A stylistic Neapolitan from Pizzeria Vetri's uncommon oven
Marc Vetri's latest foray into the approachable and hip has yielded a Fairmount destination in Pizzeria Vetri. As with many a project Vetri sinks his teeth into, it turns to gold the final product is remarkably inspired, perfectly executed, and overseen by his right-hand man, Chef Brad Spence.
Vetri's hybrid oven comes from a Texas-based company called Renato. It's brick on brick, wrapped in a layer of insulation and tiled over in white. Spense estimates its cost at about $30,000, and he was one of the few pizza slingers willing to talk tomatoes.
The "hybrid" bit refers to its dual heating elements; gas powered and wood burning — white oak, currently. It has two separate openings for better circulation and added accessibility for the chefs. And they run it cooler than many, topping out between 600 and 650 degrees. The pizzas cook in two to three minutes.
"Marc, Jeff [Michaud] and I rolled this thing in, two to three months before we opened," said Spense. "They dropped it off and we rolled it into place. Where we rolled it to, it's there now. And we built the restaurant around it."
Vetri's pizza doesn't self-identify as one particular style.
"It's our own," said Spense. "It's not your totally traditional Neopolitan. It's a fluffier crust. And it's different than Osteria. That's a Roman style."
Spense credits a two-day fermentation process for those crisp, airy crusts they're pumping out.
"For us, it's all about the dough. It's the long fermentation that gives it a lot of aroma and that real blistered texture. If it doesn't ferment properly, you don't get the texture.
While the traditional pies they serve are to be commended, it's the extras that have garnered much of the praise. Like the rotolo, or the pizza al taglio, shaped like a sicilian slice but made of foccacia.
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Fairmount: Pizzeria Vetri, 1939 Callowhill St, Philadelphia, PA 19130