Recently, Philadelphia Magazine as some of the best “by the slice” in the area. Asked to take the Philly Mag “honor” with a big grain of PennDOT road salt, I was sent to review the joint and see if I agreed.
While I loved the slice of Poppi's Pizza (tomato, whole milk mozzarella, buffalo mozzarella, crushed imported pomodoro tomatoes, olive oil, garlic and fresh cut basil) I did not care for the pepperoni pizza at all. Both slices featured the lovely thin and slightly charred crust that is reminiscent of the pies in Italy and a tomato sauce that was seasoned just right and was remarkably fresh.
Perhaps it's because I ate the Poppi's slice first that I had this reaction. My meal started with wonderful bites of creamy whole milk and buffalo mozzarella with sprinkles of roasted garlic and sweet strips of basil anchored by the aforementioned tomato sauce and crust.
The pepperoni slice was simply dough, sauce, cheese and thick slices of pepperoni. Personally, I like thin slices of pepperoni that get crunchy from the intense heat of the oven. These disks were oily and soft. The plain mozzarella on its own was a bit underwhelming. Again, I reiterate that I am almost positive that had I had this slice first I would not be so critical. It's analogous to having primo Swiss chocolate and then a Cadbury chocolate bar right after it. They are both good but the Swiss chocolate is far superior and it will ruin you for other chocolate.
I ordered the arugula salad and as promised it was drizzled with olive oil and topped with fresh shredded parmesan. There was a juicy lemon wedge waiting to be squeezed all over the salad but I opted out and chose to dress my salad with the balsamic vinaigrette. A well made vinaigrette has body, balance and flavor. When I say body, I mean it's just thick enough to lightly coat your greens. The balsamic vinaigrette here had the consistency and look of chocolate pudding. The culprit was too much oil. As you whisk oil into the acidic mixture when making a vinaigrette it gets thicker and thicker until it "breaks", the oil and acid molecules are no longer united and separate resulting in a liquid where you can clearly see the distinct ingredients. There's a fine line between a super thick emulsion and its breaking point. Tips for thinning out a vinaigrette include simply adding more water or acid and then seasoning accordingly. I plopped my dressing onto my arugula and did my best to toss the salad and evenly coat the greens. The salad was delicious and extremely large (I couldn't finish even half of it). Unbelievably fresh and crisp greens with nutty and savory shredded parmesan--a classic Italian salad, a perfect accompaniment to a light pizza lunch alfresco.
I had some lemonade with my meal and it was fine. Minute Maid lemonade is a reliable stand-by, not the greatest but it gets the job done. If you're feeling particularly ambitious you can squeeze fresh lemon juice into it to make it even more flavorful.
What I thought was noteworthy was the availability of Ciao Bella gelato and sorbets in individual sizes. When I went in they had mango, Tahitian vanilla and chocolate hazelnut flavors. Ciao Bella is high quality product and not even found in most supermarkets so I was surprised to see it here.
The decor is simple with fresh flowers popping up throughout the space. The furniture and fixtures are mostly neutral tones. The long picnic tables are placed fairly close together for a more communal feel. The tables outside are on the walkway of a busy shopping center so it may not be ideal for those who are looking to have an intimate conversation. The space is very clean which is always a plus.
The service is great. Everyone is attentive, super friendly and willing to answer all of your questions with a smile. My food was brought out to my table outside and the gentleman noticed I had no silverware and brought some out for me without my having to ask. Though it is set up cafeteria style where you order and then get your food, the great service makes it seems like a step up from that.
While it wasn't the best pizza I've ever had the Poppi's slice was pretty darn good. I also applaud the owners of Poppi's for being committed to using premium quality ingredients and using sustainable materials. The cups are recyclable, the silverware and plates are biodegradable. It’s an eco-conscious business to say the least and that’s something truly worthy of praise. Stop in for a slice and leave with a full belly and peace of mind.