Oh man, oh man... where to start with this one? First, I'll start with this question: Do you like pizza? Of course you do. (What right minded human doesn't?!) You're in the right place then. I'm so excited to share with you all a local adventure idea that has not only become a tradition amongst my friends, but also one that will make your sense of adventure, and stomach, oh so happy! There are all sorts of crawls, but I have to say... a pizza crawl may just be the best type out there.
Last year, my friend Sara of Cake Over Steak organized one hell of a Saturday exploring our small town of Lebanon, Pennsylvania in the search for the best slice of pizza it had to offer. P.S. You can check out my roundup of our favorites here. In a stroke of brilliance, Sara decided to host this pizza party again, but this time in the largest city closest to us... Philadelphia! Many of us lived in Philly for some time during college (myself included) and have many fond memories of the city of brotherly love, but I'll be honest, I hadn't a clue what pizza it had available.
And that's the joy of doing something like this on a random weekend. Because even the most familiar places have unseen spots, undocumented experiences... and better yet, untasted menus. I don't know about you, but I definitely have my favorite standby restaurants. I know where to find my favorite drink and where to order my classic Chinese takeout. And that's a dangerous game. Because by resolving to go only to our standbys and favorites, we ignore those that may have something amazing and different to offer. Imagine if you hadn't walked into your favorite mom and pop shop or local market, imagine if you hadn't given your friend's recommendation a try... there are so many flavors and foods available in just a few square miles of each other. So why not try to discover something new and exciting in a party-like experience with your friends? I mean really!
OUR ITINERARY & MY FAVORITES
Sara, like a boss, organized our day from morning until night filled with pizza pit stops. Ten places total = two very tired feet! Sara also has a detailed post on her foodie thoughts and recommendations here.
If you want a run-down of our day you should DEFINITELY check out our minisode documenting our adventures on the road munching along the way. You'll hear my final round up of my top three faves there and only there... be sure to check it out! Here are mine in short and sweet sentiments!
- Lorenzo & Sons - Accidentally went to the "wrong" one, but Sara's brother ratified this error at the end of the night. Slices the size of your face and a delicious smattering of hot sauce.
- Stogie Joe's Tavern - Old World style pizza with a thick, spiced sauce.
- Dock Street Brewery - Beers & pies all the way! I love the Cheeburger Cheeburger pizza in a huge way. Definitely make sure to order a larger pizza if you're going with more than two people, so you can soak in all of the delicious toppings equally.
- Zavino - I have three orders. Pistacchio Pesto Pizza. Good LORD it was delicious. Crust was doughy and downright perfect and the plethora of pizza combinations were admirable (and all freaking too good for words!)
- Pizzeria Vetri - Similar to Zavinos in combinations of flavors, I had a buffala mozzerella slice that was great.
- Pizza Brain - The most "hipster" stop of our crawl. Included in the delicious pizzas (which were top notch) are a pizza "museum" of knick knacks and oddities related to pizza... and an ice cream parlor in the back. What's not to love?
- Tacconelli's Pizzeria - Oh man, we had the shock of a lifetime as we entered this very Long Island-ish spot. Make sure to reserve your dough ahead of time. The Old World style done absolutely right. Crispy and thin crust, delicious cheese to sauce ratio.
- Pizzeria Beddia - Where do I start? Named "The Best Pizza In The United States," Pizzeria Beddia does it right. 40 pies are made a day, which means a nice line starts to form hours before the store opens. Delicious delicious delicious.
- Nomad Pizza - This place definitely won the best ambiance award. With a silent black and white film playing as the hot pies are served fresh, what's not to love? The dough was incredible and their arugula pizza was top notch.
- Pizzeria Stella - A final, rousing stop where we nommed down on another pistacchio pizza over drinks and a celebratory "WE DID IT!"
TIPS TO PLAN YOUR OWN PIZZA CRAWL
Sold into the idea of exploring your town or the next one over? Good, then I've done my job! Here are some tips for planning your own pizza crawl in your area:
DO A SURVEY
One genius thing Sara did before planning our crawl was create a Facebook event with all of us invited. Do the same. Invite your friends online and have them reserve the day a few weeks (or months) ahead of time, you can post on the page asking for everyone's top three "must do" pizza places. It's great to read everyone's opinions and will inform your schedule of events. If some of your friends can't make it the whole day, definitely make sure that they commit to a set amount of hours so you can reserve your tables accordingly!
If you have a party larger than four, definitely be a courteous customer and call ahead. Give your pizza places a courtesy call a few days ahead of time and explain that much merriment will be happening and many Instagram pictures will be taken. You would have died to see me and Sara taking overhead shots on benches and chairs, me shoving the podcast microphone in my friends' faces and all the passing of slices that happened!
WALK IT OUT & WATER IT UP
Feeling chubby after a few stops? Don't worry, that's normal. Make sure there are a few places you can walk in between. Even with a city as large as Philadelphia, we walked about 70% of our time to and from places. It's refreshing and offers your poor digestive system some time to do work! Speaking of transportation, if you're in a city with difficult parking, definitely use Uber or Lyft. It's cost effective and saves you the hassle of finding parking. Oh, and always bring a bottle of water. Some pizzas are salt and sodium galore... and there's nothing worse than a dehydrated body.
FUNDS & SHARING COSTS
One of the biggest perks of doing a crawl like this is that for the amount of pizza you're consuming, you're actually not spending that much money. Set up a Venmo account and be sure to split the checks equally between all parties.
ONE SLICE A PLACE, NO MORE!
I know, I know... temptation can be oh so hard to resist. But trust me, no matter how much you fall in love with your slice, never over indulge. Eat one slice and one slice only. We had a hard and fast rule of "many slices left behind" if we all ate our one bit of the pie. Don't try to be a champ, trust me!
TALK ABOUT IT & DOCUMENT ACCORDINGLY
Poll your friends. What did they love? What do they think? Get nitty-gritty with your critiques. It's amazing the differences in people's palettes and favorites. And be sure to take pictures and set up a hashtag! You can check out ours at #feastofstpizza on Instagram. It's great for everyone to contribute to and makes for a fun way of documenting the time you spent adventuring around your local area. Because I LOVE Snapchat, I even specifically made a Snap story of our feast... which you can see below! Enjoy!
Be sure to check it out and subscribe... because there will be many more local adventure ideas posted in seasons to come! Are you hungry yet? What are your thoughts about crawls in your area? Do you have a local treat you'd love to explore more?