Devising a Philadelphia-style pizza to celebrate the Eagles in the Super Bowl was no problem for pie master Joe Beddia once he eliminated the competition. In a mental review of the game-day snacks that best capture the spirit of the city's sports fans, he quickly crossed out cheesesteaks, soft pretzels — "I'm not going to put a soft pretzel on a pizza," he said — and roast pork.
That left hoagies. Hoagie pizza, to be exact.
"This was really my only option," Beddia said of his creation, a cheese pie with red onions in the sauce, baked to crisp perfection in the oven at his Girard Avenue pizzeria, then layered with thin slices of Mortadella, arugula, and pickled chili peppers.
The pizza can be assembled for Super Bowl party guests after the pie comes out of the oven, with slices of meat draped gently over the top, dressed with greens and peppers, then garnished with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of fresh grated cheese. Home chefs can use the dough and sauce recipes from Beddia's cookbook, Pizza Camp, or take shortcuts using premade dough and sauce.
Originally from Lancaster, Beddia grew up watching Philly sports, but he acknowledges it's rare for him to catch a game these days. Sunday, of course, is another story.
"The last game was so overwhelming," he said. "I don't know what to expect now."
Everyone has his own idea of the perfect game-day food. Eagles defensive end Chris Long likes macaroni and cheese; defensive tackle Beau Allen goes for bacon-wrapped hot dogs; wide receiver Alshon Jeffery likes to dig into steak, rice, and vegetables. This year, local fans and chefs are infusing Super Bowl food with some extra Philly pride.
For Justin Swain, chef at the Southern-influenced Rex 1516, burgers are essential. He crafted the Fry Eagles Fry, a mammoth two-patty burger with shredded lettuce and fries piled on a sesame bun, topped with a tangy pimento cheese sauce. The sauce color brings to mind the Whiz one might order wit a cheesesteak, but it's richer, spicier, and it oozes down the side of the burger with each bite.
His tips for setting up a premier burger bar for friends and Super Bowl parties: offer several kinds of patties, including veggie and turkey. Set out raw, sautéed, and crispy onions, as well as tomatoes, pickles, sliced jalapeños, pickled tomatoes, and lettuce in both shredded and leaf form.
"I wanted to have as much green on the table as possible," he said of this year's Super Bowl party. He suggested putting out a variety of buns, a plate of thick-cut bacon, a few types of cheese, and as many condiments as possible.
To catch a buzz from something stronger than beer, the folks at local small-batch company Dad's Hat Whiskey and its distillery, Mountain Laurel Spirits, crafted a Fly Eagles Fly cocktail. Made with Dad's Hat rye whiskey and orange bitters, it's tinged green with Chartreuse liqueur. Garnished with lime, the Fly Eagles Fly has hints of citrus and sweetness that contrast with the spices in the rye.
At P Square Lounge, the patio in the back of Macaroni's restaurant in the Northeast, Birds fans pack the bar every Sunday and order plates of wings that are infused with Italian flavors instead of drenched in Buffalo or barbecue sauce. The wings are roasted with a sweet-sour agrodolce sauce and hot cherry peppers that add heat, then served with a cooling mousse made from Gorgonzola, not blue cheese.
"Everyone does a Buffalo wing," said Davide Primavera, who owns P Square with his brother Gianni. "We wanted something more authentic."
Chef-owner Josh Lawler has been serving one of his tailgate standbys to his customers at the Farm & Fisherman Tavern in Horsham for years. The Veterans Stadium roast pork sandwich was inspired by the one Lawler made in January 2003, when the Eagles faced Tampa Bay in an NFC championship game that was the last football match played at the city's former stadium.
The flavors are simple, classic, and pure Philly: pork shoulder roasted with rosemary, garlic, lemon, and chili flakes and then braised. Slices of the meat are piled on soft white kaiser rolls with braised broccoli rabe, garlic, and slices of sharp provolone cheese, then topped with roasted long hots.
"We spent the whole day in the parking lot, eating those sandwiches," Lawler said. Later, once kickoff approached, they wrapped up a few more and smuggled them into the stadium to eat inside.
Was Lawler worried about jinxing the game by making a meal that had accompanied 2003's loss?