Hello blog world! I’m Mike’s husband Derrick. As a special treat I will be guest blogging now and then about a topic that everyone loves… food. Yep, all about the items that we stuff in mouths for that wonderful goodness that fills your tastebuds with joy (and sometimes fills your stomach with fear). Mike invited me to blog on this topic because I love to cook and he thinks that I have a knack for describing food well.
This month’s topic: #Pizza! What else would I start a food blog with? Probably the most common food you can find in the US and Canada. Before I explain what I think of Philly Pizza so far, I have to tell you about my pizza origins.
I come from Welland, Ontario, Canada; a small city located 20 mins southwest of Niagara Falls. Welland has something quite unique: A plethora of amazing and mouthwatering mom and pop pizza shops. Yes there are a ton of them: Rose City Pizza, Luciano’s, Volcano’s, Massimo’s and of course the retired Pizza Villa and Santo’s (just to name a few).
Welland pizza has a unique flavor and consistency that I’ve been unable to find anywhere! Their pizzas usually start with a golden dough that is fluffy, slightly chewy and has a nice crispy texture on the bottom. It’s also great because there isn’t so much dough that you feel like you’re eating a whole loaf of bread in one slice.
Then there’s the sauce! Always homemade, sometimes even with tomatoes they’ve canned themselves. The sauce has a nice sweetness to it. They layer it on just right so that there’s a great sauce to cheese ratio which is very important. The you’ve got the cheese. Yes, the cheese is over the sauce, not the cheese over the toppings (yuck!). The amount and way cheese is applied varies place to place, but always great. Many of them cover the pie with sliced fresh mozzarella cheese as opposed to grated cheese. It gives the cheese a nice gooey thickness, and turns golden more consistently in the oven.
Lastly, we have the toppings. For me the most important topping is the pepperoni. Welland pizza joints have this small round pepperoni that has tons of flavor and doesn’t taste like a block of ham. It’s often small enough that it curls at the edges due to the heat of the oven. My mouth is watering for it right now. Okay, probably enough about Welland pizza for now.
So how does this all fit in with Philly? We’ve been here officially two months now, and pizza has been an important part of our welcome to the city.
On our first night in Philly after having driven 9 hours from Norwood, we were hungry to say the least. After unpacking the car, we looked to find a restaurant that had pizza. It’s a little tradition that Mike and I have. With each new place we live, we have pizza on our first night.
We chose to go to Stella’s at Head House Square, which is right in our neighborhood. Stella’s has a nice warm ambiance, very friendly staff and a cool decor. There’s a variety of seating options: cafeteria length tables, small tables and booths. The menu is simple. One side for food, and one side for drinks. They also have daily specials. There’s pasta, salad and pizza. They keep it simple, which is always a promising sign.
The pizza is wood oven fired in a neapolitan style. There’s about 15 different choices on the menu, half tomato based and half white based; all with a different combination of toppings.
I ordered the Margherita, which consists of tomato sauce, buffalo mozzarella and basil. I also added pepperoni. It makes it close to the classic pizza that we all know and love.
I had a number of feelings fly over me while we were waiting for dinner. I was super hungry since it had been hours since we last ate. I was tired from the long drive. I was elated to finally have Mike with me in Philly! And I had high expectations for the food because I wanted it to be perfect for our first night together in Philly.
The pizza arrived, hot steamy and aromatic. I was still unsure about it though; worried that I would be disappointed again in the pursuit of delicious tomato pie. And so I examined it carefully, took in the smells and had my first bite. The dough was thin, chewy and had golden bubbled edges from the wood oven. The sauce was sweet and almost creamy (though I would have liked to have a little bit more). The cheese didn’t cover the whole pizza, but there were sizable tasty ovals covering most of it. Lastly the pepperoni… The item that could make or break the ‘za. They were small and had curled edges from the heat, just like back home. They had a little spice, great consistency and yes they tasted great! Success – we found an awesome pizza!!!
Now it’s not like Welland pizza, but it’s a great alternative.
Mike and I really loved Stella’s. The food was yummy and it made us feel like we were at home. We decided that it would be our neighborhood pizza joint. It would be a place that would make us feel at home. We also decided we’d visit there once a month and take the opportunity to reflect on the past month in Philly and our collective goals and aspirations for the next month. I quite like that we’ll have this new tradition.
Mike’s telling me this post too long now, so I will have to sign off until next month to discuss other Philly Phood encounters. Not to worry, I’ll come back in a future installment to continue covering my exploration of pizza.
What’s your favorite pizza spot, and why? What are your favorite pizza toppings? Do you have any fun traditions that you’ve developed around a restaurant?
A big shout out to Derrick, our Guest Blogger! If you enjoyed his post, we’ll have him back each month to talk about food. Now, go order yourself some good pizza!