The Philly pizza scene has been mushrooming of late.
Now it’s time for a Pizza to get back into the pizza business.
That would be Angelo Pizza, 24, the son and grandson of pizzeria owners, who’s behind The Angelo Pizza in Old City. Although he grew up making pizzas as a kid at Angelo’s Pizza, his father’s now-closed shop in Baltimore’s Little Italy, he went the college route. After high school, Pizza moved to Philly to attend St. Joseph’s University and studied food marketing. After graduation, he got into the insurance business, which did not excite him. “It was paying the bills, but it wasn’t what I wanted to do,” he said last week.
In his boredom, Pizza began baking pizzas for friends out of his Manayunk apartment, using the recipes he learned from his dad, Angelo, and grandfather, Paulie Manna. (Naturally, Angelo Pizza is a biological collab between the Pizza and Manna families.)
Early in the spring during quarantine, Pizza froze a pizza, packed it in ice, and sent it to Dave Portnoy of the sports-entertainment site Barstool Sports.
At the time, Portnoy was reviewing frozen pizzas, rather than bopping into pizzerias for his One Bite review series. Portnoy has since moved to Philadelphia as part of his affiliation with the locally based Penn National Sportsbook.
Portnoy gave Pizza’s pizza a rock-solid 8.1 score, “and people on Instagram found my account and started trying to get in touch with me to see if I could send them a frozen pizza,” Pizza said.
Emboldened by the outpouring, he told his family that he planned to quit his job and go into the frozen-pizza business. “I was kind of looking for a way out anyway,” Pizza said. “My whole family thought I was nuts, but I just rolled with it.”
Then came the epiphany: “I was like, ‘Why am I doing this frozen and taking this extra step to mail these out, when we could just open up a place and do them fresh?’” Well, of course.
Pizza leased a storefront at 229 Market St. in Old City, did up a wall with a black-and-white mural and set up his equipment. He and his crew were buried for the official opening of The Angelo Pizza on Nov. 28, with walk-ins and phone orders snapping up all 180 pizzas in the early going. They regrouped, and knocked out 50 more in the evening.
Pizza offers eight varieties of big-flavored, crispy-crusted 12-inch rounds that are topped to the edges. There’s one topped only with tomato sauce that’s vegan ($10).
The typical cheese build on the red pies is mozzarella, Provolone, and pecorino Romano. The Paulie ($16), my favorite of the three I sampled, is topped with slices of fresh mozz and sliced, sweet meatballs from the recipe of Paulie Manna, who died in 2006. The Angelo ($12) is a straight-ahead plain cheese. The Not Pepperoni has soppressata and roasted red peppers — so named because “pepperoni is not Italian,” as the menu notes. Three white pizzas include Charlie Bananas ($15), which is topped with banana peppers and sharp Provolone.
For the time being, Pizza has shut off the phone and he is limiting capacity to 80 pizzas a day by walk-in only. This can be an issue if you’re, say, the 40th in line and will face a two-hour wait. Go walk around Old City.
Hours: noon to 8 p.m. (or sellout) Tuesday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.