Want the pizza that Bon Appétit once crowned the best in the country? Look no further than a flashing neon green peace sign tucked into a narrow Fishtown street.
Pizzeria Beddia is back and bigger than ever — both in menu and in physical space — and “Pizza Jesus” Joe Beddia’s quirks shine through in unexpected ways.
Instead of a daily limit of 40 freshly-made fermented dough pies that drew hourslong lines, Beddia patrons can now order as many angrily spicy arrabbiata pizzas as they please — if they’re lucky enough to get a reservation or make it past the cutthroat walk-in competition.
Last March, when I went to the original tiny Shackamaxon Street outpost to try it before it closed, there was an eight-hour wait in a frosty drizzle. It could have been the fact that I was exhausted and cranky and expecting far too much, but when I finally got a taste, the ‘za underwhelmed.
But after trying the four signature dishes at the reconstructed Pizza Valhalla under more humane circumstances, I understand the hype. Here’s a rundown of what to expect at the Lee Street restaurant.
- You can make reservations! But, a fair warning: per Beddia, they were sold out within the first 10 minutes they opened through April. (Sorry, you still can’t order online or for delivery.)
- You can eat comfortably inside (there are about 100 seats), and the waiting patio outside has heated lamps and benches. If you do opt to try the walk-in thing — a few table are kept out of the reservation pool — rest assured you’ll at least be warm.
- Liquor license! Beddia offers cocktails that remix Italian classics: think Amaro Old Fashioned, a house Negroni, and a Ver-Bucha. There are also wines by the bottle and glass (Joe is a huge natural wine geek) and a great selection of beer.
- Appetizers, including Judión beans, chorizo, tomato pie and an assortment of salads.
- Dessert: Pro tip, the soft serve ice cream, which comes in five different flavors, dulls out the pain of the arrabbiata. It’s also delicious.
- That cloud on top of the bar. It makes no sense with the overall minimalist, chic vibe of the restaurant, but it fits Beddia’s friendly iconoclast personality. The Pixar-esque cumulus comes from the LA-based/Miami-founded FriendsWithYou Art Collective.
- There’s a “hoagie room” for private dinners, including those that have nothing to do with hoagies.
- All of the servers are attentive and helpful. Service benefits when you an actual crew of staffers and more than two people in the kitchen.
- Beddia 2.0 is open seven days a week, while Beddia 1.0 was only open Wednesday through Sunday.
- You can pay with a credit or debit card.
When we went to the OG Pizzeria Beddia last year, we tried the plain pizza and the arrabbiata. Editor Danya Henninger believed that Beddia’s 16-inch round dishes “achieve the platonic ideal of what American pizza should be,” but I thought they were tasty, but not mind-blowing.
In 2019, fortune finally favored the patient and we got all four pizza options on the menu — including a chunky square of rich, oily tomato pie for good measure.
It did help to split the cost between the eight other people I invited to tag along on our second pizza pilgrimage, so keep that in mind when considering how to make a visit to Pizzeria Beddia as affordable — and as worth it — as possible.
‘Regular cheese pizza’ ($22)
Who says something plain can’t be an utter delight? That Old Gold Gouda from Bedford, PA is no joke (I mean, multiple articles have been written about the heavenly Hidden Hills Creamery creation). Never too saucy, greasy or cheesy without sacrificing flavor or crisp, this pie is exactly what a “regular cheese pizza” tastes like in my dreams.
Swiss chard, fresh cream and garlic pizza ($25)
Is it possible to fall head-over-heels — or mouth-over-stomach? — in love with an inanimate, edible object? If so, I’ve hopelessly caught the bug for Beddia’s take on a pizza bianca. At the table, this one was a collective fan favorite (even if it did “look ugly” when we tried photographing it).
Angry pizza aka pizza arrabbiata ($25)
Don’t get me wrong: I enjoy spice levels that send vigorous jolts of heat down my esophagus, get me a tad sweaty and leave my tongue completely devoid of feeling. But sometimes, you don’t want to go through all that trouble while eating a standard comfort food like pizza.
Still, I toughed out the arrabbiata because I knew it was — in spite of my biases — considered to be the best of the best by “angry pizza” enthusiasts.
While everyone at the table agreed it was good, one of my friends put it best: “All I could taste was how much it hurt to eat. It overwhelmed everything else that was pleasant.”
Tomato sauce, anchovy, garlic, oregano and Old Gold pizza ($25)
Two of the people at the table who are vegetarians forwent their ethics and scarfed down these fishy slices — that alone says it all.
This one will change the way you think about anchovies.
Tomato pie ($4)
I wrote a tomato pie guide to Philadelphia recently, so had no choice but to leave room for this thick, crunchy and indulgent block of yumminess. Served at room-temperature and much less fluffy than it appears, ordering a couple of these could send you into an exquisite and welcome food coma.
Ah yes, the moment you’ve been waiting for! Drumroll please…
Beddia 2.0 is better, primarily because you don’t have to wait as long so it doesn’t feel like the pizza should and must exceed your wildest dreams when you finally get around to actually trying the dang thing.
Being able to share the pizza with friends and family in a relaxed, in-house atmosphere while sipping on the house Negroni or the natural wine on tap is another plus.
And that Swiss chard/fresh cream/garlic pizza combo? I will personally chain myself to the neon green peace sign in protest if it is ever removed from the menu. (You’ve been warned, Joe.)
Now, is the experience at Pizzeria Beddia less special? That’s an entirely different question, and one that is just as objective as the answer to “is this the best pizza in America?”
You can be the judge of that.
Pizzeria Beddia on 1313 N Lee St. is open every day from 4:30 to 11 p.m. Though 50% of the seats are set aside for walk-ins, we recommend making a reservation online as soon as possible.