Imagine my surprise to discover GREAT wood-fired pizza in the booming metropolis (not) of New Derry, PA! This is one of those "friend heard about it from a friend who heard about it from some guy" place. It's a bar (and probably doesn't satisfy the 80/20 rule that would allow entry by the under-21 set) and the pizza is the only food served.
It's known by many names -- Billy's Pizzeria, Ianni's Wood-fired Pizza, and Babe's Place. Most locals seem to know it as Babe's. It is a dive bar -- 2 pool tables, one of those sweet old bowling machines (league on Friday nights at 7), decent beers on tap (and Sierra Nevada in the cooler). Some walls have the wooden studs showing, and this is definitely a down-home, hillbilly crowd.
Billy (or Einstein, as he's affectionately known for his wild gray hair) allegedly went to Naples to learn to make pizza. He's got a big old wood-fired oven next to the bar, and you can sit at a counter right in front of the oven and watch the pizza making process. There are only two pizzas -- the Margherita (tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil) and the Tarantino. They're both good, but I really enjoy the Tarantino. Crust gets topped with slices of provolone, then sauce, then a handful of dried herbs (including crushed red pepper -- this mix has a bite to it). Sauce and herbs get smeared over the cheese, then topped with grated Romano and baked. Delicious.
If you're squeamish, stay away. This is the kind of place where the pizza dough sits rising in a bucket on the radiator. It's slow during the busy times, as pizzas are made one at a time. Call WAY AHEAD for takeout.
Quirky and delicious, this is the kind of place someone invents when they're writing a novel. Go early and enjoy some bowling while you wait for your pizza. You'll be delighted!
New Derry, PA 1567
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