107 W Germantown Pike, Norristown, PA
There is a distinct style of Pizza in the Norristown, PA area.. thin, crisp crust, lots of sauce (often sweet) and blends of cheese that are NOTHING like the greasy bubble-gum Mozzarella you find elsewhere. Norristown is also famous for it’s bastard cousin of the hoagie called the “Zep”.. Cotto Salami, thickly sliced, thinly sliced white onions, Provolone, tomato, and some oil/seasoning on a roll (hopefully from Conshohocken Bakery.)
Charlie’s serves exemplary versions of both.
My dining companion and I are not big tomato fans, so we skipped that element. Most people would probably really like it, but the meat and roll were so fresh there was more than enough moisture. Zeps, by the way, have ONLY one kind of meat and NO lettuce. At $4, it’s a no-brainer even if you are ordering a whole pizza.
Charlie’s happily sells slices, but for $10 you can get a whole medium fresh pie (so why not?) In my opinion, Norristown pizzas are best appreciated plain. The sauce here is not sweet (like Franzone’s.) By comparison, it is actually a little tart, but boasts powerful tomato flavor with a hint of oregano. I suspect the cheese is a blend of Mozzarella and Provolone, but you never ask these things in Norristown pizza joints. Crust is neither as crispy or light as Franzone’s (my bellwether) but has the advantage that you can pick it up and bite it without supporting with the plate. The famous pizza here is the “Red Top” where the sauce is swirled over top of SOME of the cheese, leaving some exposed. It’s a Norristown thing (that has been stolen by some Jersey Shore joints.)
Charlie’s has a huge assortment of beers (and sodas.) It’s been there in the same corner of the Swede Square shopping center since I was a baby. There is a laundromat next door if you’re a sloppy eater.
Service seems gruff to some, but having grown up near Norristown, I don’t notice it.
If you are in the neighborhood, worth the experience.