Last year, I chatted with Philly musician and chef, Mariano Mattei, about his appearance on the Food Network’s “Cooks vs. Cons.” At the time, he revealed his plans to open a pizzeria in Point Breeze and we even got to see the space before renovation began.
Flash forward to this year and the Mattei Family Pizza is officially open to the public and while it may look like your standard pizza place from the outside, the pizza itself will blow your mind.
“For over 15 years, my family’s been making pizzas at our house in Italy — just two hours north of Napoli,” Mattei reveals. “My father built a brick oven and we’ll have big parties there and cook all weekend. He and I have a rivalry about who makes the best pizza — him or me.”
The biggest difference lies in the preparation of the pizza, which is done Italian-style.
“For someone who’s used to boardwalk pizza or fast food pizza, those came from Italian immigrants in New York City who were hired as bakers,” Mattei says. “They used bread dough for pizzas which is made from a completely different flour than what is used in Italy.”
At Mattei Family Pizza, the flour is imported straight from Napoli.
“We use doppio zero (“00”), a very finely milled flour,” he says.
According to Mattei, doppio zero chars differently in the brick oven than bread flour.
“When you burn the butter [with doppio zero flour] it takes on a nutty flavor. If you do that with American pizza it will taste like ash,” he explains.
Popular pizzas so far include the fontina, pear and sage (fontina cheese, pear, sage, black pepper), margherita (tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella and basil) and the chorizo (mozzarella, Iberico chorizo), which is Mattei’s favorite.
“It was a hard sell for people because I refuse to do pepperoni,” he says. “Chorizo has a similar flavor profile but is so much better.”
And while this pizza runs thinner in the middle, the crust is nice and hearty — just like the pizzas you would eat in Italy. Be aware though, that these pizzas don’t come by the slice. They’re meant to be eaten right away because of how fresh the ingredients are.
“The pizza doesn’t lend itself to slices. We don’t want it sitting around,” he says.
If you’re looking for something to grab and go, Mattei recommends the pizza fritte, which is a pizza pocket, similar to a calzone, but lightly fried. Don’t worry though, they also have calzones, salads, and for dessert, house-made cannolis.
If you go:
Mattei Family Pizza
1260 Point Breeze Ave.
Inside tip: On Sundays during football season, you can get 15% off your order.