Two things about Pizzeria Vetri, which opens in Rittenhouse this week: There’s a special pizza with lobster on it, and the restaurant will serve through 1 AM on weekends.
The most casual concept of all Marc Vetri’s restaurants has been such a hit since it launched two years ago on Callowhill (across from the Barnes/behind the Free Library) that several more are planned. As soon as Vetri other half/COO Jeff Benjamin nails down leases, D.C. will host at least two new shops, and plans for other cities have also been set in motion. The first offshoot, though, is for us locals.
As of Tuesday Pizzeria Vetri will be rocking at 1615 Chancellor St. The storefront opens onto what feels like a back alley — it used to be a parking garage (and other garage entrances still line the block) — but it’s just down the street from a familiar corner: The one that’s home to Little Pete’s.
Instead of regular concrete, a sidewalk of slate gray stone sets the pizzeria apart. Behind floor-to-ceiling glass doors is the white-tiled dining room, a red-accented bar and an open kitchen. The layout mimics the original, with seating at long communal tables and stools along both the bar and the marble kitchen counter.
Behind that counter is a Renato brick oven just like the one on Callowhill — it uses both wood and gas to reach super-high temps and keep them even. It’s unusual in that it has two mouths, so pizzas can fly out the front while roasted vegetables and other items are worked on through the back.
The menu is nearly identical at both Philly spots, save for one pie — the Rittenhouse. In a hat-tip to the neighborhood’s status as the most expensive in the city, it’s a pizza topped with lobster.
To make it, a Neapolitan crust is first baked with Parmesan and scamorza (an Italian cheese similar to smoked mozzarella), and then covered with a generous handful of lobster that’s been soaking in olive oil, parsley and lemon juice. Cost: $30. Worth it? Depending on how much you care about impressing your dining partners and
personal bank expense account status: Probably.
Chef Manny Perez (shown above with Vetri culinary director Jeff Michaud) oversees the kitchen, which also turns out classic pies like the Margherita ($14 — still the best there is), the Marinara (with crushed San Marzanos and super-thin slivers of garlic; $12) and the Crudo ($18), which is guaranteed to get a swipe right from anyone who loves prosciutto.
A few salads are offered (to help control guilt, no doubt), along with the famous better-than-a-Cinnabon rotolo swirl and square “taglio” slices of daily-cooked Roman-style pies. Desserts include fior di latte soft serve (try it topped with espresso in an affogato), Nutella pizza and assorted fresh-baked cookies from the “Cookie Jar.”
At the bar, you can get wine on tap (red, white or bubbly), bottled cocktails (the Brooklyn, with Dad’s Hat rye, is worth overlooking the name to try) or beer… Really good beer. Opening drafts are Tired Hands Saison, Yards Sour, Victory Cool Kolsch and Stoudt’s Fourplay IPA (two more will be added soon), along with a couple dozen in cans and bottles.
Want to take a great photo of your pizza haul? Take a tip from Vetri culinary director Brad Spence and strike his patented Instagram Power Stance (shown above) to ensure a a good shot. (Considering he has 10.9k Instagram followers, it’s worth a try.)
Pizzeria Vetri Chancellor opens at 11 AM daily, and serves through 11 PM, except on Fridays and Saturdays, when it will stay open through 1 AM. Late-night snacking in Rittenhouse just leveled up.
Photos by Danya Henninger