Local pizzeria expands to North Broad

Santucci’s and other openings may change North Broad Street.

Waitress Sweeny Hunt serves Santucci’s famous original square pizza at the new location. | Brian Tom TTN

A third generation of restaurant owners have expanded their family business to a location that has been hit-or-miss for other eateries in the past.

Alicia Santucci co-owns the newest location of Santucci’s Pizza with her brother, Anthony. The new location at 655 N. Broad St. opened last month. The siblings are the third generation to run the restaurant enterprise started by their grandparents in 1959.

Other family members own the other three Philadelphia locations. The siblings also own the Santucci’s at the corner of 10th and Christian streets.

But there is one thing in common at all Santucci’s locations—all the pies are square and made using Alicia’s grandmother’s recipes.

“If you travel to Italy and visit a traditional trattoria or pizzeria, you don’t see pizza made the way it is here in the United States,” Alicia Santucci said. “My grandmother’s story is that when they were growing up in Italy, the women wanted to make pizza, but they only had cookie sheets. That’s what created the square shape of the pie. And where they’re from in Italy, in the mountains close to Naples, the cheese goes underneath the sauce.”

Unlike the Bella Vista location, which is a 40-seat BYOB, the new location has a full bar and sells six-packs of beer to go. The amount of customers coming to the location by the Italian Market made the Santuccis consider expanding further, as the Bella Vista location delivers only to Center City and South Philly.

For Inquirer restaurant critic Craig LaBan, a standout restaurant is Marc Vetri’s Osteria, which opened in 2006. LaBan noted this restaurant is the anchor for the restaurant scene of North Broad Street.

“They probably see the growth of residents,” LaBan told The Temple News. “Santucci’s is a neighborhood space. The square pies are relatively unique in this town. Osteria is a completely different type of pizza place. Santucci’s is the kind of thing that locals can go to.”

In March 2014,  Stephen Starr pulled the plug on the giant illuminated crab that once hung at the corner of Broad and Mt. Vernon streets for his seafood restaurant Route 6. The building now houses jazz restaurant South, as well as event venue Vie.

“It’s been a precarious stretch as you’re evolving a neighborhood into a dining destination,” LaBan said. “Maybe the neighborhood wasn’t ready for more than that. In the last year, there’s momentum turning again.”

If all goes according to the city’s plan, restaurants on North Broad Street will no longer be an anomaly.

Last month, the city concluded the installation of 41 new 55-foot light masts along North Broad to brighten the area as part of a $8.7 million plan to revive the area.

“Broad Street has always been this weird in-between,” LaBan said. “I have a theory that Philadelphians like to eat in neighborhoods. You think of East Passyunk or Queen Village or Rittenhouse. People don’t really live on Broad Street. The only concepts that work are national chains or steakhouses. Every other concept has failed.”

The latest addition to North Broad Street isn’t a showy restaurant meant to be a destination. Being a well-known neighborhood pizzeria is what allows Santucci’s to not only stay afloat at its three other Philadelphia locations, but also thrive and expand.

And the third generation of owners don’t plan to slow down any time soon.

“Our family is growing,” Alicia Santucci said. “The next area we’re looking at is Manayunk or somewhere on the Main Line. With there being a third generation of owners, there will be a few more Santucci’s opening.”

Santucci’s Pizza North Broad is open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Madeline Presland can be reached at madeline.presland@temple.edu.

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