Name: Arcaro & Genell
Location: 443 S Main St., Old Forge, PA 18518
Phone: (570) 457-4262
Price: $13+ for a full "tray," the "+" depending on toppings
Old Forge, PA, a southwestern suburb of Scranton, is known to Northeastern Pennsylvanians, and I reckon a few others, as the "Pizza Capital of the World," boasting more pizza parlors per person than anywhere else. Not only do they have more pizza options than anywhere, the style of pizza is an entity unto itself. Old Forge pizza is known for a crispy, somewhat thick crust and lacks the traditional gooey mozzarella cheese of most pizzas. The pizza is rectangular instead of round, pies are known as "trays," while slices are "cuts." When in Old Forge, you must speak the local vernacular.
After my review of Brozzetti's in Johnson City last Sunday, where I speculated that Brozzetti's could be a rogue Old Forge pizza place, I decided I had to find out the truth of the matter. Even though this is the "Tasting Binghamton" blog, some places that aren't in Binghamton are worth a day trip. This is one of them.
My friend Tom and I, beer geeks as we are, made a trip down to the Scranton area to pick up some stuff we can't get locally in Binghamton and around mid-afternoon we both developed some serious hunger. I suggested a trip out to Revello's in Old Forge, as I'd heard they were the best of the bunch and had served some famous patrons, such as Hillary Clinton. Tom was game for the 10-mile trip from our location at the time and off we went with my Droid to guide us to our destination.
Upon arriving at Revello's we were stunned to notice that the place was closed at 2:30 PM on a Saturday and would not be open until 4:30. Luckily, we looked across the intersection and saw Arcaro & Genell, which I noticed other people entering, and I'd read it was supposed to be right up there with Revello's as the best around.
We entered and took a seat and I was surprised by the ambiance. It's a dimly-lit place with booths to the left, tables to the right, and a nice-looking bar in one corner. I felt a little underdressed in the place; it was really very nice on the inside. Soon after, we asked the waitress (who I felt bad for as it seems she was the only waitress on duty and the place was pretty busy) which topping she would recommend of pepperoni, sausage, and meatball. Without a moment's thought, she replied that we should get all three of them. I wasn't about to deviate from her suggestion and so that's what we did, with Tom adding green peppers and olives to his half of the pie...errr...ummm...tray. The waitress warned us that the full tray would be more than enough for two people, but I didn't care. This was Old Forge and I was going to get my money's worth!
After a looooong wait (40 minutes or so) our pizza finally came out. I presume that the style of the pizza in addition to the number of toppings we got added significantly to the waiting time. Would it be worth the wait?
In a word, YES! This was excellent pizza, and I can understand why Old Forge has built such a reputation. The first thing you notice about this pizza that is different from usual is the cheese. I was right about its cheese being similar to Brozzetti's! It's definitely a softer, filmier cheese like either American or Fontina that sticks to your teeth as you bite in. This cheese makes for a less greasy pizza than the standard mozzarella, which is a welcome change of pace. Unfortunately for my conjecture, that's where the similarities to Brozzetti's end. While Brozzetti's has a soft, bready crust, Arcaro & Genell's is very crispy and has a fried-like quality to it. The closest comparison I can think of would be the crust on the pan pizza at Pizza Hut, but a MUCH better done version, and much tastier. Tom commented that he thought it was similar to French bread pizza, and I can see a strong similarity there as well. The toppings are phenomenal, especially the meatballs, which come thick-sliced and well-seasoned. The sauce is robust and a little spicy, but I would say that the sauce is a secondary element to this pizza, with the cheese and the crust being its primary players. Again, this is way different from Brozzetti's where the sloppy sauce is pivotal. Arcaro & Genell's pizza is definitely unique, sharing some qualities with Sicilian-style pizza, but the cheese and crust combine to put this in a category all its own.
I was able to get through 3 cuts of our 12-cut tray, while Tom was only able to manage 2. This is extremely rich pizza: the waitress was definitely right about this being way too much for the two of us, but hey, we each got to take some home with us. I just heated up a slice...grrr....cut for lunch and it was nearly as great reheated as it was in Old Forge itself.
The pizza came to around $20 which, for the number of toppings we got, the size of the pizza, and the ability to say I've had Old Forge pizza, I found to be reasonable.
If you're a Binghamtonian in search of something different, consider making the hour-long trip down I-81 to Old Forge and stopping at Arcaro & Genell's. My theory that the pizza would be similar to Brozzetti's may have been mostly disproven, but at least I was partially right (regarding the cheese), and I found a pizza that I would certainly consider among the best I have ever sampled. If you ever find yourself in Scranton, this place is a must-visit.