101 Best Pizzas in America

Though more pizzas were considered than ever before and more states made the list, for the second straight year, New Haven and New York City top this list as home of the best pizza in America

101 Best Pizzas in America
Ravi Bangaroo
More than 700 pizzas were considered by 78 pizza experts to come up with this year’s list of great places. Voting was heated, but in the end some familiar places topped the list.

Ask the average person who makes the best pizza, or read articles, blogs, and best-of lists by pizza “experts,” or wade into online comments, and you’ll find that there is a light side and a dark side — two flavors, if you will — of Pizza Opinion: The positive, passionate, all-consuming love for one’s own favorite cheesy, greasy, roof-of-mouth-burning slice; and the dark, fiery vitriol reserved for those who dare challenge the superiority of thin-crust over deep-dish, sweet sauce over savory, or any number of other fiercely divisive pizzalogical issues. Considering the passion pizza inspires, responsibly declaring America’s best pizza can be challenging. But The Daily Meal doesn't shy away from the challenge. With this, our third annual pizza ranking, we have again sought the nation's best pies and slices, considering more places than ever in our quest for the best. 

View List: 101 Best Pizzas in America (Slideshow)

Pizza is arguably our most varied and beloved culinary genre, one whose followers are some of the most opinionated, and yet it remains one of the most accessible foods there is. Even the country’s most expensive, remote, and esteemed pizza temple is within reach of the average person’s budget. Every red-blooded American, rich and poor, grew up with his or her preferred regional style of this national fascination, knowing it as the best. Today, there’s better pizza and more knowledge about it and interest in it everywhere. That accessibility and loyalty makes for some tremendously spirited debate.

Consider New Yorkers' obsession with and (often unwarranted) arrogance about New York pizza. While you could argue the state of the average New York serving of pizza has never been worse (thanks to $1 slice), New York City in fact has so much great pizza that there are even inter- and intra-borough arguments about it. Then there’s the Neapolitan versus casserole… er, deep-dish debate (declaratively over, courtesy Jon Stewart); lesser-known regional styles represented by cities like Detroit and St. Louis; the West Coast powerhouses; Pacific Northwest and Southern upstarts; and the neo-Neapolitan movement that has exploded across the country. Wood-fired, coal-oven, grandma and grandpa slices, red pie, white pie, bar pie, pan pie, Sicilian — oh my! 

For many pizza aficionados, however, there is no debate.

"There are only three pizza places on the planet: Sally's, Pepe, and Modern, all in New Haven,” confided director Gorman Bechard, who is working on a pizza documentary Pizza, A Love Story. “People have dragged me to pizza joints all over the country and all it does is leave me with a horrible sadness and a feeling of pity for these poor people who really have no clue as to what amazing pizza is."

Bechard is not alone in his passion for New Haven-style pizza. Frank Pepe topped The Daily Meal’s 2013 list of America’s best pizzas, and nobody will be shocked to find five New Haven pizzerias on the 2014 list. But his passion is echoed everywhere. Last year’s list generated hundreds of comments (“What did they do, slip a hundred dollar bill under the pizza slice you ate?” asked one infuriated reader) and suggestions for candidates from everywhere imaginable.

And so in 2014, The Daily Meal researched and added 275 more pizzas and recruited a group of 30 more experts to weigh in.

"There are only three pizza places on the planet: Sally's, Pepe, and Modern, all in New Haven,” confided director Gorman Bechard, who is working on a pizza documentary Pizza, A Love Story. “People have dragged me to pizza joints all over the country and all it does is leave me with a horrible sadness and a feeling of pity for these poor people who really have no clue as to what amazing pizza is."
Some 700 pizza spots were considered by 78 panelists. Who were these fine folks? In addition to The Daily Meal’s in-house pizza experts and city editors, this was a geographically diverse panel of American chefs, restaurant critics, bloggers, writers, and pizza authorities. Count among them SF Weekly food editor Anna Roth, the Los Angeles Times’ S. Irene Virbila, Esquire and Bloomberg News columnist John Mariani, Clean Plate Charlie’s Nicole Danna, Scott Wiener of Scott’s Pizza Tours, John Berardi of LA Pizza, Jonathan Porter of Chicago Pizza Tours, Jason Feirman of the blog I Dream of Pizza, Felicia Braude of Pizza Lover Chicago, Taste of New Haven’s Colin Caplan, food writer Joe DiStefano of Chopsticks & Marrow, and Virginia B. Wood of the Austin Chronicle. Click here to view the full list (minus those who asked to remain anonymous), which even includes the band the The Pizza Underground.

Voting was exciting. Four fantastic pizzas vied for the crown. New York pizza destinations Di Fara and Roberta’s made a great run along with Arizona’s Pizzeria Bianco, but when the last slice was left, it looks like one famous Connecticut pizzeria can keep its declarative billboard on I-95. That's right, Frank Pepe won again. Other top 10 spots included Sally’s in New Haven, Pizzeria Mozza in Los Angeles, Flour + Water, Tony’s Pizza Napoletana, and two Brooklyn spots: Totonno's and Paulie Gee's

.

Some 29 states registered — three more than in 2013 — including, for the first time, Ohio, Iowa, and Wisconsin. For the second year, New York scored the most pizzas (35), up five from last year. And there was a clear winner in the battle of the boroughs: Brooklyn. Its 13 pizzas beat out Manhattan (11), Queens (4), Staten Island (3), and the Bronx (1). California followed with nine pizzas, seven in San Francisco and Berkeley. There were noticeable additions from places like Texas (5), Georgia (4), and Washington, D.C. (3), who all registered more spots than they did last year. And in a move that will continue to enrage deep-dish lovers, even fewer spots from Illinois made the list than ever.

Other conclusions? There is some seriously good pizza being made across America (with more gluten-free options, to boot). It’s interesting to note that while the Neapolitan-style trend has helped to raise pizza standards, it also may be bullying our regional styles: there are lots of Naples-style pies being made out there. One thing is clear: Great tradition and great pizza don’t guarantee longevity. The time between the 2013 and 2014 lists saw the closing of Chicago’s Great Lake and Manhattan’s Famous Roio's and South Brooklyn Pizza. The passing of these icons makes the accomplishments of these 101 best pizzas resonate even more.

No matter where or how you believe these pizzas rank on this list, it’s a great pizza roadmap full of beloved places definitely worth visiting. So get out there and enjoy them. The perfect paper-plate staining slice may be every American’s God-given right, but you never know just how long the door will be open to that red pepper flake shaker at your favorite Formica counter.

#101 Ghigiarelli's, Old Forge, Pa. (Red: Tomato, Brick Cheese)

You have to give credit to a town that calls itself the "Pizza Capital of the World," especially if no one would have heard of it otherwise. Not Naples, Italy. Not New York City or Brooklyn, not Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, or New Haven. Nope, Old Forge, Pa., claims this distinction, and on placards for the town no less. Some six places — Anthony's, Arcaro & Genell, Brutico's, Revello's, Rinaldi's, and Ghigiarelli’s — make up the roster of pizzerias that constitute this gutsy claim. This Twilight Zone of pizza, this pizza capital of its own style, may as well be a different country, too — they even have their own pizza language. Order by color (red or white) or by the cut or by the tray. The mysterious cheese combination that covers the pizza in Old Forge is an enigmatic brick cheese that coats your teeth and tongue in a both curiously comforting and puzzling way. The white pizza is calzone-like in that it has crust on top and bottom, but the way to go here in that it has crust on top and bottom, is the red pizza.

 

#100 Café Bottega, Birmingham, Ala. (Farm Egg: Mushrooms, Guanciale, Taleggio, Porcini Oil

Over the past 30 years, chef Frank Stitt has been credited for significantly raising the bar in Alabama’s culinary scene. As if the success of his restaurant Highlands Bar and Grill and the roster of culinary talents that have launched their own successful careers after spending time in his kitchen weren’t impressive enough, he’s now going ahead and doing the same thing for the state’s pizza scene. While devoted regulars may have trouble steering themselves away from Stitt’s classic dishes at Café Bottega like the seared beef carpaccio, Niçoise salad, and chicken scaloppini, they’ll find themselves particularly rewarded by any of the eight pizzas on the menu. There’s a white pie with fennel sausage, a grilled chicken and pesto combination, and even a pizza with okra and corn. But the signature pie that the restaurant pointed to as the biggest crowd-pleaser is the “Farm Egg,” topped with mushrooms, guanciale, Taleggio, and porcini oil.

View List: 101 Best Pizzas in America (Slideshow: #99 - #1)

View page 2 to just read the list in full.

Arthur Bovino is The Daily Meal's executive editor. He has eaten at 43 of the spots on this year's list. Read more articles by Arthur, reach him by email, or click here to follow Arthur on Twitter.



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96 Comments

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the simple fact that lou malnati's come in #61 and is referred to as a casserole instead of a pizza proves this list is a piece of crap

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Any list that doesn't include Pizza My Heart in Santa Cruz, CA (and beyond) isn't a very good. They should be at least in the top 10. Their "Primo" thin crust pie is topped with feta, thin sliced tomatoes and fresh basil. Simple but sublime. I wish I could find it in other states.

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Pizza My Heart in Santa Cruz, CA has a pie named "Primo" topped with fresh basil, feta and tomatoes and is outrageously good.

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Pizza My Heart in Santa Cruz, CA has a pie named "Primo" topped with fresh basil, feta and tomatoes and is outrageously good.

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Jake's Pizza of Saratoga (California) must be added to this list.

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Obviously they didn't go to little ol Humboldt, Iowa for Pasquale's Pizza, but I suppose they can't hit them all, oh well , their loss.

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Seriously? Chicago doesn't make the list 'till 39?! Worst. List. EVER.

Hell. Of the top 10, 6 are on the east coast!

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AGREED.

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Did anyone even visit the country's most livable city, Pittsburgh??
Vincent's, Aiello's, and Mineo's are just a few places that should definitely be in your top 101. There is awesome pizza in every neighborhood in that wonderful city.

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Antika's in Washington heights NYC. Not on this list? Joke. But let's put clam pizza # 1 and 2. Dummys.

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so many more in Bklyn that were missed...

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HELP ME HAVE ALL OF THE PIZZA IN THE WORLD! <a href="https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/help-me-have-all-of-the-pizza-in-the-world/x/2146561" title="https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/help-me-have-all-of-the-pizza-in-the-world/x/2146561">https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/help-me-have-all-of-the-pizza-in-the-...</a>

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Hahahaha!! Any list that doesn't include Pizza My Heart in Santa Cruz CA is just not worth reading. They've even won competitions against the Italians.

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I was going ro say the same thing. Pizza My Heart Primo pizza with basil, feta and tomatoes is outrageously good.

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I was going ro say the same thing. Pizza My Heart Primo pizza with basil, feta and tomatoes is outrageously good.

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I was going ro say the same thing. Pizza My Heart Primo pizza with basil, feta and tomatoes is outrageously good.

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I was going ro say the same thing. Pizza My Heart Primo pizza with basil, feta and tomatoes is outrageously good.

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spoken like a true Californian …Pizza My heart is ok and maybe even decent (for Crapafornia), but can't touch real NY/CT pizza

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Pelham Pizza, #85 on the list, was originally opened in the 1960's, by an Italian immigrant named Marcello. He sold his pizza for 25 cents a slice, back then, and a whole pie was just a couple of bucks. Marcello worked extremely hard, to build that pizzeria up - it was the only pizzeria in the area, back then. His dream was to make some good money and retire, back to Italy. I don't know where the information came from, that it opened in 1978 - maybe new owners? Anyway, I lived in Pelham, a stones throw from Marcello's pizzeria and probably consumed thousands of slices, there. Anyone who grew up, in Pelham, would know that Marcello started that place and deserves some credit! I now live in Florida and can not find a slice anywhere near as good as Pelham Pizza's! Pelham Pizza ROCKS and thank you, Marcello - wherever you are!

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I have eaten in a lot of these pizza places in NY area, New Haven and Phoenix. Chris Biaco does an amazing job being top notch pizza. New Haven Pizzas are good but a bit overrated. Little Vincent in Huntington has good flavor but is a greasy mess. I think you have to compare basic tomato and cheese pies. On Long Island I recommend: LaScala in Commack, Salvatore's in Bay Shore and Granna in Jamesport. There sis a new chain come to Long Island, Blaze in West Babylon owned by Lessings. It is make in front of you pizza, the crust comes to the maker, then you pick the ingredients and it is baked in 180 seconds. Not my favorite sauce but a good contender if you want to go out with friends and each choose your own personal pie. The quest for great pie is always on.

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ABSOLUTE **UTTER** B.S that a Chicago pizza joint didn't even make the top-ten! This list is *CLEARLY* skewed towards east and west-coast pizza places and leaves out at least TEN fabulous famous (and RIGHTLY-SO) Chicago pizza joints like Old World Pizza, Giordano's, Edwardo's and has Lou Malnati's ranked in the 60's! BLASPHEMY! This article is an absolute GARBAGE review.

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Totally agree! Not to have ANY Chicago pizza at the top is insane.

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ABSOLUTE **UTTER** B.S that a Chicago pizza joint didn't even make the top-ten! This list is *CLEARLY* skewed towards east and west-coast pizza places and leaves out at least TEN fabulous famous (and RIGHTLY-SO) Chicago pizza joints like Old World Pizza, Giordano's, Edwardo's and has Lou Malnati's ranked in the 60's! BLASPHEMY! This article is an absolute GARBAGE review.

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Pepe's Pizza Oneida, NY - Pepe's special I will put up against any pizza !!

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Buffalo, NY remains an untapped pizza haven. Always amazes me the experts aren't showing full knowledge of what is going on in BFLO.

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Buffalo?? worst pizza in the world! Spent 5 years there and had to have friends fly in from downstate to bring me pizza. Once saw a guy putting kraft slices before baking it in Buffalo....slices!!! LMAO!!!

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Buffalo, NY remains an untapped pizza haven. Always amazes me the experts aren't showing full knowledge of what is going on in BFLO.

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You missed the best pizza in Oregon by about 100 miles. Spookys in The Dalles, OR is the best in the state.

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What a loaf of garbage when Norm's Pizza (Waterville, Maine), Flipper's Pizzarea (Kissimmee, FL), and DiNino's Pizza (Boston, Mass) don't make the list.

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So this list is written by fools. Grimaldi's is not Grimaldis. They bought the name and opened an inferior clone down the block from the original. The original is now called Juliana's, and it is VASTLY superior to the newly named Grimaldi's down the street.

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