Margarita Jeronimo and Aaron del Rosario set up a feast on a picnic table outside of Rosario’s, their restaurant, which is located on a quiet corner in South Philadelphia. This took place on a muggy day in late June. Following the serving of tamarind and hibiscus aguas frescas, the procession continued with the serving of tortilla chips and hand-painted bowls filled with green and red salsas, and it concluded with the serving of pizza.
Rosario’s signature pies feel like a tribute to the convergence of South Philadelphia’s deeply rooted Italian population and, since the 1990s, a thriving Mexican population. These pies are built on leavened dough, but instead of a base of tomato sauce, they use black bean purée, tomatillo, guajillo pepper, or mole sauces.
The proprietors refer to these as Mexican pizza, a term that, for many Americans, brings to mind either the menu item offered by Taco Bell (which consists of tostadas stacked and shellacked with meat, bean, and cheese) or the taco pizza, a Midwestern novelty pie that deconstructs a hard-shell taco and places the components on top of a sturdy pizza crust. In the United States, there is a new generation of Latino-owned pizzerias that are paving the way for a pizza style that is uniquely their own. Rosario’s is one of these pizzerias.
Ms. Jeronimo and Mr. Del Rosario, who respectively grew up in Mexico City and Puebla, developed their hybrid recipes with the intention of attracting clients and maintaining their successful company. In 2011, the couple launched a Mexican restaurant in a neighbourhood that was mostly comprised of senior citizens who were not of Latino descent and who had different ideas for what Mexican cuisine ought to look like. They sold tacos and quesadillas in this area.
Mr. Del Rosario said that customers often inquired about the availability of hard-shell tacos.
It takes time for individuals to become used to trying new things, according to Ms. Jeronimo. “However, cheese pizza is a crowd favourite.” The couple’s decision to provide classic pizza helped bring in more consumers.
However, they also conducted experiments with the components of the tacos and quesadillas, which resulted in the creation of their first three Mexican pizzas: al pastor, carnitas, and the Mexicana, which had tomatillo sauce, chorizo, roasted poblanos, corn, and fresh avocado. Today, these three are among the most sought after among the restaurant’s more than a dozen traditional pizzas and 14 pies inspired by the cuisine of Mexico.
A few months after it first opened its doors in 2005, San Lucas Pizzeria began serving Mexican pies, such as their pizza carnitas, which is topped with guajillo sauce, pig, mozzarella, and cilantro. The restaurant is located only a few streets south. Before launching their own pizza, owners Valentin Palillero and Eva Mendez put in a number of years working at and managing other pizzerias. They gave their establishment the name of the municipality in Puebla where the pair spent their childhoods. Even though he was making a good living off of selling cheese and pepperoni pies, he was still interested in developing his own unique pizza.
Mr. Taco, owned and operated by Carlos Gomez, started selling Mexican pies in the month of February. The pies are made with housemade ingredients such as salsa verde (a recipe that he perfected by watching videos on YouTube), birria that Gomez stews in large pots, cooked beans, and a pizza dough that Gomez makes using his own ratio of three different types of flour. According to him, it ought to be substantial enough to bear the weight of toppings like chicken covered in mole sauce or steak slices topped with caramelised onions.
The influence of Mexican pizza may be detected in restaurants all around the nation. Numerous restaurants in New York City specialise in either Italian or Mexican food, reflecting the city’s diverse population. According to Dr. Alvarez, an English professor who resides in Queens, one of the greatest locations to acquire tamales in Jackson Heights is at a pizza shop. Dr. Alvarez lives in Queens. He added that many of these Mexican Italian restaurants would construct personalised pizzas utilising components from their taco menus. He mentioned this about a lot of the establishments.