Finally Getting My Santucci’s Pizza Fix

On more than one occasion, when discussing sauce-on-top – or upside-down – pizza, I’ve mentioned a Philly-area chain of pizzerias called Santucci’s. While it’s taken much longer than it should have, I’m finally getting around to devoting an entire post to them. 

It’s actually incorrect to refer to them as a single chain. There are two small chains, the larger of which is up to nine locations, and a couple other spots that are independent. They all trace their roots back to the original Santucci’s, which was opened by Philomena and Joseph Santucci Sr. in 1959 in the Juniata section of Northeast Philadelphia. 

Sunday’s dinner with my wife, mother and step-father was at the Roxborough outlet from the larger of the two chains, which goes by the name of Santucci’s Original Square Pizza. The other one, which has only three locations, is known as Philomena Santucci’s Square Pizza

Although it had been a while since my last Santucci’s pizza, I’ve had enough of them from both of the two chains to conclude that there isn’t any significant difference between their pies. I would guess both of them, as well as the independent branches, have the same family recipes – or are at least very good at approximating them.

Santucci’s Original Square Pizza in Roxborough, which is a section of Philadelphia.
There is an additional dining area off to the side of this one.
An interesting use of wall space. This branch of Santucci’s is BYOB.

In addition to their locally famous upside-down square and rectangular pizzas, the menu featured strombolis, flatbreads, pasta and a nice little selection of Italian long-roll sandwiches, including cheesesteaks.

In addition to the nicer menus they give out to those dining in, we were given this paper version because it had more up-to-date pricing.
Santucci’s also offers a selection of first courses that I didn’t photograph.

I never order a Santucci’s pizza with toppings. To me, they are perfect with just cheese and sauce. The addition of any other ingredients would detract from a formula that works so well. 

In addition to a large plain pie, my wife ordered a salad and my mother and step-father requested a spinach stromboli, which was served with tomato sauce on the side. 

The salad was a big one and we all had a little. If you read this blog regularly, you know it’s a rarity for me to eat salad, but this one looked very appetizing.

This plate was colorful enough to entice even me to have a little salad. Those tomatoes were excellent.

The pizza was next to arrive, and I was quite excited about that. For a variety of reasons, including my preoccupation with cheesesteaks, I don’t believe I’ve had any Santucci’s pizza since before Covid hit. I ate a lot of it during the few years leading up to that notable event. 

Someone new to this style of pizza might be underwhelmed by its appearance upon first glance. It features an unspectacular-looking rectangular crust with only a layer of red sauce being visible except for a few thin cracks of the melted sliced Mozzarella cheese beneath it.

But it was love at first bite for me when I tried my initial slice while watching Super Bowl 50 in February of 2016. And after Sunday’s meal, I can report that my affection for this unorthodox pie is still burning strong.

A large plain Santucci’s pizza. There is a layer of melted Mozzarella cheese beneath the sauce.

The crust was somewhere between thick and thin and had a bit of crispiness around the edges. as well as a nice chew. It also wasn’t too soft. 

The thin layer of Mozzarella beneath the sauce adds nicely to the pizza’s overall texture. But it’s the sauce itself that is the star of the show. It’s got a touch of sweetness and is beautifully seasoned. It is pretty close to the ideal pizza sauce for me. 

My first slice of Santucci’s pizza in far too long. I always try to get at least one corner slice.
This is a pie I ate at the Warminster outlet of the other Santucci’s chain – Philomena Santucci’s Square Pizza – in 2016.

Santucci’s great pizza wasn’t the only highlight of our meal. The spinach stromboli, which included Provolone cheese, was also excellent, with a crispy crust and a flavor that reminded me of a white-spinach pie. I ate my piece without the addition of sauce. It would have been a very satisfying meal on its own had I not been so focused on getting my pizza fix.

Spinach Stromboli

That should have been it for the meal. But my step-father kept going back and forth on whether to order a bowl of tomato soup and surprisingly did so after we had already begun eating the pizza and stromboli. He seemed quite pleased with it. 

It’s never too late for soup – at least for my step-father.

On our way back to my parents’ home, where our car was parked, they suggested that we stop off at an ice cream stand I haven’t been to for decades, but which always looks so appealing when I pass by it. As we pulled up, I suggested that we save it for another time after seeing how long the line was. They were insistent though, so my step-father dropped us off and sat in his car while we waited in line for a half hour before giving up in light of how slowly we were moving and how far we still were from the ordering window. 

This place looked promising, but the line was more than we could handle. I hope to return there later in the season.

I was really feeling a vanilla soft-serve cone with chocolate jimmies, but we wanted to get home before dark due to the vision issues I’ve mentioned in past posts. So the cone will have to wait for another time. According to my parents, the lines get shorter later in the summer. I’m sure I’ll also be ready for another Santucci’s pizza by then. 

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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