This is a Thanksgiving Special two months in the making. And the holidays means roads trips, leaving town, going to see family, and all the other stuff that makes this overly busy holiday that much busier. But what would the fun be if it were otherwise?
For this particular trip, I was on my own. A visit to one of my favorite cities, Philadelphia, led me to one of the more unique and creative pizzeria experiences I’ve had in some time.
Rustica in the Northern Liberties part of town, looks very welcoming, approachable, and unassuming all at the same time. It has a neighborhood feel to it that my pictures may not do it justice. It feels like a corner bar or restaurant that I would frequent on a regular basis if I lived close by. I’m heaping a lot of praise before I even walk inside. As I always tells myself, I hope I’m not setting myself for disappointment. This would not be the case. Rustica is awesome.
As their story says, they’ve been a part of the growth of the neighborhood since its inception back in 2001. Before I knew anything about this place, (other than the fact they served creative slices) I got a sense when I was driving through and then walked through the neighborhood, that Northern Liberties has really developed. It had been many years since I last set food in this part of Philly. I did recall it was less populous and less busy than it is today. And there’s room for more. It still feels like a hidden gem within such a hectic and ever-growing city.
Ok now onto the pizza.
Through my limited knowledge, I did know they had some creative slices but I didn’t know how inspired they really were. In hindsight I’m even more happy with my three slices. Yes I got three. I would have had more if my stomach could handle it. It could barely handle two. Yes they were thick, rich, full of life, and inspiration. Yes I said inspiration again. There was a lot of soul and effort to make these pies
I’ll start with the simplest and work my way to my holiday special.
Do you see that cheese slice? I know right. It has the look of what a thick and hearty cheese slice should look like. This would be considered an extra cheese in most places but not here. If you like your dairy and you like your dough than this is the equivalent of heaven on earth. Wow this was something else.
On almost any other day I would talk about the Jambalaya last. I feel bad putting it in the middle with the two bookends. However, that doesn’t discount how incredibly good this was. The andouille sausage, the fresh and smoked chicken, red peppers and those carrots are a wondrous and mesmerizing combination. These are the freshest toppings. They cut no corners and spared no expense. Oh by the way, I honestly forgot there were clams on the pizza. Not that it wasn’t memorable. It’s more that the other toppings stood out more. White as the base seems a bit understated with all the other players involved. And that’s saying a lot. This was a visual and palatable achievement.
Now serendipitously we go to our holiday feast special I didn’t realize at the time I was celebrating Thanksgiving early. but the Brisket with mashed potatoes, and gravy is one of those slices that may not be for the faint of heart. It’s not quite turkey but this is the perfect protein to go with mashed taters, gravy, and thick bread. And as rich, hearty and intimidating as it may sound, it’s a creative masterpiece. I tend to throw that word around a lot but this was a special one.
This visit took place couple of months ago but I might as well have been celebrating Thanksgiving then. And little did I realize I was. I’m so relieved I waited until now to talk them up. And they deserve all of the praise and accolades you can throw at them.
All the good that they do for their community makes me even more grateful I supported a business that represents strong support for local and national organizations. That’s what the holidays and life is all about.
Because they do so much good, the energy levels are much higher. The pizza is automically heightened to taste even that much better. So if the pizza was only average it would turn into good, but because this pizza was already great, that makes it near perfect.
If you live in Philadelphia chances are you’ve at least heard about them. If you’re visiting or planning to, make this a part of your holiday plans or whatever plans you like. I intend to be back and intend to try some more outside-the-box slices. Their prices may turn some folks off and I certainly understand that, but you’re paying for quality. I’ll gladly pay a few dollars extra for world class anything versus the norm. We pay for what we get. And you can always get a slice or two at around $5 per if that’s more within your budget.
I’ll gladly make it a part of my budget.
Next time I’m in town you know I’ll be stopping by here.
It’s the holidays It’s about indulging, over-eating; and making everything bigger, larger than life, and out of this world. These slices cover all those bullet points and then some.
Thanks Rustica for being a gem in a city full of them.
Happy Early Thanksgiving,