[Skip ahead to more Philly pizza joints.]

There are few places with the kind of following that Tacconelli's has garnered over the years. And for good reason. The Port Richmond stalwart opened in 1948 and, aside from installing a new oven in 1992, not too much has changed in the pie department. In an age of hybrid ovens and express service, Tacconelli's holds its own, throwing common practice to the wind.

Dough for the 16-inch pies must be ordered a day in advance. And toppings are restricted, due to the inherent knowledge of the pizza makers. Some say they're bristly on the phone, at best. But when you're Philly pizza royalty, you know that more than two toppings is too many when you're making a pie.

The crust on said pie is like nothing else in the city. It's as stiff as a sheet of particle board, which only helps to facilitate the mouth-scalding bites that you've neglected to chew as you devour what is possibly one of the best slices in the city.

Maybe it's got something to do with the oven ... or maybe it's in the way they use it.

Bricks for the oven were imported from Italy. And they use a very expensive oil to light the burner, explained owner Roseanne Tacconelli.

But here's what I think is the key: The oven is lit while they prep all day, but once it reaches their ideal temperature of 850 degrees, they turn it off for the night, baking with just the residual heat.

And that crust tells the tale. 

Roseanne Tacconelli has another theory as to what makes the pizza unique: "Happy, happy John [Tacconelli] bakes them with a big smile at all times."

For those of us who dare not leave the comfort of our own neighborhoods, Tacconelli's is a world away. Luckily good pizza will get even a hermit like me out of my hood and into Port Richmond. There's a first time for everything, and I'm glad to say it was well worth the trip.

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