Pizza Review: Rione

If there’s one thing I know for certain about the Philadelphia food scene, it’s that there’s no shortage of great pizza in the city. Whether you want a wood-fired thin crust pie, a thick Sicilian-style pie, or something in between, Philly has seemingly an endless variety of options. When it comes to great pizza by the slice, though, the list starts to shrink. As such, I was particularly intrigued when I heard Rione had opened in Rittenhouse, offering Roman-style slices “al taglio.” I’m always on the lookout for a good (and ideally cheap) place to grab a slice or two on the go, and one afternoon last week I decided to walk the extra few blocks past my regular weekday lunch spots to give it a try.

With my wife joining as well, we set out to sample a few different menu options. Arriving just before the lunch rush, we ordered and sat down at a table in the back corner, and before I knew it I was biting into my first slice, the Margherita D.O.C. The first thing I noticed was the crust. It had a great crunch without being overdone, and the bottom was evenly cooked from the edges to the center of the pizza. What’s more, the initial crispiness gave way to a light and airy middle layer, providing a great balance of texture and preventing the pizza from being too doughy. It also helped prevent the all too common greasy-pizza-for-lunch hangover that leaves me pouring a second cup of coffee around 2.

But while the crust was a clear-cut winner, the same couldn’t always be said for the toppings. Of the five different slices we tried, my personal favorite was the Zucchini. It was simple yet delicious, as the zucchini and ricotta cheese proved to be perfect complements to one another, and combined with the crust it just had an overall freshness to it. I’m a sucker for pesto on pizza, so I also took a liking to the Tricolore, with juicy cherry tomatoes to boot. The slices with tomato sauce, though, were a mixed bag. The Margherita was solid but unspectacular, even a little dry, and in a city with so many great Margherita pizzas already, there wasn’t anything to really set this one apart. The Parmigiana was overpowered by the mozzarella cheese sprinkled on top, which mostly masked the eggplant hidden underneath. And as for the Patate e Salsiccia, it felt like there was something missing; the potato slices didn’t pack as much flavor as I would’ve liked, even with the added rosemary, while the sausage itself was average.

Of course, it’s difficult to come in with such a high bar, and as I wrapped up my lunch, I definitely saw the appeal of Rione. With a quality crust, a variety of slice options, a homemade feel, and a fresh taste, it already checks off some of the most important boxes for lunch-time pizza places. If you’re looking for a relatively cheap and quick option that’s different – and more artisanal – than most of the other standard pizza by the slice options in the city, Rione is worth a visit. Just be prepared to try a few different slices in order to figure out what hits the sweet spot.


Rittenhouse Eats Revisited

A look back at my favorite spots while living in Rittenhouse for the last nine months.

It’s been a month and a half since I moved from Rittenhouse to Queen Village. Queen Village certainly has a lot to offer, and having just scratched the food surface I’m already excited for the local spots, but I also think it’s appropriate to give credit to some of the Rittenhouse places that served me well over my first nine months back in Philly:

Pizza – At Mama Palma’s, the Caramelized Onions & Proscuiotto was one of my go-to options when I needed a quick takeout personal pizza. The Celina (sausage and spinach) pizza is also one of my favorite sausage pizzas in the city. When I needed a simple Margherita or Pepperoni pizza, though, Pietro’s never failed – can’t recommend the pizza enough. Something about it that just hit home every time.

BYOs – One of my favorite BYOs was Seafood Unlimited, a low-key but not-to-be-overlooked spot on 20th St. Sure, being one block from my apartment helped, but this is the type of place I’d make the trip back to Rittenhouse for now. The Sauteed Scallops & Mushrooms over Rice entree is a must-try, and that doesn’t do it nearly enough justice for how flavorful it is. One of those dishes where you know two weeks in advance you’re gonna order it, and it never disappoints. Also, $3 fish tacos at Taco Tuesday was a good mid-week deal. For Italian BYOs, I always had a good dinner at Melagrano’s. More unique pasta dishes than what you might find at other Italian BYOs and also some delicious risotto.

Mexican – El Rey had the combo of pineapple margarita, chips and salsa, and tacos or enchiladas that I needed, and for a decent price as well. The chip, thick, and the salsa, smooth. For more casual Mexican food, Revolution Taco served me well – I’m a sucker for any place that offers a salsa bar to-go.

Sushi – Machi Sushi had a 3 rolls for $13 deal that was hard to pass up – solid roll options and two blocks from my apartment. Pretty much sums it up.

Breakfast – The long lines at Spread Bagelry were always worth it – a sesame bagel toasted with cream cheese got me through countless mornings. If I wanted something sweeter, though, the Bakeshop on 20th always hit the spot. The scones are honestly the best I’ve ever had, and the other pastries are definitely worth trying as well.

Burgers – Do I need to even mention Village Whiskey, given that it was named the best burger in Philadelphia last year? Obviously a delicious burger. Where I found myself most, though, was Shake Shack. A good fast food-esque burger needs to be had sometimes, and although I’m normally a Five Guys loyalist, I had too many burgers and cheese fries at the Shake Shack on 20th not to shout it out.

Other Shout-outs

  • Yogorino – great fro-yo, plus Two-Punch Tuesdays for extra loyalty points
  • Food & Friends – so many snacks, and beer sold until midnight
  • Poi Dog – I ate here for the first time the week before I moved, and this easily would’ve been a go-to option had it been around 6 months earlier
  • Joe’s Coffee – great dirty chai, great location right on the park