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phaelon56

Old Forge PA - "pizza capital of the world"

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Passing through PA last weekn on one of my regular visits downstate to NYC, I spotted a billboard that proclaimed Old Forge PA to be the pizza capital of the world. There were at least a half dozen different pizzerias listed on the sign. Having searched eGulllet I can find only a reference to the claim but no reports from folks who've been there.

Have you tried the pizza in Old Forge? I'm close enough to that area once a month that I could swing by to scope it out but would leve to get some feedback on which places I shoulld try first.

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Is there merit to their claim?

Um... no, there isn't. There's a little place called Napoli that I believe has permanent rights to that title.

On the other hand, I suppose it depends on the basis they are using for making that claim. Most pizzerie per capita? Who knows.


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I've only tried Old Forge pizza once and it was definitely a different style of pizza; poofier lighter airier inch thick crispy crust and gooier almost viscous pourable malleable cheese that didn't pull into strings as mozzarella tends to do. The cheese reminded me of some form of American cheese. Also it came out in rectangular baking sheet sized trays rather than rounds. Interesting to try and good in its own category, not my favorite pizza ever (I don't remember which place we went to though).

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I don't even know where Old Forge is, and I know some good pizza. What does that say about Old Forge? Or what does it say about me?

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I grew up in Moosic, PA, next to Old Forge, and the local fanaticism for "Old Forge Style Pizza" is real, and the town has an unusually large number of pizza restaurants for a place so small. The quality varies, too, from airy, crispy crunchy crust with good balances of sauce and cheese, to downright leaden crust and gloppy, American cheese sludge riding bitter metallic sauce.

Keepers of the traditional Old Forge Style Pizza flame include Arcaro & Genell's, Maxie's (a very cozy, house-style bar with old pinball machines and the biggest urinal I've ever seen in a mens room), Revello's (somewhat inconsistant, but popular to many), Club 17, and Arcaro's on Taylor Hill, just north of Old Forge, in nearby Taylor, PA. With the exception of Club 17, these are some of the pizzas I grew up with, and they share the well-made, short, airy, crunchy crust, and the right amount of sweet, oniony, tomato sauce and American (yes American) and mozzarella (sometimes scamorzze) cheese.

Arcaro & Genell's white pizzas (broccoli, garlic, etc.) are exceptional, and perhaps the best of the lot, but the sheet tray pizzas, cut into neat rectangles (called "cuts" in the local dialect, not slices), are worth a drive, something we intend to do with the PIZZA CLUB that has formed here in the past few months. The pizza in Old Forge is THAT good..


Rich Pawlak

 

Reporter, The Trentonian

Feature Writer, INSIDE Magazine
Food Writer At Large

MY BLOG: THE OMNIVORE

"In Cerveza et Pizza Veritas"

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I don't even know where Old Forge is, and I know some good pizza. What does that say about Old Forge? Or what does it say about me?

Old Forge is a small town just south and west of Scranton, PA, Jim.


Rich Pawlak

 

Reporter, The Trentonian

Feature Writer, INSIDE Magazine
Food Writer At Large

MY BLOG: THE OMNIVORE

"In Cerveza et Pizza Veritas"

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Rich:

When is that Old Forge Road trip being planned for? Are we holding out for warmer weather or some other criteria? Since the last Pizza Club was a road trip to Trenton, is it possible to knock off one more local trip (East of Broad St? Center City including Lombardi's and Mamma Palma?) and then perhaps do Old Forge in April?

I'm now quite curious about this rectangular cheesy version of pizza, having had no exposure to it yet.


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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I don't even know where Old Forge is, and I know some good pizza.  What does that say about Old Forge?  Or what does it say about me?

Old Forge is a small town just south and west of Scranton, PA, Jim.

Ah ha, that would explain it. I've only been up in that part of the state a few times.

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Rich:

When is that Old Forge Road trip being planned for? Are we holding out for warmer weather or some other criteria? Since the last Pizza Club was a road trip to Trenton, is it possible to knock off one more local trip (East of Broad St? Center City including Lombardi's and Mamma Palma?) and then perhaps do Old Forge in April?

I'm now quite curious about this rectangular cheesy version of pizza, having had no exposure to it yet.

Taylor-native here. :biggrin: NEPA in the house!

The only example I can think of that has the soupier (for lack of a better term) style is Arcaro's in Taylor (which is different than Arcaro & Genell's).

I personally like all of Old Forge's various pizzas. So many good ones to choose from. When i visit, though, Salerno's is usually the one I try to get. About a decade ago, that was quite a spot to visit. In the back dining room (decidedly unfancy yet still a dining room), you'd find families munching happily. But up in the front bar...a much different scene. For awhile, it was the hub of a rather large drug ring. :blink:

There's also Club 17 - they used to have an interesting two-crust (aka stuffed) white pizza with think slices of onion on top of the nicely seasoned crust. Yum...

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WTG, Jenny!

My fave pizza of the lot is the place NOW called Arcaro's, in Taylor. When I was a child (and dinosaurs roamed the earth), it was called Tomeo's, but only the name has changed. The last time I visited Arcaro's though, I found the pizza undercooked. It is a soupier version, though, but when it's ON, it's the damn finest pizza of the bunch.

For me, Maxie's is the best I've had in years; I forgot about Salerno's, also very good. A&G sets the standard, but is somewhat different from Maxie's.


Rich Pawlak

 

Reporter, The Trentonian

Feature Writer, INSIDE Magazine
Food Writer At Large

MY BLOG: THE OMNIVORE

"In Cerveza et Pizza Veritas"

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Rich:

When is that Old Forge Road trip being planned for? Are we holding out for warmer weather or some other criteria? Since the last Pizza Club was a road trip to Trenton, is it possible to knock off one more local trip (East of Broad St? Center City including Lombardi's and Mamma Palma?) and then perhaps do Old Forge in April?

I'm now quite curious about this rectangular cheesy version of pizza, having had no exposure to it yet.

I think maybe Old Forge in warmer weather, after we've plumbed more of Philly, and at least attempted a trip to Brroklyn for DeFara's and Garibali's and that place Spumoni Gardens that Lisa Alois is enamored with.


Rich Pawlak

 

Reporter, The Trentonian

Feature Writer, INSIDE Magazine
Food Writer At Large

MY BLOG: THE OMNIVORE

"In Cerveza et Pizza Veritas"

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I'm pretty psyched that any portion of Northeastern PA (NEPA) is getting discussed here. Honestly there are some good eats there if you know where to look. Beware the chain trap - pretty much all of them are represented - and you'll be fine. Personal favorites (non-pizza so consider this a digression) include Amici in the Clarks Summit area, the Bistro in Kingston and two cute Indian spots (yes, Indian in NEPA!) in Moosic, one of which is named Amber.

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Jenny, why not start a thread on the undiscovered gems of Northeastern PA?


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Most folks in the know the best pizza is the northeast coastal cities. If ya wana argue NYC versus New Haven ( CT), fine but cmon Old Forge Pa????


Edited by jrinct (log)

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Most folks in the know the best pizza is the northeast coastal cities. If ya wana argue NYC versus New Haven ( CT), fine but cmon Old Forge Pa????

Have you ever been to Old Forge?

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Most folks in the know the best pizza is the northeast coastal cities. If ya wana argue NYC versus New Haven ( CT), fine but cmon Old Forge Pa????

I'd be more inclined to argue New Haven vs. Trenton or New York vs Philadelphia based on our recent experiences. :cool:

And why not Old Forge, PA? It's admittedly a different style of pie, but wouldn't it seem a bit short sighted to make a value judgement unless you've tried it? :hmmm:


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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I agree.

I'm not from there, nor have I even been there, but I think it's entirely possible that Old Forge has some good pizza.

The key difference between Old Forge and New Haven and New York is that Old Forge doesn't get press coverage.

New York gets tons as world media capital, New Haven gets some as Yale's base,

but Old Forge doesn't have anything close to comparable.

So it's entirely possible that Old Forge could have some damm good pizza being enjoyed in obscurity. Although it's entirely possible that the pizza there could be crappy and stinky as well.

Given that I generally trust Rich's palate on certain culinary matters, I'm willing to hold judgement and give it the benefit of the doubt until I try it.


Herb aka "herbacidal"

Tom is not my friend.

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Most folks in the know the best pizza is the northeast coastal cities. If ya wana argue NYC versus New Haven ( CT), fine but cmon Old Forge Pa????

One should not opine if one has never been to Old Forge.


Rich Pawlak

 

Reporter, The Trentonian

Feature Writer, INSIDE Magazine
Food Writer At Large

MY BLOG: THE OMNIVORE

"In Cerveza et Pizza Veritas"

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New York gets tons [of press coverage] as world media capital...

Um, I believe there's a little town called Mainz, Germany that has permanent rights to that title. :smile:


"I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast;

but we like hot butter on our breakfast toast!"

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Most folks in the know the best pizza is the northeast coastal cities. If ya wana argue NYC versus New Haven ( CT), fine but cmon Old Forge Pa????

One should not opine if one has never been to Old Forge.

The thing that's intriguing (and I'll admit, a little weird) to me about this is the american cheese thing. But OTOH I prefer american on my cheesesteaks, and when I was a kid I liked cheddar on my pizza, so...

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Most folks in the know the best pizza is the northeast coastal cities. If ya wana argue NYC versus New Haven ( CT), fine but cmon Old Forge Pa????

One should not opine if one has never been to Old Forge.

The thing that's intriguing (and I'll admit, a little weird) to me about this is the american cheese thing. But OTOH I prefer american on my cheesesteaks, and when I was a kid I liked cheddar on my pizza, so...

You should re-read the part about American cheese. That was put in there as an example of bad stuff not Old Forge-style across the board.

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No no, don't get the wrong impression--I'm totally not criticizing something I've never had. But Rich said:

these are some of the pizzas I grew up with, and they share the well-made, short, airy, crunchy crust, and the right amount of sweet, oniony, tomato sauce and American (yes American) and mozzarella (sometimes scamorzze) cheese.

And as someone else on here said, I trust Rich's taste when it comes to things pizza. I'm just sayin, is all. Totally not busting on it. I'ma get up there one of these days.

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I definitely will, one of these days. I wish I had known about it when we spent a long weekend up in Starlight a couple of years ago.

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