The Underappreciated Neighborhood Pizzeria

While the ranks of restaurants and sandwich shops that are primarily known for cheesesteaks continue to grow, many in the Philadelphia region still get their steaks from their local pizzeria. That was the case for the vast majority when I was coming of age. And I still don’t dismiss such places. Some of them – while remaining almost anonymous outside of their immediate area – serve very good food, including cheesesteaks.

One such place is Huntingdon Valley Pizza, which is named after the eastern Montgomery County suburb in which it sits. It’s 15-20 minutes south of where I grew up but nowhere near my current home. The only reason I started going there for pizza slices and an occasional cheesesteak is their proximity to where I’ve been going to visit my father each week for about the past year. I often happen to be hungry after the moderately long drive and it’s the most convenient place to get something quick, although I wouldn’t keep going there if I didn’t like the food. 

Huntingdon Valley Pizza was known as Franconi’s for years and just changed their name earlier this year. I’m not sure if there was an ownership change or just a rebrand, but I haven’t noticed any change in their pizza or cheesesteaks.

It’s a takeout only place with a minimalist interior in an old shopping center I passed by often as a child. They generally have a few pizzas out on their front counter and sell slices that are reheated in their oven upon being ordered.

The slices are fairly large. I never get more than two and usually get them without toppings. I went with a pair Monday.

These particular slices appeared to have a bit more cheese than usual on them, but they still had the same good thin crust and excellent overall taste.

I’ve only had a couple cheesesteaks from H.V.P., including one last week. But both were good enough to keep me going back for more, at least on occasion. As you can see in the photo below, the roll is nothing like the ones I usually praise. It’s seedless and softer than I prefer. But it was fresh and had a quality to it that I found appealing.

There was probably a half-pound of meat on there, and everything was well proportioned. The American cheese was blended in nicely with the meat, which was extremely juicy and flavorful. The grill chef seasoned it well. 

The onions may look a little undercooked, but I didn’t notice that while eating the sandwich. They were soft enough for it to not be a textural problem.

Although the onions appear under-fried, that wasn’t an issue while I ate the sandwich.
Cheesesteak with American cheese and fried onions

The overall impression and flavor of this steak was excellent. If I lived near there, I’d eat a lot more of them. As it is, I eat enough cheesesteaks elsewhere to gladly go with their pizza most of the time for a little variety in my diet. 

Although I wouldn’t place either the pizza or steaks I’ve had at H.V.P. on a best-of list, they’re both still high quality. And if we limited our exposure to only the very best, we wouldn’t fully appreciate how good it is. 

I noticed something very exciting less than 10 minutes from where I live a few days ago. A new Shake Shack is coming soon. The sign is up and workers are getting the space ready. It is one of my favorite fast food chains. I’ll unquestionably write about my first visit after they open.

In the meantime, I’ll be visiting another small neighborhood pizzeria that I’ve read good things about and will report on that in my next post.

Published by BZ Maestro

I live outside of Philadelphia and have been food-obsessed for as long as I can remember. After toying with the idea of starting a blog for a fairly long time, the extinction of a food-themed message board that I frequented for years prompted me to finally take action. Thank you for taking the time to check out what I've been up to - and eating. If you've enjoyed what you have read and seen, please consider clicking the "like" button and signing up as a follower.

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