions and cooper sharp cheese at Angelo’s Pizzeria in Philadelphia.|
I can however weigh in on who has served me the best cheesesteak I have ever had in Philly and elsewhere – and after trying Angelo’s, it was clearly the best I’ve tried by far and I’ll tell you why – THE BREAD and THE COOPER SHARP CHEESE (along with the high quality steak). The bread is made in house every day and the sell cheesesteaks until they run out, so it’s fresh, it’s seeded with sesame seeds, and the proportions of bread to steak are absolutely spot on! What I mean by proportions is that the bread is quite thin, almost as if some of the bread has been removed from the center, which provides a perfect vessel for the wonderful sliced and chopped steak, onions (which are a must for me), and cooper sharp cheese. The meat is so tender, the cooper sharp is so creamy and delicious, and the bread is so tender and with a slight firmness and flakiness on the outer shell. I don’t maintain formal cheesesteak ratings or rankings, but this clearly vaulted comfortably into my #1 slot all-time.
The Italian hoagie also featured the same fresh bread and was generously filled with delicious Italian meats and cheeses. I was so stuffed that I didn’t eat this one until the next day and even the day after. What I will say is that the bread held up nicely for 48 hours and was still really, really good, although a fair review cannot be provided on something that’s a day old and sat in a cooler with ice, then a refrigerator for a while!
Overall, literally everything I tried at Angelo’s was amazing. It was truly an experience I will never forget and I am thankful for Danny, Jared, and the incredible team at Angelo’s. Some people collect physical things or enjoy meeting celebrities – me, I like to collect pizza memories and meet real people who are out there grinding every day, working to get better, and raise the bar in whatever they are passionate about. I only got to meet Danny DiGiampietro for a quick minute during a busy rush hour, but he was generous enough to take a photo and say hello. I have to say, the man’s energy and drive are apparent, and it was easy to see how so many have said wonderful things about him. It was a wonderful experience, at an old school pizzeria, filled with extraordinarily hard working people, excited customers, and one humbled pizza blogger who won’t soon forget this milestone pizza review.
|Jim Mirabelli of NEPA Pizza Review and Danny DiGiampietro of Angelo’s Pizzeria.|
What You Need to Know When You Go to Angelo’s
Yes, Angelo’s Pizza does have a phone and you can call ahead to place an order (215) 922-0000. Parking is available on the street only. South 9th street is a one way street near the Italian Market, so street parking is tight, but can be found as it’s a bustling area where people are in and out constantly. Don’t be afraid to park a few blocks south of Angelo’s on 9th street (as I did) because it’s a wonderful walk past a ton of great little Italian shops, markets and eateries. You won’t regret it. Finally, it’s Cash Only and Takeout Only here. Hit the ATM and find a good place to feast on your delicious Angelo’s food! If you haven’t been, it’s a must try pizzeria. Be sure to take in the whole experience because it’s like no other.
Location: 736 S 9th St, Philadelphia, PA 19147
Date: April 2022
Eat In/Take Out: Take Out
Pizza Ordered: Round Cheese Pizza
Overall Taste: 9.5
Crispy/Cooked Properly: 9.5
Overall Value: 7.2
OVERALL RATING: 9.4
Pizza Ordered: Upside Down Thick Square Pan Pizza
Overall Taste: 9.1
Crispy/Cooked Properly: 8.5
OVERALL RATING: 8.9
Pizza Ordered: Round Tomato Pizza
OVERALL RATING: 8.7