Stogie Joe’s – Philadelphia, PA
On a recent Friday I spent the day in the Philadelphia area pizza hopping at establishments that I’ve had been wanting to get to for quite a while. My first stop was Angelo’s in Haddonfield, NJ. My second stop appeared to be closed. After some quick work on the interwebz I rerouted myself to Stogie Joe’s Tavern on Passyunk Ave. in Philadelphia. I had heard of Stogie Joe’s, or at least it sounded familiar, but I had no knowledge of their wares. I was going into this review completely blind; what style of pizza does Stogie Joe’s serve? Will I have to write a bad review? How much should I order? Should I get it regular style or with toppings? I placed my order and all I knew to expect was a small (six pieces) of their regular pizza.
My pizza was ready before I even finished my beer. I paid the friendly person (cash only; ATM on premises) and carried Stogie Joe’s customized pizza box to my car where I opened the box and thought, ‘wow this looks similar to Pica’s pizza in Upper Darby’.
I’d put Stogie Joe’s pizza in the medium-thickness column, with a nicely browned bottom crust that was dry and slightly crispy. The outer edge of the pizza had more crispiness / crunch to it which is usually the case. It was too hard for me to decide what type of cheese was used on this pizza, but it’s applied directly onto the top of the dough before being topped with the sauce. The cheese being beneath the sauce helps protect the crust from the moisture of the sauce, that said, the cheese didn’t stand out with any particular flavor except for a little bit around the edge of the pizza where you can see some areas where it started to brown (highly desirable by my standards). The sauce on Stogie Joe’s pizza is interesting. It has some herbage to it, that if omitted would probably leave the sauce tasting a little flat. I don’t normally like spices in a pizza sauce, or so much so that they’re noticeable, but it really works well on this pizza; not only does it work well, but I enjoyed the herb. I had a hard time placing what it was; my best guess is that they’re using some type of oregano, maybe it’s fresh, maybe it’s a different kind than what’s normally used… I don’t know, but it had my attention and received my approval.
This is a hard pizza for me to summarize, but I’ll try by saying this… Within this style of pizza I think that Stogie Joe’s is really good stuff, but, I find this style of pizza itself to usually be middle-of-the-road; it’s hard to ruin it and it’s also hard to make it stand out.
For shits and giggles let’s compare Stogie Joe’s (on the left) to Pica’s (on the right). Stogie Joe’s crust is really good, but I think that Pica’s has a crust that is a little bit more fine-tuned than Stogie Joe’s, but Stogie Joe’s sauce has an enjoyable flavor whereas Pica’s is somewhat flat and muted. The cheese between the two is a non-contender, but I love the fact that Pica’s offers ricotta cheese as a topping (which is included on Pica’s pizza pictured on the right. It would be too hard to choose one over the other, but if I can get ricotta on Stogie Joe’s pizza with that herbage they use… that’d be my pick.
I definitely recommend trying Stogie Joe’s pizza. I hope that I can get back there one day as it seemed like a laid-back spot with some good food and drinks.