"Don't go past 40th Street," an outdated adage said by both joking and serious Penn students. Regardless of whether they're being facetious or not, they're the ones who are going to miss out on the priceless gems that lie west of 40th Street. Spruce Hill is an area that 40 years ago, you actually probably would not have wanted to enter. Now, due to the gentrification of West Philly, an eclectic mixture of Lebanese, Pakistani, Chinese, Ethiopian, American, and Indian restaurants have popped up on the Chestnut Street to Locust Street side of the neighborhood. On the other side of the neighborhood, however, there has been a resurgence of another minorit in American society: the Hipsters.

Why Does This Matter?

Who cares about why there are hipsters there?  Isn't this article about a pizza place?  These are both very good questions that need to be answered before we address Clarkville. Whenever hipsters overtake a neighborhood, despite the seemingly terrible wave of renewable energy and recycling programs that follow, a benefit to the neighborhood also comes with them: good food and drinks. So, it's quite understandable why the proceeding pizza place is among one of the best (or, the best) in all of Philadelphia.

Clarkville Pizza

Sitting at 43rd and Baltimore, on the periphery of Clark Park, Clarkville was a place I ran past many times.  I always noticed it when I went to the Green Line Cafe, too, which is across the street.  So, one day as a friend and I were shopping in the farmer's market, we decided to check out the random building with a menu outside of it. We were not disappointed. 

We opened the doors and were ushered by the host to a little table with a view of Clark Park. The waiter came and went over the beer list (a must considering they rotate what's on draft all the time.) Also, he went over the menu, which was broken down into smaller plates, larger plates, and pizzas, with us.  Excited and overwhelmed, we asked the waiter what he liked (#spoon tip: always a good call).  Excited about this new-at least to us-hidden gem, we waited to gorge ourselves.  

Small Plates

Jesse Fox

Since it was just two of us and we had come from binge-eating desserts at the farmers market, we decided to only get two small plates, the Charred Broccoli Rabe and the Warm Cauliflower Salad, which were out of this world. The broccoli rabe was crunchy from the grill and also had a little kick to it from the light drizzle of chili oil. The cauliflower salad was even better. There was a nice crunchy texture from the radishes and pickled onion, and the dressing really bound the soft, warm, and sweet cauliflower to the crunchy and bitter kale. Both of these dishes got my stars of approval.

The Pizza

Jesse Fox

The pizza debate is one of the most contentious arguments that has ever riddled mankind.  Some say that New York pizza, and only New York pizza, is the best pizza.  Others side with Chicago deep-dish pizza, New Haven thin crust pizza, etc. I, however, am of a different persuasion: I just like pizza that tastes good. So, if you're a polarized pizza lover, maybe you should branch out a little more so you see what you're missing out on. With that, I'll edify you on Clarkville's pizza.

Rather than being basic and opting for a cheese pizza, we ordered the Honey Pie, a beautiful monstrosity consisting of shaved Brussels sprouts, bacon, cheese blend, grilled onions, and Sriracha honey. Describing the flavor profiles of this is beyond difficult because it was just too complex. Every single taste profile was hit by this pizza: the Brussels were bitter, the bacon was umami, the grilled onions were sweet, the Sriracha was spicy, and the cheese blend was sour and umami. I was so blown away by this pizza that I had three full slices there even though I had been nonstop eating all day.

Final Thoughts

Jesse Fox

Sitting in a relatively unexplored-by-most-of-Philadelphia neighborhood, Clarkville offers some of the best pizza in the city. I have now tried the Pork Pie V3.0 (roasted pork, spinach, grilled onion, cream, and cheese blend) and the Danger Pie (a regular cheese pizza with olive oil, sea salt, and basil on top.) I have yet to be disappointed.  So, if you're feeling adventurous, go out to Spruce Hill, grab a pizza (or five) to go, and just sit in the beautiful Clark Park and eat. If you can't make it out there, Clarkville offers delivery.

Clarkville is also well known for their fried chicken and house-made manicotti. So, if pizza isn't someone in your group's thing, the restaurant has a wide variety of delicious options to appease anyone. Go out of your comfort zone and try this new place and all they have to offer. I promise you won't be disappointed.